The Yellow Book
An Illustrated Quarterly
Volume V April 1895
I. Hymn to the Sea . . By William Watson . Page 11
II. The Papers of Basil Fillimer H. D. Traill . . . 19
III. A Song . . . . Richard Le Gallienne . 33
IV. The Pleasure-Pilgrim . Ella D’Arcy . . . 34
V. Two Songs . . . Rosamund Marriott-Watson 71
VI. The Inner Ear . . Kenneth Grahame . . 73
VII. Rosemary for Remembrance Henry Harland . . 77
VIII. Three Poems . . Dauphin Meunier . . 101
IX. Two Studies . . . Mrs. Murray Hickson . 104
X. The Ring of Life . . Edmund Gosse . . 117
XI. Pierre Gascon . . Charles Kennett Burrow . 121
XII. Refrains . . . Leila Macdonald . . 130
XIII. The Haseltons . . Hubert Crackanthorpe . 132
XIV. Perennial . . . Ernest Wentworth . . 171
XV. For Ever and Ever . . C. S. . . . . 172
XVI. Mr. Meredith in Little . G. S. Street . . . 174
XVII. Shepherds’ Song . . Nora Hopper . . . 189
XVIII. The Phantasies of Philarete James Ashcroft Noble . 195
XIX. Pro Patria . . . B. Paul Neuman . . 226
XX. Puppies and Otherwise . Evelyn Sharp . . . 235
XXI. Oliver Goldsmith’s Grave W. A. Mackenzie . . 247
XXII. Suggestion . . . Mrs. Ernest Leverson . 249
XXIII. The Sword of Cæsar Borgia Richard Garnett, LL.D., C.B….. 258
XXIV. M. Anatole France . The Hon. Maurice Baring 263
XXV. The Call . . . Norman Gale . . . 280
XXVI. L’Evêché de Tourcoing . Anatole France . . 283
XXVII. A Fleet Street Eclogue . John Davidson . . 299
The Yellow Book—Vol. V.—April, 1895
I. Bodley Heads. No. 3 : George Egerton By E. A. Walton . . Page 7
II. The Chrysanthemum Girl R. Anning Bell . . 68
III. Trees . . . . Alfred Thornton . . 97
IV. Study of Durham . . F. G. Cotman . . 118
V. Portrait of Mrs. James Welch P. Wilson Steer . . 164
VI. The Mantelpiece .
VII. The Mirror . .
VIII. The Prodigal Son . . A. S. Hartrick . . 186
IX. Portrait of a Girl . . Robert Halls . . . 191
X. Portrait of Mrs. Ernest Leverson Walter Sickert . . 229
XI. The Middlesex Music Hall
XII. A Sketch . . . Constantin Guys . . 259
XIII. Study of a Head . . Sydney Adamson . . 290
XIV. A Drawing . . . Patten Wilson . . 293
The Editor of THE YELLOW BOOK can in no case
hold himself responsible for rejected manuscripts ;
when, however, they are accompanied by stamped
addressed envelopes, every effort will be made to
secure their prompt return. Manuscripts arriving un-
accompanied by stamped addressed envelopes will be neither
read nor returned.
Hymn to the Sea*
By William Watson
GRANT, O regal in bounty, a subtle and delicate largess ;
Grant an ethereal alms, out of the wealth of thy soul :
Suffer a tarrying minstrel, who finds and not fashions his
Who, from the commune of air, cages the volatile
Here to capture and prison some fugitive breath of thy
Thine and his own as thy roar lisped on the lips of a
Now while the vernal impulsion makes lyrical all that hath
While, through the veins of the Earth, riots the ichor
* Copyright in America by John Lane.
While, with throes, with raptures, with loosing of bonds,
Arrowy pangs of delight, piercing the core of the
Tremors and coy unfoldings, reluctances, sweet agitations,—
Youth, irrepressibly fair, wakes like a wondering rose.
Lover whose vehement kisses on lips irresponsive are squan-
Lover that wooest in vain Earth’s imperturbable heart ;
Athlete mightily frustrate, who pittest thy thews against
Locked with fantastical hosts, bodiless arms of the
Sea that breakest for ever, that breakest and never art broken,
Like unto thine, from of old, springeth the spirit of
Nature’s wooer and fighter, whose years are a suit and a
All their hours, from his birth, hot with desire and with
Amorist agonist man, that immortally pining and striving,
Snatches the glory of life only from love and from
Man that, rejoicing in conflict, like thee when precipitate
Charge after thundering charge, clangs on thy resonant
Seemeth so easy to shatter, and proveth so hard to be
Man whom the gods, in his pain, curse with a soul that
Man whose deeds, to the doer, come back as thine own
Into thy bosom return, weepings of mountain and vale ;
Man with the cosmic fortunes and starry vicissitudes tangled,
Chained to the wheel of the world, blind with the dust
of its speed,
Even as thou, O giant, whom trailed in the wake of her
Night’s sweet despot draws, bound to her ivory car ;
Man with inviolate caverns, impregnable holds in his nature,
Depths no storm can pierce, pierced with a shaft of the
Man that is galled with his confines, and burdened yet more
with his vastness,
Born too great for his ends, never at peace with his
Man whom Fate, his victor, magnanimous, clement in
Holds as a captive king, mewed in a palace divine :
Wide its leagues of pleasance, and ample of purview its
Airily falls, in its courts, laughter of fountains at play ;
Nought, when the harpers are harping, untimely reminds
him of durance ;
None, as he sits at the feast, whisper Captivity’s name ;
But, would he parley with Silence, withdraw for awhile
Forth to the beckoning world ‘scape for an hour and be
Lo, his adventurous fancy coercing at once and provoking,
Rise the unscalable walls, built with a word at the
Lo, immobile as statues, with pitiless faces of iron,
Armed at each obstinate gate, stand the impassable guards.
Miser whose coffered recesses the spoils of eternity cumber,
Spendthrift foaming thy soul wildly in fury away,—
We, self-amorous mortals, our own multitudinous image
Seeking in all we behold, seek it and find it in
Seek it and find it when o’er us the exquisite fabric of
Briefly perfect hangs, trembles and dulcetly falls ;
When the aërial armies engage amid orgies of music,
Braying of arrogant brass, whimper of querulous reeds;
When, at his banquet, the Summer is purple and drowsed
with repletion ;
When, to his anchorite board, taciturn Winter repairs ;
When by the tempest are scattered magnificent ashes of
When, upon orchard and lane, breaks the white foam
of the Spring :
When, in extravagant revel, the Dawn, a bacchante up-
Spills, on the tresses of Night, vintages golden and red ;
When, as a token at parting, munificent Day, for remem-
Gives, unto men that forget, Ophirs of fabulous
When, invincibly rushing, in luminous palpitant deluge,
Hot from the summits of Life, poured is the lava of
When, as yonder, thy mistress, at height of her mutable
Wise from the magical East, comes like a sorceress
Ah, she comes, she arises,—impassive, emotionless, blood-
Wasted and ashen of cheek, zoning her ruins with
Once she was warm, she was joyous, desire in her pulses
Surely thou lovedst her well, then, in her conquering
Surely not all unimpassioned, at sound of thy rough seren-
She, from the balconied night, unto her melodist
Leaned unto thee, her bondsman, who keepest to-day her
All for the sake of old love, dead at thy heart though it
Yea, it is we, light perverts, that waver, and shift our alle-
We, whom insurgence of blood dooms to be barren
and waste ;
We, unto Nature imputing our frailties, our fever and
We, that with dust of our strife sully the hue of her
Thou, with punctual service, fulfillest thy task, being con-
Thine but to ponder the Law, labour and greatly
Wherefore, with leapings of spirit, thou chantest the chant
of the faithful,
Chantest aloud at thy toil, cleansing the Earth of her
Leagued in antiphonal chorus with stars and the populous
Following these as their feet dance to the rhyme of the
Thou thyself but a billow, a ripple, a drop of that Ocean,
Which, labyrinthine of arm, folding us meshed in its
Shall, as now, with elations, august exultations and ardours,
Pour, in unfaltering tide, all its unanimous waves,
When, from this threshold of being, these steps of the
Presence, this precinct,
Into the matrix of Life darkly divinely resumed,
Man and his littleness perish, erased like an error and can-
Man and his greatness survive, lost in the greatness of
“Tell me not Now”
By William Watson
TELL me not now, if love for love
Thou canst return,
Now while around us and above
Day’s flambeaux burn.
Not in clear noon, with speech as clear,
Thy heart avow,
For every gossip wind to hear ;
Tell me not now !
Tell me not now the tidings sweet,
The news divine ;
A little longer at thy feet
Leave me to pine.
I would not have the gadding bird
Hear from his bough ;
Nay, though I famish for a word,
Tell me not now !
The Yellow Book—Vol. III. B
But when deep trances of delight
All Nature seal ;
When round the world the arms of Night
Caressing steal ;
When rose to dreaming rose says, “Dear,
Dearest ;” and when
Heaven sighs her secret in Earth’s ear,
Ah, tell me then !
The Papers of Basil Fillimer
By H. D. Traill
MY name is Johnson, just plain John Johnson—nothing more
subtle than that ; and my individuality is, as they say, “in a
concatenation accordingly.” In other words, the character of my
intellect is exactly what you would expect in a man of my name.
This was well known to my old friend, schoolmate, and fellow-
student at Oxford, the late Basil Fillimer ; a man of the very
subtlest mind that I should think has ever housed itself in human
body since the brain of the last mediæval schoolman ceased to
“distinguish.” Yet Basil Fillimer must needs appoint me—me of
all men in the world—his literary executor, and charge me with
the duty of making a selection from his papers and preparing them
for publication. They include a series of ” Analytic Studies,” a
diary extending over several years, and a three-volume novel
turning on the question whether the hero before marrying the
heroine was or was not bound to communicate to her the fact
that he had once unjustly suspected her mother of circulating
reports injurious to the reputation of his aunt.
Basil knew, I say—he must have known—that I was quite
unable to follow him in these refined speculations. Hence I can
only suppose that at the time when his will was drawn he had not
yet discovered my psychological incompetence, and that after he
The Yellow Book—Vol. V. B
had made that discovery his somewhat sudden death prevented
him from appointing some one of keener analytical acumen in my
It would not be fair to the novel, in case it should ever be
published, to give any specimens of it here ; it might discount the
reader’s interest in the development of the plot. But this is the
sort of thing the diary consists of:
“June 15.—Went yesterday to call on my aunt
found her more troubled than ever about the foundations of her
faith. It is a singular phenomenon this awakening of doubt in
an elderly mind—this ‘St. Martin’s summer’ of scepticism if I
may so call it ; an intensely curious and at the same time a
painful study. For me it has so potent a fascination, that I
never say or do anything, even in what at the time seems to me
perfect good faith, to invite a continuance of my aunt’s con-
fidences, without afterwards suspecting my own motives. My
first inclination was to divert her mind to other subjects. Why,
I asked myself, should an old lady of seventy-two who has all her
life accepted the conventional religion without question be
encouraged to what the French call faire son âme at this
extremely late hour of the day ? Still you can’t very well tell any
old lady, even though she is your aunt, that you think she is too
old to begin bothering herself with these high matters. You
have to put it just the other way, and suggest that she has
probably many years of life before her, and will have plenty of
time for such speculations later on. But the first sentence I tried
to frame in this sense reminded me so ludicrously of Mrs.
Quickly’s consolations of the dying Falstaff, that I had to stop
for fear of laughing, and allow her to go on. For reply I put her
off at the time with commonplaces, but she has since renewed the
conversation so often that I feel I shall be obliged to disclose
some of my own opinions, which are of course of a much
more advanced scepticism than hers. I have considered the
question of disguising or qualifying them, and have come
without doubt—or I think without much doubt—to the con-
clusion that I am not justified in doing so. I have never believed
in the morality of—
Leave thou thy sister, when she prays,
Her early Heaven, her happy views ;
Nor thou with shadowed hint confuse
A life that leads melodious days.
“Besides, there is no interpretation clause at the end of In
Memoriam to say that the term ‘sister’ shall include ‘maiden aunt.’
Moreover, I have every reason to suspect that my aunt Catherine
has ceased to pray, and I am sure her days are anything but
‘melodious’ just now, poor old soul. It is all very well to respect
other people’s religious illusions as long as they remain undisturbed
in the minds of those who harbour them. So long the maxim
Wen Gott betrügt ist wohl betrogen undoubtedly applies. But what
if the Divine Deceiver begins to lose his power of deceiving ? Is
it the business of any of his creatures to come to his assistance ?
“June 20.—I have just returned from an hour’s
my aunt, who almost immediately opened out on the question of
her doubts. She spoke of them in tones of profound, indeed of
almost tragic agitation ; and I could not bring myself to say any-
thing which would increase her mental anguish, as I thought might
happen if I confessed to sharing them. I accordingly found
myself reverting after all to the old commonplaces,—that ‘these
things were mysteries’ and so forth (which of course is exactly the
trouble), and the rest of the ‘vacant chaff well meant for grain.’
It had a soothing effect at the time, and I returned home well
pleased with my own wise humanity, as I thought it. But now
that I look back upon it and examine my mixed motives, I am
forced to admit that there was more of cowardice than compassion
in the amalgam. I was not even quite sincere, I now find, in
pleading to myself my aunt’s distress of mind as an excuse for the
concealment, or rather the misrepresentation, of my opinions. I
knew at the time that she had had a bad night and that she is suf-
fering severely just now from suppressed gout. In other words, I
was secretly conscious at the back of my mind that the abnormal
excess of her momentary sufferings was due to physical and not
mental causes, and would yield readily enough to colchicum or
salicylic acid, which no one has ever ranked among Christian
apologetics. Yet I persuaded myself for the moment that it was
this quite exceptional and transitory state of my aunt’s feelings
which compelled me to keep silence.
“June 23.—To-day I have had what
seems—or seemed to me, for
I have not yet had time for a thorough analysis—a clear indication
of my only rational and legitimate course. My aunt Catherine said
plainly to me this afternoon that as she had gathered from our
conversations that my views were strictly orthodox, she would not
pain me in future by any further disclosures of her own doubts.
At the same time, she added, it was only right to tell me that my
pious advice had done her no good, but, on the contrary, harm, since
there was to her mind nothing so calculated to confirm scepticism
as the sight of a man of good understanding thus firmly wedded
to certain received opinions of which nevertheless he was unable to
offer any reasonable defence or even intelligible explanation whatso-
ever. Upon this hint I of course spoke. It was clear that if my
silence only increased my aunt’s trouble, and that if, further, it
threatened to convict me unjustly of stupidity, I was clearly
entitled, as well on altruistic as on self-regarding grounds, to reveal
my true opinions. In fact, I thought at the time that I had never
acted under the influence of a motive so clearly visible along its
whole course from Thought to Will, and so manifestly free from
any the smallest fibre of impulse having its origin in the subliminal
consciousness. Yet now I am beginning to doubt.
“June 24.—On a closer examination I feel that
my motive was
not, as I then thought, compounded equally of a legitimate desire
to vindicate my own intelligence and of a praiseworthy anxiety not
to add to my aunt’s spiritual perplexities, but that it was subtly
tainted with an illegitimate longing to continue my study of her
curious case. Consequently, I cannot now assure myself that if I
had not known that further concealment of my opinions would
arrest my aunt’s confidences and thus deprive me of a keen
psychological pleasure (which I have no right to enjoy at her
expense) the legitimate inducements to candour that were
presented to me would of themselves have prevailed.”
There is much more of the same kind ; but I will cut it short
at this point, not only to escape a headache, but to ask any
impartial reader into whose hands this apology may fall, whether,
I—who as I said before am not only John Johnson by name but
by nature—am a fit and proper person to edit the posthumous
papers of Basil Fillimer.
I come now, however, to what I consider my strongest justifi-
cation for declining this literary trust. Though I had, and
indeed still retain, the highest admiration for Basil Fillimer’s
intellectual subtlety, and though, confessing myself absolutely
unable to follow him into his refinements of analysis, I hazard
this opinion with diffidence, I do not think that, except in their
curiosity as infinitely delicate and minute mental processes, his
speculations are of any value to the world. I have formed this
opinion in my rough-and-ready way from a variety of circum-
stances ; but in support of it I rely mainly upon an incident
which occurred within a few months of my lamented friend’s
death, and which formed to the best of my knowledge the sole
passage of sentiment in his intensely speculative career.
To say that he fell in love would be to employ a metaphor of
quite inappropriate violence. He “shaded off” from a colourless
indifference to a certain young woman of his acquaintance
through various neutral tints of regard into a sort of pale sunset
glow of affection for her. Eleanor Selden was a first cousin of
my own. We had seen much of each other from childhood
upwards, and I knew—or thought I knew—her well. She was a
lively, good-natured, commonplace girl, without a spark of
romance about her, and all a woman’s eye to the main chance. I
don’t mean by this that she was more mercenary than most girls.
She merely took that practical view of life and its material
requirements which has always seemed to me (only I am not a
psychologist) to be so much more common among young people
of what is supposed to be the sentimental sex, than of the other.
I daresay she was not incapable of love—among appropriate
surroundings. Unlike some women, she was not constitutionally
unfitted to appear with success in the matrimonial drama ; but
she was particular about the mise-en-scène. “Act I., A Cottage,”
would not have suited her at all. She would have played the
wife’s part with no spirit, I feel convinced. As to “Act V., A
Cottage,” with an “interval of twenty years supposed to elapse”
between that and the preceding act, I doubt whether she would
ever have reached it at all.
I imparted these views of mine as delicately as I could to my
accomplished friend, but they produced no impression on him.
He told me kindly but firmly that I was altogether mistaken.
He had, he said, made a particularly careful study of Eleanor’s
character and had arrived at the confident conclusion that absolute
unselfishness formed its most distinctive feature. Nor was he at
all shaken in this opinion by the fact that when a little later on
he informed her of the nature of his sentiments towards her, he
found that she agreed with him in thinking that his then income
was not enough to marry upon, and that they had better wait
until the death of an uncle of his from whom he had expectations.
I felt rather curious to know what passed at the interview between
them, and questioned him on the subject.
“As to this objection on the ground of the insufficiency of
your income, did it come from you,” I asked, “or from her ?”
“What a question,” said Basil, contemptuously. “From me
“But at once?”
“How do you mean, at once ?”
“Well, was there any interval between your telling her you
loved her and your adding that you did not think you were well
enough off to marry just at present ?”
” Any interval ? No, of course not. It would have been
obviously unfair and ungenerous on my part to have made her a
declaration of love without at the same time adding that I could
not ask her to share my present poverty and—”
“Oh,” I interrupted, “you said that at the same time, did you ?
Then she had nothing to do but to agree ?”
“Well, no, of course not,” said Basil. “But, my dear fellow,”
he continued, with his usual half-pitying smile, “you don’t see the
point. The point is, that she agreed reluctantly—indeed with quite
” Did she press you to reconsider your decision ? ‘
” Well, no, she could hardly do that, you know. It would not
be quite consistent with maidenly reserve and so forth. But
she again and again declared her perfect readiness to share my
” Ah ! she did that, did she ? ”
” Yes, and even after she must have seen that my decision was
” Oh ! even after that : but not before ? Thank you, I
And I thought I did, as also did Basil. But I fancy our read-
ing of the incident was not the same.
A closer intimacy now followed between the two. They were
not engaged ; Basil had been beforehand in insisting that her future
freedom of choice should not be fettered, and she again ” reluctantly,
—indeed with quite obvious reluctance,” had agreed. They were
much in each other’s company, and Basil, who used to read her
some of the most intricate psychological chapters in his novel, in
which she showed the greatest interest, conceived a very high idea
of her intellectual gifts. “She has,” he said, “by far the subtlest
mind for a woman that I ever came in contact with.”
” Do you ever talk to her about your uncle ? ” I asked him one day.
” Oh yes, sometimes,” he replied. ” And, by the way,” he
added, suddenly, ” that reminds me. To show you how unjust is
the view you take of your cousin’s motives, as no doubt you do of
human nature generally like most superficial students of it (excuse
an old friend’s frankness), I may tell you that although there have
been many occasions when she might have put the question with
perfect naturalness and propriety, she has never once inquired the
amount of my uncle’s means.”
” It is very much to her credit,” said I.
” It is true,” he added, after a moment’s reflection and with a
half-laugh, ” I could not have told her if she had. His money is
all in personalty, and he is a close old chap.”
” Oh,” I said, ” have you ever by chance mentioned that to
” Eh ? What ? ” answered Basil, absently, for, as his manner
was, he was drifting away on some underground stream of his own
thoughts. ” Mentioned it ? I don’t recollect. I daresay I have.
Probably I must have done. Why do you ask ? ”
“Well,” said I, ” because if she knew you could not answer the
question that might account for her not asking it.”
But he was already lost in reverie, and I did not feel justified in
rousing him from it for no worthier purpose than that of hinting
suspicion of the disinterestedness of a blood relation.
In due time—or at least in what the survivors considered due
time, though I don’t suppose the poor old gentleman so regarded
it—Basil’s uncle died, and the nephew found himself the heir to a
snug little fortune of about £,900 a year. As soon as he was in
possession of it he wrote to Eleanor, acquainting her with the
change in his circumstances, and renewing his declaration of love,
accompanied this time with a proposal of immediate marriage. I
happened to look in upon him at his chambers on the evening of
the day on which the letter had been despatched, and he told me
what he had done.
” Ah ! ” said I, ” now, then, we shall see which of us is right.
But no,” I added, on a moment’s reflection, “after all, it won’t
prove anything ; for I suppose we both agree that she is likely to
accept you now, and I can’t deny that she can do so with perfect
Basil looked at me as from a great height, a Gulliver conversing
with a Lilliputian.
” Dear old Jack,” he said, after a few moments of obviously
amused silence, ” you are really most interesting. What makes
you think she will say Yes ? ”
” What ! ”
” What ! ” I exclaimed in astonishment. ” Don’t you think
so yourself ? ”
” On the contrary,” replied Basil, with that sad patient smile of
his, ” I am perfectly convinced that she will say No.”
I did not pursue the conversation, for my surprise at his opinion
had by this time disappeared. It occurred to me that after all it
was not unnatural in a man who had conceived so exalted an
estimate of Eleanor’s character. No doubt he thought her too
proud to incur the suspicion which might attach to her motives in
accepting him after this accession to his fortunes. I felt sure,
however, that he was mistaken, and it was therefore with
renewed and much increased surprise that I read the letter which
he placed in my hand with quiet triumph a few days after-
It was a refusal. Eleanor thanked him for his renewal of his
proposal, said she should always feel proud of having won the
affection of so accomplished a man, but that having carefully
examined her own heart, she felt that she did not love him enough
to marry him.
Basil, I feel sure, was as fond of my cousin as it was in his
nature to be of anybody ; but he was evidently much less dis-
appointed by her rejection than pleased with the verification of his
forecast. I confess I was puzzled at its success.
” How did you know she would refuse you ? ” I asked. ” I
must say that I thought her sufficiently alive to her own interests
to accept you.”
Basil gently shook his head.
“But I suppose you thought that she would reject you
of being considered mercenary.”
Basil still continued to shake his head, but now with a pro-
vokingly enigmatic smile.
” No ?
” No ? But confound it,” I cried, out of patience, ” there are
only these two alternatives in every case of this kind.”
” My dear Jack,” said Basil, after a few moments’ contemplation
of me, ” you have confounded it yourself. You are confusing act
with motive. It is true there are only two possible replies to the
question I asked Miss Selden ; but the series af alternating motives
for either answer is infinite.”
” Infinite ? ” echoed I, aghast.
“Yes,” said Basil, dreamily. ” It is obviously infinite, though
the human faculties in their present stage of development can only
follow a few steps of it. Would you really care to know,” he con-
tinued kindly, after a pause, ” the way in which I arrived at my
conclusion ? ”
” I should like it of all things,” I said.
” Then you had better just take a pencil and a sheet of paper,”
said Basil. “You will excuse the suggestion, but to any one un-
familiar with these trains of thought some aid of the kind is posi-
tively necessary. Now, then, let us begin with the simplest case,
that of a girl of selfish instincts and blunt sensibilities, who
looks out for as good a match, from the pecuniary point of view,
as she can make, and doesn’t very much care to conceal the
(” Eleanor down to the ground,” I thought to myself.)
” She would have said Yes to my question, wouldn’t she ? ”
” No doubt.”
” Very well, then, kindly mark that Case A.”
I did so.
” Next, we come to a girl of a somewhat higher type, not per-
haps indifferent to pecuniary considerations, but still too proud to
endure the suspicion of having acted upon them in the matter of
marriage. She would answer No, wouldn’t she ? ”
” Yes,” said I, eagerly. ” And surely that is the way in which
you must explain Eleanor’s refusal.”
“Pardon me,” said Basil, raising a deprecating hand, “it is not
quite so simple as that. But have you got that down? If so,
please mark it Case B. Thirdly, we get a woman of a nobler
nature who would have too much faith in her lover s generosity to
believe him capable of suspecting her motives, and who would wel-
come the opportunity of showing that faith. Have you got that
down ? ”
“Yes, every word,” said I. “But, my dear fellow, that is a
woman whose answer would be Yes.”
“Exactly,” replied Basil, imperturbably. “Mark it Case
And now,” he continued, lighting a cigarette, ” have the goodness
to favour me with your particular attention to this. There is a
woman of moral sensibilities yet more refined who would fear lest
her lover should suspect her of being actuated by motives really
mercenary, but veiled under the pretence of a desire to demonstrate
her reliance on his faith in her disinterestedness, and who would
consequently answer No. Do you follow that ? ”
” No, I’ll be damned if I do ! ” I cried, throwing down the
” Ah,” said Basil, sadly, ” I was afraid so. Nevertheless, for
convenience of reference, mark it Case D. There are of course
numberless others ; the series, as I have said, is infinite. There
is Case E, that of the woman who rises superior to this last-men-
tioned fear, and says Yes ; and there is Case F, that of the
woman who fears to be suspected of only feigning such superiority,
and says No. But it is probably unnecessary to carry the analysis
further. You believe that Miss Selden’s refusal of me comes under
Case B ; I, on the other hand, from my experience of the singular
subtlety and delicacy of her intellectual operations, am persuaded
that it belongs to the D category. Her alleged excuse is, of course,
purely conventional. Her plea that she is unable to love me,” he
added with an indescribable smile, ” is, for instance, absurd. I will
let a couple of months or so elapse, and shall then take steps to
ascertain from her whether it was the motive of Case B or that of
Case D by which she has been really actuated.”
The couple of months, alas ! were not destined to go by in
Basil’s lifetime. Three weeks later my poor friend was carried off
by an attack of pneumonia, and I was left with this unsolved pro-
blem of conduct on my mind.
I was, however, determined to seek the solution of it, and the
first time I met Eleanor I referred it to herself. I had taken the
precaution to bring my written notes with me so as to be sure
that the question was correctly stated.
” Nelly,” said I, for, as I have already said, we were not only
cousins, but had been brought up together from childhood, ” I
want you to tell me, your oldest chum, why you refused Basil
Fillimer. Was it because you were too proud to endure the
suspicion of having married for money, or was it—now for
goodness’ sake don’t interrupt me just here,” for I saw Nelly’s
smiling lips opening to speak ; “or was it,” I continued, carefully
reading from my paper, ” because you feared lest he should suspect
you of being actuated by motives really mercenary but veiled
under the pretence of a desire to demonstrate your reliance on his
faith in your disinterestedness ? ”
The smile broke into a ringing laugh.
“Why, you stupid Jack,” cried Eleanor, “what nonsense of
poor dear old Basil’s have you got into your head ? Why did I
refuse him ? You who have known me all my life to ask such a
question ! Now did you—did you think I was the sort of girl to
marry a man with only nine hundred a year ? ”
Candidly, I did not. But poor Basil did. And that, as I said
before, is one and perhaps the strongest among many reasons why
I think that his studies of human character and analyses of human
motive, though intellectually interesting, would not be likely to
prove of much practical value to the world.
SHE’S somewhere in the sunlight strong,
Her tears are in the falling rain,
She calls me in the wind’s soft song,
And with the flowers she comes again ;
Yon bird is but her messenger,
The moon is but her silver car,
Yea ! sun and moon are sent by her,
And every wistful, waiting star.
CAMPBELL was on his way to Schloss Altenau, for a second
quiet season with his work. He had spent three profitable
months there a year ago, and now he was devoutly hoping for a
repetition of that good fortune. His thoughts outran the train ;
and long before his arrival at the Hamelin railway station, he was
enjoying his welcome by the Ritterhausens, was revelling in the
ease and comfort of the old castle, and was contrasting the pleasures
of his home-coming—for he looked upon Schloss Altenau as a sort
of temporary home—with his recent cheerless experiences of
lodging-houses in London, hotels in Berlin, and strange indifferent
faces everywhere. He thought with especial satisfaction of the
Maynes, and of the good talks Mayne and he would have together,
late at night, before the great fire in the hall, after the rest of the
household had gone to bed. He blessed the adverse circumstances
which had turned Schloss Altenau into a boarding-house, and
had reduced the Freiherr Ritterhausen to eke out his shrunken
revenues by the reception, as paying guests, of English and
He rubbed the blurred window-pane with the fringed end of the
strap hanging from it, and, in the snow-covered landscape reeling
towards him, began to recognise objects that were familiar.
Hamelin could not be far off….. In another ten minutes the
train came to a standstill.
He stepped down from the overheated atmosphere of his com-
partment into the cold bright February afternoon, and through
the open station doors saw one of the Ritterhausen carriages
awaiting him, with Gottlieb in his second-best livery on the
box. Gottlieb showed every reasonable consideration for the
Baron’s boarders, but he had various methods of marking his sense of
the immense abyss separating them from the family. The use of
his second-best livery was one of these methods. Nevertheless, he
turned a friendly German eye up to Campbell, and in response
to his cordial ” Guten Tag, Gottlieb. Wie geht’s ? Und die
Herrschaften ? ” expressed his pleasure at seeing the young man
While Campbell stood at the top of the steps that led down to
the carriage and the Platz, looking after the collection of his
luggage and its bestowal by Gottlieb’s side, he became aware of
two persons, ladies, advancing towards him from the direction of
the Wartsaal. It was surprising to see any one at any time in
Hamelin station. It was still more surprising when one of these
ladies addressed him by name.
“You are Mr. Campbell, are you not?” she said. “We
have been waiting for you to go back in the carriage together.
When we found this morning that there was only half-an-hour
between your train and ours, I told the Baroness it would be
perfectly absurd to send to the station twice. I hope you won’t
mind our company ? ”
The first impression Campbell received was of the magnificent
apparel of the lady before him ; it would have been noticeable in
The Yellow Book—Vol. V. c
Paris or Vienna—it was extravagant here. Next, he perceived
that the face beneath the upstanding feathers and the curving hat-
brim was that of so very young a girl as to make the furs and
velvets seem more incongruous still. But the incongruity vanished
with the intonation of her first phrase, which told him she was an
American. He had no standards for American dress or manners.
It was clear that the speaker and her companion were inmates of
Campbell bowed, and murmured the pleasure he did not feel.
A true Briton, he was intolerably shy; and his heart sank at the
prospect of a three-mile drive with two strangers who evidently
had the advantage of knowing all about him, while he was in
ignorance of their very names. As he took his place opposite to
them in the carriage, he unconsciously assumed a cold blank stare,
pulling nervously at his moustache, as was his habit in moments
of discomposure. Had his companions been British also, the
ordeal of the drive would certainly have been a terrible one ; but
these young American girls showed no sense of embarrassment
“We’ve just come back from Hanover,” said the one who had
already spoken to him. “I go over once a week for a singing
lesson, and my little sister comes along to take care of me.”
She turned a narrow, smiling glance from Campbell to her
little sister, and then back to Campbell again. She had red hair,
freckles on her nose, and the most singular eyes he had ever seen ;
slit-like eyes, set obliquely in her head, Chinese fashion.
” Yes, Lulie requires a great deal of taking care of,” assented
the little sister, sedately, though the way in which she said it
seemed to imply something less simple than the words themselves.
The speaker bore no resemblance to Lulie. She was smaller,
thinner, paler. Her features were straight, a trifle peaked ; her
skin sallow ; her hair of a nondescript brown. She was much
less gorgeously dressed. There was even a suggestion of shabbi-
ness in her attire, though sundry isolated details of it were hand-
some too. She was also much less young ; or so, at any rate,
Campbell began by pronouncing her. Yet presently he wavered.
She had a face that defied you to fix her age. Campbell never
fixed it to his own satisfaction, but veered in the course of that drive
(as he was destined to do during the next few weeks) from point
to point up and down the scale between eighteen and thirty-five.
She wore a spotted veil, and beneath it a pince-nez, the lenses of
which did something to temper the immense amount of humorous
meaning which lurked in her gaze. When her pale prominent
eyes met Campbell’s, it seemed to the young man that they were
full of eagerness to add something at his expense to the stores of
information they had already garnered up. They chilled him
with misgivings ; there was more comfort to be found in her
sister’s shifting red-brown glances.
” Hanover is a long way to go for lessons,” he observed, forcing
himself to be conversational. ” I used to go myself about once a
week, when I first came to Schloss Altenau, for tobacco, or note-
paper, or to get my hair cut. But later on I did without, or
contented myself with what Hamelin, or even the village, could
” Nannie and I,” said the young girl, ” meant to stay only a
week at Altenau, on our way to Hanover, where we were going
to pass the winter ; but the Castle is just too lovely for any-
thing,” she added softly. She raised her eyelids the least little bit
as she looked at him, and such a warm and friendly gaze shot out
that Campbell was suddenly thrilled. Was she pretty, after all ?
He glanced at Nannie ; she, at least, was indubitably plain. ” It’s
the very first time we’ve ever stayed in a castle,” Lulie went on ;
” and we’re going to remain right along now, until we go home
in the spring. Just imagine living in a house with a real moat,
and a drawbridge, and a Rittersaal, and suits of armour that have
been actually worn in battle ! And oh, that delightful iron collar
and chain ! You remember it, Mr. Campbell ? It hangs right
close to the gateway on the court-yard side. And you know, in
old days, the Ritterhausens used it for the punishment of their
serfs. There are horrible stories connected with it. Mr. Mayne
can tell you them. But just think of being chained up there like
a dog ! So wonderfully picturesque.”
” For the spectator perhaps,” said Campbell, smiling. ” I
doubt if the victim appreciated the picturesque aspect of the
With this Lulie disagreed. ” Oh, I think he must have been
interested,” she said. ” It must have made him feel so absolutely
part and parcel of the Middle Ages. I persuaded Mr. Mayne to
fix the collar round my neck the other day ; and though it was
very uncomfortable, and I had to stand on tiptoe, it seemed to me
that all at once the court-yard was filled with knights in armour,
and crusaders, and palmers, and things ; and there were flags flying
and trumpets sounding ; and all the dead and gone Ritterhausens
had come down from their picture-frames, and were walking
about in brocaded gowns and lace ruffles.”
” It seemed to require a good deal of persuasion to get Mr.
Mayne to unfix the collar again,” said the little sister. ” How at
last did you manage it ? ”
But Lulie replied irrelevantly : ” And the Ritterhausens are
such perfectly lovely people, aren’t they, Mr. Campbell ? The
old Baron is a perfect dear. He has such a grand manner. When
he kisses my hand I feel nothing less than a princess. And the
Baroness is such a funny, busy, delicious little round ball of a
thing. And she’s always playing bagatelle, isn’t she ? Or else
cutting up skeins of wool for carpet-making.” She meditated a
moment. “Some people always are cutting things up in order to
join them together again,” she announced, in her fresh drawling
” And some people cut things up, and leave other people to do
all the reparation,” commented the little sister, enigmatically.
And all this time the carriage had been rattling over the
cobble-paved streets of the quaint mediæval town, where the
houses stand so near together that you may shake hands with
your opposite neighbour ; where allegorical figures, strange birds
and beasts, are carved and painted over the windows and doors ;
and where to every distant sound you lean your ear to catch the
fairy music of the Pied Piper, and at every street corner you look
to see his tatterdemalion form with the frolicking children at his
Then the Weser bridge was crossed, beneath which the ice-
floes jostled and ground themselves together, as they forced a way
down the river ; and the carriage was rolling smoothly along
country roads, between vacant snow-decked fields.
Campbell’s embarrassment was wearing off. Now that he was
getting accustomed to the girls, he found neither of them awe-
inspiring. The red-haired one had a simple child-like manner
that was charming. Her strange little face, with its piquant
irregularity of line, its warmth of colour, began to please him.
What though her hair was red, the uncurled wisp which strayed
across her white forehead was soft and alluring ; he could see soft
masses of it tucked up beneath her hat-brim as she turned her
head. When she suddenly lifted her red-brown lashes, those
queer eyes of hers had a velvety softness too. Decidedly, she
struck him as being pretty—in a peculiar way. He felt an
immense accession of interest in her. It seemed to him that he
was the discoverer of her possibilities. He did not doubt that the
rest of the world called her plain, or at least odd-looking. He, at
first, had only seen the freckles on her nose, her oblique-set eyes.
He wondered what she thought of herself, and how she appeared
to Nannie. Probably as a very commonplace little girl ; sisters
stand too close to see each other’s qualities. She was too young
to have had much opportunity of hearing flattering truths from
strangers ; and, besides, the ordinary stranger would see nothing
in her to call for flattering truths. Her charm was something
subtle, out-of-the-common, in defiance of all known rules of beauty.
Campbell saw superiority in himself for recognising it, for formu-
lating it ; and he was not displeased to be aware that it would,
always remain caviare to the multitude.
” I’m jolly glad to have you back,” Mayne said, that same
evening, when, the rest of the boarders having retired to their
rooms, he and Campbell were lingering over the hall-fire for a
talk and smoke. ” I’ve missed you awfully, old chap, and the
good times we used to have here. I’ve often meant to write to
you, but you know how one shoves off letter-writing day after
day, till at last one is too ashamed of one’s indolence to write at
all. But tell me—you had a pleasant drive from Hamelin ?
What do you think of our young ladies ? ”
“Those American girls? But they’re charming,” said Campbell,
with enthusiasm. ” The red-haired one is particularly charming.”
At this Mayne laughed so oddly that Campbell questioned him
in surprise. ” Isn’t she charming ? “
” My dear chap,” said Mayne, ” the red-haired one, as you call
her, is the most remarkably charming young person I’ve ever met
or read of. We’ve had a good many American girls here before
now—you remember the good old Clamp family, of course ?—
they were here in your time, I think ?—but we’ve never had any-
thing like this Miss Lulie Thayer. She is something altogether
Campbell was struck with the name. ” Lulie— Lulie Thayer,”
he repeated. ” How pretty it is.” And, full of his great discovery,
he felt he must confide it to Mayne, at least. ” Do you know,”
he went on, ” she is really very pretty too ? I didn’t think so at
first, but after a bit I discovered that she is positively quite pretty
—in an odd sort of way.”
Mayne laughed again. ” Pretty, pretty ! ” he echoed in
derision. ” Why, lieber Gott im Himmel, where are your eyes ?
Pretty ! The girl is beautiful, gorgeously beautiful ; every trait,
every tint, is in complete, in absolute harmony with the whole.
But the truth is, of course, we’ve all grown accustomed to the
obvious, the commonplace ; to violent contrasts ; blue eyes, black
eyebrows, yellow hair ; the things that shout for recognition.
You speak of Miss Thayer’s hair as red. What other colour
would you have, with that warm creamy skin ? And then, what
a red it is ! It looks as though it had been steeped in red
” Ah, what a good description,” said Campbell, appreciatively.
” That’s just it—steeped in red wine.”
“And yet it’s not so much her beauty,” Mayne continued.
” After all, one has met beautiful women before now. It’s her
wonderful generosity, her complaisance. She doesn’t keep her
good things to herself. She doesn’t condemn you to admire from
” How do you mean ? ” Campbell asked, surprised again.
“Why, she’s the most egregious little flirt I’ve ever met.
And yet, she’s not exactly a flirt, either. I mean she doesn’t flirt
in the ordinary way. She doesn’t talk much, or laugh, or appar-
ently make the least claims on masculine attention. And so all
the women like her. I don’t believe there’s one, except my wife,
who has an inkling as to her true character. The Baroness, as
you know, never observes anything. Seigneur Dieu ! if she knew
the things I could tell her about Miss Lulie ! For I’ve had
opportunities of studying her. You see, I’m a married man, and
not in my first youth ; out of the running altogether. The
looker-on gets the best view of the game. But you, who are
young and charming and already famous—we’ve had your book
here, by the bye, and there’s good stuff in it—you’re going to
have no end of pleasant experiences. I can see she means to add
you to her ninety-and-nine other spoils ; I saw it from the way
she looked at you at dinner. She always begins with those
velvety red-brown glances. She began that way with March and
Prendergast and Willie Anson, and all the men we’ve had here
since her arrival. The next thing she’ll do will be to press your
hand under the tablecloth.”
” Oh, come, Mayne ; you’re joking,” cried Campbell, a little
brusquely. He thought such jokes in bad taste. He had a high
ideal of Woman, an immense respect for her ; he could not endure
to hear her belittled even in jest. “Miss Thayer is refined and
charming. No girl of her class would do such things.”
” What is her class ? Who knows anything about her ? All
we know is that she and her uncanny little friend—her little
sister, as she calls her, though they’re no more sisters than you
and I are—they’re not even related—all we know is that she
and Miss Dodge (that’s the little sister’s name) arrived here
one memorable day last October from the Kronprinz Hotel at
Waldeck-Pyrmont. By the bye, it was the Clamps, I believe,
who told her of the Castle—hotel acquaintances—you know how
travelling Americans always cotton to each other. And we’ve
picked up a few little biographical notes from her and Miss Dodge
since. Zum Beispiel, she’s got a rich father somewhere away back
in Michigan, who supplies her with all the money she wants.
And she’s been travelling about since last May : Paris, Vienna,
the Rhine, Düsseldorf, and so on here. She must have had some
rich experiences, by Jove. For she’s done everything. Cycled in
Paris : you should see her in her cycling costume ; she wears it
when the Baron takes her out shooting—she’s an admirable shot,
by the way, an accomplishment learned, I suppose, from some
American cow-boy. Then in Berlin she did a month’s hospital
nursing ; and now she’s studying the higher branches of the
Terpsichorean art. You know she was in Hanover to-day. Did
she tell you what she went for ? ”
” To take a singing lesson,” said Campbell, remembering the
reason she had given.
” A singing lesson ! Do you sing with your legs ? A dancing
lesson, mein lieber. A dancing lesson from the ballet-master of the
Hof Theater. She could deposit a kiss on your forehead with her
foot, I don’t doubt. I wonder if she can do the grand écart yet.”
And when Campbell, in astonishment, wondered why on earth she
should wish to do such things, ” Oh, to extend her opportunities,”
Mayne explained, “and to acquire fresh sensations. She’s an
adventuress. Yes, an adventuress, but an end-of-the-century one.
She doesn’t travel for profit, but for pleasure. She has no desire to
swindle her neighbour of dollars, but to amuse herself at his expense.
And she’s clever ; she’s read a good deal ; she knows how to apply
her reading to practical life. Thus, she’s learned from Herrick
not to be coy ; and from Shakespeare that sweet-and-twenty is the
time for kissing and being kissed. She honours her masters in the
observance. She was not in the least abashed when, one day, I
suddenly came upon her teaching that damned idiot, young Anson,
two new ways of kissing.”
Campbell’s impressions of the girl were readjusting themselves
completely, but for the moment he was unconscious of the change.
He only knew that he was partly angry, partly incredulous, and
inclined to believe that Mayne was chaffing him.
” But Miss Dodge,” he objected, ” the little sister, she is older ;
old enough to look after her friend. Surely she could not allow
a young girl placed in her charge to behave in such a way—”
” Oh, that little Dodge girl,” said Mayne contemptuously ;
” Miss Thayer pays the whole shot, I understand, and Miss Dodge
plays gooseberry, sheep-dog, jackal, what you will. She finds her
reward in the other’s cast-off finery. The silk blouse she was wear-
ing to-night, I’ve good reason for remembering, belonged to Miss
Lulie. For, during a brief season, I must tell you, my young lady
had the caprice to show attentions to your humble servant. I suppose
my being a married man lent me a factitious fascination. But I didn’t
see it. That kind of girl doesn’t appeal to me. So she employed Miss
Dodge to do a little active canvassing. It was really too funny ;
I was coming in one day after a walk in the woods ; my wife was
trimming bonnets, or had neuralgia, or something. Anyhow, I
was alone, and Miss Dodge contrived to waylay me in the middle
of the court-yard. ‘Don’t you find it vurry dull walking all by
yourself ?’ she asked me ; and then blinking up in her strange
little short-sighted way—she’s really the weirdest little creature—
‘Why don’t you make love to Lulie ?’ she said ; ‘you’d find her
vurry charming.’ It took me a minute or two to recover presence
of mind enough to ask her whether Miss Thayer had commissioned
her to tell me so. She looked at me with that cryptic smile of hers ;
‘She’d like you to do so, I’m sure,’ she finally remarked, and
pirouetted away. Though it didn’t come off, owing to my bash-
fulness, it was then that Miss Dodge appropriated the silk bodice ;
and Providence, taking pity on Miss Thayer’s forced inactivity,
sent along March, a young fellow reading for the army, with
whom she had great doings. She fooled him to the top of his bent;
sat on his knee ; gave him a lock of her hair, which, having no
scissors handy, she burned off with a cigarette taken from his
mouth ; and got him to offer her marriage. Then she turned
round and laughed in his face, and took up with a Dr. Weber, a
cousin of the Baron’s, under the other man’s very eyes. You
never saw anything like the unblushing coolness with which she
would permit March to catch her in Weber’s arms.”
” Come,” Campbell protested, “aren’t you drawing it rather
strong ? ”
“On the contrary, I’m drawing it mild, as you’ll discover pre-
sently for yourself; and then you’ll thank me for forewarning you.
For she makes love—desperate love, mind you—to every man she
meets. And goodness knows how many she hasn’t met, in the
course of her career, which began presumably at the age of ten,
in some ‘Amur’can’ hotel or watering-place. Look at this.”
Mayne fetched an alpenstock from a corner of the hall ; it was
decorated with a long succession of names, which, ribbon-like, were
twisted round and round it, carved in the wood. ” Read them,”
insisted Mayne, putting the stick in Campbell’s hands. “You’ll
see they’re not the names of the peaks she has climbed, or the
towns she has passed through ; they’re the names of the men she
has fooled. And there’s room for more ; there’s still a good deal
of space, as you see. There’s room for yours.”
Campbell glanced down the alpenstock—reading here a name,
there an initial, or just a date—and jerked it impatiently from him
on to a couch. He wished with all his heart that Mayne would stop,
would talk of something else, would let him get away. The
young girl had interested him so much ; he had felt himself so
drawn towards her ; he had thought her so fresh, so innocent. But
Mayne, on the contrary, was warming to his subject, was enchanted
to have some one to listen to his stories, to discuss his theories, to
share his cynical amusement.
” I don’t think, mind you,” he said, ” that she is a bit interested
herself in the men she flirts with. I don’t think she gets any of
the usual sensations from it, you know. I think she just does it
for devilry, for a laugh. Sometimes I wonder whether she does it
with an idea of retribution. Perhaps some woman she was fond
of, perhaps her mother even—who knows ?—was badly treated at
the hands of a man. Perhaps this girl has constituted herself the
Nemesis for her sex, and goes about seeing how many masculine
hearts she can break by way of revenge. Or can it be that she is
simply the newest development of the New Woman—she who in
England preaches and bores you, and in America practises and
pleases ? Yes, I believe she’s the American edition, and so new
that she hasn’t yet found her way into fiction. She’s the pioneer
of the army coming out of the West, that’s going to destroy the
existing scheme of things and rebuild it nearer to the heart’s
” Oh, damn it all, Mayne,” cried Campbell, rising abruptly,
“why not say at once that she’s a wanton, and have done with it ?
Who wants to hear your rotten theories ? ” And he lighted his
candle without another word, and went off to bed.
It was four o’clock, and the Baron’s boarders were drinking
their afternoon coffee, drawn up in a circle round the hall fire.
All but Campbell, who had carried his cup away to a side-table,
and, with a book open before him, appeared to be reading assidu-
ously. In reality he could not follow a line of what he read ; he
could not keep his thoughts from Miss Thayer. What Mayne
had told him was germinating in his mind. Knowing his friend
as he did, he could not on reflection doubt his word. In spite of
much superficial cynicism, Mayne was incapable of speaking
lightly of any young girl without good cause. It now seemed
to Campbell that, instead of exaggerating the case, Mayne had
probably understated it. The girl repelled him to-day as much
as she had charmed him yesterday. He asked himself with horror,
what had she not already known, seen, permitted ? When now
and again his eyes travelled over, perforce, to where she sat, her red
head leaning against Miss Dodge’s knee, seeming to attract and
concentrate all the glow of the fire, his forehead set itself in
frowns, and he returned with an increased sense of irritation to his
” I’m just sizzling up, Nannie,” Miss Thayer presently com-
plained, in her child-like, drawling little way ; ” this fire is too hot
for anything.” She rose and shook straight her loose tea-gown,
a marvellous garment created in Paris, which would have accused
a duchess of wilful extravagance. She stood smiling round a
moment, pulling on and off with her right hand the big diamond
ring which decorated the left. At the sound of her voice
Campbell had looked up ; now his cold unfriendly eyes en-
countered hers. He glanced rapidly past her, then back to his
book. But she, undeterred, with a charming sinuous movement
and a frou-frou of trailing silks, crossed over towards him. She
slipped into an empty chair next his.
” I’m going to do you the honour of sitting beside you, Mr.
Campbell,” she said sweetly.
” It’s an honour I’ve done nothing whatever to merit,” he
answered, without looking at her, and turned a page.
” The right retort,” she approved ; ” but you might have said
it a little more cordially.”
“I don’t feel cordial.”
” But why not ? What has happened ? Yesterday you were
” Ah, a good deal of water has run under the bridge since
” But still the river remains as full,” she told him, smiling,
” and still the sky is as blue. The thermometer has even risen
six degrees. Out-of-doors, to-day, I could feel the spring-time
in the air. You, too, love the spring, don’t you ? I know that
from your books. And I wanted to tell you, I think your books
perfectly lovely. I know them, most all. I’ve read them away
home. They’re very much thought of in America. Only last
night I was saying to Nannie how glad I am to have met you,
for I think we’re going to be great friends ; aren’t we, Mr.
Campbell ? At least, I hope so, for you can do me so much
good, if you will. Your books always make me feel real good ;
but you yourself can help me much more.”
She looked up at him with one of her warm, narrow red-
brown glances, which yesterday would have thrilled his blood, and
to-day merely stirred it to anger.
“You over-estimate my abilities,” he said coldly ; “and on the
whole, I fear you will find writers a very disappointing race.
You see, they put their best into their books. So, not to dis-
illusion you too rapidly “—he rose—” will you excuse me ? I
have some work to do.” And he left her sitting there alone.
But he did no work when he got to his room. Whether
Lulie Thayer was actually present or not, it seemed that her
influence was equally disturbing to him. His mind was full of
her : of her singular eyes, her quaint intonation, her sweet
seductive praise. Yesterday such praise would have been delight-
ful to him : what young author is proof against appreciation of
his books ? To-day, Campbell simply told himself that she laid
the butter on too thick ; that it was in some analogous manner
she had flattered up March, Anson, and all the rest of the men
that Mayne had spoken of. He supposed it was the first step in
the process by which he was to be fooled, twisted round her
finger, added to the list of victims who strewed her conquering
path. He had a special fear of being fooled. For beneath a
somewhat supercilious exterior, the dominant note of his character
was timidity, distrust of his own merits ; and he knew he was
single-minded—one-idea’d almost ; if he were to let himself go, to
get to care very much for a woman, for such a girl as this girl,
for instance, he would lose himself completely, be at her mercy
absolutely. Fortunately, Mayne had let him know her character :
he could feel nothing but dislike for her—disgust, even ; and yet
he was conscious how pleasant it would be to believe in her
innocence, in her candour. For she was so adorably pretty :
her flower-like beauty grew upon him ; her head, drooping a
little on one side when she looked up, was so like a flower bent
by its own weight. The texture of her cheeks, her lips, were
delicious as the petals of a flower. He found he could recall with
perfect accuracy every detail of her appearance : the manner in
which the red hair grew round her temples ; how it was loosely
and gracefully fastened up behind with just a single tortoise-shell
pin. He recalled the suspicion of a dimple which shadowed
itself in her cheek when she spoke, and deepened into a delicious
reality every time she smiled. He remembered her throat ; her
hands, of a beautiful whiteness, with pink palms and pointed
fingers. It was impossible to write. He speculated long on the
ring she wore on her engaged finger. He mentioned this ring to
Mayne the next time he saw him.
” Engaged ? very much so I should say. Has got a fiancé in
every capital of Europe probably. But the ring-man is the fiancé
en titre. He writes to her by every mail, and is tremendously in
love with her. She shows me his letters. When she’s had her
fling, I suppose, she’ll go back and marry him. That’s what
these little American girls do, I’m told ; sow their wild oats here
with us, and settle down into bonnes ménagères over yonder.
Meanwhile, are you having any fun with her ? Aha, she presses
your hand ? The ‘gesegnete Mahlzeit’ business after dinner is an
excellent institution, isn’t it ? She’ll tell you how much she
loves you soon ; that’s the next move in the game.”
But so far she had done none of these things, for Campbell
gave her no opportunities. He was guarded in the extreme,
ungenial ; avoiding her even at the cost of civility. Sometimes
he was downright rude. That especially occurred when he felt
himself inclined to yield to her advances. For she made him all
sorts of silent advances, speaking with her eyes, her sad little
mouth, her beseeching attitude. And then one evening she went
further still. It occurred after dinner in the little green drawing-
room. The rest of the company were gathered together in the
big drawing-room beyond. The small room has deep embrasures
to the windows. Each embrasure holds two old faded green
velvet sofas in black oaken frames, and an oaken oblong table
stands between them. Campbell had flung himself down on one
of these sofas in the corner nearest the window. Miss Thayer,
passing through the room, saw him, and sat down opposite.
She leaned her elbows on the table, the laces of her sleeves
falling away from her round white arms, and clasped her
“Mr. Campbell, tell me what have I done? How have I
vexed you ? You have hardly spoken two words to me all day.
You always try to avoid me.” And when he began to utter
evasive banalities, she stopped him with an imploring ” Don’t ! I
love you. You know I love you. I love you so much I can’t
bear you to put me off with mere phrases.”
Campbell admired the well-simulated passion in her voice,
remembered Mayne’s prediction, and laughed aloud.
” Oh, you may laugh,” she said, ” but I am serious. I love
you, I love you with my whole soul.” She slipped round the end
of the table, and came close beside him. His first impulse was to
rise ; then he resigned himself to stay. But it was not so much
resignation that was required, as self-mastery, cool-headedness.
Her close proximity, her fragrance, those wonderful eyes raised so
beseechingly to his, made his heart beat.
” Why are you so cold ? ” she said. ” I love you so ; can’t you
love me a little too ? ”
“My dear young lady,” said Campbell, gently repelling her,
” what do you take me for ? A foolish boy like your friends
Anson and March ? What you are saying is monstrous, pre-
posterous. Ten days ago you’d never even seen me.”
” What has length of time to do with it ? ” she said. ” I loved
you at first sight.”
” I wonder,” he observed judicially, and again gently removed
The Yellow Book—Vol. V. D
her hand from his, ” to how many men you have not already said
the same thing.”
“I’ve never meant it before,” she said quite earnestly, and
nestled closer to him, and kissed the breast of his coat, and held
her mouth up towards his. But he kept his chin resolutely high,
and looked over her head.
” How many men have you not already kissed, even since you’ve
been here ? ”
“But there’ve not been many here to kiss!” she exclaimed
” Well, there was March ; you kissed him ? “
” No, I’m quite sure I didn’t.”
” And young Anson ; what about him ? Ah, you don’t
answer ! And then the other fellow—what’s his name—Pren-
dergast—you’ve kissed him ? ”
“But, after all, what is there in a kiss ? ” she cried ingenuously.
” It means nothing, absolutely nothing. Why, one has to kiss all
sorts of people one doesn’t care about.”
Campbell remembered how Mayne had said she had probably
known strange kisses since the age of ten ; and a wave of anger
with her, of righteous indignation, rose within him.
” To me,” said he, ” to all right-thinking people, a young girl’s
kisses are something pure, something sacred, not to be offered in-
discriminately to every fellow she meets. Ah, you don’t know
what you have lost ! You have seen a fruit that has been
handled, that has lost its bloom ? You have seen primroses,
spring flowers gathered and thrown away in the dust ? And who
enjoys the one, or picks up the others ? And this is what you
remind me of—only you have deliberately, of your own perverse
will, tarnished your beauty, and thrown away all the modesty,
the reticence, the delicacy, which make a young girl so infinitely
dear. You revolt me, you disgust me. I want nothing from you,
but to be let alone. Kindly take your hands away, and let me go.”
He roughly shook her off and got up, then felt a moment’s
curiosity to see how she would take the repulse.
Miss Thayer never blushed : had never, he imagined, in her
life done so. No faintest trace of colour now stained the
warm pallor of her rose-leaf skin ; but her eyes filled up with
tears ; two drops gathered on the under-lashes, grew large,
trembled an instant, and then rolled unchecked down her cheeks.
Those tears somehow put him in the wrong, and he felt he had
behaved brutally to her for the rest of the night.
He began to find excuses for her : after all, she meant no
harm : it was her up-bringing, her genre : it was a genre he
loathed ; but perhaps he need not have spoken so harshly to her.
He thought he would find a more friendly word for her next
morning ; and he loitered about the Mahlsaal, where the boarders
come in to breakfast as in an hotel, just when it suits them, till
past eleven ; but the girl never turned up. Then, when he
was almost tired of waiting, Miss Dodge put in an appear-
ance, in a flannel wrapper, and her front hair twisted up in steel
Campbell judged Miss Dodge with even more severity than he
did Miss Thayer ; there was nothing in this weird little creature’s
appearance to temper justice with mercy. It was with difficulty
that he brought himself to inquire after her friend.
” Lulie is sick this morning,” she told him. ” I’ve come down
to order her some broth. She couldn’t sleep any last night,
because of your unkindness to her. She’s vurry, vurry unhappy
” Yes, I’m sorry for what I said. I had no right to speak so
strongly, I suppose. But I spoke strongly because I feel strongly.
However, there’s no reason why my bad manners should make her
“Oh, yes, there’s vurry good reason,” said Miss Dodge.
” She’s vurry much in love with you.”
Campbell looked at the speaker long and earnestly to try and
read her mind ; but the prominent blinking eyes, the cryptic
physiognomy, told him nothing.
” Look here,” he said brusquely, ” what’s your object in trying
to fool me like this ? I know all about your friend. Mayne has
told me. She has cried ‘Wolf’ too often before to expect to be
“But after all,” argued Miss Dodge, blinking more than ever
behind her glasses, ” the wolf did really come at last, you know ;
didn’t he ? Lulie is really in love this time. We’ve all made
mistakes in our lives, haven’t we ? But that’s no reason for not
being right at last. And Lulie has cried herself sick.”
Campbell was a little shaken. He went and repeated the
conversation to Mayne, who laughed derisively.
” Capital, capital ! ” he cried ; “excellently contrived. It quite
supports my latest theory about our young friend. She’s an
actress, a born comédienne. She acts always, and to every one :
to you, to me, to the Ritterhausens, to the Dodge girl—even to
herself when she is quite alone. And she has a great respect for
her art ; she’ll carry out her rôle, côute que côute, to the bitter end.
She chooses to pose as in love with you ; you don’t respond ; the
part now requires that she should sicken and pine. Consequently
she takes to her bed, and sends her confidante to tell you so. Oh,
it’s colossal, it’s famos.”
“If you can’t really love me,” said Lulie Thayer—” and I know
I’ve been a bad girl and don’t deserve that you should—at least,
will you allow me to go on loving you ? ”
She walked by Campbell’s side, through the solitary uncared-
for park of Schloss Altenau. It was three weeks later in the
year, and the spring feeling in the air stirred the blood. All
round were signs and tokens of spring : in the busy gaiety of bird
and insect life ; in the purple flower-tufts which thickened the
boughs of the ash trees ; in the young green things pushing up
pointed heads from amidst last season’s dead leaves and grasses. The
snow-wreathes, that had for so long decorated the distant hills, were
shrinking perceptibly away beneath the strong March sunshine.
There was every invitation to spend one’s time out of doors,
and Campbell passed long mornings in the park, or wandering
through the woods or the surrounding villages. Miss Thayer
often accompanied him. He never invited her to do so, but when
she offered him her company, he could not, or at least did not,
” May I love you ? Say,” she entreated.
” ‘Wenn ich Dich liebe, was geht ‘s Dich an ?’ ” he quoted
lightly. ” Oh, no, it’s nothing to me, of course. Only don’t
expect me to believe you—that’s all.”
This disbelief of his was the recurring decimal of their con-
versation. No matter on what subject they began, they always
ended thus. And the more sceptical he showed himself, the
more eager she became. She exhausted herself in endeavours to
They had reached the corner in the park where the road to the
castle turns off at right angles from the road to Dürrendorf. The
ground rises gently on the park-side to within three feet of the
top of the wall, although on the other side there is a drop of at
least twenty feet. The broad wall-top makes a convenient seat.
Campbell and the girl sat down on it. At his last words she wrung
her hands together in her lap.
“But how can you disbelieve me ? ” she cried, “when I tell
you I love you, I adore you ? When I swear it to you ? And
can’t you see for yourself ? Why, every one at the Castle
” Yes, you afford the Castle a good deal of unnecessary amuse-
ment. And that shows you don’t understand what love really is.
Real love is full of delicacy, of reticences, and would feel itself
profaned if it became the jest of the servants hall.”
” I think it’s not so much my love for you,” said Lulie gently,
” as your rejection of it, which has made me talked about.”
” No ; isn’t it rather on account of the favours you’ve lavished
on all my predecessors ? ”
She sprang from the wall to her feet, and walked up and down
“But after all, surely, mistakes of that sort are not to be
counted against us ? I did really think I was in love with Mr.
March. Willie Anson doesn’t count. He’s an American too,
and he understands things. Besides, he is only a boy. And how
could I know I should love you before I had met you ? And
how can I help loving you now I have ? You’re so different from
other men. You’re good. You’re honourable, you treat women
with respect. Oh, I do love you so, I do love you ! Ask Nannie
if I don’t.”
The way in which Campbell shrugged his shoulders clearly
expressed the amount of reliance he would place on any testimony
from Miss Dodge. He could not forget her ” Why don’t you
make love to Lulie ? ” addressed to a married man. Such a want
of principle argued an equal want of truth.
Lulie seemed on the brink of weeping.
” Oh, I wish I were dead,” she struggled to say ; ” life’s
impossible if you won’t believe me. I don’t ask you to love me
any longer. I know I’ve been a bad girl, and I don’t deserve
that you should ; but if you won’t believe that I love you, I don’t
want to live any longer.”
Campbell confessed to himself that she acted admirably, but that
the damnable iteration of the one idea became monotonous. He
sought a change of subject. ” Look there,” he said, ” close by
the wall, what’s that jolly little blue flower ? It’s the first I’ve
seen this year.”
He pointed to where a periwinkle grew at the base of the wall,
lifting its bright petals gaily from out its dark glossy leaves.
Lulie, all smiles again, picked it with child-like pleasure. ” Oh,
if that’s the first you’ve seen,” she cried, ” you can take a wish.
Only you mustn’t speak until some one asks you a question.”
She began to fasten it in his coat. ” It’s just as blue as your
eyes,” she said, ” You have such blue and boyish eyes, you know.
Stop, stop, that’s not a question,” and seeing that he was about to
speak, she laid her finger across his mouth. ” You’ll spoil the
She stepped back, folded her arms, and seemed to dedicate
herself to eternal silence ; then relenting suddenly :
” Do you believe me ? ” she entreated.
” What’s become of your ring ? ” Campbell answered irrelevantly.
He had noticed its absence from her finger while she had been
fixing in the flower.
” Oh, my engagement’s broken.”
Campbell asked how the fiancé would like that.
” Oh, he won’t mind. He knows I only got engaged because
he worried so. And it was always understood between us, that I
was to be free if I ever met any one I liked better.”
Campbell asked her what sort of fellow this accommodating
“Oh, he’s all right. And he’s very good too. But he’s not a
bit clever, and don’t let us talk about him. He makes me
” But you’re wrong,” Campbell told her, ” to throw away a
good, a sincere affection. If you really want to reform and turn
over a new leaf, as you are always telling me, I should advise you
to go home and marry him.”
” What, when I’m in love with you ! ” she cried reproachfully.
” Would that be right ? ”
” It’s going to rain,” said Campbell. ” Didn’t you feel a drop
just then ? And it’s getting near lunch-time. Shall we go
in ? ”
Their shortest way led through the little cemetery in which
the dead and gone Ritterhausens lay at peace, in the shadow of
their sometime home.
” When I die the Baron has promised I shall be buried here,” said
Lulie pensively ; “just here, next to his first wife. Don’t you
think it would be lovely to be buried in a beautiful, peaceful
baronial graveyard instead of in some horrid crowded city
cemetery ? ”
Mayne met them as they entered the hall. He noticed the
flower in his friend’s coat. ” Ah, my dear chap, been treading
the periwinkle path of dalliance, I see ? How many desirable
young men have I not witnessed, led down the same broad way
by the same seductive lady ! Always the same thing, nothing
changed, but the flower, according to the season.”
When Campbell reached his room and changed his coat, he
threw the flower away into his stove.
Had it not been for Mayne, Miss Thayer might have triumphed
after all ; might have convinced Campbell of her passion, or have
added another victim to her long list. But Mayne had set him-
self as determinedly to spoil her game as she was bent on winning
it. He had always the cynical word, the apt reminiscence ready,
whenever he saw signs on Campbell’s part of yielding. He was
very fond of Campbell. He did not wish to see him fall a prey to
the wiles of this little American syren. He had watched her
conduct in the past with a dozen different men ; he genuinely
believed she was only acting now.
Campbell, for his part, began to feel a curious and growing
irritation in the girl’s presence. Yet he did not avoid it ; he could
not well avoid it, she followed him about so persistently ; but his
speech began to overflow with bitterness towards her. He said the
cruellest things ; then remembering them afterwards when alone,
he blushed at his brutalities. But nothing he said ever altered her
sweetness of temper or weakened the tenacity of her purpose. His
rebuffs made her beautiful eyes run over with tears, but the harshest
of them never elicited the least sign of resentment. There would
have been something touching as well as comic in this dog-like
forgiveness, which accepted everything as welcome at his hands,
had he not been imbued with Mayne’s conviction that it was all an
admirable piece of acting. When for a moment he forgot the
histrionic theory, then invariably there would come a chance word
in her conversation which would fill him with cold rage. They
would be talking of books, travels, sport, what not, and she would
drop a reference to this man or to that. So-and-so had taken her to
Bullier’s, she had learned skating with this other. She was a capital
shot, Hiram P. Ladd had taught her ; and he got glimpses of long
vistas of amourettes played in every State in America, and in every
country of Europe, since the very beginning, when, as a mere
child, elderly men, friends of her father’s, had held her on their
knee and fed her with sweetmeats and kisses. It was sickening to
think of ; it was pitiable. So much youth and beauty tarnished :
the possibility for so much good thrown away. For if one could
only blot out her record, forget it, accept her for what she chose
to appear, a more endearing companion no man could desire.
It was a wet afternoon. Mayne had accompanied his wife and the
Baroness into Hamelin. ” To take up a servant’s character, and ex-
postulate with a recalcitrant dressmaker,” he explained to Campbell,
and wondered what women would do to fill up their days, were it
not for the perennial villanies of dressmakers and domestic servants.
He himself was going to look in at the English Club ; wouldn’t
Campbell come too ? There was a fourth seat in the carriage.
But Campbell was in no social mood ; he felt his temper going all
to pieces ; a quarter of an hour of Mrs. Mayne’s society would
have brought on an explosion. He felt he must be alone ; yet
when he had read for half an hour in his room he wondered
vaguely what Lulie was doing ; he had not seen her since luncheon.
She always gave him her society when he could very well dispense
with it, but on a wet day like this, when a little conversation would
be tolerable, of course she stayed away. Then there came down the
long Rittersaal the tapping of high heels and a well-known knock
at his door.
“Am I disturbing you?” she asked ; and his mood was so
capricious that, now she was standing there on his threshold, he
thought he was annoyed at it. ” It’s so dull,” she said, persuasively :
” Nannie’s got a sick headache, and I daren’t go downstairs, or the
Baron will annex me to play Halma. He always wants to play
Halma on wet days.”
” And what do you want to do? ” said Campbell, leaning against
the doorpost, and letting his eyes rest on the strange piquant face
in its setting of red hair.
” To be with you, of course.”
” Well,” said he, coming out and closing the door, ” I’m at your
service. What next ? ”
” What would you like to do ? Shall I fetch over my pistols,
and we’ll practise with them ? You’ve no notion how well I can
shoot. We couldn’t hurt anything here, could we ? ”
The Rittersaal is an immense room occupying all the space on
the first floor that the hall and four drawing-rooms do on the floor
below. Wooden pillars support the ceiling, and divide the room
lengthwise into three parts. Down the centre are long tables,
used for ceremonial banquets. Six windows look into the court-
yard, and six out over the open country. The centre pane of
each window is emblazoned with a Ritterhausen shield. The sills
are broad and low, and cushioned in faded velvet. Between the
windows hang family portraits, and a fine stone-sculptured six-
teenth-century fireplace and overmantel at one end of the Saal
faces a magnificent black carved buffet at the other. Lulie,
bundling up her duchess tea-gown over one arm, danced off down
the long room in very unduchess-like fashion to fetch the case.
It was a charming little box of cedar-wood and mother-o’-pearl,
lined with violet velvet ; and two tiny revolvers lay inside, hardly
more than six inches long, with silver engraved handles.
” I won
” I won them in a bet,” she observed complacently, ” with the
Hon. Billie Thornton. He’s an Englishman, you know, the son
of Lord Thornton. I knew him in Washington two years ago
last fall. He bet I couldn’t hit a three-cent piece at twenty feet,
and I did. Aren’t they perfectly sweet ? Now, can’t you con-
trive a target ? ”
Campbell went back to his room, drew out a rough diagram,
and pasted it down on to a piece of stout cardboard. Then this
was fixed up by means of a penknife driven into the wood against
one of the pillars, and Campbell, with his walking-stick laid
down six successive times, measured off the distance required,
and set a chalk mark across the floor. Lulie took the first shot.
She held the little weapon out at arm’s length—pulled the trigger.
There was the sharp report, and when Campbell went up to
examine results, he found she had only missed the very centre by
half an inch.
Lulie was exultant. ” I don’t seem to have got out of practice
any,” she remarked. ” I’m so glad, for I used to be a very good
shot. It was Hiram P. Ladd who taught me. He’s the crack
shot of Montana. What ! you don’t know Hiram P. ? Why, I
should have supposed every one must have heard of him. He had
the next ranche to my Uncle Samuel’s, where I used to go
summers, and he made me do an hour’s pistol practice every
morning after bathing. It was he who taught me swimming too
—in the river.”
” Damnation,” said Campbell under his breath, then shot in his
turn, and shot wide. Lulie made another bull’s-eye, and after
that a white. She urged Campbell to continue, which he sullenly
did, and again missed.
” You see I don’t come up to your Hiram P. Ladd,” he
remarked savagely, and after a few more shots on either side he
put the pistol down, and walked over to the window. He stood
with one foot on the cushioned seat, staring out at the rain, and
pulling at his moustache moodily.
Lulie followed him, nestled up to him, lifted the hand that
hung passive by his side, put it round her waist, and held it there.
Campbell, lost in thought, let it remain so for a second : then
remembered how she had doubtless done this very same thing
with other men in this very room. All her apparently spontaneous
movements, he told himself, were but the oft-used pieces in the
game she played so skilfully.
” Let go,” he said, and flung himself down on the window-
seat, looking up at her with darkening eyes.
She sat meekly in the other corner, and folded her offending
hands in her lap.
” Do you know, your eyes are not a bit nice when you’re
cross ; ” she said, ” they seem to become quite black.”
He maintained a discouraging silence.
She looked over at him meditatively.
” I never cared a bit for Hiram P., if that’s what you mean,”
she remarked presently.
” Do you suppose I care a button if you did ? “
” Then why did you leave off shooting, and why won’t you
talk to me ? ”
He vouchsafed no reply.
Lulie spent some moments wrapped in thought. Then she
sighed deeply, and recommenced on a note of pensive regret :
“Ah, if I’d only met you sooner in life, I should be a very
The freshness which her quaint, drawling enunciation lent to
this time-dishonoured formula, made Campbell smile. Then
remembering all its implications, his face set in frowns again.
Lulie continued her discourse. “You see,” said she, “I never
had any one to teach me what was right. My mother died when
I was quite a child, and my father has always let me do exactly as
I pleased, so long as I didn’t bother him. Then I’ve never had a
home, but have always lived around in hotels and places ; all
winter in New York or Washington, and summers out at Long-
branch or Saratoga. It’s true we own a house in Detroit on
Lafayette Avenue, that we reckon as home, but we don’t ever
go there. It’s a bad sort of life for a girl, isn’t it ? ” she questioned,
His mind was at work. The loose threads of his angers, his
irritations, his desires were knitting themselves together, weaving
themselves into something overmastering and definite.
The young girl meanwhile was moving up towards him along
the seat, for the effect which his sharpest rebuke produced on her
never lasted more than four minutes. She now again possessed
herself of his hand, and holding it between her own, began to
caress it in child-like fashion, pulling the fingers apart and closing
them again ; spreading it, palm downwards on her lap, and
laying her own little hand over it, to exemplify the differences
between them. He let her be ; he seemed unconscious of her pro-
” And then,” she continued, ” I’ve always known a lot of
young fellows who’ve liked to take me round ; and no one ever
objected to my going with them, and so I went. And I liked it,
and there wasn’t any harm in it, just kissing and making believe,
and nonsense. And I never really cared for one of them—I can
see that now, when I compare them with you ; when I compare
what I felt for them, with what I feel for you. Oh, I do love
you so much,” she said ; “don’t you believe me ? ” She lifted his
hand to her lips and covered it with kisses.
He pulled it roughly away, got up, walked to the table, came
back again, stood looking at her with sombre eyes and dilating
” I do love you,” she repeated, rising and advancing towards
” For God’s sake, drop that damned rot,” he cried with sudden
fury. ” It wearies me, do you hear ? it sickens me. Love, love,
my God, what do you know about it ? Why, if you really loved
me, really loved any man—if you had any conception of what the
passion of love is, how beautiful, how fine, how sacred—the mere
idea that you could not come to your lover fresh, pure, untouched,
as a young girl should—that you had been handled, fondled, and
God knows what besides, by this man and the other—would fill
you with such horror for yourself, with such supreme disgust—you
would feel yourself so unworthy, so polluted . . . that . . .
that . . . by God ! you would take up that pistol there, and
blow your brains out ! ”
Lulie seemed to find the idea quite entertaining. She picked
the pistol up from where it lay in the window, examined it with
her pretty head drooping on one side, looked at it critically, and
then sent one of her long, red-brown caressing glances up towards
” And suppose I were to,” she asked lightly, ” would you
believe me then ? ”
” Oh, . . . well . . . then, perhaps ; if you showed suffi-
cient decency to kill yourself, perhaps I might,” said he, with
ironical laughter. His ebullition had relieved him ; his nerves
were calmed again. “But nothing short of that would ever
With her little tragic air which seemed so like a smile dis-
guised, she raised the weapon to the bosom of her gown. There
came a sudden, sharp crack, a tiny smoke film. She stood an
instant swaying slightly, smiling certainly, distinctly outlined
against the background of rain-washed window, of grey falling
rain, the top of her head cutting in two the Ritterhausen
escutcheon. Then all at once there was nothing at all between
him and the window ; he saw the coat-of-arms entire ; but a
motionless, inert heap of plush and lace, and fallen wine-red hair,
lay at his feet upon the floor.
” Child, child, what have you done ? ” he cried with anguish,
and kneeling beside her, lifted her up, and looked into her
* * * * *
When from a distance of time and place Campbell was at last
able to look back with some degree of calmness on the catastrophe,
the element which stung him most keenly was this : he could
never convince himself that Lulie had really loved him after all.
And the only two persons who had known them both, and the
circumstances of the case, sufficiently well to have resolved
his doubts one way or the other, held diametrically opposite
“Well, just listen, then, and I’ll tell you how it was,” Miss
Nannie Dodge had said to him impressively, the day before he
left Schloss-Altenau for ever, ” Lulie was tremendously, terribly
in love with you. And when she found that you wouldn’t care
about her, she didn’t want to live any more. As to the way in
which it happened, you don’t need to reproach yourself for that.
She’d have done it, anyhow : if not then, why, later. But it’s all
the rest of your conduct to her that was so cruel. Your cold,
complacent British unresponsiveness. I guess you’ll never find
another woman to love you as Lulie did. She was just the
darlingest, the sweetest, the most loving girl in the world.”
Mayne, on the other hand, summed it up in this way :
” Of course, old chap, it’s horrible to think of: horrible, horrible,
horrible ! I can’t tell you how badly I feel about it. For she
was a gorgeously beautiful creature. That red hair of hers !
Good Lord ! You won’t come across such hair as that twice in a
lifetime. But, believe me, she was only fooling with you. Once
she had you in her hunting-noose, once her buccaneering instincts
satisfied, and she’d have chucked you as she did all the rest.
As to her death, I’ve got three theories—no, two—for the first
is that she compassed it in a moment of genuine emotion, and
that, I think, we may dismiss as quite untenable. The second
is, that it arose from pure misadventure. You’d both been
shooting, hadn’t you ? Well, she took up the pistol and pulled
the trigger from mere mischief, and quite forgetting one barrel
was still loaded. And the third is, it was just her histrionic sense
of the fitness of things. The rôle she had played so long and so
well now demanded a sensational finale in the centre of the stage.
And it’s the third theory I give the preference to. She was the
most consummate little actress I ever saw.”
By Rosamund Marriott-Watson
BURY me deep when I am dead,
Far from the woods where sweet birds sing ;
Lap me in sullen stone and lead,
Lest my poor dust should feel the spring.
Never a flower be near me set,
Nor starry cup nor slender stem,
Anemone nor violet,
Lest my poor dust remember them.
And you—wherever you may fare—
Dearer than birds, or flowers, or dew—
Never, ah me, pass never there,
Lest my poor dust should dream of you.
II—The Isle of Voices
FAIR blows the wind to-day, fresh along the valleys,
Strange with the sounds and the scents of long ago ;
Sinks in the willow-grove ; shifts, and sighs, and rallies—
Whence, Wind ? and why, Wind ? and whither do you go ?
Why, Wind, and whence, Wind ?—yet well and well I know it—
Word from a lost world, a world across the sea ;
No compass guides there, never chart will show it,
Green grows the grave there that holds the heart of me.
Sunk lies my ship, and the cruel sea rejoices,
Sharp are the reefs where the hungry breakers fret—
Land so long lost to me—Youth, the Isle of Voices—
Call never more to me—I who must forget.
The Inner Ear
To all of us journeymen in this great whirling London mill, it
happens sooner or later that the clatter and roar of its ceaseless
wheels—a thing at first portentous, terrifying, nay, not to be
endured—becomes a part of our nature, with our clothes and our
acquaintances ; till at last the racket and din of a competitive
striving humanity not only cease to impinge on the sense, but
induce a certain callosity in the organ, while that more sensitive
inner ear of ours, once almost as quick to record as his in the fairy
tale, who lay and heard the grass-blades thrust and sprout, from lack
of exercise drops back to the rudimentary stage. Hence it comes
about, that when we are set down for a brief Sunday, far from the
central roar, our first sensation is that of a stillness corporeal,
positive, aggressive. The clamorous ocean of sound has ebbed to
an infinite distance ; in its place this other sea of fullest silence
comes crawling up, whelming and flooding us, its crystalline waves
lapping us round with a possessing encirclement as distinct as that
of the other angry tide now passed away and done with. The
very Spirit of Silence is sitting hand in hand with us, and her touch
is a real warm thing.
And yet, may not our confidence be premature ? Even as we
bathe and steep our senses refreshingly in this new element, that
inner ear of ours begins to revive and to record, one by one, the
real facts of sound. The rooks are the first to assert themselves. All
this time that we took to be so void of voice they have been volubly
discussing every detail of domestic tree-life, as they rock and sway
beside their nests in the elm-tops. To take in the varied chatter
of rookdom would in itself be a full morning’s occupation, from
which the most complacent might rise humble and instructed.
Unfortunately, their talk rarely tends to edification. The element
of personality —the argumentum ad hominem— always crops up so
fatally soon, that long ere a syllogism has been properly unrolled,
the disputants have clinched on inadequate foothold, and flopped
thence, dishevelled, into space. Somewhere hard by, their jackdaw
cousins are narrating those smoking-room stories they are so fond
of, with bursts of sardonic laughter at the close. For theology or
the fine arts your jackdaw has little taste ; but give him something
sporting and spicy, with a dash of the divorce court, and no Sunday
morning can ever seem too long. At intervals the drum of the
woodpecker rattles out from the heart of a copse ; while from
every quarter birds are delivering each his special message to the
great cheery-faced postman who is trudging his daily round over-
head, carrying good tidings to the whole bird-belt that encircles the
globe. To all these wild, natural calls of the wood, the farmyard
behind us responds with its more cultivated clamour and cackle ;
while the very atmosphere is resonant of its airy population, each
of them blowing his own special trumpet. Silence, indeed ! why,
as the inner ear awakes and develops, the solid bulk of this sound-
in-stillness becomes in its turn overpowering, terrifying. Let the
development only continue, one thinks, but a little longer, and the
very rush of sap, the thrust and foison of germination, will join in
the din, and go far to deafen us. One shrinks, in fancy, to a dwarf
of meanest aims and pettiest account before this army of full-blooded,
shouting soldiery, that possesses land and air so completely, with
such an entire indifference, too, towards ourselves, our conceits,
and our aspirations.
Here it is again, this lesson in modesty that nature is eternally
dinning into us ; and the completeness of one’s isolation in the
midst of all this sounding vitality cannot fail to strike home
to the most self-centred. Indeed, it is evident that we are
entirely superfluous here ; nothing has any need of us, nor
cares to know what we are interested in, nor what other people
have been saying of us, nor whether we go or stay. Those rooks
up above have their own society and occupations, and don’t wish to
share or impart them ; and if haply a rook seems but an insignifi-
cant sort of being to you, be sure that you are quite as insignificant
to the rook. Nay, probably more so ; for while you at least allot
the rook his special small niche in creation, it is more than doubtful
whether he ever troubles to ” place ” you at all. He has weightier
matters to occupy him, and so long as you refrain from active
interference, the chances are that for him you simply don’t exist.
But putting birds aside, as generally betraying in their startled,
side-glancing mien some consciousness of a featherless unaccount-
able tribe that may have to be reckoned with at any moment,
those other winged ones, the bees and their myriad cousins, simply
insult one at every turn with their bourgeois narrowness of non-
recognition. Nothing, indeed, could be more unlike the wary
watchful marches of the bird-folk than the bustling self-centred
devotion to business of these tiny brokers in Nature’s busy
mart. If you happen to get in their way, they jostle up against
you, and serve you right ; if you keep clear of the course, they
proceed serenely without so much as a critical glance at your
hat or your boots. Snubbed, hustled, and ignored, you feel, as you
retire from the unequal contest, that the scurrying alarm of bird
or beast is less hurtful to your self-respect than this complacent
refusal of the insect to admit your very existence.
In sooth, we are at best poor fusionless incapable bodies ;
unstable of purpose, veering betwixt hot fits and chill, doubtful at
times whether we have any business here at all. The least we
can do is to make ourselves as small as possible, and interfere as
little as may be with these lusty citizens, knowing just what they
want to do, and doing it, at full work in a satisfactory world that
is emphatically theirs, not ours.
The more one considers it, the humbler one gets. This
pleasant, many-hued, fresh-smelling world of ours would be every
whit as goodly and fair, were it to be rid at one stroke of us
awkward aliens, staggering pilgrims through a land whose customs
and courtesies we never entirely master, whose pleasant places we
embellish and sweeten not at all. We, on the other hand, would
be bereft indeed, were we to wake up one chill morning and find
that all these practical capable cousins of ours had packed up and
quitted in disgust, tired of trying to assimilate us, weary of our
aimlessness, our brutalities, our ignorance of real life.
Our dull inner ear is at last fully awake, fully occupied. It
must be a full three hundred yards away, that first brood of duck-
lings, fluffily proud of a three-days-old past; yet its shrill peep-
peep reaches us as distinctly as the worry-worry of bees in the
peach-blossom a foot from our head. Then suddenly— the clank
of a stable-bucket on the tiles, the awakening of church-bells—
humanity, with its grosser noises, is with us once more, and at
the first sound of it, affrighted, the multitudinous drone of the
under-life recedes, ebbs, vanishes ; Silence, the nymph so shy and
withdrawn, is by our side again, and slips her hand into ours.
Rosemary for Remembrance
I WONDER why I dreamed last night of Zabetta. It is years
since she made her brief little transit through my life, and
passed out of it utterly. It is years since the very recollection of
her—which for years, like an accusing spirit, had haunted me too
often—like a spirit was laid. It is long enough, in all conscience,
since I have even thought of her, casually, for an instant. And
then, last night, after a perfectly usual London day and evening, I
went to bed and dreamed of her vividly. What had happened to
bring her to my mind ? Or is it simply that the god of dreams is
a capricious god ?
The influence of my dream, at any rate,—the bitter-sweet
savour of it,—has pursued me through my waking hours. All day
long to-day Zabetta has been my phantom guest. She has walked
with me in the streets ; she has waited at my elbow while I wrote
or talked or read. Now, at tea-time, she is present with me by
my study fireside, in the twilight. Her voice sounds faintly,
plaintively, in my ears ; her eyes gaze at me sadly from a pale
reproachful face. . . . She bids me to the theatre of memory, where
my youth is rehearsed before me in mimic-show. There was one—
no, there were two little scenes in which Zabetta played the part of
I do not care to specify the year in which it happened ; it
happened a terrible number of years ago ; it happened when I was
twenty. I had passed the winter in Naples,—oh, it had been a
golden winter !—and now April had come, and my last Neapolitan
day. To-morrow I was to take ship for Marseilles, on the way to
join my mother in Paris.
It was in the afternoon ; and I was climbing one of those
crooked staircase alleys that scale the hillsides behind the town,
the Salita—is there, in Naples, a Salita Santa Margherita ? I had
lunched (for the last time !) at the Café d’Europe, and had then
set forth upon a last haphazard ramble through the streets. It was
tremulous spring weather, with blue skies, soft breezes, and a
tender sun ; the sort of weather that kindles perilous ardours even
in the blood of middle age, and that turns the blood of youth to
Women sat combing their hair, and singing, and gossiping, before
the doorways of their pink and yellow houses ; children sprawled,
and laughed, and quarrelled in the dirt. Pifferari, in sheep-skins
and sandles, followed by prowling, gaunt-limbed dogs, droned
monotonous nasal melodies from their bagpipes. Priests picked
their way gingerly over the muddy cobble stones, sleek, black-
a-vised priests, with exaggerated hats, like Don Basilio’s in the
Barbier. Now and then one passed a fat brown monk ; or a
soldier ; or a white-robed penitent, whose eyes glimmered uncannily
from the peep-holes of the hood that hid his face ; or a comely
contadina, in her smart costume, with a pomegranate-blossom flam-
ing behind her ear, and red lips that curved defiantly as she met the
covetous glances wildfire-and-twenty no doubt bestowed upon her,
—whereat, perhaps, wildfire-and-twenty halted and hesitated for an
instant, debating whether to accept the challenge and turn and follow
her. A flock of milk-purveying goats jangled their bells a few
yards below me. Hawkers screamed their merchandise, fish, and
vegetables, and early fruit—apricots, figs, green almonds. Brown-
skinned, bare-legged boys shouted at long-suffering donkeys, and
whacked their flanks with sticks. And everybody, more or less,
importuned you for coppers. ” Mossou, mossou ! Un piccolo
soldo, per l’amor di Dio ! ” The air was vibrant with southern
human noises, and dense with southern human smells—amongst
which, here and there, wandered strangely a lost waft of perfume
from some neighbouring garden, a scent of jasmine or of orange
And then, suddenly, the salita took a turn, and broadened into a
small piazza. At one hand there was a sheer terrace, dropping to
tiled roofs twenty feet below ; and hence one got a splendid view,
over the town, of the blue bay, with its shipping, and of Capri, all
rose and purple in the distance, and of Vesuvius with its silver
wreath of smoke. At the other hand loomed a vast, discoloured,
pink-stuccoed palace, with grated windows, and a porte-cochère
black as the mouth of a cavern ; and the upper stories of the palace
were in ruins, and out of one corner of their crumbling walls a
palm-tree grew. The third side of the piazza was inevitably occu-
pied by a church, a little pearl-grey rococo edifice, with a bell, no
deeper-toned than a common dinner-bell, which was now frantic-
ally ringing. About the doors of the church countless written
notices were pasted, advertising indulgences ; beggars clung to
the steps, like monster snails ; and the greasy leathern portière was
constantly being drawn aside, to let someone enter or come out.
It was here that I met Zabetta.
The heavy portère swung open, and a young girl stepped from
the darkness behind it into the sunshine.
I saw a soft face, with bright brown eyes ; a plain black frock,
with a little green nosegay stuck in its belt ; and a small round
A hideous old beggar woman stretched a claw towards this appa-
rition, mumbling something. The apparition smiled, and sought
in its pocket, and made the beggar woman the richer by a soldo.
I was twenty, and the April wind was magical. I thought I
had never seen so beautiful a smile, a smile so radiant, so tender.
I watched the young girl as she tripped down the church steps,
and crossed the piazza, coming towards me. Her smile lingered,
fading slowly, slowly, from her face.
As she neared me, her eyes met mine. For a second we looked
straight into each other’s eyes. . . .
Oh, there was nothing bold, nothing sophisticated or immodest,
in the momentary gaze she gave me. It was a natural, spontane-
ous gaze of perfectly frank, of perfectly innocent and impulsive
interest, in exchange for mine of open admiration. But it touched
the wildfire in my veins, and made it leap tumultuously.
Happiness often passes close to us without our suspecting it, the
The young girl moved on ; and I stood still, feeling dimly that
something precious had passed close to me. I had not turned back
to follow any of the brazenly provocative contadine. But now I
could not help it. Something precious had passed within arm’s
reach of me. I must not let it go, without at least a semblance of
pursuing it. If I waited there passive till she was out of sight,
my regrets would be embittered by the recollection that I had not
I followed her eagerly, but vaguely, in a tremor of unformu-
lated hopes and fears. I had no definite intentions, no designs.
Presently, doubtless, she would come to her journey’s end—she
would disappear in a house or shop—and I should have my labour
for my pains. Nevertheless, I followed. What would you ?
She was young, she was pretty, she was neatly dressed. She had
big bright brown eyes, and a slender waist, and a little round
scarlet hat set jauntily upon a mass of waving soft brown hair.
And she walked gracefully, with delicious undulations, as if to
music, lifting her skirts up from the pavement, and so disclosing
the daintiest of feet, in trim buttoned boots, of glazed leather,
with high Italian heels. And her smile was lovely—and I was
twenty—and it was April. I must not let her escape me, without
at least a semblance of pursuit.
She led me down the salita that I had just ascended. She could
scarcely know that she was being followed, for she had not once
glanced behind her.
At first I followed meekly, unperceived, and contented to
But little by little a desire for more aggressive measures grew
within me. I said, “Why not—instead of following meekly—
why not overtake and outdistance her, then turn round, and come
face to face with her again ? And if again her eyes should meet
mine as frankly as they met them in the piazza. . . .”
The mere imagination of their doing so made my heart stop
I quickened my pace. I drew nearer and nearer to her. I
came abreast of her—oh, how the wildfire trembled ! I pressed
on for a bit, and then, true to my resolution, turned back.
Her eyes did meet mine again quite frankly. What was more,
they brightened with a little light of surprise, I might almost have
fancied a little light of pleasure.
If the mere imagination of the thing had made my heart stop
beating, the thing itself set it to pounding, racing, uncontrollably,
so that I felt all but suffocated, and had to catch my breath.
She knew now that the young man she had passed in the piazza
had followed her of set purpose ; and she was surprised, but,
seemingly, not displeased. They were wonderfully gentle, won-
derfully winning eyes, those eyes she raised so frankly to my
desirous ones ; and innocent, innocent, with all the unsuspecting
innocence of childhood. In years she might be seventeen, older
perhaps ; but there was a child’s fearless unconsciousness of evil in
her wide brown eyes. She had not yet been taught (or, anyhow,
she clearly didn’t believe) that it is dangerous and unbecoming to
exchange glances with a stranger in the streets.
She was as good as smiling on me. Might I dare the utmost ?
Might I venture to speak to her ? . . . My heart was throbbing
too violently. I could not have found an articulate human word,
nor a shred of voice, nor a pennyweight of self-assurance, in my
So, thrilling with excitement, quailing in panic, I passed her
I passed her, and kept on up the narrow alley for half a dozen
steps, when again I turned.
She was standing where I had left her, looking after me.
There was the expression of unabashed disappointment in her dark
eyes now ; which, in a minute, melted to an expression of appeal.
” Oh, aren’t you going to speak to me, after all ? ” they pleaded.
Wooed by those soft monitors, I plucked up a sort of desperate
courage. Hot coals burned in my cheeks, something fluttered
terribly in my breast ; I was literally quaking in every limb. My
spirit was exultant, but my flesh was faint. Her eyes drew me,
drew me. … I fancy myself awkwardly raising my hat ; I hear
myself accomplish a half-smothered salutation.
” Buon’ giorno, Signorina.”
Her face lit up with that celestial smile of hers ; and in a voice
that was like ivory and white velvet, she returned, ” Buon’ giorno,
And then I don’t know how long we stood together in silence.
This would never do, I recognised. I must not stand before
her in silence, like a guilty schoolboy. I must feign composure.
I must carry off the situation lightly, like a man of the world, a
man of experience. I groped anxiously in the confusion of my
wits for something that might pass for an apposite remark.
At last I had a flash of inspiration. ” What—what fine
weather,” I gasped. ” Che bel tempo ! ”
” Oh, molto bello,” she responded. It was like a cadenza on a
” You—you are going into the town ? ” I questioned.
” Yes,” said she.
“May I—may I have the pleasure——” I faltered.
” But yes,” she consented, with an inflection that wondered
” What else have you spoken to me for ? ”
And we set off down the salita, side by side.
She had exquisite little white ears, with little coral earrings, like
drops of blood ; and a perfect rosebud mouth, a mouth that
matched her eyes for innocence and sweetness. Her scarlet hat
burned in the sun, and her brown hair shook gently under it.
She had plump little soft white hands.
Presently, when I had begun to feel more at my ease, I
hazarded a question. ” You are a republican, Signorina ? ”
” No,” she assured me, with a puzzled elevation of the brows.
” Ah, well, then you are a cardinal,” I concluded.
She gave a silvery trill of laughter, and asked, ” Why must I be
either a republican or a cardinal ? ”
” You wear a bonnet rouge—a scarlet hat,” I explained.
At which she laughed again, crisply, merrily.
“You are French,” she said.
“Oh, am I?”
” Aren’t you ? ”
” As you wish, Signorina ; but I had never thought so.”
And still again she laughed.
“You have come from church,” said I.
” Già,” she assented ; ” from confession.”
” Really ? And did you have a great many wickednesses to
confess ? ”
” Oh, yes ; many, many,” she answered simply.
” And now have you got a heavy penance to perform ? ”
” No ; only twenty aves. And I must turn my tongue
times in my mouth before I speak, whenever I am angry.”
” Ah, then you are given to being angry ? You have a bad
temper ? ”
” Oh, dreadful, dreadful,” she cried, nodding her head.
It was my turn to laugh now. “Then I must be careful not
to vex you.”
“Yes. But I will turn my tongue seven times before I speak,
if you do,” she promised.
” Are you going far ? ” I asked.
” I am going nowhere. I am taking a walk.”
” Shall we go to the Villa Nazionale, and watch the driving ? ”
” Or to the Toledo, and look at the shop-windows ? ”
” We can do both. We will begin at the Toledo, and end in
” Bene,” she acquiesced.
After a little silence, ” I am so glad I met you,” I informed
her, looking into her eyes.
Her eyes softened adorably. ” I am so glad too,” she said.
” You are lovely, you are sweet,” I vowed, with enthusiasm.
” Oh, no ! ” she protested. ” I am as God made me.”
” You are lovely, you are sweet. I thought—when I first saw
you, above there, in the piazza—when you came out of church,
and gave the soldo to the old beggar woman—I thought you had
the loveliest smile I had ever seen.”
A beautiful blush suffused her face, and her eyes swam in a
mist of pleasure. ” E vero ? ” she questioned.
” Oh, vero, vero. That is why I followed you. You don’t
mind my having followed you ? ”
” Oh, no ; I am glad.”
The Yellow Book—Vol. V. F
After another interval of silence, ” You are not Neapolitan ? ”
I said. ” You don’t speak like a Neapolitan.”
” No ; I am Florentine. We live in Naples for my father’s
health. He is not strong. He cannot endure the cold winters of
I murmured something sympathetic ; and she went on, ” My
father is a violinist. To-day he has gone to Capri, to play at a
festival. He will not be back until to-morrow. So I was very
” You have no mother ? ”
” My mother is dead,” she said, crossing herself. In a moment
she added, with a touch of pride, ” During the season my father
plays in the orchestra of the San Carlo.”
” I am sure I know what your name is,” said I.
” Oh ? How can you know ? What is it ? ”
” I think your name is Rosabella.”
” Ah, then you are wrong. My name is Elisabetta. But in
Naples everybody says Zabetta. And yours ? ”
” Oh, I cannot guess. Not—not Federico ? ”
” Do I look as if my name were Federico ? ”
She surveyed me gravely for a minute, then shook her head
pensively. ” No ; I do not think your name is Federico.”
And therewith I told her my name, and made her repeat it till
she could pronounce it without a struggle. It sounded very
pretty, coming from her pretty lips, quite southern and romantic,
with its r’s tremendously enriched.
” Anyhow, I know your age,” said I.
” What is it ? ”
“You are seventeen.”
” No—ever so much older.”
” Eighteen then.”
” I shall be nineteen in July. “
Before the brilliant shop-windows of the Toledo we dallied for
an hour or more, Zabetta’s eyes sparkling with delight as they
rested on the bright-hued silks, the tortoise-shell and coral, the
gold and silver filagree-work, that were there displayed. But when
she admired some one particular object above another, and I
besought her to let me buy it for her, she refused austerely.
“But no, no, no ! It is impossible.” Then we went on to the
Villa, and strolled by the sea-wall, between the blue-green water
and the multicoloured procession of people in carriages. And by
and by Zabetta confessed that she was tired, and proposed that we
should sit down on one of the benches. ” A café would be better
fun,” submitted her companion. And we placed ourselves at one
of the out-of-door tables of the café in the garden, where, after
some urging, I prevailed upon Zabetta to drink a cup of chocolate.
Meanwhile, with the ready confidence of youth, we had each been
desultorily autobiographical ; and if our actual acquaintance was
only the affair of an afternoon, I doubt if in a year we could have
felt that we knew each other better.
” I must go home,” Zabetta said at last.
” Oh, not yet, not yet,” cried I.
“It will be dinner-time. I must go home to dinner.”
” But your father is at Capri. You will have to dine alone.”
” Then don’t. Come with me instead, and dine at a res-
Her eyes glowed wistfully for an instant ; but she replied,
” Oh, no ; I cannot.”
” Yes, you can. Come.”
” Oh, no ; impossible.”
” Why ? ”
” Oh, because.”
” Because what ? “
” There is my cat. She will have nothing to eat.”
” Your cook will give her something.”
” My cook ! ” laughed Zabetta. ” My cook is here before
” Well, you must be a kind mistress. You must give your
cook an evening out.”
“But my poor cat ? ”
” Your cat can catch a mouse.”
” There are no mice in our house. She has frightened them all
” Then she can wait. A little fast will be good for her soul.”
Zabetta laughed, and I said, ” Andiamo ! ”
At the restaurant we climbed to the first floor, and they gave us
a table near the window, whence we could look out over the villa
to the sea beyond. The sun was sinking, and the sky was gay with
rainbow tints, like mother-of-pearl.
Zabetta’s face shone joyfully. ” This is only the second time in
my life that I have dined in a restaurant,” she told me. ” And the
other time was very long ago, when I was quite young. And it
wasn’t nearly so grand a restaurant as this, either.”
” And now what would you like to eat ? ” I asked, picking up
the bill of fare.
” May I look ? ” she said.
I handed her the document, and she studied it at length. I
think, indeed, she read it through. In the end she appeared rather
” Oh, there is so much. I don’t know. Will you choose,
please ? ”
I made a shift at choosing, and the sympathetic waiter flourished
kitchenwards with my commands.
” What is that little green nosegay you wear in your belt,
Zabetta ? ” I inquired.
” Oh, this—it is rosemary. Smell it,” she said, breaking off a
sprig and offering it to me.
” Rosemary—that’s for remembrance,” quoted I.
” What does that mean ? What language is that ? ” she asked.
I tried to translate it to her. And then I taught her to say it
in English. ” Rrosemèrri—tsat is forr rremembrrance.”
” Will you write it down for me ? ” she requested. ” It is
And I wrote it for her on the back of one of my cards.
After dinner we crossed the garden again, and again stood
by the sea-wall. Over us the soft spring night was like a dark
sapphire. Points of red, green, and yellow fire burned from the
ships in the bay, and seemed of the same company as the stars above
them. A rosy aureole in the sky, to the eastward, marked the
smouldering crater of Vesuvius. Away in the Chiaja a man was
singing comic songs, to an accompaniment of mandolines and
guitars ; comic songs that sounded pathetic, as they reached us in
I asked Zabetta how she wished to finish the evening.
” I don’t
” I don’t care,” said she.
” Would you like to go to the play ? ”
” If you wish.”
” What do you wish ? ”
” I think I should like to stay here a little longer. It is pleasant.”
We leaned on the parapet, close to each other. Her face was
very pale in the starlight ; her eyes were infinitely deep, and dark,
and tender. One of her little hands lay on the stone wall, like a
white flower. I took it. It was warm and soft. She did not
attempt to withdraw it. I bent over it and kissed it. I kissed it
many times. Then I kissed her lips. ” Zabetta—I love you—I
love you,” I murmured fervently.—Don’t imagine that I didn’t
mean it. It was April, and I was twenty.
” I love you, Zabetta. Dearest little Zabetta ! I love you so.”
” E vero ? ” she questioned, scarcely above her breath.
” Oh, si ; é vero, vero, vero,” I asseverated. ” And you ? And
you ? ”
” Yes, I love you,” she whispered.
And then I could say no more. The ecstasy that filled my heart
was too poignant. We stood there speechless, hand in hand, and
breathed the air of heaven.
By and by Zabetta drew her bunch of rosemary from her belt,
and divided it into two parts. One part she gave to me, the
other she kept. ” Rosemary—it is for constancy,” she said. I
pressed the cool herb to my face for a moment, inhaling its bitter-
sweet fragrance ; then I fastened it in my buttonhole. On my
watchchain I wore—what everybody in Naples used to wear—a
little coral hand, a little clenched coral hand, holding a little golden
dagger. I detached it now, and made Zabetta take it. ” Coral—
that is also for constancy,” I reminded her ; “and besides, it protects
one from the Evil Eye.”
At last Zabetta asked me what time it was ; and when she
learned that it was half-past nine, she insisted that she really must
go home. ” They shut the outer door of the house we live in at
ten o’clock, and I have no key.”
” You can ring up the porter.”
” Oh, there is no porter.”
“But if we had gone to the theatre ? ”
” I should have had to leave you in the middle of the play.”
” Ah, well,” I consented ; and we left the villa, and took a cab.
” Are you happy, Zabetta ? ” I asked her, as the cab rattled us
towards our parting.
” Oh, so happy, so happy ! I have never been so happy before.”
” Dearest Zabetta ! ”
” You will love me always ? ”
” Always, always.”
” We will see each other every day. We will see each other to-
morrow ? ”
” Oh, to-morrow ! ” I groaned suddenly, the actualities of life
rushing all at once upon my mind.
” What is it ? What of to-morrow ? ”
” Oh, to-morrow, to-morrow ! ”
” What ? What ? ” Her voice was breathless with suspense,
” Oh, I had forgotten. You will think I am a beast.”
” What is it ? For heaven’s sake, tell me.”
“You will think I am a beast. You will think I have deceived
you. To-morrow—I cannot help it—I am not my own master
—I am summoned by my parents—to-morrow I am going
I am leaving Naples.”
” You are leaving Naples ? ”
” I am going to Paris.”
” To Paris ? ”
There was a breathing-space of silence. Then ” Oh, Dio ! “
sobbed Zabetta ; and she began to cry as if her heart would break.
I seized her hands ; I drew her to me. I tried to comfort her.
But she only cried and cried and cried.
” Zabetta . . . Zabetta ! . . . Don’t cry. . . . Forgive me.
. . . Oh, don’t cry like that.”
” Oh, Dio ! Oh, caro Dio ! ” she sobbed.
” Zabetta—listen to me,” I began. ” I have something to say
to you. . . .”
” Cosa ? ” she asked faintly.
” Zabetta—do you really love me ? ”
” Oh, tanto, tanto ! “
” Then, listen, Zabetta. If you really love me—come with
” Come with you. How ? ”
” Come with me to Paris.”
” To Paris ? ”
” Yes, to-morrow.”
There was another instant of silence, and then again Zabetta
began to cry.
” Will you ? Will you ? Will you come with me to Paris ? ”
I implored her.
“Oh, I would, I would. But I can’t. I can’t.”
” Oh, I can’t.”
” Why ? Why can’t you ? ”
” Oh, my father—I cannot leave my father.”
” Your father ? But—if you love me——”
” He is old. He is ill. He has no one but me. I cannot
” Zabetta ! ”
” No, no. I cannot leave him. Oh, Dio mio ! ”
” But Zabetta——”
” No. It would be a sin. Oh, the worst of sins. He is old
and ill. I cannot leave him. Don’t ask me. It would be
” But then ? Then what ? What shall we do ? ”
“Oh, I don’t know. I wish I were dead.”
The cab came to a standstill, and Zabetta said, ” Here we are.”
I helped her to descend. We were before a dark porte-cochère,
in some dark back-street, high up the hillside.
“Addio,” said Zabetta, holding out her hand.
” You won’t come with me ? ”
I can’t. I can’t. Addio.”
” Oh, Zabetta ! Do you—— Oh, say, say that you forgive
” Yes. Addio.”
” And, Zabetta,you—you have my address. It is on the card
I gave you. If you ever need anything—if you are ever in
trouble of any kind—remember you have my address—you will
write to me.”
” Yes. Addio.”
She stood for a second, looking up at me from great brim-
ming eyes, and then she turned away and vanished in the darkness
of the porte-cochère. I got into the cab, and was driven to my
And here, one might have supposed, was an end of the episode ;
I went to Paris, I went to New York, I returned to Paris,
I came on to London ; and in this journeying more than a
year was lost. In the beginning I had suffered as much as you
could wish me in the way of contrition, in the way of regret too.
I blamed myself and pitied myself with almost equal fervour. I
had trifled with a gentle human heart ; I had been compelled to
let a priceless human treasure slip from my possession. But—I
was twenty. And there were other girls in the world. And a
year is a long time, when we are twenty. Little by little the
image of Zabetta faded, faded. By the year’s end, I am afraid it
had become very pale indeed. . . .
It was late June, and I was in London, when the post brought
me a letter. The letter bore an Italian stamp, and had originally
been directed to my old address in Paris. Thence (as the
numerous re-directions on the big square foreign envelope attested)
it had been forwarded to New York ; thence back again to Paris ;
and thence finally to London.
The letter was written in the neatest of tiny copperplates ; and
this is a translation of what it said :
“DEAR FRIEND :
” My poor father died last month in the German Hospital,
after an illness of twenty-one days. Pray for his soul.
” I am now alone and free, and if you still wish it, can come to
you. It was impossible for me to come when you asked me ; but you
have not ceased to be my constant thought. I keep your coral hand.
“Your ever faithful
” ZABETTA COLLALUCE.”
Enclosed in the letter there was a sprig of some dried, bitter-
sweet-smelling herb ; and, in pencil, below the signature,—
laboriously traced, as I could guess, from what I had written for
her on my visiting-card,—the English phrase : ” Rosemary—
that’s for remembrance.”
The letter was dated early in May, which made it six weeks old.
What could I do ? What answer could I send ?
Of course, you know what I did do. I procrastinated and
vacillated, and ended by sending no answer at all. I could not
write and say “Yes, come to me.” But how could I write
and say, ” No, do not come ? ” Besides, would she not have
given up hoping for an answer, by this time ? It was six
weeks since she had written. I tried to think that the worst
But my remorse took a new and a longer and a stronger lease
of life. A vision of Zabetta, pale, with anxious eyes, standing at
her window, waiting, waiting for a word that never came,—for
months I could not chase it from my conscience ; it was years
before it altogether ceased its accusing visits.
And then, last night, after a perfectly usual London day and
evening, I went to bed and dreamed of her vividly ; and all day
long to-day the fragrance of my dream has clung about me,—a
bitter-sweet fragrance, like that of rosemary itself. Where is
Zabetta now ? What is her life ? How have the years treated
her ? … In my dream she was still eighteen. In reality—it is
melancholy to think how far from eighteen she has had leisure,
since that April afternoon, to drift.
Youth faces forward, impatient of the present, panting to antici-
pate the future. But we who have crossed a certain sad meridian,
we turn our gaze backwards, and tell the relentless gods what we
would sacrifice to recover a little of the past, one of those shining
days when to us also it was given to sojourn among the Fortunate
Islands. Ah, si jeunesse savait ! . . .
By Dauphin Meunier
I—Au bord du Lac Léman
Le soir apaise au loin le bruit grave des villes,
O lac ! et sur les bords de tes dormantes eaux
Voici que j’appareille en songe des vaisseaux
Dédaigneux de l’effort lent des rames serviles ;
Car un souffle plus pur que l’haleine d’Eros
Anime doucement leurs voiles dans le calme ;
Et leur flotte s’éloigne avec un bruit de palmes
Vers une île de paix comme des albatros.
Et moi, leur capitaine, en proie au jeu des vents,
Je vois soudain, malgré l’horizon décevant,
Dans le halo d’argent où la lune s’élève,
Un Labrador s’ouvrir avec des mains de rêve.
(Souvenir de Vevey à Madame Paul Vérola).
UNE buée a peu à peu
Noyé le vaste paysage
Où ne transparaissent que bleus
Des visages sous ce nuage ;
Un mystère d’ame ou de femme
Rêve, épars, en ce vêtement
D’ombre que percent, par moment,
Des yeux comme les cieux—sans flamme . . .
La lune meurt sur cette plaine,
Ou le soleil ; on ne sait pas
Quel tapis assourdit les pas
D’un velours de neige ou de laine ;
L’air est dense, les corps sont vagues ;
Ce n’est ni le jour ni la nuit ;
Peut-être—de joie ou d’ennui—
Que le paysage divague. . . .
(Souvenir de Londres à Madame Aline Harland).
Et digne pasteur !
Sa redingote ample
A l’air de rigueur.
Protestante et raide
Est son âme aussi ;
Le mal n’est pas si
Laid que le remède.
Mains sans onction,
Vite ! qu’on nous prêche
La tentation !
Mieux vaut, bonne ou male
La mort à Paris
Que la vie au prix
De cette morale !
(Pour Mr. Aubrey Beardsley.)
The Yellow Book.—Vol. V. G
WHY do your leaves uncurl invisibly ?
Is it mere pride ?
When I behold your petals,
They lie immovably against your breast ;
Or opened wide,
Your shield thrown wide.
But none may watch the unveiling of your pride.
Why do you die so soon, so certainly ?
Death is disgrace ;
You should stay dying half your life ;
Your drooping face
Gives you when dying your divinest face.
But death’s pale colours are your sole disgrace.
By Mrs. Murray Hickson
I—At the Cross Roads
” For to no man is it given to understand a woman, nor to
any woman to understand a man.”
THE boat from Dieppe had just arrived, and the passengers
were pushing from the decks on to the quay. A tall
woman, wrapped in a handsome mantle trimmed with sables,
waited for her turn to cross the gangway. Her eyes, wandering
restlessly over the little crowd of spectators that had assembled to
watch for the arrival of the boat, met those of a man who pressed
into the throng towards her. She started, and a sudden flush,
beautiful but transitory, touched her face into a youthfulness
which it did not otherwise possess. The man took off his hat
in salute, and, holding it above his head, thrust forward to the
foot of the gangway. He kept his eyes fastened upon her face ;
and the expression of his own, in spite of the smile on his lips,
was doubtful and anxious. She returned his look gravely, yet
with a certain tenderness in her glance. Beckoning to the maid
who followed her, she slipped adroitly before a party of staggering
sea-sick tourists, and made her way on to the quay.
Their hands met in a pressure, which, on his part, was both
close and lingering.
“I could not help it,” he said. “You will forgive me for
coming ? ”
She smiled a little. “But I meant to stay all night at the
hotel. I am tired. My maid is always ill on the crossing,
so I wrote from Paris, and ordered rooms and dinner to be ready
” Yes, so they told me at the hotel. I must go up to town
this evening, but I could not wait until to-morrow to see you.”
He said the last words under his breath. The maid had gone
to pass the luggage through the custom-house. Her mistress
sat down on a bench inside the waiting-room. She looked up at
the man beside her, and sighed a little.
” I am glad that you came,” she said gently.
” You got my letter ? ”
The colour had faded from her face, the light from her eyes.
She rose and turned towards the door.
“It is hardly necessary for us to wait here,” she said. “Let
us go on to the hotel. Mary can follow with the luggage.”
They walked together side by side ; he, trying to shelter her
from the driving rain, she, heedless of the present, shrinking from
what was to come with an unavailing dread.
The dull October afternoon was closing in ; already the gas
was lit in the sitting-room into which they were shown. She
reached up to it and turned down the glaring flame till it burned
low and dim. The room was cheerless and dreary : on one side a
long black horsehair-covered sofa ; on the other a chiffonier, with
coloured bead mats and models of flowers in wax upon it. A
square table, covered with a red cloth, stood in the middle of the
room, and on it was a large battered tea-tray. A waiter brought
in a teapot and some hot water, stirred the fire into a blaze, and
retired, shutting the door carefully behind him.
The woman threw off her cloak, and sat down beside the table.
She took up the heavy metal teapot and poised it in her slender
” Will you have some tea ? ” she said to her companion.
He was standing beside her, and she looked at him as she
spoke. Something in the strained expression of his face shook her
hardly-held composure beyond the power of control. Her hands
trembled, and setting the teapot down again unsteadily, she rose
to her feet and confronted him. Her own face was as pale as his ;
their eyes looked into each other’s, his seeking, hers evading, a
solution to the problem which confronted them.
“For God’s sake,” said the man, “don’t let us meet like this.
Anything is better than aloofness between us two. If you cannot
forgive me, say so ; I deserve it.” He stretched out his hands to
her as he spoke ; but she, shivering a little, drew back from his
” If it were only that,” she said, “the matter would be simple
enough. Forgive you ! I don’t feel—at least the soul of me
doesn’t—that I have much to forgive. When one demands an
impossibility, one should not complain of failure.”
He looked bewildered. ” I don’t think I understand,” he said
gently. “Sit down here and explain what you mean, and I will
try to see the matter through your eyes. It looks black enough
now through mine—I can imagine it to be unpardonable in yours,”
he added bitterly. She sat down obediently upon the sofa. He
was going to take his place beside her, but hesitated and finally
drew a chair opposite.
She looked at him despairingly. “I shall never make you
understand,” she said. ” I don’t understand myself. You will
have to give me time.”
” Perhaps, after keeping silence so long, I ought never to have
told you. Such vulgar infidelities are better left unrevealed.”
She was silent. Her hands, which she held clenched in her lap,
were very cold, and presently she fell to rubbing them softly one
over the other. The man set his lips closer together ; he had
often so chafed her hands for her, and he longed to do so now. It
seemed monstrous that, when at last their love was free and
admissible, they two should feel apart the one from the other.
Yet he recognised, with dreary assent, that such was the case.
He regretted the sense of honour which had goaded him, ere he
and she should begin their new life together, into an absolute
frankness about the past. And yet did he regret it ? He doubted
his power to possess his soul in secret, away from hers, and, if that
were so, better a confession now than later, when their union would
be irrevocable. He looked once more at the little hands, motion-
less again in her lap, and longed to take them in his own. But
his heart failed him. It was the old trouble, the old difficulty ;
the difference of outlook between the sexes. A pity, he thought,
that this modern woman whom he loved, had so imbued him with
her modern views that he had been unable to keep his own
counsel. And yet, even if her gospel of equality separated them,
he felt it to be, after all, a true one. He would not have forgiven
her such a fault as he had confessed, and for which, manlike, he
expected absolution. But there the difference of sex came in,
while, when absolute confidence only was demanded, he felt
that she had an equal right to it with himself. After all, she
expected, and he had given, only what was her due. If it
ruined both their lives so much the worse for them. He won-
dered—would it ?
” I shall
” I shall never make you understand,” she repeated, breaking a
silence which both felt unendurable. ” But try to be patient with
me. It is not that I do not love you ; at least I think not. It
is not that I do not forgive you. It seems to me that I need
your forgiveness more than you need mine. But I feel that
we have both failed, and that the failure has soiled and spoilt our
love.” She looked at him piteously.
” Yes ? ” he said. ” Go on.”
” All these years that we have loved one another and hidden it
from the world, I thought our love was a beautiful thing, good for
us both. Though I could not be your wife, I imagined that I
was everything else you needed : your friend, your comrade, your
very heart and life. As your love raised and made me a better
woman, so I believed that my love made you a better man.”
He was leaning forward in his chair ; a puzzled frown upon his
” It did,” he said ; ” it does. Go on.”
” Then, when I heard at last that he was dead, and that we
were free—you and I, to love and to marry—it seemed as if the
joy would kill me. I wrote to you—you know what I wrote.
And then your letter. . . . Perhaps I was over-sensitive ; perhaps
it came at the wrong moment——”
She stopped, and he rose to his feet.
” Never mind,” he said. ” Don’t say any more ; it hurts
you. You can’t get over it, and no wonder. I despise myself,
and I am going.”
She put out her hands to stop him.
“Wait,” she said. ” Indeed—indeed, you do not understand.”
She rose also, and stood before him. “Oh ! ” she went on, with
shaking lips, ” but you must understand, you must. I see—I
suppose that I expected too much. All that hopeless waiting—
all those long years—and then the constant strain and restlessness
of it all. Don’t think I blame you—much. I think I com-
prehend. It is not that, though that hurts me too ; but I
see now that the whole thing has been a horrible mistake from
the first. It was insane pride that made me so sure your welfare
lay in my hands. I was dragging you down, not, as I imagined,
helping you to be what I believed you were. I was selfish ; I
thought more of myself than I did of you——”
” If that is your opinion of yourself,” he interrupted bitterly,
” what must you think of me ? I—who took all you could give
to me, and then had not the manhood to keep out of vulgar
dissipation, nor the pluck to hold my tongue about it and save
you the pain and humiliation of the knowledge.”
Suddenly she stretched out her hands to him.
” Oh, no ! not that ! ” she said, with a sob ; ” don’t say that.
You were right to tell me.”
He took her hands in his, and, almost timidly, drew her
” I expected more than a man is capable of; it is my fault. I
dragged you down,” she repeated, insistently.
“That is not true, and you know it,” he answered. “The
fault was mine, but——”
He drew her closer. ” Can’t you forgive it ? ” he whispered.
” You were not my wife—I had no hope of ever winning you—
yet I could give my love to no one else. My heart has never
been disloyal to you for a moment, and——” he hesitated.
” There are so few who would have done otherwise,” he added,
She still held herself braced away from his gentle compulsion.
” I—I suppose so,” she said, under her breath.
” And now—now, when at last you will be my own, surely
you could not doubt me ? It would be horrible, impossible.”
His voice dropped again into a murmur.
” Can’t you forgive me—and forget ? ”
There was a pause. His eyes devoured her face.
” Give me time,” she said. ” I don’t think we see it in
the same light ; and if you do not understand I cannot explain
myself. But give me time, I beg of you.”
* * * * *
An hour afterwards the maid came in, and found her mistress
sitting over the dying fire. The girl turned up the gas and, in
the sudden glare, the dreary hotel sitting-room looked more
tawdry and commonplace than ever. The tablecover was pulled
awry ; the curtains, dragged across the window, were ragged and
dirty ; under the maid’s feet, as she crossed the floor, some bits
of scattered coal crunched uncomfortably. She knelt on the
hearth-rug and raked the ashes together, trying to rekindle a
blaze. Her mistress looked on apathetically.
” That is how I feel,” she said to herself. ” It is all dead now ;
he will never understand it ; but that is how I feel. If it had
been before his love for me—but now I know I was no help to him,
only a hindrance, and all the best of me seems cold and numb.”
The maid rose from her knees ; a tiny flame was flickering in
the grate. She went out again, and left her mistress sitting there
before the reviving fire.
WHEN ten o’clock struck she moved uneasily in her chair.
The dainty Dresden china timepiece on the overmantel
had been a wedding present, and, as the soft notes of the hour
broke upon the silence, her thoughts turned swiftly into memories.
The years had been few and short, yet the changes they had
brought, though subtle, were unmistakable. There was nothing
tangible, nothing of which she could complain, and yet, for the
last few months, she had known, in a vague, puzzled way, that
trouble was closing in upon her. The nature of that trouble she
had not faced or analysed ; she put all definition away for as long
as might be possible.
To-night she had not felt any special uneasiness. He might
have stayed at the club, or been detained in the City—such delays
had happened frequently of late, and had not seemed to her of
much moment. She had grown accustomed to the lack of con-
sideration which made him neglect to send her a telegram, but
now the chiming of the clock caught her attention, and, of a
sudden, her mind awoke, expanding to receive the impression of
impending disturbance. There was no particular reason for this
impression, only a certainty of misfortune which she felt advancing
towards her in the coming hours.
She rose and crossed the hall into the dining-room. She had
waited for him until half-past eight, and then had dined alone,
after which the table was relaid in readiness for his return. That
morning, when he left the house, he had kissed her with almost
his old tenderness, and she wanted to express her gratitude for that
kiss. She wandered round the table, rearranging the silver with
solicitous fingers. It was still just possible that he had not dined
in town ; his wife hoped not. He would be sure to catch the
10.15 down train—never since their marriage had he been later
—his supper should be a cosy meal. There were oysters in the
house, and she went into the kitchen to see that they were
The kitchen was warm and comfortable. She stood for a few
minutes, her foot upon the fender, chatting to the servants ; they
had been with her since her marriage, and they loved and cared for
” Your master won’t be home till past eleven,” she said ; ” when
you have laid the supper you can go to bed. I will wait upon him
myself.” She turned to leave the kitchen, but lingered for a
moment in the red glow of the fire. Her own part of the house
was so still and lonely ; here, at any rate, was companionship and
a refuge from haunting fancies. Her maid dragged forward a chair,
but she shook her head, smiling.
” I have so much to do, and my book is interesting,” she said,
as she opened the door. It swung behind her, and the cook, knife
in hand, paused to lift her eyes and meet those of her fellow-servant.
Neither of the women said a word. They heard the drawing-room
door shut softly. The maid sat down again beside the hearth, and
the cook went on with her work.
* * * * *
At a quarter to eleven the servants fastened the doors and went
upstairs to bed. The silence settled down again. Now and then
she heard the regular beat of hoofs upon the road as a carriage
passed the windows ; a wind got up and flicked the frozen snow
against the panes ; the fire burned clear and bright, with a regular
throb of flame or the occasional splutter and crackle of a log.
At eleven o’clock she laid her open book upon the table, and
went out into the hall. It was very cold, and she shivered a little
as she opened the door and looked out upon the night. The air
was keen and frosty, a frail moon, its edges veiled by intermittent
cloud, rode in the sky, and the stars snapped as though the
sharpened atmosphere struck sparks from their steady shining.
The road lay white and deserted, here and there a light shone
from the neighbouring houses, but for the most part the village
had already gone to sleep. Presently, as she stood there, the
distant sound of a train sweeping through the country caught her
listening ears. It paused, then broke again upon the silence. She
smiled a little and went back into the house, shutting the door
behind her. The train was late, but it had come at last ; in ten
minutes he would be here. There was no use in sitting down
again during those ten short minutes ; she wanted to be ready,
when his step rang on the hard road, to open the door immediately.
Meantime she trod softly about the drawing-room, shifting the
ornaments upon the overmantel a shade to right or left, and ex-
amining the pretty things upon her silver table with abstracted,
For many weeks the rift between her and her husband had
been widening. To-day, by his unaccustomed tenderness, he had
re-awakened hers, and she longed for him as she had longed for
him in the dead days which seemed so far away. But the minutes
slipped into half an hour, and still he did not come. Then fear
crept into her heart, and her imagination—always vivid—left now
alone in the solitude of the night, played havoc with her reason.
As the quarters struck slowly from the church clock in the village,
and her own little timepiece chimed in musical response, terror
and foreboding shook her spirit in their grip. She sat down again
before the fire, and tried to reason out some plausible excuse for
this unusual delay. No business that she was able to think of
could thus detain her husband, nor had she ever known him to remain
away a whole night without due notice given. He was often late
for dinner—that signified nothing. Once or twice lately he had
come down by this last train ; but even then he had prepared her
for his absence. Something very grave, very unusual, must have
She lifted her head, and bent forward to rearrange the logs upon
the hearth. In so doing she dropped the poker, which fell with a
clash into the fender, and the loud noise startled the echoes of the
sleeping house, awaking in her mind a fresh train of thought. She
imagined him ill—hurt—in some danger. And it was impossible
at this hour to go to him or to be of any use. Besides, where
could she find him, how penetrate the mystery and terror of this
long uncertainty ?
She went back into the hall and consulted a time-table. At
four o’clock a train reached Wensbury ; if he came by that and
walked (he must walk, since no cab would be available), he might
get home about five o’clock. If he was unhurt she would know
—she would feel—— If he did not come she must herself start
early in the morning and go up to town to make inquiries.
Perhaps he had been run over in the streets, and she would find
him in one of the hospitals. He might not be seriously hurt, and
yet, again, if not seriously hurt why had no message come to her ?
Perhaps he was dead, and she—and she a widow. Her fingers
closed convulsively over the time-table in her hand, and she walked
back to her seat before the fire, leaving the door into the hall open
behind her. It was one o’clock now : hours must pass, even if he
came to Wensbury, before this weight of suspense could be lifted
from her heart. And what if he never came ? What if she never
saw him again alive ? She considered that, if an accident only
had detained him—an accident from which he should recover—she
could be glad and thankful. Perhaps the pain, and her care,
might bring them once more together. And if not, better even
death than another explanation which had flashed across the back-
ground of her brain, to be dismissed with horror and self-loathing.
If only there had been a reason for their slipping away from one
another she could have borne it better. The very vagueness and
unreality of the gulf between them frightened her, and rendered
her more inarticulate. She had suffered and been still ; now, her
faculties sharpened by suspense, she endured all the accumulated
pain of the last two years fused and mingled with the fancies, fear,
and loneliness of the moment.
Sometimes she paced the room ; sometimes, at the sound of a
chance footstep or the rising of the wind, she opened the hall door
and stared out into the night. Once she went upstairs to wake
the servants, but, recollecting herself, came back and dropped once
more into the big chair by the fire.
With the self-torture of a high-strung brain she could formulate
no explanations save the worst, until, as the hours wore on, mental
torment brought with it the consequent relief of numbness.
* * * * *
When he came into the drawing-room the following evening
she rose from her seat and welcomed him as usual. Her face was
drawn and white, but her voice did not falter, and her eyes met
He stood upon the hearth-rug before the fire, talking for a few
moments carelessly, till a strained silence fell between them. He
took out his watch and glanced at it, then, turning restlessly,
pushed the blazing logs together with his foot.
” You got my letter ? I was sorry not to be home last night.
I m afraid, little woman, that you waited dinner for me, but it was
too late to send you a telegram.”
” Yes, your letter came this morning,” she said, apathetically.
The reaction from last night’s tension had brought with it a strange
indifference. She felt that his presence meant nothing to her now,
that his absence would have meant even less. Her heart was frozen.
Active pain would have been better than this paralysis, and she
longed to feel, but could not do so. He faced her once more ; his
glance met hers uneasily.
” You understand how it was ? I was unable to help it,” he
said, his voice stumbling a little as he spoke. She lifted her
” Yes,” she said, ” I understand.”
He looked at her in silence, then picking up a paper, unfolded it
and began to read. She shivered a little, and leant nearer to the
fire. Her thoughts wandered vaguely. She knew that he had
lied to her, but she did not care. The stealthy sorrow of her
married life, after stalking her spirit for a couple of years, had
sprung upon her in the space of time which it took her to read
his letter. Instinct guided her to the truth, and there it left her.
The rest was a tangle, and, for the moment, she cared only for the
physical comfort of apathy and quiescence.
She stretched out her cold hands to the blaze, while her husband
watched her furtively from behind his newspaper.
The deep tones of the village clock, striking the half-hour, broke
upon the silence ; and a moment later the timepiece on the mantel-
shelf chimed an echoing response.
The Ring of Life
WE trod the bleak ridge, to and fro,
Grave forty, gay fourteen ;
The yellow larks in Heaven’s blue glow
Like twinkling stars were seen,
And pink-flower’d larches, fring’d below,
Were fabulously green.
And, as I watched my restless son
Leap over gorse and briar,
And felt his golden nature run
With April sap and fire,
Methought another madpate spun
Beside another sire.
Sudden, the thirty years wing by,
Shot, like a curtain’s rings ;
My father treads the ridge, and I
The boy that leaps and flings ;
While eyes that in the churchyard lie,
Seem smiling tenderest things.
By Charles Kennett Burrow
PIERRE GASCON was old, so old that he seemed to have drifted
into a backwater of time, and to lie there forgotten. His age
had grown upon him imperceptibly. He had not felt its steady
besiegement, like other men, in the waning of the vital fires of life ;
it was only something more placid than his youth ; a time of less
excursive contemplation, a season of calm more wholly personal
than before. He had deliberately shut out the world, and knew it
only by rumour as a place where people committed intolerable
follies both of body and mind, rearing children to reap what they
had sown, loving with preposterous fatuity and a devotion, Pierre
Gascon in his blind soul believed, a hundred times more worthy
than its object.
He lived in a great house surrounded by a beautiful and luxuriant
garden, enclosed by high walls. It was not far from a busy city,
and on silent evenings as he sat under his lime trees, the humming
of the restless hive reached him in an unvarying undertone. Some-
times, on clear mornings, he caught the gleam of distant spires—
the symbols, in his eyes, of a vain and idle worship. He argued
with the almost divine assumption of lack of knowledge, and for
many years had held himself the only true philosopher.
Pierre Gascon’s face bore none of the marks that blazon a man’s
The Yellow Book—Vol. V. H
life to the seeing eye. It was the face of a child grown old in the
smallest part of childishness, and the white hair that crowned it
struck a note of curious incongruity. He hung upon the fringes
of life as a cobweb may hang upon a briar ; he breathed like
ordinary men, but was divorced from the human impulses of the
body ; he had chosen his way and followed it almost to the end ;
and the end, he thought, because it still seemed far off, should be of
a piece with the rest.
One only of the associates of his early youth ever visited him.
He was a physician in the town which smoked on the horizon ;
and sometimes Doctor Carton, snatching a few hours from the per-
sistent ardour of his occupation, would bring within the walls of
Pierre Gascon’s house the only manlike element that ever came
there. The Doctor had watched the course of the man, whom he
had known in his boyhood, with a growing wonder that at last had
settled into a steady flame of scorn. He, coming fresh from the
great city, where life and death jostled together on the footways,
where crime and virtue lived side by side in apparent union, and
where the passions of the soul broke loose in strenuous mastery,
was amazed at this man who knew nothing of it all. Sometimes
he found it in his heart to pity him, but it was less a pity of the
emotions than of the mind, a mental exercise that left no good with
the bestower. The Doctor was steeped in the mystery and strange-
ness of life, in the element which it was his task to nurture ; and
his familiarity with death but strung him to a higher note of pur-
pose. In Pierre Gascon he saw a man to whom death meant
nothing but dissolution, and he shuddered to think that this man
had once been young.
The Doctor had not seen Pierre Gascon for many months, and
one day, thinking of him as he hurried along the street, he dis-
patched his business at an earlier hour than usual, and, towards
evening, turned his horse in the direction of the recluse’s house.
As he cleared the squalid suburbs of the city, and emerged into the
pleasant country beyond, he breathed more freely, and looked about
him with eyes that carried refreshment to his mind at every turn.
It was late springtime, and the hedgerows were bright with dog-
rose and convolvulus ; a gentle wind rustled in the tree-tops ; the
sound of running water fell with a dreamy murmur on his ear,
and the sky was flecked with white airy clouds that slowly moved
from west to east. The Doctor himself was old ; his face was lined
into a thousand wrinkles, and his back was bent with much watch-
ing and study ; yet there moved in his blood some strong and
stirring memories of the past, and the ashes of his youth still held
some living fire.
He found Pierre Gascon in his garden, sitting in his favourite
seat beneath the limes. He rose to meet the Doctor slowly, with
no hint either of pleasure or disapproval on his face. The hand
with which he greeted him left no friendly pressure on the Doctor’s
” Still here,” said the Doctor ; ” no change ? “
” None,” replied the other. ” I am content. I have here all
that I need. You have known me long enough to understand that
I desire no change.”
” Ah,” said the Doctor. His quick eye observed a change of no
small moment in Pierre Gascon’s face ; the temples were a trifle
sunken, the cheeks less full, the eyes less clouded. He knew the
signs too well to doubt them, and Pierre Gascon was old. His
scorn turned to instant pity, not only of the mind, but of the heart,
and as they walked towards the house together he took the other’s
arm for the first time in many years.
” Gascon,” said the Doctor, ” you say that you are now as you
have always been. Think once more before you answer me.”
” Why doubt it ? ” replied the other. ” Your eyes see me, your
hand touches me.”
” I ask no idle questions. My life is too full of striving to find
answers. Believe me, I ask you as a doctor and as a friend.”
Pierre Gascon paused and glanced at the Doctor’s face.
” You think me ill ? Well, it may be so. My strength, per-
haps, has seemed to fail a little. But what matter ? I fear
” I see not only that you are ill, but that death is very near
to you. His hand may at this moment be stretched out to touch
you. I am familiar with the sight ; but does it bring no fear to
you ? ”
” None,” replied the other. His voice was firm, but his face had
taken a sudden tinge of grey.
They sat down together in a small room lined with books, which
opened on the garden. Pierre Gascon gazed steadily through
the open window. The Doctor watched him. They were
silent for many minutes, and Doctor Carton’s anger began to rise
” You say you have no fear,” he said at last. ” I know of one
thing only that can save a man from that—the memory of a life
spent with some purpose. Have you this memory ? ”
” I have lived my life,” replied the other calmly.
” You have lived your life ! ” cried the Doctor, rising and pacing
the room. ” Lived ! You have eaten, drunk, slept, moved and
breathed, but that is not to have lived. What good action have
you ever done, what bad impulse ever had the strength to carry
into deed ? I deal plainly with you. Here you stand upon the
very brink of death ; you say that you have lived. Are you so
blind as not to see that the very words are false ? Dare you go
into eternity with a record absolutely blank ? “
Pierre Gascon followed the Doctor’s figure with his eyes. The
placid stream of his insane philosophy was rudely shaken by this
unexpected storm. He wondered, for an instant, whether what he
regarded as his self-control had been weakness of the basest kind.
But the old habit of thought was strong upon him, and he slipped
back to it again.
” You talk idly, Carton,” he replied. ” I choose my way
deliberately with open eyes. Blame me if you will ; I have at
least been consistent in my course.”
” True,” said the Doctor, ” hopelessly consistent ; that is the
only virtue of weakness. But will that avail you when you come
to die ? Were you born a sentient atom, with the means and
strength of life, to be damned at last for this ? In heaven’s name
do not flirt consistency in the face of God.”
Pierre Gascon moved uneasily. The threads were becoming
tangled, just when he was ready to tie the final knot.
” You have lived in the world, Carton ; what have you done to
give you the right to judge me now ? ”
” What have I done ? ” cried the Doctor. ” I have grown old in
lessening human suffering. That was my business, you may say.
Good ; I claim no virtue for it. I have sinned open-eyed, and
sucked poison from strange flowers. I have burnt in the fierce
fires of remorse, and thereby learnt charity. I have reared my
children to face the world and fight through it, not to skulk in
corners. I have only a few rags and tatters of self-conceit left, and
I hope to strip myself of those before I die.”
“Yes,” said Pierre Gascon, “my life has not been like that.
Which of us is right ? ”
” Ask yourself, not me. Have you ever loved a woman ? Have
you ever made children happy ? Have you ever cheated the devil
for an hour, and then compounded for your virtue with a greater
crime ? That is the way with men for a time. Have you ever
done any of these things ? If so, there may be some shadow of
hope to cling to yet.”
” I have done none of these things, Carton.”
Pierre Gascon sat with bowed head and trembled. He felt his
strength ebbing from him with every heart-beat ; his mind was
confused and blurred with a hundred accusing images, but not one
of them arose from any act of his. His condemnation flowed in
upon him like a tide, and he had but a few hours to live. Could
anything be done in so short a time to save him even in the eyes
of one man ?
” For God’s sake,” cried the Doctor, ” if nothing else remains, at
least commit some sin to be reckoned in your account as virtue.
Show that you are still a man, though you have spent your life in
hiding from the fact. Something may be done yet.”
” I am too old,” wailed Gascon, ” I am too old. Is there no
good that I can do ? I have a nephew, my brother’s son, can I do
nothing for him ? ”
” He died a year ago, in poverty, wasted by disease, but fighting
to the last. You are too late. He left a wife and child ; they too
“But they can be found. Let us find them, Carton ; let us
set out at once. I am ready to go with you now.” He rose,
with eager outstretched hands, and crossed the room to Carton’s
“Where shall we go ? ” said Carton ; ” it is already night. The
streets of the city are full of pleasure-seekers ; the noise would stun
you, and you are near your end.”
” Let us go,” said Pierre Gascon again ; ” I can do nothing
here. I cannot die here. Take me to the city. Let me see my
kind again, for the love of God. There may be some chance yet !”
Carton watched him put on cloak and hat in feverish haste.
Then he went to a safe and filled his pockets with gold. A few
pieces fell, and lay like drops of light upon the floor. The Doctor
smiled grimly—strange that even at the last he should count on
gold to help him. He did not shrink from complying with
Gascon’s wish ; it could, at most, only shorten his life by a few
Pierre Gascon said nothing as they were rapidly driven towards
the city. The night was warm, with little wind, and the scent of
the hedgerows and fields hung in the air. The moon at times was
obscured by flying vapour, and again it would shine full upon the
speeding carriage, drawing nearer and nearer to the city lights, and
on Pierre Gascon’s pallid, haunted face.
At last they were in the streets, and moving at a slower pace.
The long lines of lamps, the swaying shadows, the roar of wheels,
and continual beat of feet, above all the shifting faces of the crowd,
bore in on Pierre Gascon’s mind with a new terror. In any one
of all these people might lie his hope of redemption—but how to
choose ? The faces gleamed upon him and passed like shadows in
a dream, some glad, some beautiful, some stern as fate, some stained
with crime. The voices surged in his ears in a myriad conflicting
waves of sound, with every now and then a cry or shrilling laugh
rising above the clamour like a signal. He watched them all, as
they went by, with impotent longing, and with every minute his
A crowd of mingled men and women stood at the corner of a
street, listening idly to a shrill-voiced preacher. As the carriage
passed Pierre Gascon half rose from his seat, and, filling both hands
with gold, cast it into the throng with a cry. They fought for it
like maniacs, the preacher amongst the rest, and the sound of the
turmoil followed them like an echo down the street.
“That is not the way,” said Doctor Carton. “It cost you
nothing to do that. The time is short, and I cannot guide you to
your last action. You must choose yourself. Let us get out and
walk if you are able.”
” Yes, yes,” said Gascon, eagerly. The Doctor stopped the
carriage and they alighted. Pierre Gascon leant heavily upon his
arm, and his feet moved unsteadily upon the pavement. But he
glanced at the faces as they passed with an awful curiosity, and
After a time they reached a more open space, dimly lighted
save near the pavement, where the crowd was thick. Here they
paused, Pierre Gascon breathing heavily, with great drops of sweat
upon his face. His terror had grown to an intolerable agony of
dread ; he felt life slipping from him, and yet he had not accom-
plished one saving act.
Suddenly a woman started from the crowd and reeled into the
road. She laughed loudly as she went, and flung up her arms as
though in mock appeal. Her face still bore some signs of beauty,
though sadly blurred and marred.
” There,” said the Doctor, ” that may be your chance. Who
knows ? She may be your nephew’s wife.”
Pierre Gascon heard only the last words. A sudden blinding
flash darted across his brain. He started forward with a cry, and
reached the woman’s side, who stood half dazed in the full tide-way
of the varying traffic. He seized her arm and cried :
” Are you his wife ? “
” His wife ? ” she cried, with a bitter laugh ; ” whose wife ? “
A carriage turned the corner sharply and bore down upon them
at a rapid pace. Pierre Gascon saw it, and, with all his remaining
strength, flung the woman into safety. Then he staggered and
fell, and the wheels passed over his body with a sickening jolt.
When Doctor Carton stood by the dead man in a hospital ward
an hour later, the face seemed more resolute and stronger than it
had ever been in life. It wore a look almost of triumph, and the
lips seemed half drawn into a smile.
” Poor Pierre Gascon ! ” said the Doctor. ” How many men
would have done as much ? His last act may have saved him,
“. . . Whereupon coming to the bars of his window
and looking out, he did begin to weep and lament him, and
cry out on the good sun that shone even into the King’s prison.
But most he did bewail that no one should pay heed to his
death. . . . ”
I KNOW not if the air is sweet, nor if the roses flower ;
I only hear one tiny bird that chirps the passing hour.
I know not if the air is sweet, nor if the roses flower.
If I could only flee the death that waits at break of day,
To some untravelled country-side I would escape away.
If I could only flee the death that waits at break of day.
I would not need a house, nor wife, nor even clothes to wear ;
But only God’s dear firmament, and sunshine, and the air.
I would not need a house, nor wife, nor even clothes to wear.
What matter all the things men prize, comfort, and luxury,
When one may shout, and laugh, and run, and be at liberty ?
What matter all the things men prize, comfort, and luxury ?
What have I done that I should die, who never meant to
At best our life is all we have, and cannot last for long.
What have I done that I should die, who never meant to wrong ?
Life seems so full of joys to me, now that death comes so near;
I would I had been more content, and had kept better cheer.
Life seems so full of joys to me, now that death comes so near.
If only some one will recall my memory and my name ;
I do so fear they may forget even my very shame.
If only some one will recall my memory and my name.
Perchance a girl may weep to see them lead me out to die,
May cross herself, and whisper, ” God, he is as young as I.”
Perchance a girl may weep to see them lead me out to die.
SHE sat in a corner of a large London drawing-room, and the
two men stood before her—Hillier Haselton, her husband,
and George Swann, her husband’s cousin ; and, beyond them, the
mellow light of shaded candles, vague groupings of black coats,
white shirt-fronts, and gay-tinted dresses, and the noisy hum of
The subject that the two men were discussing—and more
especially Swann’s blunt earnestness—stirred her, though through-
out it she had been unpleasantly conscious of a smallness, almost a
pettiness, in Hillier’s aspect.
” Well, but why not, my dear Swann ? Why not be unjust :
man’s been unjust to woman for so many years.”
Hillier let his voice fall listlessly, as if to rebuke the other’s
vehemence ; and to hint that he was tired of the topic, looked
round at his wife, noting at the same time that Swann was observ-
ing how he held her gaze in his meaningly. And the unexpected-
ness of his own attitude charmed him—his hot defence of an
absurd theory, obviously evoked by a lover-like desire to please her.
Others, whose admiration he could trust, would, he surmised, have
reckoned it a pretty pose. And she, perceiving that Swann seemed
to take her husband’s sincerity for granted, felt a sting of quick
regret that she had ever come to understand him, and that she
could not still view him as they all viewed him.
Hillier moved away across the room, and Swann drew a stool
beside her chair, and asking her for news of Claude, her little boy,
talked to her of other things—quite simply, for they were grown
like old friends. He looked at her steadily, stroking his rough fair
beard, as if he were anxious to convey to her something which he
could not put into words. She divined ; and, a little startled, tried
to thank him with her eyes ; but, embarrassed by the clumsiness of
his own attempt at sympathetic perception, he evidently noticed
nothing. And this obtuseness of his disappointed her, since it
somehow seemed to confirm her isolation.
She glanced round the room. Hillier stood on the hearth-rug,
his elbow on the mantel-piece, busily talking, with slight deferen-
tial gestures, to the great English actress in whose honour the
dinner had been given. The light fell on his smooth glistening
hair, on his quick sensitive face ; for the moment forcing herself
to realise him as he appeared to the rest, she felt a thrill of jaded
pride in him, in his cleverness, in his reputation, in his social
Swann, observing the direction of her gaze, said, almost apolo-
getically, ” You must be very proud of him.”
She nodded, smiled a faint, assumed smile ; then added, adopt-
ing his tone, ” His success has made him so happy.”
” And you too ? ” he queried.
” Of course,” she answered quickly.
He stayed silent, while she continued to watch her husband
Success, an atmosphere of flattery, suited Hillier Haselton, and
stimulating his weaknesses, continually encouraged him to display
the handsomer portion of his nature. For though he was yet
young—and looked still younger—there was always apparent,
beneath his frank boyish relish of praise, a semblance of serious
modesty, a strain of genuine reserve. And society—the smart
literary society that had taken him up—found this combination
charming. So success had made life pleasant for him in many
ways, and he rated its value accordingly ; he was too able a man
to find pleasure in the facile forms of conceit, or to accept, with
more than a certain cynical complacency, the world’s generous
judgment on his work. Indeed, the whole chorus of admiration
did but strengthen his contempt for contemporary literary judg-
ments, a contempt which—lending the dignity of deliberate
purpose to his indulgence of his own weakness for adulation—
procured him a refined, a private, and an altogether agreeable self-
satisfaction. When people set him down as vastly clever, he was
pleased ; he was unreasonably annoyed when they spoke of him as
a great genius.
Life, he would repeat, was of larger moment than literature ;
and, despite all the freshness of his success, his interest in himself,
in the play of his own personality, remained keener, and, in its
essence, of more lasting a nature, than his ambition for genuine
achievement. The world—people with whom he was brought
into relation—stimulated him so far as he could assimilate them
to his conception of his own attitude ; most forms of art too, in
great measure—and music altogether—attracted him in the pro-
portion that they played upon his intimate emotions. Similarly,
his friendships ; and for this reason he preferred the companionship
of women. But since his egoism was uncommonly dexterous, he
seemed endowed with a rare gift of artistic perception, of psycho-
logical insight, of personal charm.
It had always been his nature to live almost exclusively in the
present ; his recollection of past impressions was grown scanty
from habitual disuse. His sordid actions in the past he forgot
with an ever-increasing facility ; his moments of generosity or
self-sacrifice he remembered carelessly, and enjoyed a secret pride
in their concealment ; and the conscious embellishment of sub-
jective experience for the purpose of ” copy,” he had instinctively
Since his boyhood, religion had been distasteful to him, though,
at rare moments, it had stirred his sensibilities strangely. Now,
occasionally, the thought of the nullity of life, of its great un-
satisfying quality, of the horrid squalor of death, would descend
upon him with its crushing, paralysing weight ; and he would
lament, with bitter, futile regret, his lack of a secure stand-point,
and the continual limitations of his self-absorption ; but even that,
perhaps, was a mere literary melancholy, assimilated from certain
passages of Pierre Loti.
But now he had published a stout volume of critical essays,
and an important volume of poetry, and society had clamorously
ratified his own conception of himself. Certainly, now, in the
eyes of the world, it was agreed beyond dispute that she, his wife,
was of quite the lesser importance. ” She was nice and quiet,”
which meant that she seemed mildly insignificant ; “she had a
sense of humour,” which meant that an odd note of half-stifled
cynicism sometimes escaped her. He was evidently very devoted
to her, and on that account women trusted him—all the more
because her personality possessed no obvious glamour. Perhaps,
now and then, his attentions to her in public seemed a little
ostentatious ; but then, in these modern uncourtly days, that in
itself was distinctive. In private too, especially at the moments
when he found life stimulating, he was still tactful and expansive
with sympathetic impulse ; from habit ; from pride in his com-
prehension of women ; from dislike to cheap hypocrisy. How
could he have divined that bitter suppressed seriousness, with
which she had taken her disillusionment ; when not once in three
months did he consider her apart from the play of his own person-
ality ; otherwise than in the light of her initial attitude towards
And her disillusionment, how had it come ? Certainly not
with a rush of sudden overwhelming revelation ; certainly it was
in no wise inspired by the tragedy of Nora Helmer. It had been
a gradual growth, to whose obscure and trivial beginnings she had
not had the learning to ascribe their true significance. To sound
the current of life was not her way. She was naïve by nature ;
and the ignorance of her girlhood had been due rather to a
natural inobservance than to carefully managed surroundings.
And yet, she had come to disbelieve in Hillier ; to discredit his
clever attractiveness : she had become acutely sensitive to his
instability, and, with a secret, instinctive obstinacy, to mistrust
the world’s praise of his work. Perhaps, had he made less effort
in the beginning to achieve a brilliancy of attitude in her eyes,
had he schooled her to expect from him a lesser loftiness of aspira-
tion, things might have been very different ; or, at least, there
might have resulted from the process of her disillusionment a
lesser bitterness of conviction. But she had taken her marriage
with so keen an earnestness of ideal, had noted every turn in his
personality with so intense an expectation. Perhaps, too, had he
detected the first totterings of her ideal conception of him, had
he aided her, as it were, to descend his figure from that pedestal
where he himself had originally planted it, together they might
have set it uninjured on a lower and less exposed plane. But he
had never heeded her subtle indications of its insecurity ; alone,
she had watched its peril, awaiting with a frightened fascination
the day when it should roll headlong in the dust. And, at inter-
vals, she would vaguely marvel, when she observed others whose
superior perspicacity she assumed, display no perception of his
insincerity. Then the oppressive sense that she—she, his wife,
the mother of his child—was the only one who saw him clearly,
and the unsurmountable shrinking from the relief of sharing this
sense with any one, made her sourly sensitive to the pettiness, the
meanness, the hidden tragic element in life.
A gulf had grown between—that was how she described it to
herself. Outwardly their relations remained the same ; but,
frequently, in his continuance of his former attitude, she detected
traces of deliberate effort ; frequently when off his guard, he
would abandon all pretension to it, and openly betray how little
she had come to mean to him. There were, of course, moments
also, when, at the echo of his tenderness, she would feverishly
compel herself to believe in its genuineness ; but a minute later
he would have forgotten his exaltation, and, almost with irritation,
would deliberately ignore the tense yearning that was glowing
And so, the coming of his success—a brilliant blossoming into
celebrity—had stirred her but fitfully. Critics wrote of the fine
sincerity of his poetry ; while she clung obstinately to her super-
stition that fine poetry must be the outcome of a great nobility of
character. And, sometimes, she hated all this success of his,
because it seemed to emphasise the gulf between them, and in
The Yellow Book—Vol. V. I
some inexplicable way to lessen her value in his eyes : then
again, from an impulse of sheer unselfishness, she would succeed
in almost welcoming it, because, after all, he was her husband.
But of all this he noted nothing : only now and then he would
remind himself vaguely that she had no literary leanings.
The little Claude was three years old. Before his birth, Hillier
had dilated much on the mysterious beauty of childhood, had vied
with her own awed expectation of the wonderful coming joy.
During her confinement, which had been a severe one, for three
nights in succession he had sat, haggard with sleepless anxiety, on
a stiff-backed dining-room chair, till all danger was passed. But
afterwards the baby had disappointed him sorely ; and later she
thought he came near actively disliking it. Still, reminding
herself of the winsomeness of other children at the first awakening
of intelligence, she waited with patient hopefulness, fondly fancying
a beautiful boy-child ; wide baby eyes ; a delicious prattle.
Claude, however, attained no prettiness, as he grew : from an
unattractive baby he became an unattractive child, with lanky,
carroty hair ; a squat nose; an ugly, formless mouth. And in
addition, he was fretful, mischievous, self-willed. Hillier at this
time paid him but a perfunctory attention ; avoided discussing
him ; and, when that was not possible, adopted a subtle, aggrieved
tone that cut her to the quick. For she adored the child ; adored
him because he was hers ; adored him for his very defects ; adored
him because of her own suppressed sadness; adored him for the
prospect of the future—his education, his development, his gradual
growth into manhood.
From the house in Cromwell Road the Haseltons had moved to
a flat near Victoria Station : their means were moderate ; but now,
through the death of a relative, Hillier was no longer dependent
upon literature for a living.
George Swann was her husband’s cousin ; and besides, he had
stood godfather to the little Claude. He was the elder by eight
years ; but Hillier always treated him as if their ages were reversed,
and, before Ella, used to nickname him the “Anglo-Saxon,”
because of his loose physical largeness, his flaxen hair and beard,
his strong simplicity of nature. And Swann, with a reticent
good-humour, acquiesced in Hillier’s tone towards him ; out of
vague regard for his cousin’s ability ; out of respect for him as
Swann and Ella were near friends. Since their first meeting,
the combination of his blunt self-possession and his uncouth
timidity with women, had attracted her. Divining his simplicity,
she had felt at once at her ease with him, and, treating him with
open cousinly friendliness, had encouraged him to come often to
A while later, a trivial incident confirmed her regard for him.
They had been one evening to the theatre together—she and
Hillier and Swann—and afterwards, since it was raining, she and
Hillier waited under the door-way while he sallied out into the
Strand to find them a cab. Pushing his way along the crowded
street, his eyes scanning the traffic for an empty hansom, he
accidentally collided with a woman of the pavement, jostling her
off the kerb into the mud of the gutter. Ella watched him stop,
gaze ruefully at the woman’s splashed skirt, take off his hat, and
apologise with profuse, impulsive regret. The woman continued
her walk, and presently passed the theatre door. She looked
middle-aged : her face was hard and animal-like.
One Sunday afternoon—it was summer-time—as she was cross-
ing the park to pay a call in Gloucester Square, she came across
him sauntering alone in Kensington Gardens. She stopped and
spoke to him : he seemed much startled to meet her. Three-
quarters of an hour later, when she returned, he was sitting on a
public bench beside her path ; and immediately, from his manner,
she half-guessed that he had been waiting for her. It was a
fortnight after Claude’s christening : he started to speak to her
of the child, and so, talking together gravely, they turned on to
the turf, mounted the slope, and sat down on two chairs beneath
Touched by his waiting for her, she was anxious to make
friends with him ; because he was the baby’s godfather ;
because he seemed alone in the world ; because she trusted in
his goodness. So she led him, directly and indirectly, to talk of
himself. At first, in moody embarrassment, he prodded the turf
with his stick ; and presently responded, unwillingly breaking
down his troubled reserve, and alluding to his loneliness con-
fidingly, as if sure of her sympathy.
Unconsciously he made her feel privileged thus to obtain an
insight into the inner workings of his heart, and gave her a
womanly, sentimental interest in him.
Comely cloud-billows were overhead, and there was not a
breath of breeze.
They paused in their talk, and he spoke to her of Kensington
Gardens, lovingly, as of a spot which had signified much to him
in the past—Kensington Gardens, massively decorous ; cere-
moniously quiet ; pompous, courtly as a king’s leisure park ; the
slow, opulent contours of portly foliage, sober-green, immobile
and indolent ; spacious groupings of tree-trunks ; a low ceiling of
leaves ; broad shadows mottling the grass. The Long Water,
smooth and dark as a mirror ; lining its banks, the rhododendrons
swelling with colour, cream, purple, and carmine. The peacock’s
insolent scream ; a silently skimming pigeon ; the joyous twitter-
ings of birds ; the patient bleating of sheep. . . .
At last she rose to go. He accompanied her as far as the
Albert Memorial, and when he had left her, she realised, with a
thrill of contentment, that he and she had become friends.
That had been the beginning of George Swann’s great love for
her. His was a slowly-moving nature : it was gradually therefore
that he came to value, as a matter of almost sacred concern, the
sense of her friendship ; reverencing her with the single-hearted,
unquestioning reverence of a man unfamiliar with women ; re-
garding altogether gravely her relations with him—their talks on
serious subjects, the little letters she wrote to him, the books that
he had given to her—Swinburne‘s Century of Roundels ; a tiny
edition of Shelley, bound in white parchment ; Mrs. Meynell’s
Rhythm of Life. He took to studying her intellectual tastes, the
topics that were congenial to her, her opinions on men and
women, with a quiet, plodding earnestness ; almost as if it were
his duty. Thus he learned her love of simple country things ;
gained a conception of her girlhood’s home ; of her father and
mother, staid country folk. He did not know how to him alone
she could talk of these things ; or of the warm, deep-seated
gratitude she bore him in consequence ; but he reverted con-
stantly to the topic, because, under its influence, she always
brightened, and it seemed to ratify the bond of sympathy between
How much, as the months went by, she came to mean to him,
he had not in the least realised : he had never thought of her as
playing a part in his own life ; only as a beautiful-natured woman,
to whom he owed everything, because, by some strange chance,
she had made him her friend.
Not even in his moments of idle vagrant reverie, did he think
to ask more of her than this. To intrude himself further into her
life, to offer her more than exactly that which she was expecting
of him, naturally never occurred to him. Yet, in a queer un-
comfortable way, he was jealous of other men’s familiarity with
her- -vaguely jealous lest they should supplant him, mistrustful of
his own modesty. And there was no service which, if she had
asked it of him, he would not have accomplished for her sake ; for
he had no ties.
But towards Hillier, since he belonged to her, Swann’s heart
warmed affectionately : she had loved and married him ; had
made him master of her life. So he instinctively extended to his
cousin a portion of the unspoken devotion inspired by Ella.
Such was the extent of his reverence for her, and his diffidence
regarding himself, that he took for granted that Hillier was an
ideal husband, tender, impelled by her to no ordinary daily de-
votion : for, that it should be otherwise, would have seemed
to him a monstrous improbability. Yet latterly, since the coming
of Hillier’s success, certain incidents had disconcerted him, filled
him with ill-defined uneasiness.
From the first, he had been one of Hillier’s warmest admirers ;
praising, whenever an opportunity offered, out of sheer loyalty to
Ella, and pride in his cousin, the fineness of form that his poetry
revealed. To her, when they were alone, he had talked in the
same enthusiastic strain : the first time she had seemed listless
and tired, and afterwards he had blamed himself for his want of
tact ; on another occasion, he had brought her a laudatory article,
and she had turned the conversation brusquely into another
channel. And, since his love for her—of which as yet he was
himself unconscious—caused him to brood over means of pleasing
her (he lived alone in the Temple), this indication that he had
jarred her sensibilities was not lost upon him.
Hillier’s attitude towards the little Claude, and the pain that it
was causing her, would in all probabiltity have escaped him, had
she not alluded to it once openly, frankly assuming that he had per-
ceived it. It was not indeed that she was in any way tempted to
indulge in the transitional treachery of discussing Hillier with him ;
but that, distressed, yearning for counsel, she was prompted almost
irresistibly to turn to Swann, who had stood godfather to the child,
who was ready to join her in forming anxious speculations concern-
ing the future.
For of course he had extended his devotion to the child also,
who, at Hillier’s suggestion, was taught to call him Uncle George.
Naturally his heart went out to children : the little Claude, since
the first awakening of his intelligence, had exhibited a freakish,
childish liking for him ; and, in his presence, always assumed some-
thing of the winsomeness of other children.
The child’s preference for Swann, his shy mistrust of his father,
were sometimes awkwardly apparent ; but Hillier, so it seemed to
Ella, so far from resenting, readily accepted his cousin’s predomi-
nance. ” Children always instinctively know a good man,” he
would say ; and Ella would wince inwardly, discerning, beneath
his air of complacent humility, how far apart from her he had come
Thus, insensibly, Swann had become necessary to her, almost
the pivot, as it were, of her life : to muse concerning the nature of
his feelings towards her, to probe its sentimental aspects, to accept
his friendship otherwise than with unconscious ease, that was not
But Hillier noted critically how things were drifting, and even
lent encouragement to their progress in a way that was entirely
unostentatious ; since so cynical an attitude seemed in some
measure to justify his own conduct.
For he was unfaithful to his wife, it was inevitable that the
temptation, in the guise of a craving for change, should come—
not from the outside, but from within himself. And he had no
habit of stable purpose with which to withstand it. Not alto-
gether was it a vagrant, generalised lusting after women other than
his wife ; not a mere harking back to the cruder experiences of his
bachelorhood ; though, at first it had seemed so to manifest itself.
Rather was it the result of a moody restlessness, of a dissatisfaction
(with her, consciously, no ; for the more that he sinned against
her, the more lovable, precious her figure appeared to him) kindled
by continual contact with her natural goodness. It was as if, in
his effort to match his personality with hers, he had put too severe
a strain upon the better part of him.
He himself had never analysed the matter more exhaustively than
this. The treacherous longing had gripped him at certain mo-
ments, holding him helpless as in a vice. He had conceived no
reckless passion for another woman : such an eventuality, he dimly
surmised, was well-nigh impossible. In his case brain domineered
over heart ; to meet the first outbursting of his adoration for his
wife, he had drained every resource of his sentimentality.
Was it then an idle craving for adventure, a school-boy curiosity
clamouring for fresh insight into the heart of women ? Mere
experience was unnecessary for the attainment of comprehension :
“to have lived” did not imply ” to have understood ” : the most
pregnant adventures, as he knew, were those which entailed no
And for these—subtle, psychological intimacies—ample occasion
offered. Yet the twist in his nature led him to profess to treat
them heedlessly ; and, in reality, to prosecute them with no
genuine strenuousness. They would have been obvious lapses ;
Ella would have been pained, pitied perhaps : from that his vanity
and his sham chivalry alike shrank.
His unfaithfulness to her, then, had been prompted by no evident
motive. Superficially considered, it seemed altogether gratuitous,
meaningless. The world—that is, people who knew him and her
—would probably have discredited the story, had it come to be
bruited. And this fact he had not omitted to consider.
She, the other woman, was of little importance. She belonged
to the higher walks of the demi-monde : she was young ; beautiful,
too, in a manner ; light-hearted ; altogether complaisant. She was
not the first : there had been others before her ; but these were of
no account whatsoever : they had but represented the bald fact of
his unfaithfulness. But she attracted him : he returned to her
again and again ; though afterwards, at any rate in the beginning,
he was wont to spare himself little in the matter of self-reproach,
and even to make some show of resisting the temptation. The
discretion of her cynical camaraderie, however, was to be trusted ;
and that was sufficient to undermine all virtuous resolution. She
had the knack, too, of cheering him when depressed, and, curiously
enough, of momentarily reinstating him in his own conceit,
though later, on his return to Ella, he would suffer most of the
pangs of remorse.
There was something mannish about her—not about her
physiognomy, but about her mind—derived, no doubt, from the
scantiness of her intercourse with women. Her cynicism was
both human and humorous : she was a person of little education,
and betrayed none of the conventionality of her class : hence her
point of view often struck him as oddly direct and unexpected.
He used to talk to her about himself, candidly discussing all
manner of random and intimate matters before her, without
shyness on his part, without surprise on hers—almost at times as
if she were not present—and with an assumption of facile banter,
to listen to which tickled his vanity. Only to Ella did he never
allude ; and in this, of course, she tacitly acquiesced. She
possessed a certain quality of sympathetic tact ; always attentive
to his talk, never critical of it ; mindful of all that he had
previously recounted. He could always resume his attitude at the
very point where he had abandoned it. Between them there was
never any aping of sentimentality.
That she comprehended him—with so fatuous a delusion he
never coquetted : nor that she interested him as a curious type.
She saw no subtle significance in his talk : she understood nothing
of its complex promptings : she was ordinary, uneducated, and yet
stimulating—and that was the contrast which attracted him
towards her. Concerning the course of her own existence he did
not trouble himself: he accepted her as he found her ; deriving a
sense of security from the fact that towards him her manner
varied but little from visit to visit. But, as these accumulated,
becoming more and more regular, and his faith in her discretion
blunted the edge of his remorse, he came to notice how she
braced him, reconciled him to his treachery (which, he argued,
in any case was inevitable) ; lent to it a spice almost of pleasant-
ness. Neither had he misgivings of the future, of how it would
end. One day she would pass out of his life as easily as she had
come into it. His relations with her were odd, though not in the
obvious way. About the whole thing he was insensibly coming
to feel composed.
And its smoothness, its lack of a disquieting aspect, impelled
him to persevere towards Ella in cheerfulness, courteous kindness,
and a show of continuous affection ; and to repent altogether of
those lapses into roughness which had marred the first months of
The hansoms whirled their yellow, gleaming eyes down West :
hot, flapping gusts went and returned aimlessly ; and the mirthless
twitterings of the women fell abruptly on the sluggishly shuffling
crowd. All the sin of the city seemed crushed to listlessness ;
vacantly wistful, the figures waited by the street corners.
Then the storm burst. Slow, ponderous drops : a clap of thez
thunder’s wrath ; a crinkled rim of light, unveiling a slab of sky,
throbbing, sullen and violet ; small, giggling screams of alarm,
and a stampede of bunchy silhouettes. The thunder clapped
again, impatient and imperious ; and the rain responded, zealously
hissing. Bright stains of liquid gold straggled across the road-
way ; a sound of splashing accompanied the thud of hoofs, the
rumble of wheels, the clanking of chains, and the ceaseless rattle
of the drops on the hurried procession of umbrellas.
Swann, from the corner of a crowded omnibus, peered absently
through the doorway, while the conductor, leaning into the street,
touted mechanically for passengers.
The vehicle stopped. A woman, bare-headed and cloaked,
escorted by the umbrella of a restaurant official, hurried to the
shelter of a cab, across the wet pavement. A man broke the
stream of the hastening crowd ; halted beside the wheel to stare.
The woman laughed in recognition, noisily. The man stepped
rapidly on to the foot-board, and an instant stood there, directing
the driver across the roof. The light from a lamp-post caught
his face : it was Hillier. The next moment he was seated beside
the woman, who was still laughing (Swann could see the gleaming
whiteness of her teeth) : the driver had loosened the window
strap, the glass had slid down, shutting them in. The omnibus
jolted forward, and the cab followed in its wake, impatiently, for
the street was blocked with traffic.
Immediately, with a fierce vividness, Ella’s image sprang up
before Swann’s eyes—her face with all its pure, natural, simple
sweetness. And there—not ten yards distant, behind the obscurity
of that blurred glass, Hillier was sitting with another woman—a
woman concerning whose status he could not doubt.
He clenched his gloved fists. The wild impulse spurted forth,
the impulse to drag the cur from the cab, to bespatter him, to
throw him into the mud, to handle him brutally, as he deserved.
It was as if Hillier had struck him a cowardly blow in the face.
Then the hansom started to creep past the omnibus. Swann
sprang into the roadway. A moment later he was inside another
cab, whirling in pursuit down Piccadilly hill.
The horse’s hoofs splashed with a rhythmical, accelerated
precision : he noticed dully how the crupper-strap flapped from
side to side, across the animal’s back. Ahead, up the incline,
pairs of tiny specks, red and green, were flitting.
” It’s the cab with the lady what come out of the restaurant,
ain’t it, sir ? ”
” Yes,” Swann called back through the trap.
The reins tightened : the horse quickened his trot.
Hyde Park Corner stood empty and resplendent with a glitter
of glamorous gold. The cab turned the corner of Hamilton
Place, and the driver lashed the horse into a canter up Park
” That’s ‘im—jest in front—”
” All right. Follow.” Swann heard himself answering. And,
amid his pain, he was conscious that’s the man’s jaunty tone
seemed to indicate that this sort of job was not unfamiliar.
He struggled to tame the savageness of his indignation ; to
think out the situation ; to realise things coolly, that he might do
what was best for her. But the leaping recollection of all her
trustfulness, her goodness, filled him with a burning, maddening
compassion. . . . He could see nothing but the great wrong done
to her. . . .
Where were they going—the green lights of that cab in front
—that woman and Hillier ? . . . Where would it end, this
horrible pursuit—this whirling current which was sweeping him
forward…. It was like a nightmare. . . .
He must stop them—prevent this thing . . . but, evidently,
this was not the first time. . . . Hillier and this woman knew
one another. He had stopped, on catching sight of her, and she
had recognised him. . . . The thing might have been going on
for weeks—for months. . . .
. . . Yet he must stop them—not here, in the crowded street
(they were in the Edgware Road), but later, when they had
reached their destination—where there were no passers—where it
could be done without scandal. . . .
. . . Yes, he must send Hillier back to her. . . . And she
believed in him—trusted him. . . . She must know nothing—at
all costs, he must spare her the hideous knowledge—the pain of it.
. . . And yet—and yet? . . . Hillier—the blackguard—she would
have to go on living with him, trusting him, confiding in him,
loving him. . . .
And for relief he returned wearily to his indignation.
How was it possible for any man— married to her—to be so
vile, so false ? . . . The consummate hypocrisy of it all. . . .
Swann remembered moments when Hillier’s manner towards
her had appeared redolent of deference, of suppressed affection.
And he—a man of refinement—not a mere coarse-fibred, sensual
brute—he who wrote poetry—Swann recalled a couplet full of fine
aspiration—that he should have done this loathsome thing—done
it callously, openly—any one might have seen it—deceived her
for some common vulgar, public creature. . . .
Suddenly the cab halted abruptly.
” They’re pulled up, across the street there,” the driver
whispered hoarsely, confidentially ; and for his tone Swann could
have struck him.
It was an ill-lit street, silent and empty. The houses were low,
semi-detached, and separated from the pavement by railings and
The woman had got out of the cab and was pushing open the
swing-gate. Hillier stood on the foot-board, paying the cab-
man. Swann, on the opposite side of the street, hesitated.
Hillier stepped on to the pavement, and ran lightly up the door-
step after the woman. She unlocked the door : it closed behind
them. And the hansom which had brought them turned, and
trotted away down the street.
Swann stood a moment before the house, irresolute. Then re-
crossed the street slowly. And a hansom, bearing a second
couple, drew up at the house next door.
” You can go to bed, Hodgson. I will turn off the light.”
The man retired silently. It was a stage-phrase that rose
unconsciously to her lips, a stage-situation with which she was
Alone, she perceived its absurd unreality. Nothing, of course,
would happen to-night : though so many days and nights she had
been waiting. The details of life was clumsy, cumbersome : the
simplification of the stage, of novels, of dozing dreams, seemed,
by contrast, bitterly impossible.
She took up the book again, and read on, losing herself for a
while in the passion of its pages—a passion that was all glamorous,
sentimental felicity, at once vague and penetrating. But, as she
paused to reach a paper-knife, she remembered the irrevocable,
prosaic groove of existence, and that slow drifting to a dreary
commonplace—a commonplace that was hers—brought back all
her aching listlessness. She let the book slip to the carpet.
Love, she repeated to herself, a silken web, opal-tinted, veiling
all life ; love, bringing fragrance and radiance ; love with the
moonlight streaming across the meadows ; love, amid summer-
leafed woods, a-sparkle in the morning sun ; a simple clasping of
hands ; a happiness, child-like and thoughtless, secure and
intimate. . . .
And she—she had nothing—only the helpless child ; her soul
was brave and dismantled and dismal ; and once again started the
gnawing of humiliation—inferior even to the common people,
who could be loved and forget, in the midst of promiscuous
squalor. Without love, there seemed no reason for life.
Away her thoughts sailed to the tale of the fairy-prince,
stepping to shore in his silver armour, come to deliver and to
love. She would have been his in all humility, waited on him in
fearful submission ; she would have asked for nought but his
Years ago, once or twice, men had appeared to her like that.
And Hillier, before they were married, when they were first
engaged. A strange girl she must have been in those days !
And now—now they were like any husband and any wife.
” It happened by chance,” the old tale began. Chance ! Yes,
it was chance that governed all life ; mocking, ironical chance,
daintily sportive chance, hobbled to the clumsy mechanism of
Twelve o’clock struck. Ten minutes more perhaps, and
Hillier would be home. She could hear his tread ; she could see
him enter, take off his coat and gloves gracefully, then lift her
face lightly in his two hands, and kiss her on the forehead. He
would ask for an account of her day’s doings ; but he would
never heed her manner of answering, for he would have begun to
talk of himself. And altogether complacently would he take up
the well-worn threads of their common life.
And she would go on waiting, and trifling with hopelessness,
for in real life such things were impossible. Men were dull and
incomplete, and could not understand a woman’s heart. . . .
And so she would wait till he came in, and when he had
played his part, just as she had imagined he would play it, she
would follow him, in dumb docility, up-stairs to bed.
* * * * *
It was past one o’clock when he appeared. She had fallen
asleep in the big arm-chair : her book lay in a heap on the carpet
beside her. He crossed the room, but she did not awake.
One hand hung over the arm of the chair, limp and white and
fragile ; her head, bent over her breast, was coyly resting in the
curve of her elbow ; her hair was a little dishevelled ; her breathing
was soft and regular, like a child’s.
He sat down noiselessly, awed by this vision of her. The cat,
which had lain stretched on the hearth-rug, sprang into his lap,
purring and caressing. He thought it strange that animals had
no sense of human sinfulness, and recalled the devotion of the dog
of a prostitute, whom he had known years and years ago. . . .
He watched her, and her unconsciousness loosed within him
the sickening pangs of remorse. . . . He mused vaguely on
suicide as the only fitting termination. . . . And he descended
to cheap anathemas upon life. . . .
* * * * *
By-and-by she awoke, opening her eyes slowly, wonderingly.
He was kneeling before her, kissing her hand with reverential
She saw tears in his eyes : she was still scarcely awake : she
made no effort to comprehend ; only was impulsively grateful, and
slipping her arms behind his head, drew him towards her and kissed
him on the eyes. He submitted, and a tear moistened her lips.
Then they went up-stairs.
And she, passionately clutching at every memory of their love,
feverishly cheated herself into bitter self-upbraiding, into attri-
buting to him a nobility of nature that set him above all other
men. And he, at each renewed outburst of her wild straining
towards her ideal, suffered, as if she had cut his bare flesh with a
It was his insistent attitude of resentful humility that finally
wearied her of the fit of false exaltation. When she sank to
sleep, the old ache was at her heart.
The Yellow Book—Vol. V. K
Swann strode into the room. Hillier looked up at him from
his writing-table in unfeigned surprise ; greeted him cordially,
with a couple of trite, cheery remarks concerning the weather,
then waited abruptly for an explanation of this morning visit ; for
Swann’s trouble was written on his face.
” You look worried. Is there anything wrong ? ” Hillier
“Well, can I do anything ? If I can be of any service to you,
old fellow, you know ——”
” I discovered last night what a damned blackguard you are.”
He spoke savagely, as if his bluntness exulted him : his tone
quivered with suppressed passion.
Hillier, with a quick movement of his head, flinched as if he
had been struck in the face. And the lines about his mouth were
There was a long, tense silence. Hillier was drawing circles
on a corner of the blotting-pad ; Swann was standing over him,
glaring at him with a fierce, hateful curiosity. Hillier be-
came conscious of the other’s expression, and his fist clenched
” I saw you get into a cab with that woman,” Swann went on.
” I was in an omnibus going home. I followed you—drove after
you. I wanted to stop you—to stop it—I was too late.”
” Ah !” An exasperated, sneering note underlined the ex-
clamation. Hillier drove the pen-point_into the table. The nib
curled and snapped.
The blood rushed to Swarm’s forehead. In a flash he caught a
glimpse of the thought that had crossed Hillier’s mind. It was
like a personal indignity ; he struggled desperately to control
Hillier looked straight into his cousin’s distorted face. At
the sight the tightness about his own mouth slackened. His
” I’m sorry. Forgive me,” he said simply.
” How can you be such a brute ? ” Swann burst out unheeding.
” Don’t you care ? Is it nothing to you to wreck your wife’s
whole happiness—to spoil her life, to break her heart, to deceive
her in the foulest way, to lie to her. Haven’t you any conscience,
any chivalry ? ”
The manly anguish in his voice was not lost upon Hillier.
He thought he realised clearly how it was for Ella, and not for
him, that Swann was so concerned. Once more he took stock
of his cousin’s agitation, and a quick glitter came into his eyes.
He felt as if a mysterious force had been suddenly given to him.
Still he said nothing.
” How could you, Hillier ? How came you to do it ? “
” Sit down.” He spoke coldly, clearly, as if he were playing a
part which he knew well.
Swann obeyed mechanically.
” It’s perfectly natural that you should speak to me like that.
You take the view of the world. The view of the world I accept
absolutely. Certainly I am utterly unworthy of Ella ” (he men-
tioned her name with a curious intonation of assertive pride).
” How I have sunk to this thing—the whole story of how I have
come to risk my whole happiness for the sake of another woman,
who is nothing—absolutely nothing—to me, to whom I am
nothing, I won’t attempt to explain. Did I attempt to do so,
I see little probability of your understanding it, and little to be
gained even if you did so. I choose to let it remain for you
a piece of incomprehensible infamy : I have no wish to alter your
view of me.”
” You don’t care . . . you’ve no remorse . . . you’re callous
and cynical. . . . Good God ! it’s awful.”
” Yes, Swann, I care,” Hillier resumed, lowering his voice, and
speaking with a slow distinctness, as if he were putting an
excessive restraint upon his emotions. ” I care more than you
or any one will ever know.”
” It’s horrible…. I don’t know what to think. . . . Don’t
you see the awfulness of your wife’s position ? . . . Don’t you
realise the hideousness of what you’ve done ?”
” My dear Swann, nobody is more alive to the consequences of
what I’ve done than I am. I have behaved infamously—I don’t
need to be told that by you. And whatever comes to me out of
this thing” (he spoke with a grave, resigned sadness) “I shall
” Good God ! Can you think of nothing but yourself ?
Can’t you see that you’ve been a miserable, selfish beast—that
what happens to you matters nothing ? Can’t you see that the
only thing that matters is your wife ? You’re a miserable, skulking
cur—— . . . She trusted you—she believed in you, and you’ve
done her an almost irreparable wrong.”
Hillier stood suddenly erect.
” What I have done, Swann, is more than a wrong. It is a
crime. Within an hour of your leaving this room, I shall have
told Ella everything. That is the only thing left for me to do,
and I shall not shirk it. I shall take the full responsibility.
You did right to come to me as you did. You are right to
consider me a miserable, skulking cur” (he brought the words
out with an emphasised bravery). ” Now you can do no
more. The remainder of the matter rests between me and my
” And to think that you——” Swann began passionately.
” There is no object to be gained by our discussing the matter
further,” Hillier interrupted a little loudly, but with a con-
centrated calm. ” There is no need for you to remain here
longer.” He put his thumb to the electric bell.
“The maid will be here in a moment to show you out,” he
Swann waited, blinking with hesitation. His personality seemed
to be slipping from him.
” You are going to tell her ? ” he repeated slowly.
The door opened : he hurried out of the room.
The outer door slammed : Hillier’s face turned a sickly white ;
his eyes dilated, and he laughed excitedly—a low, short, hysterical
laugh. He looked at the clock : the whole scene had lasted but
ten minutes. He pulled a chair to the fire, and sat staring at the
flames moodily. . . . The tension of the dramatic situation
snapped. Before his new prospect, once again he thought weakly
of suicide. . . .
He had told her—not, of course, the whole story—from that
his sensitivity had shrunk. Still he had besmirched himself
bravely ; he had gone through with the interview not without
dignity. Beforehand he had nerved himself for a terrible ordeal ;
yet, somehow, as he reviewed it, now that it was all over, the
scene seemed to have fallen flat. The tragedy of her grief, of his
own passionate repentance, which he had been expecting, had
proved unaccountably tame. She had cried, and at the sight of
those tears of hers he had suffered intensely ; but she had displayed
no suppressed, womanish jealousy ; had not, in her despair, ap-
peared to regard his confession as an overwhelming shattering of
her faith in him, and so provoked him to reveal the depth of his
anguish. He had implored her forgiveness ; he had vowed he
would efface the memory of his treachery ; she had acquiesced
dreamily, with apparent heroism. There had been no mention of
And now the whole thing was ended : to-night he and she
were dining out.
He was vaguely uncomfortable ; yet his heart was full of a
sincere repentance, because of the loosening of the strain of his
anxiety ; because of the smarting sense of humiliation, when he
recollected Swann’s words ; because he had caused her to suffer in
a queer, inarticulate way, which he did not altogether understand,
of which he was vaguely afraid. . . .
When at last he had left her alone, it was with a curious calm-
ness that she started to reflect upon it all. She supposed it was
very strange that his confession had not wholly prostrated her ;
and glancing furtively backwards, catching a glimpse of her old
girlish self, wondered listlessly how it was that, insensibly, all
these months, she had grown so hardened. . . .
* * * * *
By-and-by, the recent revelation of his unfaithfulness seemed
to recede slowly into the misty past, and, fading, losing its sharp-
ness of outline, its distinctness of detail, to resemble an irreparable
fact to which familiarity had inured her.
And all the uneasiness of her mistrustfulness, and pain of her
fluctuating doubtings ceased ; her comprehension of him was all
at once clarified, rendered vivid and indisputable ; and she was
conscious of a certain sense of relief. She was eased of those
feverish, spasmodic gaspings of her half-starved love ; at first the
dulness of sentimental atrophy seemed the more endurable. She
jibed at her own natural artlessness ; and insisted to herself that
she wanted no fool’s paradise, that she was even glad to see him as
he really was, to terminate, once for all, this futile folly of love ;
that, after all, his unfaithfulness was no unusual and terrible
tragedy, but merely a commonplace chapter in the lives of smiling,
chattering women, whom she met at dinners, evening parties, and
balls. . . .
* * * * *
There were some who simpered to her over Hillier as a
model of modern husbands ; and she must go on listening and
smiling. . . .
. . . And the long years ahead would unroll themselves— a slow
tale of decorous lovelessness. . . .
He would be always the same—that was the hardest to face.
His nature could never alter, grow into something different . . .
never, never change . . . always, always the same. . . .
Oh ! it made her dread it all—the restless round of social enjoy-
ments ; the greedy exposure of the petty weaknesses of common
acquaintance ; the ill-natured atmosphere that she felt emanating
from people herded together. . . . All the details of her London
life looked unreal, mean, pitiful. . . .
And she longed after the old days of her girlhood, of the smooth,
staid country life ; she longed after the simple, restful companion-
ship of her old father and mother ; after the accumulation of little
incidents that she had loved long ago. . . . She longed too—and
the straining at heart-strings grew tenser—she longed after her own
lost maidenhood ; she longed to be ignorant and careless ; to see
life once again as a simple, easy matter ; to know nothing of evil ;
to understand nothing of men ; to trust—to trust unquestioningly.
… All that was gone ; she herself was all changed ; those days
could never come again. . . .
And she cried to herself a little, from weakness of spirit,
softly. . . .
* * * * *
Then, gradually, out of the weary turmoil of her bitterness,
there came to her a warm impulse of vague sympathy for the
countless, unknown tragedies at work around her ; she thought of
the sufferings of outcast women—of loveless lives, full of
mirthless laughter ; she thought of the long loneliness of childless
women. . . .
She clutched for consolation at the unhappiness of others ; but
she only discovered the greater ugliness of the world. And she
returned to a tired contemplation of her own prospect. . . .
* * * * *
He had broken his vows to her—not only the solemn vow he
had taken in the church (she recalled how his voice had trembled
with emotion as he had repeated the words)—but all that passion-
ate series of vows he had made to her during the spring-time of
their love. . . .
. . . Yes, that seemed the worst part of it—that, and not the
making love to another woman. . . . What was she like ? . . .
What was it in her that had attracted him ? . . . Oh ! but what
did that matter ? . . . —only why were men’s natures so different
from women’s ? . . .
. . . Now, she must go on—go on alone. Since her marriage she
had lost the habit of daily converse with Christ : here in London,
somehow, He had seemed so distant, so difficult of approach. . . .
. . . She must just go on. . . . She had the little Claude. . . .
It was to help her that God had given her Claude. . . . Oh ! she
would pray to God to make him good—to give him a straight,
strong, upright, honest nature. And herself, every day, she would
watch over his growth, guide him, teach him. . . . Yes, he must
grow up good . . . into boyhood . . . different from other boys
. . . into manhood, simple, honourable manhood. . . . She would
be everything to him : he and she would come to comprehend each
other, to read into each other’s hearts. . . . Perhaps, between them,
would spring up perfect love and trust. . . .
Swann had written to her :
” You are in trouble : let me come.”
Gradually, between the lines of the note, she understood it all
—she read how his love for her had leapt up, now that he knew
that she was unhappy ; how he wanted to be near her, to comfort
her, and perhaps . . . perhaps . . .
She was filled with great sorrow for him—and warm gratitude,
too, for his simple, single-hearted love—but sorrow, that she could
give him nothing in return, and because it seemed that, some-
how, he and she were about to bid one another good-bye ; she
thought she dimly foresaw how their friendship was doomed to
dwindle. . . .
So she let him come.
* * * * *
. . . And all this she fancied she read again in the long, grave
glance of his greeting, and the firm clasp of his big hand.
When he spoke, his deep, steady voice dominated her : she knew
at once that he would do what was right.
“Ella, my poor Ella, how brave you are ! ” She looked up at
him, smiling tremulously, through her quick-starting tears. . . .
The next moment it was as if the words had escaped him—almost
as if he regretted them.
He sat down opposite her, and, lightening his voice, asked—just
as he always did—for news of the little Claude.
And so their talk ran on.
After awhile, she came to realise that he meant to say no more :
the strength of his great reserve became apparent, and a sense of
peace stole over her. He talked on, and to the restful sound of
his clear, strong voice, she abandoned herself dreamily. . . . This
he had judged the better course. . . . that he should have adopted
any other now seemed inconceivable. Beside him she felt weak
and helpless : she remembered the loneliness of his life : he
seemed to her altogether noble ; and she was vaguely remorseful
that she had not perceived from the first that it was from him that
her help would come. . . .
She divined, too, the fineness of his sacrifice—that manly,
human struggle with himself, through which he had passed to
attain it—how he had longed for the right to make her his . . .
and how he had renounced. The sureness of his victory, and the
hidden depths of his nature which it revealed awed her . . .
now he would never swerve from what he knew to be right. . . .
And on, through those years to come, she could trust him, always,
always. . . .
. . . At last he bade her good-bye : even at the last his tone
It was close upon seven o’clock. She went upstairs to dress
for dinner, and kneeling beside the bed, prayed to God with an
outburst of passionate, pulsing joy. . . .
Ten minutes later Hillier came in from his dressing-room. He
clasped his hands round her bare neck, kissing her hair again and
” I have been punished, Nellie,” he began in a broken whisper.
” Good God ! it is hard to bear. . . . Help me, Nellie, . . . help
me to bear it.”
She unclasped his fingers, and started to stroke them ; a little
mechanically, as if it were her duty to ease him of his pain. . . .
By Ernest Wentworth
SHE asked her lover, smiling, ” If one blend
Two sweet sounds in a perfect symphony,
Or two harmonious colours till they lend
A selfsame hue,—tell me, what alchemy
Can part them after ? . . . So myself and thee,
My life and thine, fast mingled, nought can rend
Asunder ever.”—Nay, but hear the end.
The lovers’ lives, sometime thus wholly one,—
One in minds’ thought, hearts’ wish, and bodies’ breath,—
Now singly such far-severed courses run
As if each had survived the other’s death.
Oh, sad strange thing ! Yet, as the Wise Man saith,
There is no new thing underneath the sun.
How early, then, were such sad things begun !
“For Ever and Ever”
By C. S.
IN the cold grey dawn I sit up and look at the woman by my
side. One soft little white hand peeps out from the dainty
lace, and on one ringer is a gold ring. There is just such another
upon my own finger ; and these two rings bind us to one another
for ever and ever. And I am tired already.
She moves in her sleep, and buries her face deeper in the heavy
folds of the bed-clothes. The little hand is still out, and lies so
near me (so temptingly near, as I should have thought only a little
while ago) that I can trace the faint blue lines in it as I have done
many a time before. But now . . . how horrible it all seems !
She stirs again, and draws the hand into the lace so that it is
almost hidden. How pretty she looks ! . . . with her silky
brown hair. Ah, why do I find it so difficult to think of her,
even when she is before my eyes thus ? Why do I never think of
her when she is absent ? Why do great masses of tumbling black
hair come into my mind, while I watch this soft brown tangle on
the pillow before me ? I have tried to beat down these thoughts
—but they will come . . . and how can I help myself?
Look at her neck—how white it is ! And yet—and yet, why
does a warm brown something continually haunt me ? A living
something which brings with it the sun, the sky, and the sea ?
Our boy sleeps in a little room adjoining. I creep in and look
at him. He is asleep, and has curled himself up almost into a ball,
with one tiny fist in his mouth. I dare not move it to give him
more air, lest he should wake and cry out. As I look a horrible
feeling of loneliness comes over me. . . . He is her child . . .
our child … I creep back to bed. Thank Heaven her eyes are
shut ! . . . Those eyes so solemn and blue.
And in the morning she tells me a curious dream she had last
night. And this is it :
” I dreamed that a dark woman with wonderful black hair came
and stood by our bed ; and stooping, put her arms about you and
kissed you passionately many times, smoothing your forehead with
her hand. And I tried to cry out, but could not from fear. And
suddenly looking up, she saw me watching her ; and her face
grew hard and cruel. And she came round, and stood and looked
at me ; and I trembled. And presently taking hold of me, she
tried to pull me out of bed, but something held me down : and
she gave up, and went and sat by the dull cold grate, and wept
bitterly. And I felt sorry for her in spite of all, because she had
no one to comfort her as I have : and I got up to go to her. But
the cruel hard look crept back into her face—and then I woke,
and saw you, and the empty chair, and the bright sunlight darting
round the edges of the blinds, and found it was only a dream.”
And what can I say ? . . . What can I do ? … How can I
help myself? . . .
Mr. Meredith in Little
By G. S. Street
IN addition to its possible concealment of irrelevant motives,
anonymous criticism has this certain advantage, that it is not
of necessity ridiculous. When the anonymous critic is confronted
with such a question as that put, a trifle rudely but quite con-
clusively, by Charles Lamb to Dr. Nott—” You think : who are
you ? ” ” I,” he may answer proudly, ” am The North Boreshire
Inquisitor.” Being that, he may go on to protect the interests of
our hearths and homes, or to point out the approaching end of the
century, without danger of seeming superfluous or impertinent.
To do these things is felt to be part of the duty of The North
Boreshire Inquisitor. But when Jones—I hope nobody is really
called Jones—implies a supposition that the world will be glad to
read what he, Jones, thinks of some great contemporary, he runs
a risk of humorous eyebrows. Even when the critic is somebody
whose name is a household word for eminence, one of those
distinguished few before whom generations of intruders have
trembled or basked, and the criticised only “a Mr.” So-and-so—
there is a deal of national character in that use of the indefinite
article—one suspects that the judgment, however instructive, has
in it some possibility of the absurd. And it may be supposed that
if a beginner in the dodge of scribbling should essay to estimate
the greatest among living writers in his country, the proceeding
would be something worse than ridiculous.
But it may be argued that such a critic would be in a less
obnoxious position than any other. If he had a mind to patronise,
somebody might be amused and nobody could be hurt ; whereas
the patronage of a superior rankles, and that of an inferior is not
to be borne. Or if he set out to damn, it would be nothing ; but
your eminent critic, sitting heavily upon a writhing novice, has
an air of cruel exclusiveness.
For such reasons as these, I have far less diffidence in making
Mr. Meredith’s last published book a little more than the starting-
point of a few digressions, than I should have in criticising Mr.
Max Beerbohm : I name, for example, an author whose works
are of a later date and even less in bulk than my own. I should
fear the satire of Mr. Beerbohm’s eulogists or detractors : from
Mr. Meredith’s, I may hope for indulgent indifference. I was
compelled in my youth to weigh the philosophers of ancient
Greece in the balance of my critical intelligence, and I began to
read Mr. Meredith at about the time I was deciding the com-
parative qualities of Plato and Aristotle. To me he was, and is,
as much a classic as they : I approach him with as little personal
feeling, and if I have to say that all of him is not, in my
apprehension, equally good, I can say it with as little disrespect.
The Tale of Chloe and other Stories gives you Mr.
little. In The House on the Beach you have him, as it were, in
The Yellow Book—Vol. V. L
his bones. In The Case of General Ople and Lady Camper
have him alive and imperfect. In The Tale of Chloe you have him
If Mr. Meredith were one of those sympathetic writers who
can write only when they are drunk—and is not art life as
expressed by a finely drunken intelligence ?—I should think he
wrote The House on the Beach after a surfeit of tea. The appre-
hension, the phrase and the mechanism of conveyance are there ;
the quickening fire, the ” that” as Sir Joshua Reynolds said, is
absent. ” You shall live ” Mr. Meredith seems to have said to
his potential puppets, and so they live—under protest. As has
happened before, when lack of customary inspiration has been felt,
he seems to have tried, in over self-justification, to do
what the fullest inspiration had hardly made possible. He has
offered you a caprice of feminine emotion more incredible than is
to be found in any other of his books. A middle-aged man,
grotesquely vulgar and abnormally mean-minded, asks, as his
price for not exposing an old friend, this old friend’s daughter to
wife. The daughter, having set herself to make the sacrifice, had
to find in this treacherous cad, Tinman, some human merit for
her comfort, and for a prop of her obstinacy towards a seemlier
wooer. She found it in the fact that Tinman, being knocked
down by her father, did not return the blow. ” She had conceived
an insane idea of nobility in Tinman that blinded her to his
face, figure, and character—his manners, likewise. He had
forgiven a blow ! . . . Tinman’s magnanimity was present in her
imagination to sustain her.” The play of emotional fancy which
follows on this motive is delightful to read, and you are fain to be
persuaded, for your enjoyment, of its truth ; but when you have
shut the book the perversity is plain. Perversity is, I think, the
word. The caprice is gratuitous. When Mr. Meredith tried
our powers of faith most severely before, in Diana of the
ways, he was essaying, as in The Tragic Comedians, the almost
superhuman task of fitting a creature of his imagination to
historical fact. I cannot help fancying that Mrs. Norton, albeit
a wonderful member of a wonderful family, was a thought less
fine than the lady of the book—that when she sold her friend’s
secret to The Times, nature was doing a less elaborate trick than
Mr. Meredith in the case of Diana. But there the attempt,
though almost foolhardy, was successful. Mr. Meredith had set
himself a most difficult but a possible task. He was a rider
exulting in his skill, and he forced his horse up a flight of stoned
steps. In this House on the Beach he has attempted to fly, and in
my opinion has had a tumble. The heroine of the story, then, is
incredible to me as a whole ; but that point set apart, the workings
of her mind are instructive to the student of her creator, because,
while characteristic for certain, they are not very subtle, and are
expressed with notable simplicity.
I cannot agree with some critics that Tinman is a glaring
failure. The effects of the whole story are those of farce rather
than comedy, and the most farcically funny of these, the rescue of
Tinman from his falling house in his Court suit, is only possible
because of the grotesque vanity and smallness of his character.
For all that, I do not think Mr. Meredith can create people like
Tinman and his sister, with such fulness and enjoyment to himself,
as he can create people whose folly is finer and whose manners are
more agreeable. He overdoes silliness of a vulgar type. I have
lately, I confess by the way, reflected with much gratification on
the fact, that of his greatest creations, the most—the exception
readiest to mind is the immortal nurse in Richard Feverel—are
people of breeding and even of affluent habits. Nobody admires
more than I, certain writers among us who take for themes
” humble “—the satire of that word is growing crude—” humble “
and uneducated people. But I notice a growing tyranny
which ordains that people who speak in dialect, people who live
in slums, and the more aggressive and anachronistic order
of Bohemians, and none but these, are fit subjects for books. I
read a story the other day which began, somewhat in the
manner of Mr. G. P. R. James, with two men leaving a club—a
sufficiently democratic institution nowadays, one would have
thought—and I happened to see a criticism thereon which
objected, not that the story was bad, but that the author was a
snob for having anything to do—any “truck,” should one say ?—
with “clubmen.” Surely there is more to be said for the blatant
snobbery of an earlier time, than for this proletarian exclusive-
ness. The accident of Mr. Meredith’s choice of material is a
The Case of General Ople and Lady Camper is a
delicious farce spoiled, and the uselessness of criticising it may be
mitigated by suggesting the question : Why did Mr. Meredith spoil
it ? It is one I cannot answer. You are presented to a General,
stupid, respectable, complacent. He has been a conqueror of
women in his time ; he is enormously pleased with himself. A
keenly humorous and delightfully malicious woman has reason to
punish him. The punishment she devises is a series of carica-
tures, the mere description of which is irresistibly comic, and the
wretched General is driven by outraged vanity, to show them
appealingly to his friends. The farce is furious as it proceeds, and
you wonder what fitting climax to the ludicrousness is to end it.
And lo ! the climax, a simple intensifying of the torture, is passed,
and you are faced by a terrible anti-climax, which is the marriage
of the torturer to the tortured ; nothing less, in fact, than a
command to your common sympathies and canting kindliness
of heart, which the farce had artistically excluded, to rush in
pell-mell. It is a slap in the face to a worthy audience,
and I cannot understand why it was done. Mr. Meredith is
far above all suspicion of truckling to the average reviewer,
who insists that everybody be happy and good. Can it have
been—for the apparent revulsion in the lady’s psychology, though
not incredible, is carried with the high hand of mere assertion
—that Mr. Meredith was sorry to have been cruel ? Certainly
he was cruel : pain was inflicted on the ass of a General.
Most satire and most farce involve pain, actual or imaginary,
to some victim—if you think of it. But you should not think
of it, and if you are a unit of a worthy audience, you do not
think of it. If it be the art of the inventor, to exclude so
far as possible, a tendency to think of it, by his presentation of
the victim, Mr. Meredith is here completely successful. The
General is credible and human, but he is absurd, and the absurdity
is duly emphasised to the point of your forgetting his humanity.
And Mr. Meredith, as an artist here of farce, has prevented any
feeling of rancour in you towards the General, rancour which
would have made your appreciation of his punishment, a satis-
faction of morality, and not a pure enjoyment of farce. There is
a pair of lovers to whom the General’s folly brings temporary
disaster, but they are made—and surely the restraint was wonder-
fully artistic—so merely abstract, that you care nothing for their
sorrow. The Case of General Ople and Lady Camper is, in fine,
as artistic—and as abundantly laughable a farce as was ever made,
until you reach the end, which to me is inexplicable. But how
many farces are there in English, for the stage or for the study,
where you laugh with all your intelligence alert ? I think they
may be counted easily.
It is to be noticed that both these stories are simple in diction.
The charge of obscurity, that is brought by nine of ten reviewers
against Mr. Meredith’s books, is one that may be supported with
facility. Indubitably he is, as Mr. Henley has said, ” the victim
of a monstrous cleverness that is neither to hold nor to bind.”
Over and over again, he is difficult when he might have been easy.
He compresses impossibly, like Tacitus, or presents a common-
place in crack-jaw oddities of expression, like Browning. But
more often still, the obscurity is in the reader’s intelligence, not in
the writer’s art. We are accustomed to novelists of little indi-
viduality, or no individuality at all : Mr. Meredith’s intellect is as
individual as that of any poet in the English language. Neces-
sarily, therefore, he is hard to understand. We are accustomed to
presentations of the clothes of men and women, and of the baldest
summary of their thoughts and feelings : Mr. Meredith has
penetrated further into character, and has exposed minuter
subtleties of thought and feeling than any writer of English
poetry or prose. Necessarily, therefore, he is hard to under-
I think this opinion is very well supported by these two stories.
In them he is not concerned with any fine studies of feeling or
thought, and he is quite simple. There are a few pomposities, a
few idle gallantries of expression ; but in the main he is here to be
understood without a second thought.
Mr. Meredith’s prose does not satisfy my ideal. The two
qualities of prose that I value above all others are ease and rhythm.
He can be easy, but in his case ease has the appearance of a lapse.
He can be rhythmical, but he is rhythmical at long intervals. That
quality of rhythm which seems to have come so commonly to our
ancestors before the eighteenth century, seems hardly to be sought
by the prose writers among ourselves. Were it sought and found,
I am assured it would be hardly noticed.
Mr. Meredith is often neither musical nor easy. But as a
manipulator of words to express complexity of thought he has no
peer. It was by this complexity, this subtlety, and penetration of
his, that he was valuable to me when first I read him. I imagine
there must be many in my case, to whom he was, above all things,
an educator. It was his very obscurity, another name, so often, for a
higher intelligence, that was the stimulating force in him for such
as myself. Youth can rarely appreciate an achievement of art as
such. But youth is keen to grind its intellect on the stone of the
uncomprehended. That was the service of Mr. Meredith to those
in my case. We puzzled and strove, and were rewarded by the
discovery of some complexity of thought, or some subtlety of
emotion unimagined aforetime. Fortunately for us, advance of
years and multiplying editions had not yet earned him the homage
of the average reviewer ; for youth is conceited, and does not care
to accept the verdict of the mass of its contemporaries. Mr.
Meredith was sometimes an affectation in us, and sometimes the
most powerful educator we had. In the passage of years, as we
grew from conceit of intelligence into appreciation, in our degrees,
of things artistic, we perceived that he was also a great artist, and
sympathy was merged in admiration. The Egoist is perhaps the
most stimulating, intellectually, of Mr. Meredith’s books, the
fullest interpreter, perhaps, of the world in which we live. In my
declining years, so to speak, I value it less than The Tale of Chloe.
For in a world that is become, in a superficial way, most deplorably
intelligible, achievements of art are rare.
When I first read The Tale of Chloe it was in an
edition, and I thank my gods I had not read any summary of its
plot in a review. But from the third chapter I felt that tragedy
was in the air, for I seemed to have the impression of an inevitable
fate drawing nearer, until I reached the end, where the fate comes
and the thing ends sombrely. In other words, I had the im-
pression of a perfect tragedy. I fancy it is the most perfect in form
of Mr. Meredit’ s works of fiction, except Richard Feverel. And
from its length it is even more impressive of its order, for the
air of tragedy is closer. When you had finished Richard Feverel
you felt the tragedy had been inevitable, but you did not, unless
you had a far keener sense than I, feel the tragedy all along. In
The Tale of Chloe the tragedy is with you all the time. The
elect and wise humours of Beau Beamish, the winsomeness of the
dairymaid duchess, the artificial sunshine of the Wells, are perceived
only as you glance away from the shadow, where stand Camwell,
Chloe, and Count Caseldy. One may divide them in this way,
because Duchess Susan, though a wholly realised creation in herself,
stands, as it were, in the plot for an abstract contrast to Chloe ;
another beautiful child of English nature would have served as well.
That the tragedy is inevitable you feel altogether. And yet,
when you think it out, you perceive that it is the wonderful art of
the telling, which makes it so. That is more the case than even in
Richard Feverel ; suicide is, in itself, less credible and likely, than a
catastrophe following on a very natural duel. It is the art of the
telling, that brings the truth home to you.
And the force of the tragedy is more wonderful for another
reason. Mr. Meredith has created for it a very artificial atmo-
sphere, or has reproduced a society which was, on the surface, as
artificial as can be imagined. Beau Beamish, the social king of
the Wells, compelled the rude English to conduct themselves by
ordinances of form. He ruled them with a rod of iron ; he
must have inspired an enormous deal of hypocrisy. With a com-
pany of bowing impostors for background, and with some of them
for actors, is played a drama of intense strength. The strongest
emotions of our nature are presented in terms of bric-à-brac.
Everybody is ” strange and well-bred.” Chloe, tying the secret
knots in her skein of silk to mark the progress of an intrigue which
must end, as she has willed, in her death, is gay the while, and talks
with the most natural wit. She discusses the intrigue with Camwell
in polite enigmas. Camwell, who sees the intrigue and foresees the
unhappiness, though not until the end, the death of his mistress,
carries himself as a polished gentleman. Caseldy is none of
your dark conspirators. The guile of the duchess is simple hot
This delicacy of the setting assists the exquisite pathos of the
central figure, surely one of the noblest in tragic story. The
strength of will, so admirable and so piteous, which enables her to
impose blindness on herself for the enjoyment of a month, and
finally to die that she may save her weaker sister and the man she
loves, is relieved by curiously painful touches of femininity. When
Camwell is telling her of the purposed elopement, she knows well
that Caseldy, the traitor to herself, is the man, yet she says, ” I
cannot think Colonel Poltermore so dishonourable.” By many
such touches is the darkness of the tragedy made visible.
Chloe’s words to Camwell in this last interview, are for the
grandeur of their simple resignation, in the finest spirit of tragedy.
” Remember the scene, and that here we parted, and that Chloe
wished you the happiness it was not of her power to bestow,
because she was of another world, with her history written out to
the last red streak before ever you knew her.”
θάρσει · σὺ μὲν ζῇς, ἡ δἑμἡ ψνχἡ πάλαι
Antigone went not more steadily to her grave.
I fear I have been something egotistical in this attempt of mine,
and would permit myself some apology of quotation to conclude.
Mr. Meredith has found room in The Tale of Chloe for some of the
happiest expressions of his philosophy, and some of his most perfect
images in description. Of the ballad, which relates the marriage of
the duke and the dairymaid, he says : ” That mischief may have
been done by it to a nobility-loving people, even to the love of our
nobility among the people, must be granted : and for the particular
reason that the hero of the ballad behaved so handsomely.” I can-
not think what the guardians of optimism have been about, that
they have not cried out on the ” cynicism ” of this remark. Here
is a vivid summary of observation—Beau Beamish “was neverthe-
less well supported by a sex, that compensates for dislike of its
friend before a certain age, by a cordial recognition of him when it
has touched the period.” There are many such pregnant generalisa-
tions, and never do they intrude on the narrative.
” She smiled for answer. That smile was not the common smile;
it was one of an eager exultingness, producing as he gazed the
twitch of an inquisitive reflection of it on his lips. . . . That is
the very heart’s language ; the years are in a look, as mount and
vale of the dark land spring up in lightning.” I question if that
can be matched for beauty and force of imagery in Mr. Mere-
And this of Chloe’s musings : ” Far away in a lighted hall of the
west, her family raised hands of reproach. They were minute
objects, dimly discerned as diminished figures cut in steel. Feeling
could not be very warm for them, they were so small, and a sea
that had drowned her ran between. . . .”
“Mr. Beamish indulges in verses above the grave of Chloe.
They are of a character to cool emotion.”
As I said in beginning, my eulogy in prose must be impotent
for such disservice.
By Nora Hopper
” ALL alas and welladay ”
(Shepherds’ say !)
Stepping with a stealthy pace
Past the place
Where the idle lilies blow !
” Here Diana dreaming lay
(Snow in snow !)
Lay a-dreaming on a day
Few the prayers the shepherds say
Now Diana ends her chase,
To a maid with softer eyes,
(Mystery of mysteries !)
For her greatest gift, and best,
” Now we thole,” the shepherds say,
” Shorter night and longer day.
Sweeter were : when in the nights
Came a sudden press of lights :
Came the shining of a face
And we gave Diana praise
For the passing of her face.”
” All alas and welladay,”
” Maiden rule we still obey—
Yet we loved the first maid best :
Though we fled by herne and hollow
Fearing angry shafts to follow,
Dead, we knew that we should rest
On her breast.”
” All alas and welladay,”
” Earth was green that now is grey :
Auster dared not any day
Beat or blow
When ‘mid lilies Dian lay
(Snow in snow !)
Lay a-dreaming on a day
The Phantasies of Philarete
By James Ashcroft Noble
FOR quite a month or two it was noticed at the Shandy Club
that a certain change had passed over Hartmann West.
West was rather a notability at the club, though he was, com-
paratively speaking, a young member. To be precise, he had
belonged to it just two years and a half, and six months before
his election he had published his first book, Drafts upon Inexperi-
ence. It was a volume of somewhat exotic sentiment and para-
doxical reflection, with a dash of what was just then beginning to
be called ” the new humour ” ; and the novelty, as represented by
West, found no great favour with the critics. In most quarters
the book was either energetically slated or altogether ignored—
which, as we all know, is a much worse fate—but somehow,
perhaps as a consequence of the very vigour of the slating,
perhaps in virtue of that touch of unconventional genius which
critics are not always quick to detect, the Drafts were honoured
by the great reading public, and in half a year Hartmann West
was a hero of six editions, and a member of the somewhat
exclusive Shandy Club.
On the whole, he was a fairly popular member, in spite of the
fact that he had what is called an uncertain temper ; but, during
the period to which reference has been made, his popularity had
much declined, for the uncertainty had become a very unpleasant
certainty ; and an after-dinner chat or game of whist with Hart-
mann West was becoming, even to the most gentle and tactful
members of the club, a thing that was to be avoided, if avoidance
were at all possible. Most of those who had in a tepid way liked
him, began to regard him with a dislike which was not in
the least tepid ; but one or two Shandians—illuminated it may
be by personal experience—had been heard to say that it was
no use being hard upon poor West ; for as Major Forth, the
well-known African explorer, pithily put it : ” It’s plain enough
that the man has had a nasty knock-down blow of some kind or
other ; but he’ll get over it all right if fellows will only give him
a chance.” The Major’s intuition was wonderfully accurate.
Hartmann West had received a knock-down blow ; and though
chances were not dealt out to him in overflowing measure, he did
get over it. At least, he seemed to get over it ; but I can’t
forget the way in which Sumner told that he could have pulled
him through the influenza, complicated as it was, if he hadn’t had
something on his mind. ” He was sick of life, sir, and when a
man gets to that, it doesn’t take much to make life sick of him.”
It was after his death that I acquired the knowledge which
corroborated the Major’s theory. And this is the story.
A few months after the date of the publication of Drafts
Inexperience, a great stroke of luck had come to a certain John
Errington. The influence of the only acquaintance he had in the
world who possessed any influence at all, had been exerted in his
favour, and he had become a member of the reviewing staff of
Noon, a mid-day paper, the conductors of which made an
emphasised appeal to the public that fancies literature and art,
without snubbing that other public which better loves the House
of Commons, the Turf, and the Divorce Court. Errington’s
career up to this time had not been conspicuously successful.
All his life he had been more or less of an invalid. In his youth
he had tried one or two callings, but ill-health had compelled him
to abandon them ; and, having a genuine love of letters and gift of
expression, he had—paradoxical as the sequence may seem—
drifted into journalism. The leading paper in the northern pro-
vincial town where he lived had, in the first instance, published
his articles, and had then gone on to pay for them, the pay
becoming finally so assured as to justify him—that, at any rate,
was the poor fellow’s view of the case—in marrying the pretty
Alice Blundell, and assuming the responsibilities of a British
husband and ratepayer.
They did not exactly live on the fat of the land, but they lived
somehow and kept out of debt, and were most foolishly happy
until the fatal day when it became known that Mr. Warlow the
proprietor of the Norton Post had loved American railroad invest-
ments not wisely, but too well, and that his journal had passed
into new hands. The new hands, as is sometimes the case, did
not appreciate the old hands ; and John Errington received an
intimation that at the end of the month his services on the great
organ of Norton opinion would no longer be required. Seeing
that he was a nervous, timid, and singularly unresourceful man, he
bore the blow with more of courage than might have been
expected from him ; perhaps because it came and did the worst
for him at once, the really demoralising troubles being those
The Yellow Book—Vol. V. M
which arrive in instalments, each one suggesting the harassing
question ” What next? ” Thus it was that he came to take a
step which to an ordinary man would have been simple and
obvious enough, but which in John Errington indicated the
special courage of despair, that is to ordinary courage, what the
struggle of delirium is to healthy muscular force. He broke up
his little Norton home ; bade good-bye to his friends, and to the
grave where his two little children lay buried ; and carrying in
his purse the few bank-notes which were the price of his household
goods, took his wife and their one remaining child to London, and
pitched the family tent in a dreary but reasonably clean and cheap
It was a step to which even despair would not have impelled
him had there not been one chance of possible success. About
twelve months before the trouble came, he had contributed to the
Post a short set of articles which had attracted the favourable
attention of Sir George Blunt, and a correspondence between the
Baronet and himself which had arisen out of them, had been
maintained with something of regularity. Out of this corre-
spondence sprung Errington’s one hope, for Sir George, who had
always written in the friendliest manner, was known to be a large
proprietor of Noon, and if his good word could only be secured, the
terrible premier pas in the new life would be successfully taken.
Errington accordingly presented himself at the great house in
Prince’s Gardens, and was received by the master of his fate
without any effusion, but with courtesy and kindliness. Sir
George was sorry to hear of Mr. Errington’s misfortune, and
would be pleased to be of service to him. Mr. Errington, as a
journalist, would understand that a proprietor felt some delicacy
in taking any step, which looked like interference in the literary
management of a paper, that was in competent editorial hands ;
that the hands of Mr. Mackenzie who edited Noon were
competent ; and that they belonged to a man who was very likely
to regard suggestion as an attempt at dictation.
John Errington listened and felt chilly ; had he been standing
his legs would have trembled.
” But,” continued Sir George with a voice in a new key. ” I’ll
tell you what I will do, Mr. Errington. There can be no im-
propriety in my giving you a letter of introduction to Mr.
Mackenzie, in which I will tell him what I know of you, and
what I think of your work. Perhaps you had better not present
it in person, but send it by post, with a letter of your own, and a
few specimen articles—not too many. Then if there is any
opening, he will probably make an appointment. I can’t promise
you that anything will come of it, but there is a chance, and
at any rate it is the best thing—indeed the only thing—that I
can do. “
The two letters and the carefully selected literary specimens
reached Mr. Mackenzie at an auspicious moment. The most
useful of his general utility men in the literary department of
Noon had suddenly levanted, and was supposed to be half-way
across the Atlantic, having for a companion, the beautiful Mrs.
Greatrex, wife of the well-known dramatist. Dick Mawson’s
morals—or his want of them—had long been notorious ; but Mr.
Mackenzie did not deal in morals save in his social articles, and
very sparingly even there. What concerned him was that Mawson
was, as a writer, clever, versatile, and best of all prompt ; and his
wrath burned as he thought of Dick’s perfidious treatment—not
of poor Mr. Greatrex, but of Noon and of himself, Andrew
Mackenzie. And now here was this new man. His articles
were hardly so smart as Mawson’s, but he seemed to know more,
and there was a certain finish about his work which the erring
Dick had never attained. He should be tried. If he proved a
success, well and good ; if a failure, he could soon be got rid of, and
there would be a reasonable pretext—not that Mr. Mackenzie
needed any—for saying to Sir George : ” Hands off. “
And so it happened that after a brief interview with the great
man of Noon, John Errington left the editorial office in Bouverie
Street, for the Camberwell lodgings, bearing under his arm a
couple of volumes for review, and in his mind a proposal made by
the editor that he should write one of a forthcoming series of
articles on ” Fin-de-Siècle Fiction. ” Some ideas for this series,
and one quite impossibly libellous contribution to it, were the
only keepsakes that the amorous fugitive Dick Mawson had left
behind him for the consolation of Mr. Andrew Mackenzie ; but
the editor made no mention of Dick to John Errington, leaving
him indeed with a vague impression that the series was an im-
promptu scheme, conceived and brought forth in ten minutes for
his special benefit.
Mr. Mackenzie did not find Errington a failure, so Sir George,
Blunt did not receive the ” hands off ” ultimatum. Indeed the
editor rather liked the work of his new contributor, mainly
because he found that other people liked it ; and the cheques
which came monthly to the little house at Shepherd’s Bush (for
Camberwell had been abandoned) sometimes represented an
amount which made Errington feel that fortune had really come
to him at last. There was, however, a harassing irregularity in
the descent of the golden or paper shower. Sometimes publishers
abstained from publishing the right sort of books ; sometimes,
even in Noon, politics raided the territory of letters ; and there
were months when Errington would have made a fair profit by
exchanging his cheque for a ten pound-note. He had tried to
get work on other newspapers, or to find an appreciative magazine
editor to accept his more thoughtful and elaborate literary essays ;
but the newspapers had no vacancy, and the magazine editors all
wanted short stories—the one literary commodity which he found
himself unable to supply. In spite, therefore, of what he ad-
mitted to be his wonderful good luck, there were seasons when
Errington felt somewhat anxious and depressed.
He was feeling so one day, when he entered Mr. Mackenzie’s
room, seeking what he might devour. For two months the
cheques had been of the smallest ; and before very long there
would be a new and expensive arrival in the house at Shepherd’s
Bush—a conjunction which roused the timid man to unwonted
persistence of appeal.
” I’m afraid there’s nothing, ” said Mackenzie ; ” the publishers
are keeping everything back until this dynamite excitement is
over, and upon my word I am glad they are, for it fills the paper.
This is really the only thing I have in hand that is in your line,
and it has been here for nearly a month. ” As he spoke the
editor took down a daintily attired book from a shelf behind him, and
continued : ” I didn’t intend to notice it. I think West is a con-
ceited ass who needs snubbing ; but as you want something you
can take it, and of course treat it on its merits. But you must
keep within a column, and if you only send half, so much the
John Errington left Mr. Mackenzie’s room with a lighter
heart than that which he had taken there, for though the
honorarium represented by a column of copy was not much in
itself, it was just then a good deal to him. He was specially
grateful to his chief for stretching a point in his favour, for he
was inclined to agree with his opinion that The Phantasies of
Philarete was likely to prove poor stuff. During the weeks in
which it had been lying on Mr. Mackenzie’s shelf, Errington had
read reviews of it in the Hour, the Morning Gazette, the Parthenon,
and the Book World, and these influential journals with almost
unique unanimity had pronounced it a strained, affected, pretentious,
and entirely vapid performance. ” If a beginner, ” said the Hour,
” were to ask us to indicate the qualities of substance and work-
manship which he, in his own attempts ought most studiously
to avoid, we should give him this volume and say, ‘ My dear boy,
you will find them all here.’ “
When John Errington, after going upstairs to kiss his rather
worn-looking little wife, who was taking the afternoon rest which
had become a necessity, lighted his pipe and began to read the
Phantasies, he found the opening pages better than he expected.
He saw nothing of strain or affectation ; and if the substance was
slight, the style had a graceful lightsomeness which seemed to
Errington very charming. He read on and on ; his wife came
into the room with her sewing and he never noticed her entrance ;
but when he had finished the chapter which contains the episode
of old Antoine’s daughter, he looked up and said, ” I must read
this book to you, dear love, it is just wonderful. “
Errington did not go to bed until he had reached that last
chapter, which, you will remember, Mr. Walter Hendon cited a
few weeks ago as the most beautiful thing in contemporary prose.
The next morning he wrote and posted his review, the 1200
words of which would, he knew, just fill a column of Noon, and
in two days more it appeared. In the meantime, Errington’s
enforced leisure had allowed the domestic readings to begin, and,
as the fragile wife reclined on her little couch and sewed and
listened, her enthusiasm was not less intense than her hus-
Then, when the paper came, he read his review, and she
” Oh, John, that is lovely: it is one of the best things you
have ever done. I do wish you would send it to Mr. West and
thank him for the pleasure he has given us. I would like to write
myself, only I express myself so stupidly, but you will do it
perfectly ; and I am sure he would like to know all that we feel
about the book. “
” I don’t know, ” said Errington, with the self-distrust always
aroused in him by any suggestion of the mildest self-assertion, ” I
don’t suppose he would care for the opinion of a man about whom
he knows nothing. “
” Oh, yes, he would ; people like sympathy, even if they don’t
care for praise ; and then, too, if it is really true that he is the sub-
editor of Caviare, he might be able to get you some work for it. “
Now Caviare, as proved by its name and motto, ”
Caviare to the
general, ” was a monthly magazine, dealing exclusively with litera-
ture and art in a way that appealed to the superior few ; and some
of Errington’s best essays—or those which he thought the best—
had been declined by several editors on the ground that their good-
ness was not of the kind to attract their miscellaneous clientèle.
He had once or twice thought of submitting to Caviare one of
these rejected addresses ; but he had doubted whether they were up
to the mark, and so they had never gone. His wife’s last sugges-
tion startled him.
” Oh, I couldn’t do that,” he said ; ” it would spoil the whole
thing. It would take the bloom off one’s gratitude for a beautiful
thing. I couldn’t do it. I would rather ask help from a perfect
” Well, that seems to me to be morbid ; and I don’t like to hear
you talk as if people did you a favour by accepting your work.
They accept it not for love of you, but because they know it is
good. You remember what Professor Miles said about your essay
on ‘ The Secret of Swift, ‘ and I am sure they would be glad to have
it for Caviare. I don’t often press you to do anything ; but I don’t
think you have ever repented taking my advice, and I do want you
to write to Mr. West. “
Errington was not a strong man. He was too timid to initiate,
and too timid to oppose ; and his wife was right, for he had never
adopted a suggestion of hers without finding that she was wiser
than he. And so he sat down and wrote :
Titan Villas, Shepherd’s Bush.
I am a stranger to you, and my only introduction is the
enclosed review of The Phantasies of Philarete which I have had the
great privilege of contributing to Noon, and which appears in to-day’s
issue of that journal. I have tried my best to do justice to the
truth and beauty and tenderness of the book ; but I feel that my best
does not say what I wanted to say. Nor is a second attempt likely to
be one whit more successful than the first, so I do not write now to
supplement my review ; but to express what I could not express in
public—my own personal gratitude and that of my wife, to whom I
have been reading it, for a book which has touched us as we have not
often been touched before. We live a very quiet life into which
enters little of what is ordinarily called pleasure, but such a volume as
your Phantasies brings with it delights upon which we can live for
many days. Please accept our hearty gratitude for so great a gift.
I cannot suppose that my name will be at all known to you, for I
am, comparatively speaking, a new-comer in the world of London
journalism ; and I have so far been unsuccessful in obtaining any
literary work besides that which has been given me by the editor of
Noon. To follow an acknowledgment of one favour by a request for
another is not usual with me, but I find something in your book which
encourages me to unwonted freedom. Just now I have special reasons
for wishing to enlarge my slender but ordinarily sufficient resources,
and I have thought it possible that you might be willing to look over an
article of mine entitled ” The Secret of Swift, ” with a view to giving
me your opinion as to its suitability for publication in Caviare. The
theory propounded in it is, I think, a new one, and Professor Miles
has been kind enough to say that it is at any rate sufficiently well-
supported to deserve provisional acceptance as a working hypothesis.
But please let this matter await a perfectly free moment. I write
not to trouble you about my poor affairs, but to express my gratitude
—to which my wife wishes me to add hers—for the pure and rare
delight your book has brought to us.—I am, dear sir,
Yours very truly and gratefully,
Errington was not a man who expected much, yet he felt a cer-
tain disappointment when, on the second day after the despatch of
his letter, the postman passed and left no reply from Hartmann
West. But no postman ever passed the office of Noon, and while
Errington was wondering whether the author of Phantasies could
be at home, Mr. Mackenzie was perusing with ireful countenance
a letter bearing his signature. It had contained an enclosure in a
handwriting with which the editor was familiar, and it ran thus :
Shandy Club, W.
I have received the enclosed communication from a
who is, or professes to be, a member of your staff. You will see that
he, truly or falsely, announces himself as the writer of a very fulsome,
and yet in some respects gratuitously offensive, review of my latest
book which appeared in your issue of Thursday last, and that he then
goes on to tout for employment by the editor of a magazine with
which I am supposed to be connected. I do not know whether you
have any views upon the dignity of journalism ; but you have pro-
bably strong views upon the ethics of advertising, and are not very
eager to give payment, instead of receiving it, for allowing a small
scribe to introduce his wares through your literary columns to possible
purchasers. I think it well for you to know to what base use even
Noon can be put.
Seldom had Andrew Mackenzie felt such an access of speechless
rage ; and for the moment he could not tell which object of his
emotion was the more hateful. He was not a physically violent
man, but had either West or Errington presented himself at that
moment, violence would certainly have been done. He had not
willingly inserted the review of The Phantasies of Philarete ; in
fact, he had remarked to his nephew and sub-editor that he wished
Errington had chosen any other book on which to ” tap his
d——d private cask of gush ; ” but having explicitly given the
owner of the cask a free hand, he had not felt it consistent with
dignity implicitly to cancel the authorisation. And now this
consummate cad, who ought to be off his head with exultation at
having been honoured with even the coolest notice of Noon, had
actually dared to write of its praise as ” fulsome ” and ” gratui-
tously offensive. ” What was meant by the latter term Mackenzie
did not trouble to guess ; but had he done so, his trouble would
have been fruitless, for one vain man can seldom sound the depths
of vanity in another. The fact was that Errington had made a
veiled reference to previous criticisms of the book as ” attempts
made by malignity or incompetence to crush a rising author ; “
and the word ” rising ” was gall and wormwood to the man who
believed himself to have been for at least a year on the apex of
fame’s pyramid. Had he read Errington’s letter first, the un-
mistakable accent of timorous praise, and still more the appeal
to him as a possible patron, would have titillated his vanity and
sent him to the review with a clean palate ; but of course a
printed cutting, headed ” A Western Masterpiece, ” could not
wait, and the ” rising ” vitiated his taste for what would have
been to him the dainty dish of adulation.
But Andrew Mackenzie neither knew this nor cared to know
it, and his thoughts turned from West to Errington. It has been
said that at the moment he knew not which he hated the more ;
but he did know upon which he could inflict immediate
vengeance, and that was a great point. As he brooded upon
Errington’s offence, West’s seemed comparatively trivial, for
was it not Errington who had provided West with his offensive
weapon ? The member of the Shandy Club had said that he did
not know whether Mr. Mackenzie had any views upon the
dignity of journalism. His ignorance on this matter was very
general ; but there were many who knew that he held exceedingly
strong views concerning the dignity of one journal, Noon, and
one journalist, Andrew Mackenzie. It was his pride to know
that the members of his political staff were to be seen at Govern-
ment Office receptions, hobnobbing with Cabinet Ministers, that
his critics dined with literary peers whose logs they judiciously
rolled, and that both were frequently represented in the half-
crown reviews. That was as it should be : and here was a
fellow who put it in the power of a man like West to say that
one of his contributors wrote from Titan Villas, Shepherd’s
Bush, about his slender resources, and his ardent desire to pick
up any crumbs that might fall from the table of Caviare. He, at
any rate, should be made to suffer.
While Mackenzie was devising his scheme of punishment,
John Errington was engaged in pleasant thoughts of Hartmann
West. The expected letter might now come by any post, and it
would be well to see whether ” The Secret of Swift ” were in fit
condition to be despatched to him, or whether he must get Alice
to make a clean copy of it in that pretty handwriting of hers
which was always seen at its neatest in her transcript of the
MSS, of which she was so proud. The present copy was, how-
ever, in capital order, but on examining it he found that one slip
was missing. Nervous search through the well-filled drawer soon
convinced him that it was not there ; but, fortunately, on
examining the two edges of the gap, he made the discovery that
the lost leaf had been devoted to little more than a long quotation,
which could be easily restored by a visit to the library of the
He had nothing else to do, and the day was fine. He could
start at once, copy his quotation, and have a few hours in the
metropolis of the world of books. It was six o’clock when he
reached home again, and the dusk of an evening in late autumn
was beginning to gather, but the lamp in the little general
utility chamber, which served for dining and drawing room,
was unlit. As he entered he thought no one was there, but
a second glance revealed his wife crouching upon the floor, her
head lying upon the couch which stood by the window.
” Dear Alice, ” he said faintly as he strode forward, ” are you
ill ? what is the matter ? ” but there was no reply. His first
vague terror crystallised into a definite dread, which, however,
lasted only for an instant, for the hand he took in his, cold as it
was, had not the unmistakable coldness of death ; and when he
kissed the lips whose whiteness even the dusk revealed, he felt
that they were the lips of a living woman.
” Jane, Jane, ” he called loudly, ” bring some water quickly ;
your mistress has fainted ; ” and rising from his knees he lit with
trembling hands the lamp upon the table. The maid, carrying a
basin of water, bustled in with a scared face.
” Oh, dear, dear, ” she exclaimed, ” she do look awful bad ; shall
I go for the doctor ? “
” No, no—we must bring her to, first. How has it happened ?
Do you know anything about it ? “
” No, indeed ; she was in the kitchen ten minutes ago, or it
might be a quarter of an hour, and the postman knocked at the
door, and she says ‘ That will be the letter the master was
expectin’,’ and then she didn’t come back, but I heard nothink,
and thought nothink of it. If I’d a heard anythink I’d have
come in. “
They lifted her on to the couch. Errington loosened her dress
and sprinkled the water over her face, while the girl rubbed one
of her hands, but there was no movement. The small basin was
” More water, quick, ” said the man ; ” and oughtn’t we to burn
something ? “
” Feathers is the thing, but we haven’t got no feathers ; perhaps
brown paper’d do; I’ll fetch some. “
It was brought, and the woman now sprinkled the water while
the man held under his wife’s nostrils the ignited paper which
threw off a pungent aromatic smoke. A slight shiver ran
through the recumbent figure ; the eyelids trembled, then opened,
though their glance was hardly recognition, and slowly closed
” Alice, dear heart, ” exclaimed the man brokenly as he gently
put his arm round her neck, and drew her lips to his ; ” speak to
me, darling. You will be all right now. I am with you. What
has frightened you ? “
For a few seconds she lay apparently unconscious ; then the
eyes opened again with less of that dreadful, unseeing look, and
she murmured sleepily, ” Where am I ? What is the matter,
John ? “
” Yes, darling, I am here. You are better now. Rest a little
bit, and then tell me all about it. “
” She’s coming to, ” said the girl, ” I’ll go and make her a cup of
tea. It’s the best thing now. ” And she left the husband and wife
While the wife lay, again silent, with now and then a slight
movement as of a shiver, a timid voice was heard at the door. ” Is
mother ill ? Can I come in ? “
” She’s getting better, my pet. Run away now, and be very
quiet. You shall come in soon. “
The figure stirred again, this time with more of voluntary
motion ; she made as if to raise herself; her eyes met her
husband’s with a look of full recognition ; she threw her arm
round his neck and pressed herself against him in a terrifying
outburst of hysterical weeping. It lasted for minutes—how many
John never knew—with heavy sobs that convulsed her, and inter-
mittent sounds of eerie laughter. At last the words began to
struggle forth with difficulty and intermittence.
” John—John—dear John—my own dear husband—Oh my
darling—my darling—I love you, and I have ruined you—it will
kill me ; but, oh, if I could have died before. ” And then, with
less of violence, for the paroxysm had exhausted her, she began
silently to weep again. An hour had passed before John
Errington had heard the story, or rather read it in the type-
written letters which had dropped from his wife’s hands as she fell,
and had been pushed under the sofa. He read them first rapidly ;
then again more slowly, with stunned senses :
Office of Noon,
October 5, 1893.
Enclosed you will find a copy of a letter which I have
received from Mr. Hartmann West, from which you will see that he
has done me the favour to place in my hands a letter addressed to him
by you, and written so recently that its purport must be fresh in your
memory. That I should see it did not enter into your calculations,
and I do not suppose that the man capable of writing it, would in the
least understand the emotions excited by it, in the mind of a self-
respecting journalist. I may, however, say that never in the whole
course of my professional experience—which has been tolerably varied
—can I remember an instance in which a trusted contributor to a high-
class journal had deliberately puffed a book which he knows to be
worthless (for I am assured on all hands that the worthlessness of this
particular book would be obvious to the meanest capacity), and has
made that puff a fulcrum for the epistolary leverage of two or three
contemptible guineas. I congratulate you on the invention of an
ingenious system of blackmailing, one great merit of which is that it
evades the clutch of the criminal law, though I cannot add to my
congratulations either a lament for its present failure or a hope for
its future success. Though I am unfortunately powerless to control
the operations of the inventor, I am happily able to restrict their scope
by refusing the use of Noon as a theatre of operation. Please under-
stand that your connection with this journal is at an end. A cheque
for the amount due to you will be at once forwarded.
Hartmann West’s letter had also been read, and John Errington
was vainly endeavouring to check his wife’s outpourings of
” I can’t bear it, John. To think that I who love you should
have brought this upon you. Oh ! I hate myself. You would
never have written it if it hadn’t been for me. You didn’t want
to write, and I made you write. But oh, I didn’t know. I ought
to have known that I was foolish and that you were wiser than I ;
but I thought of other times when I had done you good and not
harm. Dear, dear John ; you won’t hate me, will you ? “
” Don’t talk like that, darling ; you will break my heart. I
should love you more than ever, if that were possible ; but it isn’t.
How could we know that the man who seemed to us an angel
was just a devil. When I read the book I felt that he was a man
to love, and I tried to put something of what I felt into what I
wrote, being sure that he would understand. I wrote from my
heart, and he calls it gratuitously offensive. Darling, you
mustn’t reproach yourself any more ; I can’t bear it ; how could
you know, how could I know, how could any one know, that
there could be such a man ? “
John Errington passed a wakeful night, but his wife slept the
heavy sleep of exhaustion. When at eight o’clock he quietly rose,
dressed, and went down to breakfast with his little girl, she was
sleeping still. ” It will do her good, ” thought Errington, and
when Doris had gone to school, he set to work upon his essay,
” The Common Factor in Shakespeare’s Fools,” to pass the time
until he heard her bell. It did not ring until half-past eleven, and
he ran rapidly up the short flight of stairs.
” Well darling,” he said, ” you have had a good sleep. “
” Oh, I have been awake for a long time—two hours I should
think—and I have been in great pain. I didn’t ring before,
because I thought it would pass away, and I wouldn’t trouble you,
but it is much worse than it was. “
John Errington looked down tenderly upon the thin face, which
seemed to have grown thinner during the night. The woman
closed her eyes and seemed to be suffering. After a moment’s
silence she spoke again.
” I’m better now,” she said faintly, ” but I think dear, Jane
had better go for the doctor, and she might knock next door and
ask Mrs. Williams if she can come in. “
The kindly neighbour was soon by the bedside, and the doctor,
who had been found at home, was shortly in attendance. It was
not an obscure case, nor a tedious one. Three hours afterwards
Alice Errington was the mother of a dead baby-boy, and in the
early dawn of the next day Mrs. Williams with many tears placed
the little corpse on the breast of the dead mother, and drew the
lifeless arm around it. John Errington stood and watched her
silently ; then he came and kissed the two dead faces ; then he
threw himself upon the bed, which shook with his tearless sobs.
John Errington, Doris, and Alice’s father, Richard Blundell,
who came from Norton for the funeral, returned from Kensal
Green, and sat down to the untimely meal prepared for Mr.
Blundell, who in a few minutes must start to catch his homeward
train at Willesden. He was a man of few words, and of the very
few he now uttered, most were addressed to his little grand-
daughter. It was only as the two men stood at the door that he
spoke to his son-in-law in that Lancashire accent that the younger
The Yellow Book—Vol. V. N
man still loved to hear. ” Tha’s been hard hit lad, and so have I,
God knows ; but try to keep up heart for th’little lass’s sake.
We’re proud folk i’Lancashire ; mayhap too proud ; but ye won’t
mind a bit of a lift in a tight place fro’ Alice’s faither. Ah wish
it were ten times as much. God bless thee—and thee, my lass. “
The old man kissed the child, wiped his eyes, and was driven
away. John watched the cab till it turned a corner ; then looked
hard at the ten pound note left in his hand as if it presented some
remarkable problem for solution ; closed the door ; led Doris into
the little sitting-room ; and began the task imposed upon him—of
keeping up his heart.
The cheque from Noon had come ; John Errington had it
pocket, where also were five sovereigns and a few shillings. The
ten-pound note was still in his hand, and a rapid calculation told
him that when the undertaker was paid, nearly a month of safety
from absolute penury was still his. In a month surely something
could be done, and John Errington set himself to do it. The man
to whom self-assertion and self-advertisement had been impossible
horrors, now found himself wondering at himself as he bearded
editors and sub-editors, and referred—in perhaps too apologetic a
tone for persuasion—to the Noon articles on ” Fin-de-Siècle Fic-
tion, ” which had really excited more comment than he was aware
of in journalistic circles. His success was small. No editor had
any immediate opening, but one or two were friendly, and said they
would bear his name in mind. A proprietor who was his own
editor told him that literary paragraphs containing quite fresh infor-
mation would be always acceptable ; but of the various paragraphs
he sent in, only two—representing a sum of fourteen shillings or
thereabouts—found acceptance. The going up and down other
men’s stairs became as hateful to him as it was to Dante ; but he
lashed himself into hope for the ” little lass’s ” sake, and hope made
it endurable. At six o’clock every evening he arrived at Titan
Villas, and for two hours, until Doris’s bedtime, in helping the
child with her lessons, or reading aloud while she nestled up to him,
he felt something that was to happiness as moonshine is to sunlight.
One evening, however, he had to forego this delight, for he had
received a message from a certain editor, who had asked him to call
after eight at his house at Wimbledon. He had seen the great
man, who had given him a long chapter of autobiography, but had
said little of practical importance, and when, just before midnight,
he reached home, he was weary and disspirited. He drew his arm
chair to the fire, warmed his feet, smoked his pipe in the company
of an evening paper for half an hour, and then went to bed, turning
for a moment—as was his wont—into the room where the ten-
years-old little Doris must have been asleep for hours. He held
the carrying-lamp over the child’s face, which was somewhat
flushed : and the bed-clothes were tumbled as if the sleeper had
been restless. As he made them straight and tucked them in, the
child stirred but did not waken, and Errington was on the point of
leaving the room, when his eye caught the little frock hanging at
the foot of the bed. The new black cashmere looked shabby and
draggled, and as he instinctively grasped one of its falling folds,
he felt it cold and wet. Then he turned to the little heap of under-
linen upon a chair and was conscious of their chill damp. ” She
has been wet through, ” he thought, ” and her clothes have never
been changed. Poor motherless darling. ” He gathered the little
garments together on his arm, and, taking them downstairs, found
a clothes-horse, and spread them upon it before the fire, which he
had replenished when he came in.
He knew how it had happened. A kindly girl who had once
been a near neighbour had offered to give the little Doris lessons
in music, but she had recently removed to lodgings nearly two
miles away, and the child must have been caught in the heavy
rain which he remembered had set in just about the time that she
would be leaving Miss Rumbold. The thoughtless Jane had
allowed her to sit in the saturated garments until she went to bed.
In the morning the child’s eyes looked somewhat dull and
heavy, but otherwise she was apparently quite well, and she
resisted her father’s suggestion that she should stay in bed instead
of going to school. In the evening when Errington returned
from his wanderings she seemed much better. Her eyes were
bright again — brighter even than usual — and for the first time
since her mother’s death she chatted to her father with something
of her old animation. During the night Errington heard a short,
hard cough often repeated, but when he left his bed and went to
look at her she was fast asleep. When he rose for the day and
visited her again she seemed feverish ; the cough was more
frequent ; and her breathing was somewhat short.
” What is the matter with her ? ” said the father to the doctor
whom he had hastily summoned. ” I suppose it is nothing really
” Well, ” said the slowly-speaking young Scotsman, ” I’m just
thinking it’s a case of pneumonia, and pneumonia is never exactly
a trifle, but I see no grounds for special anxiety. You must just
keep her warm, and I’ll send her some medicine over, and look in
again to-night. “
He sent the medicine and looked in, but said little.
” Of course the temperature is higher, but that was to be
expected. I will be down again in the morning, and she just
needs care—care. “
The care was not lacking, for Errington was himself Doris’s
nurse, but, as Mr. Grant observed, ” pneumonia is never a trifle, “
and even her father did not know how heavily her mother’s death
had taxed the child’s power of resistance. The unequal fight
lasted for five days and nights, and for the last two of them there
could be little doubt of the issue. The end came on Sunday
evening as the bells were ringing for church. The child had
been delirious during the latter part of the day, and had evidently
supposed herself to be talking to her mother, subsiding from the
delirium into heavy sleep ; but about six she awakened with the
light of fever no longer in her eyes, and stretched out a thin little
hand to Errington, and said faintly, ” Dear, dear father. “
” Are you feeling better, darling ? ” he said.
” I don’t know,” she whispered ; ” I like you holding my hand.
I feel as if I were sinking through the bed. I think I am sleepy. “
She closed her eyes, and for ten minutes she lay quite still.
Then she opened them very wide and looked straight before her,
lifted her free hand, and partly raised herself from the pillow.
The glance which had been a question became a recognition.
” Oh mother, mother, ” she exclaimed in the clear voice of health,
” it is you ; oh, I am so glad. ” And then the grey veil fell over
the child’s face ; she sank back upon the pillow ; and the eyes
closed again for the last time. In the room where there had been
two—or was it three ?—there was only one.
On the morning of the funeral there came a letter for John
Errington. It was from the editor who lived at Wimbledon, and
was very brief.
” Mr. Joliffe
” Mr. Joliffe regrets that on consideration he cannot entertain Mr.
Errington’s proposal with regard to the series of articles for The Book
World. When Mr. Joliffe informs Mr. Errington that he has had an
interview with Mr. Mackenzie, he will doubtless understand the
reasons for this decision. “
Mr. Williams, John Errington’s neighbour, was standing near
him in the darkened room. He had offered to accompany him to
Kensal Green, for Richard Blundell was confined to bed and
could not come, and the stricken man was alone in his grief.
When Errington had read the letter he quietly returned it to its
envelope, and placed it in his pocket, as the undertaker summoned
them to the waiting coach. On their return from the cemetery
Williams pressed Errington to come into his house and sit down
with his wife and himself at their midday dinner.
” It is very kind of you, ” said Errington, ” but I must not be
tempted ; I have work to do. But I will come in for a moment
and thank Mrs. Williams for all her goodness to me and mine. “
He went in, and the thanks were tendered.
” Well, I must go, now, ” he said abruptly, after a short silence.
” God bless you both. Good-bye ! “
” Oh, Mr. Errington, not ‘ good-bye.’ You must come in this
evening and smoke a pipe with Robert. ‘ Good morning ‘ is
what you ought to say, if you really can’t stay now.”
” I don’t know. This is a world in which ‘ good-bye ‘ never
seems wrong. But God bless you, anyhow. That must be
right—if, ” he added suddenly, ” there is any God to bless. “
Then he walked hastily down the road in the direction of half
a dozen shops which supplied suburban requirements, of suburban
quality, at suburban prices ; went into one of them, and in a few
moments reappeared and turned homeward. Entering the house,
he drew up the blind of the sitting-room and sat down at the
table to write a letter. When it was finished he read it over, put
it in an envelope, addressed it, took it to the pillar-box about
twenty yards from his gate, and when he had dropped it in,
sauntered with a weary air back to the house. This time he
went, not to the sitting-room, but to the kitchen.
” Jane, ” he said, ” I’m tired out. I don’t think I have slept
properly for a week, but I feel very sleepy now. I shall go and
lie down on the bed, and don’t let me be disturbed, whatever
happens. If I get a chance I think I can sleep for hours. “
He turned as if to go, and then turned back again, thrust his
hand into his pocket, and drew from it a few coins. Two of them
were sovereigns. These he laid upon the table.
” Your wages are due to-morrow, Jane, aren’t they ? I
may as well pay you now lest I forget. Twenty-three and
fourpence, isn’t it ? “
” Yes, sir; but don’t trouble about it a day like this; it’ll do
any time. “
” I would rather pay it now. I haven’t the even money, but
you can get me the change when you go out. “
” Thank you, sir ; but won’t you have a chop before you lie
down? I can have it ready in ten minutes. “
” No, I’m not hungry ; I want rest. ” Then after a pause—
” I’m afraid I spoke roughly that day—about those wet clothes,
you know. We may all forget things. I forget many things,
and I daresay I was too hard. “
The girl burst into tears. ” Oh, sir, ” she said, ” it’s kind of
you, but I can’t forgive myself. The sweet pet that was so fond
of her Jane, and that I wouldn’t have harmed for “—but as she
took the apron from her eyes she saw that she had no listener.
Her master had gone upstairs.
It was half-past twelve, for the funeral had been very early.
At eight in the evening Jane was standing at the door of the next
house, speaking eagerly in a terrified tone to Mrs. Williams’s
small servant. “Oh, will you ask Mr. Williams if he would
mind stepping in. I’m frightened about the master. He’s been
in his room since noon, and I can’t make him hear. I’m afraid
” What’s that ? ” said Williams, stepping out into the narrow
The girl repeated her story, and without putting on his hat
he followed her into the house and up the stairs.
” It’s the front room, ” she said, and Williams knocked and
called loudly, but all was silent.
” How many times did you knock ? “
” Ever so many, and very hard at last. “
” Good God ! I’m afraid you’re right, ” and as he spoke he
tried the handle of the door.
” He has locked himself in. We must break the door open.
Have you a mallet ? Anything would do. “
” There’s a screwdriver ; nothing else but a little tack hammer,
that would be of no use. “
The large screwdriver was brought, and the wood-work of the
suburban builder soon gave way before its leverage. When Mr.
Williams entered, carrying the lamp he had taken from Jane’s
trembling hand, he saw that Errington had undressed himself and
got into bed. He was lying with his face towards the door, and
one arm was extended on the coverlet. He might have been
sleeping, but before Williams touched the cold hand he knew
what had happened. There was a bedroom tumbler on the
dressing table, and beside it an empty bottle bearing the label,
” Chloral Hydrate. Dose one tablespoon, 15 grains. ” John
Errington was dead.
When during the forenoon of the next day Hartmann West
entered the Shandy Club the correspondence awaiting him—
which was usually heavy—consisted only of a single letter. He
glanced at the address, which was in a handwriting that he could
not at the moment identify, though he thought he had seen it
before. He mounted to the smoking-room on the first floor,
holding it in his hand, and when he had established himself in his
favourite arm-chair near one of the three windows, drew a small
paper knife from his waistcoat pocket and cut open the envelope.
The letter began abruptly without any one of the usual forms of
I do not want you to throw this letter aside until you have read it to
the end, and therefore I mention a fact concerning it which will give
it a certain interest—even to you. It is written by a man who, when
you receive it, will be dead—dead by your hand—who has just come
from the grave of his dead wife and dead children, murdered by you
as surely as if you had drawn the knife across their throats. I wonder
if you remember me, or if you have added to all the other gifts with
which Heaven, or Hell, has dowered you, the gift of forgetfulness. I
am the man who read your book and loved it—loved it for itself, but
loved still more the heart that I thought I felt was beating behind it, and
wrote of my love which I was glad to tell—first for all who might read
what I had written, and then for you alone. I must have written
clumsily, for I seem to have angered you—how I know not, and because
I had angered you, you took your revenge. I was a poor man—I told
you I was poor—but I was rich in a wife and child who loved me, and
whom I loved ; and I only thought of my poverty when I looked at
them, and felt the hardness of the lot to which my physical weakness,
and perhaps other weakness as well, had led them. Then, because my
wife was looking forward to the pains and perils of motherhood, and I
had tried in vain to secure for her something of comfort in her time of
trial, I humbled myself for her—you know how ; and yet, fool that I
was, I felt no humiliation, for I thought that I was writing to, as well
as from, a human heart. Then came the blow which your letter
rendered inevitable, the blow which bereft me of the scanty work
which had perhaps been done clumsily, but which I know had been
done honestly, the blow which killed a mother and an unborn child.
I found her fainting with your letter lying beside her, and in two days
she was dead. She left me with our little girl for a sole remaining
possession ; but a child motherless is a child defenceless, and to-day I
have laid her in her grave, and she is motherless no more. Only I am
alone, and now I go to join them, if indeed the grave be not the end
of all. I know not, for you have robbed me of faith as well as of joy.
Within the last hour, I have with my lips and in my heart, denied the
God whom I have loved and trusted, even as I loved and trusted the
man who has murdered my dear ones. If there be no God I will not
curse you, for what would curses avail ? If there be a God I will not
curse you, for my cause is His cause, and shall not the Judge of all the
earth do right ? But remember that when you are where I am now—
the unknown now in which you read these words—I shall summon you
with a summons you dare not disobey, to stand as a murderer before
His judgment bar.
Hartmann West had lighted a cigar before he cut the envelope.
It had gone out. No connoisseur relights a cigar, and Hartmann
West was a connoisseur not only in tobacco but in many other
things. He considered himself—quite justly—a proficient in the
art of making life enjoyable, and his achievements in that art had
so far been successful. He had enjoyed the writing of his letter
to Andrew Mackenzie; it was, as he put it to himself, ” rather
neat. ” But it came back to him with an unexpected rebound ;
and Major Forth was not wrong when he talked about a knock-
For such it undoubtedly was. West was not, like Mackenzie, a
thick-skinned and insensitive man. He was, on the contrary, a
bundle of nerves, and the nerves were well on the surface—an
idiosyncrasy of physique which accounted for the delicacy and
exquisiteness of sympathetic realisation that had charmed
Errington in The Phantasies of Philarete. But he was a colossal
egoist, and when his egoistic instincts were aroused, the man who
became almost sick when he heard or read a story of cruelty,
showed himself capable of a sustained and startling ruthlessness of
malignity. When the mood passed he became again his ordinary
self—the fastidious, sensitive creature, susceptible to tortures
which a chance word of any coarser-fibred acquaintance might
inflict. Errington’s letter appealed to the quick imagination
which was his hell as well as his heaven. It made pictures for
him, and he turned from one only to find himself face to face
with another. He saw the fainting woman, the dead child, the
corpse of the man—bloody it might be, for the tormenting fiend
of fancy provided all possible accessories of horror—and as he
looked the tide of life ebbed within him.
Next morning this one ghastliness of terror was removed, but its
place was taken by a new dread. He received a copy of a suburban
news-sheet, the West London Comet, with a thick line of blue
pencilling surrounding a report headed ” Sad Suicide of a Journal-
ist. ” The details he knew and those that he did not know were
all there ; and there, too, was the evidence of a man Williams—
by whom he rightly conjectured this latest torture was inflicted—
who had told the jury that Errington’s misfortunes had been due
to some unpleasantness connected with a review of a book by Mr.
Hartmann West, and would evidently have told more had not the
coroner decided that the matter was irrelevant. The West London
Comet was not taken at the Shandy Club ; but would not the report,
with this horrible mention of his name, find its way into more
highly favoured journals ? With trembling hands, which even
brandy had not served to steady, he turned over the papers of that
morning, and the evening journals of the day before, and, as he
failed to find the dreaded item, relief slowly came. But the older
terror remained ; the pictures were still with him ; and though
one had lost its streak of sanguine colour, they were still lurid
enough. Gradually the very fact upon which, for an hour, he had
congratulated himself—the fact that the world knew nothing, but
that he and one unknown man shared the hateful knowledge
between them—became in itself all but unbearable. Once, twice,
half a dozen times, he felt that he must tell the story ; but when
he thought he had nerved himself for the attempt, the words
refused to come.
Three months later, in the morning and evening papers, which
had taken no notice of the affair at Shepherd’s Bush, there were
leaderettes lamenting, with grave eloquence, the loss sustained by
English literature in the death of Mr. Hartmann West. A com-
ment upon these utterances found a place in ” At the Meridian,”
the column in Noon known to be written by its accomplished
editor, Mr. Andrew Mackenzie :
” Were there no such emotion as disgust I should feel nothing but
amusement in the perusal of the eulogies upon the late Mr. Hartmann
West which have appeared in the Hour and the Morning Gazette. Less
than six months ago the former journal, in reviewing Mr. West’s
Phantasies of Philarete, declared the book to be ‘ characterised by
pretentiousness, strain, and affectation, ‘ and the latter authority, with
its well-known subtlety of satire, remarked that, ‘ Mr. Hartmann
West’s extraordinary vogue among the shop-girls of Bermondsey, and
the junior clerks of Peckham, will probably be maintained by a volume
which is even richer than its predecessors in shoddy sentiment and
machine-made epigram. ‘ The Hour has now discovered that Mr.
West’s work presented ‘ a remarkable combination of imaginative
veracity and distinction of utterance, ‘ and the Gazette mourns him as
‘ a writer whose death breaks a splendid promise, but whose life has
left a splendid performance. ‘ The style of these belated eulogists is
their own ; but their substance seems to have been borrowed from
this journal, which in reviewing the ‘ pretentious shoddy ‘ and
‘ machine-made ‘ work, spoke of it as ‘ one of those books which make
life better worth living by revealing its possibilities of beauty, which
touch us by their truth not less than by their tenderness, in which the
lovely art is all but lost in the lovely nature which the art reveals,
which make us free of the companionship of a spirit finely touched to
fine issues. ‘ I am not apt at sudden post-mortem eloquence, and I
have nothing to add to these words, written while Hartmann West
was still alive, and able to appreciate the sympathy he was so ready to
” Well, I never could have believed, ” said a young member of
the Shandy Club, ” that Mackenzie wrote that review of poor
West’s Phantasies. “
The current issue of Noon had just come in, and,
though it was
before luncheon, Major Forth, who had contracted bad habits in
Africa and elsewhere, was refreshing himself with whisky and
potash. He looked at the speaker, slowly emptied his tumbler,
and replied, ” I don’t believe it now. “
By B. Paul Neuman
LAND of the white cliff and the circling ocean,
Land of the strong, the valiant and the free,
Well may thy proud sons with their hearts’ devotion
Seek to repay the debt they owe to thee.
Thou givest them health, the muscle and the vigour,
The steady poise of body and of mind,
The heart that chills not ‘neath an Arctic rigour,
Nor droops before the scorching desert wind.
Thou givest them fame, a thousand memories leaping
Into the light whene’er thy name is spoken,
Thy heroes from their graven marbles keeping
Their faithful watch o’er thee and thine unbroken.
Thou givest them rugged honesty unbending,
The heart of honour and the lip of truth,
Quick-answering impulse, freely, gladly spending
The strength of manhood with the zeal of youth.
A noble heritage ! and I might claim it,
Whose life within thy very heart awoke,
But yet the prayer, whenever I would frame it,
Died on my lips before the words outbroke ;
Though kin of mine are lying where the grasses
Bow to the west wind by the Avon’s side,
And daily o’er their graves the shadow passes
Of that fair church where Shakespeare’s bones abide.
For far away beyond the waste of waters
There lies another, a forsaken land,
A land that mourns her exiled sons and daughters
Whose graves are strewn on every alien strand ;
A land of splendour, but of desolation,
Of glory, but a glory passed away,
Her hill-sides peopled with a buried nation,
Her fruitful plains the lawless wanderer’s prey.
Yet dearer even than the hills and valleys
That wear the mantle of our English green,
By whose glad ways the mountain brooklet sallies,
Are those far heights that I have never seen ;
White Hermon glistening in the morning glory,
Dark Sinai with its single cypress tree,
Green Tabor, and that rugged promontory
Whence Carmel frowns upon the laughing sea.
This is the land of hope without fruition,
Of prophecies no welcome years fulfil,
While bound upon their dreary pilgrim mission
The heirs of promise lack their birthright still.
Yet not the whole, for hope remains undying,
And such the hopes that gather round thy name,
Dear land, it were indeed a new denying,
To set before thee, riches, power, or fame.
A little longer, and the habitations
Of exile shall re-echo to thy call,
” Return, my children, from among the nations,
Forget the years of banishment and thrall.”
Then shall the footsteps of the sons of Kedar
Cease from the silent wastes of Gilead,
No ruthless hand shall raze the oak and cedar
Wherewith its swelling uplands once were clad.
No longer shall the thief and the marauder
The peaceful tillers of the soil molest,
But from rough Argob on the eastern border
To sea-washed Jaffa, all the land shall rest.
Land of the prophets, in the prophet’s vision
Thy future glory far transcends thy woes,
And soon, in spite of hatred and derision,
Thy wilderness shall blossom as the rose.
Puppies and Otherwise
THE philologist threw down his pen with an exclamation.
” It is really annoying, most annoying,” he said querulously,
” I can’t endure children. They are worse than dogs. You can
kick a dog. But it is impossible to kick a child. What is a
man to do, Parker? Why did that dolt of a Tom recognise her?
He might at least have waited till the morning. And how am I
to send over the hills at this time of night to tell her father? I
am the most unfortunate of men.”
“Twenty mile if it be a step, and a proper rough night,”
murmured his housekeeper, who never allowed the details of a
catastrophe to be neglected.
The philologist cast a distracted look over his papers and swore
“Can’t you suggest something, Parker?” he demanded irritably.
“Am I to be put to all this inconvenience just because Tom
finds a bit of a girl thrown from her pony and is misguided
enough to bring her home ? Who did he say she was, confound
“Miss Agnes, sir, only child of the Rector of Astley, sir, and
the very happle of his eye, so Tom says, he does. And sleeping
like a lamb in the best bedroom now, sir.”
The philologist savagely kicked a footstool that was not in his
way, and took a turn round the room. “What’s the use of
standing there and gossiping?” he shouted suddenly; “did I ask
who the brat was? Do I want to know whether her fool of a
father dotes upon her? Tell Tom to saddle the roan at once and
ride across with my compliments to the Reverend What’s-his-
name, and say that his daughter is here, and be hanged to
” Do you hear ? And don’t let me be disturbed again to-night.
Supper ? Who said supper ? Did I say supper, Parker ? Then
go and don’t make purposeless remarks.”
His housekeeper vanished precipitately, and the philologist
returned to his great work on the Aryan roots. He was a man
to whom fame had come late in life, when he had wholly ignored
his youth in a passionate toil after it. At the age of twenty he
had resolved to be a successful man, and at the age of forty-six he
found himself one, albeit a piece of soulless mechanism with the
wine of life left untasted behind him and its richest possibilities
lying buried in his past.
He sighed self-pityingly, and pulled his manuscript towards him
once more. And just as he did so, the door opened from without
and the child came in.
He did not know, as any other man could have told him, that
she was already almost a woman, even a beautiful woman with
awakening eyes and most seductive hair; but he did recognise
with a vague feeling of dissatisfaction that she was not what he
usually meant by a child, and that he could not class her with
kittens and colts and all other irresponsible animals whom he was
accustomed to regard with prejudice. And this discovery gave
him a sharper sense of injury than before, and he sat staring
stupidly while she walked swiftly across the room to him, holding
up her riding skirt with one hand and brushing back her tumbled
curls with the other.
They didn t wake me in time as they promised,” she said,
“and I want to get back to Daddy. People are such idiots. Did
she take me for a baby, that woman? Why does every one think
that children have got to be lied to? And how soon can I have
my pony, please?”
A violent gust of wind rushed round the house at that moment
and rattled viciously at the bolts of the shutters as though mocking
her words. But the girl paid no heed to it, and merely tapped
her toe impatiently on the ground, and waited expectantly for an
answer to her question. The philologist stood up and put on his
spectacles and looked down at her.
“I — I am at a loss,” he said slowly, “are you the — the person
whom Tom picked up and brought home in the gig?”
“Yes, yes, I suppose so ! At least, I think he said he was
Tom. But what does that matter now? Oh, do order my pony
before we talk any more, won’t you? Daddy wants me, don’t
“Daddy wants you,” said the philologist absently, for he was
following the train of his own thoughts rather than the meaning
of her words; “I don’t quite understand you.”
“You don’t look as though you did,” said Agnes candidly.
“perhaps I scared you, did I? You see, I thought if I came
across that woman again she would tell me some more lies. And
I smelt smoke so I guessed that meant a man in here. Men
generally stick to the truth, don’t you know ; at least, you can
always tell if they don’t. But I say, why don’t you ring for my
” How old are you?” said the philologist, rousing himselt with
“What’s that got to do with it?” cried the girl angrily.
“Don’t you know that all this time Daddy is — ”
“Daddy be — ” began the philologist, and checked himself with
a smile; “my dear little girl, nobody is going to hurt you
here, and I shall certainly not allow you to go out in this storm. I
really think,” he continued tentatively, ” I really think you had
almost better go to bed. It’s bedtime now, isn’t it?”
“Bedtime?” cried Agnes, opening her eyes, “why it’s not nine
o’clock. Besides, I told you I was going home. What’s the
matter with the weather?”
” The weather is — well, inclement,” said the man of learning
feebly, “and Tom has already gone to set your father’s mind at
rest. It seems to me — ”
“Then why didn t you say so before? It was rather stupid of
you, wasn’t it?” rejoined Agnes cheerfully. “Well, I’m very glad
I haven’t got to ride any more to-day, my arm’s horribly stiff.
Gobbo’s all right, that’s one blessing.”
She was sitting in the arm-chair now, with her feet on the
fender, and the philologist, who was accustomed to be the autocrat
of his household, somehow felt ousted from his own sanctum. He
glanced sideways at the ruddy head that was bent towards the blaze,
and he felt a curious sensation of discomfort.
“Gobbo? Ah, yes, my man said something about the pony
being unhurt,” was all he said, though she paid not the slightest
attention to his words, for they might just as well have been left
“That’s not a bad little stable you’ve got,” she went on in her
fresh voice, “and the puppies are just ripping, ever so much jollier
than the Persian kittens. You shouldn’t have crossed your Persian
with a tabby, it’s such a pity. Why did you?”
The philologist became suddenly conscious of being wonder-
fully ignorant by the side of this child with the red hair and the
large open eyes, and the discovery did not add to his composure.
“I didn’t know I had,” he said, and sat down where he could
see her face.
“Didn’t you really? And the puppies are such beauties too,
five of them. You almost don’t deserve to have puppies, do
“I’m afraid I am hardly worthy of them,” owned the philologist
meekly.” But do you really like them yourself?”
“Why, I couldn’t help it of course. They’re such jolly little
warm snoozling things. Don’t you know the feel of
a puppy? What! you don’t? Only wait, that s all.”
She was gone before he could protest, and five minutes later she
was teaching him how to keep two puppies warm inside his coat,
while he wondered grimly what it was that the Aryan languages
had not succeeded in teaching him.
“What else do you like besides puppies?” he asked; “dolls?”
“Dolls!” she said contemptuously. “As if any one who could
get animals would ever want dead things. I’ve always hated
“I,” said the philologist slowly, “have lived with dead things
for twenty years.”
“Oh well,” said the child, “that was really quite unnecessary.
There are always lots of puppies about everywhere. So it was
clearly your own fault, wasn’t it?”
“Perhaps it was,” said the philologist.
“Any one can see,” she went on in her frank manner, “that
you’re not really fond of puppies, or else you would be able to hold
them without strangling them. I think I’d better take them,
While she was gone the philologist lay back in his chair and
pondered. And he was looking critically at himself in the mirror
when she opened the door and came in again.
“Sit down child, and get warm,” he said brusquely; “you
shouldn’t have gone to that cold stable this time of night.”
“Why not? I always do things like that. There’s no one to
stop me, you see. Besides I expect no one knows except Rob.”
“Who’s Rob?” was his inevitable question.
“Oh, don’t you know? Rob is Daddy’s pupil of course.
Daddy teaches him lots of things, like Latin and physiology.
Rob is awfully clever, and he can breed better terriers than Upton
at the lodge. Im awfully fond of Rob.”
The philologist made a mental synopsis of Rob’s character
which depicted him as anything but a pleasant young fellow.
“I suppose you’re clever too, aren’t you?” he heard her
“No,” he replied irritably, ” I don’t know anything. Go on
telling me about yourself, child.”
“But,” persisted Agnes, “why do you have such a lot of papers
if you are not clever?”
“That’s just what I don’t know,” he said, “they have not
taught me how to hold a puppy without strangling it, have they?”
“No,” said the child, still looking straight at him with wide
open eyes, “but you could soon learn that. It’s awfully easy,
really. There’s something about a puppy that won’t let you hurt
it, however stupid you are. I could soon teach you all there is to
learn about puppies. It’s the other things I can’t learn.”
“Never mind about the other things, they are not worth
learning, my child,” said the philologist, as he boldly passed his
fingers through her thick hair. She moved a little restively, and
then looked up at him quickly with a comical expression of
concern on her face.
“I say,” she began, and paused.
“What’s the matter now?” he asked.
“Well, you know, I’m — I’m hungry,” she said, and then
laughed as he called himself a brute and sprang to his feet. “No,
don’t ring,” she added imploringly, “I can’t stand any more of
that woman to-night. Don’t you think you could go and
Their friendship was in no way weakened by their impromptu
meal over the fire; and when they had finished, and the writing
table with its sheets of valuable manuscript was strewn with
crumbs, the philologist ventured to renew the conversation on a
more natural basis than before.
“Hands cold?” he said, and touched one of them.
“A little,” she said, and put them both into his.
“It’s very good of you to come and cheer a lonely old man like
this,” he went on, half expecting her to contradict his words.
“Oh, but I couldn’t help coming, could I?” she cried laughing.
“And the first thing I did was to want to go back again!”
“And I wouldn’t let you, would I?” he pursued, glancing,
still nervously, at the large grey eyes that met his so unflinchingly.
“All the same, I don’t believe you are a bit lonely,” said the
child, looking away into the fire, “you have got your book about
the Aryan things, haven’t you?”
“Of course I have got my book about the Aryan things, but
that isn’t everything,” exclaimed the philologist with an indefinite
feeling of irritation; “for instance, it does not help me to amuse
you when you pay me a visit. And to-morrow, when you get
home to your father and Rob, you won’t want to come back again
to an old man who can only talk about Aryan roots. Do you
think you will, child?”
The last words were added insinuatingly, and the philologist
held his breath when he had said them, but Agnes only laughed
again and kicked away a lighted coal that had fallen into the
“Why not?” she said carelessly, “I don’t suppose you’d be
any worse than Daddy when he is writing a new sermon. Only
of course that isn’t often.”
The philologist was seized with one of his fits of unreasonable
“Really, you are a singularly dense child,” he exclaimed,
dropping her hands roughly and thrusting his own into his
pockets; “I always knew that children were tiresome little beasts,
but I did think they had some perspicacity as well.”
Agnes stared and asked if she had done anything.
“Done anything? ” shouted the philologist, jumping out of his
chair and scowling down at her, “it’s time you learned I am not
here to be laughed at just because I am an intellectual old fool!
Don’t you know why I am here, eh? I am here to benefit man-
kind by the knowledge I have been accumulating for twenty
years and more; and you may stare at me as much as you like
with those confounded great eyes of yours, but I’ll drive something
into your bit of a head before I’ve done with you. Oh yes, I
will. And if you don’t ride that pony of yours over here once a
week and do as I tell you when you get here, I’ll be — ”
He did not mention his ultimate destination, for he caught sight
of her face in time, and he thought she looked frightened. So he
sat down again abruptly, and growled out an apology.
“I say, do you often do that ?” she asked, hiding her face from
him with her hand. “Because it’s most awfully funny.”
The astonished philologist had no time to reply before she
broke into a great peal of maddening laughter, such mirthful,
mocking laughter that he was almost stunned by it, and yet was
possessed at the same time of a desperate impulse to flee from
When she looked up again he was lighting a candle with his
back turned to her.
“Allow me to tell you it is bedtime,” he said shortly.
She got up and came across the room, and stood just behind him.
“I say, you — you are not wild with me, are you?” she asked
“I think you are an exceedingly ill-mannered child,” he replied
without turning round.
She sighed penitently.
“I’m so sorry, because, you know, I do really think it was nice
of you to offer to teach me. And if you still mean it, I will
really come over every week and try to learn something. And —
and — do you know, I think I’m rather glad Gobbo did put his
foot into that rabbit-hole to-day.”
The philologist moved slowly round and scanned her upturned
anxious face. The extreme innocence of her expression, and the
utter absence of mischief in the recesses of her deep eyes, succeeded
in dispelling his anger. But he had a dim idea that the situation
demanded something more definite from him, and the brilliant
thought came to him, that of course she was only a child after all,
and had therefore to be treated like a child, and he believed that
children always expected to be kissed when they said they were
sorry. So he hastily put both his hands behind him, and stooped
very stiffly, and placed a kiss on her cheek, and then backed into
the table and pushed her towards the door.
“There, there, bedtime now, and we won’t say any more
about it,” he muttered awkwardly.
But to his discomfiture, she whirled round and faced him with
her eyes blazing and her lips parted.
“How dare you?” she gasped. “I — it — it is a great shame,
and I shall tell Rob. That s the second time I’ve been treated
like a baby to-day. You’re a horrid, musty old man!”
The door slammed, and her exit was succeeded by a profound
silence. Then the bewildered man returned slowly to the fire
place, and looked at the chair in which she had just been
“Yes,” he said out loud with an effort, “I suppose there is still
my book about the Aryan things.”
One sunny day in the late spring, they were sitting together
in the garden. It was their last lesson, but they were making no
pretence of learning anything. The philologist was feeling con-
scious of something he wanted to say to her before she went, and
he did not know how to say it, and he did not attempt to begin.
And Agnes, as usual, was doing most of the talking, though when
she asked him the natural questions that belonged to her age and
her womanhood, he ran the risk of her youthful contempt and
shook his head silently in reply, for he knew he had ignored the
same questions years ago, and it was too late now to go back and
search for the answers to them. And the dew came at their feet
and made them shiver, and the sun went down behind the hedge
and sent fluttering rays of light across their faces, and the chestnut-
tree dropped fluttering showers of pink blossoms on their bare
heads, until at last Agnes cried out that she must be going, and
they walked across the lawn with their arms locked.
When he lifted her on her pony he would have given all the
languages he knew to be able to speak the one language he was
too old to learn.
“Agnes,” he said, “have you enjoyed your lessons?”
She darted him a mischievous look.
“Well, there hasn’t been much Sanskrit about them, has
there?” she said demurely.
“I suppose you mean,” said the philologist a little sulkily, “that
I can’t even teach you what I do know.”
“No, I didn’t mean that,” she said composedly; ” I meant that
I was too stupid, or too old, or something, to learn.”
“Old? What are you talking about, you absurd child?” he
cried angrily. ” You will never know what it is to be old, you.
It is the deepest hell in God’s earth. Don’t be ridiculous!”
“Then I don’t know how it was, and it doesn’t matter much,
does it? Anyhow we have had great fun, and that is the principal
thing. Good-bye,” she said.
He only ventured to kiss her riding glove passionately, as he
guided her pony out of the gate, though the knowledge he had once
thrown away, would have told him that he might have done more,
and yet not offended her.
“How queer he is,” thought the child at the bottom of the lane,
as she stopped to arrange her stirrup. “I don’t think I ever knew
any one quite so musty. I shall ask Rob — ”
A shout from behind made her look round, and there was the
philologist running after her as fast as he could, with his odd
shambling gait and his loosely swinging arms.
“It is only, that is — ” he gasped wildly, ” I — I have the inten-
tion of driving down to see your father to-morrow.”
“Is that all? How awfully funny you are sometimes,” cried
Agnes with a shout of laughter, as she gave her pony a cut with
the whip. And they both vanished round the corner, and left
the philologist standing where he was, staring silently after them.
“I don’t think he has often been laughed at before,” she told
Rob that evening, as they gave Gobbo his feed in the dimly lighted
stable at home.
Rob’s arm was round her waist, and Rob’s face was close to hers
as she said this; and he kissed her three times very gently at the
end of her confession, and whispered in her ear:
“Poor chap! He’s got something to learn. And it isn’t
Sanskrit, is it, dear?”
But the philologist never learned it. And he never drove over
to see her father as he had intended. He went for a long walk
instead, and his path led him by chance through a wood some miles
off, where he found Gobbo grazing by himself among the bracken,
and whence he returned in hot haste, and without his hat, and very
He found Tom waiting to speak to him when he at last reached
home and burst into his study.
“What the dev — ?” he began furiously, and then stopped
for sheer want of breath, for he had run all the way back without
“If you please, sir,” began Tom stolidly, “what be I to do with
them two puppies you was a-keeping of for Miss Agnes? They
be nigh upon ten weeks — ”
“Do with them?” shouted the exasperated philologist. “Drown
them, of course, you fool! Drown them, and never mention such
farmyard details to me again. Do you take me for a young animal
with insolent eyes and a dandy moustache and a soft voice? Eh?
Do you, sir? Then clear out of my sight at once and go to the
deuce with your puppies. Don’t you know I have got my book
to write on the Aryan — ?”
But the philologist’s words ended in a great sob, and he
dropped heavily into a chair, while Tom slouched awkwardly out
of the room.
For Tom, too, understood.
“Here Lies Oliver Goldsmith”
By W. A. Mackenzie
WITH Youth’s unconquerable eye
I watch the flux of Life go by,
Where foam the floods of Strand and Fleet ;
And like the hum of mighty looms,
Upon my country ear there booms
The diapason of the street.
Accustomed long to cheep and twit
Of robin, sparrow, wren, and tit,
And call of throstles in the may,
‘Tis all so strange I turn aside,
Sick of the hoarse and hungry tide,
To try the Temple’s quieter way.
In a grey alley, still and lone,
I stumble o’er a lichened stone,
Whereon four simple words are writ :
Our Noll sleeps gloriously below—
A joyous sleep, with dreams like snow,
The muffled street-sounds soothing it.
I know The Traveller bade them lay
Anigh the street his weary clay,
Because he saw in all things good,
And heard above the thundering street
The brave young Lark that singeth sweet
Of helping hands and brotherhood.
He knew what it is good to know,
When down the Dale o’ Dreams we go—
That living brothers still are near ;
And some struck sore in battle-test
Come to our side, a moment rest,
Then back to buffet with a cheer.
Ah, Noll, thou singest yet, though dead,
A song that calms our coward dread
Of Life and Life’s benumbing din.
With larger faith I turn me back
To where the stream runs strong and black,
And, greatly hoping, plunge me in.
By Mrs. Ernest Leverson
IF Lady Winthrop had not spoken of me as ” that intolerable,
effeminate boy,” she might have had some chance : of marrying
my father. She was a middle-aged widow ; prosaic, fond of
domineering, and an alarmingly excellent housekeeper ; the serious
work of her life was paying visits ; in her lighter moments she
collected autographs. She was highly suitable and altogether
insupportable; and this unfortunate remark about me was, as
people say, the last straw. Some encouragement from father Lady
Winthrop must, I think, have received ; for she took to calling at
odd hours, asking my sister Marjorie sudden abrupt questions, and
being generally impossible. A tradition existed that her advice
was of use to our father in his household, and when, last year, he
married his daughter’s school-friend, a beautiful girl of twenty, it
surprised every one except Marjorie and myself.
The whole thing was done, in fact, by suggestion. I shall
never forget that summer evening when father first realised, with
regard to Laura Egerton, the possible. He was giving a little dinner
of eighteen people. Through a mistake of Marjorie’s (my idea) Lady
Winthrop did not receive her invitation till the very last minute.
Of course she accepted—we knew she would—but unknowing that
it was a dinner party, she came without putting on evening-dress.
The Yellow Book—Vol. V. P
Nothing could be more trying to the average woman than such
a contretemps ; and Lady Winthrop was not one to rise, sublimely,
and laughing, above the situation. I can see her now, in a plaid
blouse and a vile temper, displaying herself, mentally and physically,
to the utmost disadvantage, while Marjorie apologised the whole
evening, in pale blue crèpe-de-chine ; and Laura, in yellow, with
mauve orchids, sat—an adorable contrast—on my father’s other side,
with a slightly conscious air that was perfectly fascinating. It is
quite extraordinary what trifles have their little effect in these
matters. I had sent Laura the orchids, anonymously ; I could not
help it if she chose to think they were from my father. Also, I
had hinted of his secret affection for her, and lent her Verlaine. I
said I had found it in his study, turned down at her favourite page.
Laura has, like myself, the artistic temperament ; she is cultured,
rather romantic, and in search of the au-delà. My father has at
times—never to me—rather charming manners ; also he is still
handsome, with that look of having suffered that comes from
enjoying oneself too much. That evening his really sham melan-
choly and apparently hollow gaiety were delightful for a son to
witness, and appealed evidently to her heart. Yes, strange as it
may seem, while the world said that pretty Miss Egerton married
old Carington for his money, she was really in love, or thought
herself in love, with our father. Poor girl ! She little knew what
an irritating, ill-tempered, absent-minded person he is in private
life ; and at times I have pangs of remorse.
A fortnight after the wedding, father forgot he was married,
and began again treating Laura with a sort of distrait gallantry as
Marjorie’s friend, or else ignoring her altogether. When, from
time to time, he remembers she is his wife, he scolds her about
the houskeeping in a fitful, perfunctory way, for he does not know
that Marjorie does it still. Laura bears the rebukes like an angel ;
indeed, rather than take the slightest practical trouble she would
prefer to listen to the strongest language in my father’s
But she is sensitive ; and when father, speedily resuming his
bachelor manners, recommenced his visits to an old friend who
lives in one of the little houses opposite the Oratory, she seemed
quite vexed. Father is horribly careless, and Laura found a
letter. They had a rather serious explanation, and for a little
time after, Laura seemed depressed. She soon tried to rouse
herself, and is at times cheerful enough with Marjorie and myself,
but I fear she has had a disillusion. They never quarrel now, and
I think we all three dislike father about equally, though Laura
never owns it, and is gracefully attentive to him in a gentle,
filial sort of way.
We are fond of going to parties—not father—and Laura is a
very nice chaperone for Marjorie. They are both perfectly devoted
to me. ” Cecil knows everything,” they are always saying, and
they do nothing—not even choosing a hat—without asking my
Since I left Eton I am supposed to be reading with a tutor, but
as a matter of fact I have plenty of leisure ; and am very glad to
be of use to the girls, of whom I’m, by the way, quite proud.
They are rather a sweet contrast ; Marjorie has the sort of fresh
rosy prettiness you see in the park and on the river. She is tall,
and slim as a punt-pole, and if she were not very careful how she
dresses, she would look like a drawing by Pilotelle in the Lady’s
Pictorial. She is practical and lively, she rides and drives and
dances ; skates, and goes to some mysterious haunt called The
Stores, and is, in her own way, quite a modern English type.
Laura has that exotic beauty so much admired by Philistines ;
dreamy dark eyes, and a wonderful white complexion. She loves
music and poetry and pictures and admiration in a lofty sort of
way ; she has a morbid fondness for mental gymnastics, and a
dislike to physical exertion, and never takes any exercise except
waving her hair. Sometimes she looks bored, and I have heard
” Cissy,” Marjorie said, coming one day into my study, ” I
want to speak to you about Laura.”
” Do you have pangs of conscience too ? ” I asked, lighting a
” Dear, we took a great responsibility. Poor girl ! Oh,
couldn’t we make Papa more—— ”
“Impossible,” I said ; “no one has any influence with him.
He cant’t bear even me, though if he had a shade of decency he
would dash away an unbidden tear every time I look at him with
my mother’s blue eyes.”
My poor mother was a great beauty, and I am supposed to be
her living image.
” Laura has no object in life,” said Marjorie. ” I have, all
girls have, I suppose. By the way, Cissy, I am quite sure
Charlie Winthrop is serious.”
” How sweet of him ! I am so glad. I got father off my hands
“Must I really marry him, Cissy ? He bores me.”
“What has that to do with it? Certainly you must. You
are not a beauty, and I doubt your ever having a better
Marjorie rose and looked at herself in the long pier-glass that
stands opposite my writing-table. I could not resist the tempta-
tion to go and stand beside her.
” I am just the style that is admired now,” said Marjorie, dis-
” So am I,” I said reflectively. “But you will soon be out of date.”
Every one says I am strangely like my mother. Her face was
of that pure and perfect oval one so seldom sees, with delicate
features, rosebud mouth, and soft flaxen hair. A blondness without
insipidity, for the dark-blue eyes are fringed with dark lashes, and
from their languorous depths looks out a soft mockery. I have a
curious ideal devotion to my mother ; she died when I was quite
young—only two months old—and I often spend hours thinking
of her, as I gaze at myself in the mirror.
” Do come down from the clouds,” said Marjorie impatiently, for
I had sunk into a reverie. ” I came to ask you to think of some-
thing to amuse Laura—to interest her.”
” We ought to make it up to her in some way. Haven’t you
tried anything ? ”
” Only palmistry ; and Mrs. Wilkinson prophesied her all that
she detests, and depressed her dreadfully.”
” What do you think she really needs most ? ” I asked.
Our eyes met.
” Really, Cissy, you’re too disgraceful,” said Marjorie. There
was a pause.
” And so I’m to accept Charlie ? “
” What man do you like better ? ” I asked.
” I don’t know what you mean,” said Marjorie, colouring.
” I thought Adrian Grant would have been more
to Laura than to you. I have just had a note from him, asking
me to tea at his studio to-day.” I threw it to her. ” He says
I’m to bring you both. Would that amuse Laura ? ”
“Oh,” cried Marjorie, enchanted, “of course we’ll go. I
wonder what he thinks of me,” she added wistfully.
” He didn’t say. He is going to send Laura his verses, ‘Hearts-
ease and Heliotrope.'”
She sighed. Then she said, ” Father was complaining again
to-day of your laziness.”
” I, lazy ! Why, I’ve been swinging the censer in Laura’s
boudoir because she wants to encourage the religious temperament,
and I’ve designed your dress for the Clives fancy ball.”
” Where’s the design ? ”
” In my head. You’re not to wear white ; Miss Clive must
” I wonder you don’t marry her,” said Marjorie, ” you admire
her so much.”
” I never marry. Besides, I know she’s pretty, but that furtive
Slade-school manner of hers gets on my nerves. You don’t know
how dreadfully I suffer from my nerves.”
She lingered a little, asking me what I advised her to choose for
a birthday present for herself—an American organ, a black poodle,
or an édition de luxe of Browning. I advised the last, as being
least noisy. Then I told her I felt sure that in spite of her
admiration for Adrian, she was far too good-natured to interfere
with Laura’s prospects. She said I was incorrigible, and left the
room with a smile of resignation.
And I returned to my reading. On my last birthday—I was
seventeen—my father—who has his gleams of dry humour—
gave me Robinson Crusoe ! I prefer Pierre Loti, and intend to
have an onyx-paved bath-room, with soft apricot-coloured light
shimmering through the blue-lined green curtains in my chambers,
as soon as I get Margery married, and Laura more—settled down.
I met Adrian Grant first at a luncheon party at the Clives’. I
seemed to amuse him ; he came to see me, and became at once
obviously enamoured of my step-mother. He is rather an im-
pressionable impressionist, and a delightful creature, tall and
graceful and beautiful, and altogether most interesting. Every one
admits he’s fascinating ; he is very popular and very much disliked.
He is by way of being a painter ; he has a little money of his own
—enough for his telegrams, but not enough for his buttonholes—
and nothing could be more incongruous than the idea of his
marrying. I have never seen Marjorie so much attracted. But
she is a good loyal girl, and will accept Charlie Winthrop, who is
a dear person, good-natured and ridiculously rich—just the sort of
man for a brother-in-law. It will annoy my old enemy Lady
Winthrop—he is her nephew, and she wants him to marry that
little Miss Clive. Dorothy dive has her failings, but she could
not—to do her justice—be happy with Charlie Winthrop.
Adrian’s gorgeous studio gives one the complex impression of
being at once the calm retreat of a mediaeval saint and the luxurious
abode of a modern Pagan. One feels that everything could be
done there, everything from praying to flirting—everything except
painting. The tea-party amused me, I was pretending to listen to
a brown person who was talking absurd worn-out literary clichés—
as that the New Humour is not funny, or that Bourget understood
women, when I overheard this fragment of conversation.
” But don’t you like Society ? ” Adrian was saying.
” I get rather tired of it. People are so much alike. They all
say the same things,” said Laura.
“Of course they all say the same things to you,”
Adrian, as he affected to point out a rather curious old silver
” That,” said Laura, ” is one of the things they say.”
* * * * *
About three weeks later I found myself dining alone with
Adrian Grant, at one of the two restaurants in London. (The
cooking is better at the other, this one is the more becoming.) I
had lilies-of-the-valley in my button-hole, Adrian was wearing a
red carnation. Several people glanced at us. Of course he is
very well known in Society. Also, I was looking rather nice,
and I could not help hoping, while Adrian gazed rather absently
over my head, that the shaded candles were staining to a richer
rose the waking wonder of my face.
Adrian was charming of course, but he seemed worried and a
little preoccupied, and drank a good deal of champagne.
Towards the end of dinner, he said—almost abruptly for him
” Cecil,” I interrupted. He smiled.
” Cissy … it seems an odd thing to say to you, but though you
are so young, I think you know everything. I am sure you know
everything. You know about me. I am in love. I am quite
miserable. What on earth am I to do ! ” He drank more cham-
pagne. ” Tell me,” he said, ” what to do.” For a few minutes,
while we listened to that interminable hackneyed Intermezzo, I
reflected ; asking myself by what strange phases I had risen to the
extraordinary position of giving advice to Adrian on such a subject ?
Laura was not happy with our father. From a selfish motive,
Marjorie and I had practically arranged that monstrous marriage.
That very day he had been disagreeable, asking me with a clumsy
sarcasm to raise his allowance, so that he could afford my favourite
cigarettes. If Adrian were free, Marjorie might refuse Charlie
Winthrop. I don’t want her to refuse him. Adrian has treated
me as a friend. I like him—I like him enormously. I am quite
devoted to him. And how can I rid myself of the feeling of
responsibility, the sense that I owe some compensation to poor
beautiful Laura ?
We spoke of various matters. Just before we left the table,
I said, with what seemed, but was not, irrelevance, ” Dear Adrian,
” Go on, Cissy.”
“She is one of those who must be appealed to, at first, by her
imagination. She married our father because she thought he was
lonely and misunderstood.”
” I am lonely and misunderstood,” said Adrian, his
” Ah, not twice ! She doesn’t like that now.”
I finished my coffee slowly, and then I said,
” Go to the Clives’ fancy-ball as Tristan.”
Adrian pressed my hand. . . .
At the door of the restaurant we parted, and I drove home
through the cool April night, wondering, wondering. Suddenly I
thought of my mother—my beautiful sainted mother, who would
have loved me, I am convinced, had she lived, with an extraordinary
devotion. What would she have said to all this ? What would
she have thought ? I know not why, but a mad reaction seized
me. I felt recklessly conscientious. My father ! After all, he
was my father. I was possessed by passionate scruples. If I went
back now to Adrian—if I went back and implored him, supplicated
him never to see Laura again !
I felt I could persuade him. I have sufficient personal
magnetism to do that, if I make up my mind. After one glance
in the looking-glass, I put up my stick and stopped the hansom. I
had taken a resolution. I told the man to drive to Adrian’s rooms.
He turned round with a sharp jerk. In another second a
brougham passed us—a swift little brougham that I knew. It
slackened—it stopped—we passed it—I saw my father. He was
getting out at one of the little houses opposite the Brompton
” Turn round again,” I shouted to the cabman. And he drove
me straight home.
The Sword of Cæsar Borgia
By Richard Garnett, LL.D., C.B.
“Aut Cæsar aut nihil “
WELL hath the graver traced thee, sword of mine !
Here Cæsar by the Rubicon’s slow deeps
Ponders ; here resolute to empire leaps,
And far and near the smitten waters shine.
The vanquished train’s interminable line
Wends at his wheels up Capitolian steeps ;
And round the interlacing legend creeps,
Cæsar or nothing ! saith Duke Valentine
And did I bare thee to the sun, my blade,
Fired at the flash all Italy should thrill,
And many a city quake and province bow.
Yet is a drop within this vial stayed
That should the might of marching armies still,
And stainless sheathe ten thousand such as thou.
M. Anatole France
By Maurice Baring
“SOYONS des bibliophiles et lisons nos livres, mais ne les
prenons point de toutes mains ; soyons délicats, choisis-
sons, et comme le seigneur des comédies de Shakespeare, disons
à notre libraire : ‘Je veux qu’ils soient bien reliés et qu’ils parlent
This piece of advice occurs in the preface of the first volume of
M. France’s collected work : La vie littéraire. We are afraid
that it would be difficult to prove by statistics that the advice is
very largely taken.
The works of certain lady novelists are those which seem to
be mostly chosen by the reading public ; and they belong to that
class of which Charles Lamb spoke, when he said that some
books were not books, but wolves in books’ clothing. There
is no reason why we should be disturbed by this. It has been
pointed out that the reading public has got nothing whatever to
do with books. ” The reading public subscribes to Mudie, and
gets its intellectual like its lacteal subsistence in carts.” Happily,
there is a little clan of writers who enable us to act upon the
advice quoted above. M. France’s books are not carried about
in carts. They tempt us to choose—them all. They lead us
into committing follies at the bookbinders’. And if we are
bitterly thinking of the morrow when a bill will come in for
the ” creamiest Oxford vellum ” and ” redolent crushed Levant,”
we may console ourselves by reflecting that we have been
fastidious and eclectic, that we have chosen.
M. France’s books do not talk of love as much as do many other
modern works, yet we think the Shakespearean nobleman would
have chosen them to grace his library in preference to the
Heavenly Twins or the Yellow Aster, which handle the theme more
technically, perhaps, and certainly with greater exhaustiveness.
M. France has chosen a few charming themes, and played
them in different keys with many variations. Le Crime de
Sylvestre Bonnard is the contemplation of an old philosophical
bachelor ; Le livre de man ami is a child’s garden of prose.
He has written stories about contemporaries of Solomon, of
pre-Evites even (La fills de Lilith), and stories about Anglo-
Florentines. He has charmed us with philosophy and with
fairy-tales, and diverted us with the adventures of poets, poli-
ticians, and madmen of every description. His criticism he has
defined in a famous phrase as “the adventures of his soul among
masterpieces.” And his creative works are not so much the
observations of a mind among men as the subdued and delicate
dreams of a soul that has fallen asleep, tired out by its enchanting
adventures. He has himself confessed that he is not a keen
” L’observateur conduit sa vue, le spectateur se laisse
par les yeux.” Thus it is that the phrase ” adventures of
soul ” is singularly suited to him. In his whole work we trace
the phases and the development of a gentle admiration. In
the Livre de mon ami M. France tells the story of his child-
“Tout dans l’immuable nature
Est miracle aux petits enfants
Ils naissent et leur âme obscure
Eclôt dans des enchantements.
. . . . . . .
Leur tête légère et ravie
Songe tandisque nous pensons ;
Ils font de frissons en frissons
La découverte de la vie.”
So he sings about children.
It is very rare that a man of letters can look back through the
prison-bars of middle-age with eyes undimmed by the mists of his
culture and philosophy, and see the ingenuous phases, the gradual
progress from thrill to thrill of awakening, that take place in the
soul of a child.
M. France has evoked these early “frissons” with a magic
wand. And the penetrating psychology with which childish
” états-d’àme ” are revealed is no less striking than the charm
and poetry which animate them.
The very pulse of the machine is laid bare ; at the same
time, the book is as loveable and lovely as a child’s poem by
Victor Hugo or Robert Louis Stevenson. The hero of the book
is Pierre Nosières, a dreamy little boy, fond of pictures and
colours ; and the story is written entirely from the point of view
of this child.
” Elle était toute petite, ma vie ; mais c’était une vie, c’est-a-
dire le centre des choses, le milieu du monde.”
The grown-up people who enter into Pierre’s life are a child’s
grown-up people ; that is, incomprehensible beings who might
play at soldiers all day, and yet do not do so. Strange creatures,
who will not get up from their easy-chair to look at the moon
when they are told she is to be seen.
Mr. Stevenson tells a story of how one day, when he was
groaning aloud in physical agony, a little boy came up and asked
him if he had seen his cross-bow, ignoring altogether his groans
and his contortions. It is exactly what little Pierre would have
done. The wall-paper of the drawing-room where Pierre lived
had a pattern of dainty rose-buds which were all exactly alike.
” Un jour, dans le petit salon, laissant sa broderie, ma mère me
souleva dans ses bras ; puis, me montrant une des fleurs du papier,
elle me dit : je te donne cette rose—et, pour la reconnaître elle
la marqua d’une croix avec son poinçon à broder. Jamais présent
ne me rendit plus heureux.”
Another time Pierre is fired with ambition ; he desires to
leave the world brighter for his name. Finding that military
glory is for the time being out of his reach, and inspired by
the ” Lives of the Saints,” which his mother is in the habit
of reading aloud, he decides to go down to posterity as a saint.
Reluctantly setting aside martyrdom and missionary work as
impracticable, he confines himself to austerities, and commences
by leaving his déjeuner untouched, which leads his mother to
believe that he is unwell. Then, in emulation of St. Simon
Stylites, he begins a life of self-denial on the top of the kitchen
pump ; but his nurse puts an abrupt end to this mode of existence.
St. Nicholas of Patras is the next holy man he tries to imitate.
St. Nicholas gave all he had to the poor ; Pierre throws his toys
out of the window. Pierre’s father, who is looking on, calls him a
stupid little boy. Pierre is amazed and ashamed, but he soon
consoles himself: ” Je considérai que mon père n’était pas un Saint
comme moi et ne partagerait pas avec moi la gloire des bien-
The next thing he thinks of is a hair-shirt, which he makes by
pulling out the horse-hair from an arm-chair. Here again he fails
more, signally than ever. His nurse, Julie, not apprehending the
inward significance of the action, is conscious merely of the
outward and visible arm-chair, which is quite spoilt. So she
whips Pierre. This opens his eyes to the insurmountable difficulty
of being a saint in the family circle, and he understands why St.
Antony withdrew to a desert place. He resolves to seclude himself
in the maze at the “Jardin des Plantes,” and he tells his mother
of his plan. She asks what put the idea into his head. He con-
fesses to a desire to be famous and to have ” Ermite et Saint du
Calendrier ” printed on his visiting-cards, just as his father had
” Lauréat de l’académie de médecine, etc.” on his.
Here his experiments in practical holiness cease. To the
young stoic :
“Lust of fame was but a dream
That vanished with the morn,”
although he has often hankered since that day, he confesses, for
a life of seclusion in the maze of the Jardin des Plantes.
Not unlike Shelley, who some one has said was perpetually in
the frame of mind of saying : ” Give me my cabbage and a glass
of water, and let me go into the next room.”
Little Pierre passes through many phases and becomes very
clever, very cultured, and very subtle ; but the child in him
endures and he keeps alive a flame of wistful wonder—wonder at
The Yellow Book—Vol. V. Q
the varicoloured world and the white stars—which is perhaps the
greatest charm of M. France’s books.
It is true that he frequently laments the absence of the old
simple faith which could discern
” The guardian sprites of wood and rill.”
We are no doubt a faithless and prosaic generation, yet if M.
France told us that he had heard old Triton blow his wreathed
horn, we should believe him : we should say, at any rate, borrowing
one of his own phrases, that the statement was true precisely
because it was imaginary.
Before altogether leaving M. France’s writings about children,
I must mention another supreme achievement in this province :
his fairy tale Abeille, which is to be found in a collection of short
stories called Balthazar. Mr. Lang hit the right nail on the
head when he said that people do not write good fairy stories now,
partly because they do not believe in their own stories, partly
because they try to be wittier than it has pleased heaven to
make them. M. France believes in Abeille ; one has only to read
the story to be convinced of the fact. As for being wittier than
God has pleased to make him, M. France is far too sensible to
attempt an almost impossible task.
There is no striving after modernity in Abeille; it is
paradoxical nor elaborate, but a real fairy tale, where there are
stately grandes dames, trusty squires, perfidious water-nymphs,
industrious dwarfs, and disobedient children. It is a genuine
fairy tale, told with the sorcery that baffles analysis, which only
the elect who believe in fairies can feel and appreciate, whether
they find it in The Odyssey or in Hans Andersen. Here is a little
bit of description which I will quote, just to give an idea of the
beauty of M. France’s sentences. It is the description of the
magic lake : ” Le sentier descendait en pente douce jusqu’au bord
du lac, qui apparut aux deux enfants dans sa languissante et silen-
cieuse beauté. Des saules arrondissaient sur les bords leur feuillage
tendre. Des roseaux balançaient sur les eaux leurs glaives souples
et leurs délicats panaches ; ils formaient des îles frissonnantes
autour desquelles les nénuphars étalaient leurs grandes feuilles
en coeur et leurs fleurs à la chair blanche. Sur ces iles fleuries
les demoiselles, au corsage d’éméraude ou de saphir et aux ailes de
flammes, traçaient d’un vol strident des courbes brusquement
M. France began his career as a member of the Parnassian
Cénacle, of which Paul Verlaine, François Coppée, and Catulle
Mendes were members. In a delightful essay on Paul Verlaine
(La vie Littéraire, vol. iii.) M. France recalls some memories of
that irresponsible period. ” Le bon temps,” he calls it, ” où nous
n’avions pas le sens commun.” It was at that time that M. France,
in the first fine rapture of a Hellenic revival, wrote ” Les Noces
Corinthiennes,” a fine and interesting poem, dealing with the
melancholy sunset of Paganism and the troubled moonrise of
Christianity. It is a period of which he is very fond ; and he has
made it the subject of one of his most important books—Thais.
No one has written about that age with more understanding,
for M. France has ” une âme riche et complètement humaine . . .
païenne et chrétienne à la fois.” In a beautiful short story, Loeta
Acilia (Balthazar), he tells how Mary Magdalen tries to convert
Loeta Acilia, a patrician Roman lady. Loeta Acilia promises to
serve the new deity if he send her a son, for although she has been
married for five years she is without children. Mary prays that
this may happen, and her prayer is granted. Six months afterwards,
one day when Loeta is lying languorous and happy on a couch in
the court of her home, Mary comes to her and tells her the story
of her own conversion. She tells Loeta how the seven devils
were cast out of her, and recounts all the ecstasy of her life of
love and faith as a disciple, and the wonderful story of her Saviour’s
death and resurrection. Loeta Acilia’s serenity is profoundly
disturbed by the tale ; reviewing her own existence, she finds it
monotonous indeed, compared with the life of this woman, who had
loved a God. Her days were occupied with needlework, the quiet
practice of her religion, and the companionship of her husband,
Helvius, the knight. Her daily round was varied only by the days
she went to the circus, or ate cakes with her friends. Bitter
jealousy and dark regrets rise in her heart, and bursting into tears
she calls on the Jewess to leave the house.
” Méchante femme,” she cries, ” tu voulais me donner le
dégoût de la bonne vie que j’ai menée . . . Je ne veux pas
connaître ton Dieu . . . il faut pour lui plaire se prosterner
échevelée à ses pieds . . . Je ne veux pas d’une religion qui
dérange les coiffures . . . Je n’ai pas été possédée de sept
démons, je n’ai pas erré par les chemins ; je suis une femme
respectable. Va-t’-en ! ”
Thais also is the story of a conversion in the early
times. Thais, the beautiful convert, is less pious and serene than
Loeta Acilia, but the conversion is more serious.
The contrast between the end of Paganism and the beginning
of Christianity, between the sceptical and brilliant world of
Alexandria and the savage life of the Anchorites, is drawn with
consummate art. It is a thoughtful story, exquisitely told,
containing some of M. France’s most brilliant pages and some of
his finest touches of irony.
Books of this kind, Thais, Balthazar, L’Etui de Nacre, a
collection of little masterpieces in a genre which M. France has
made his own, and Le Puits de Sainte Clarie (his latest published
book) is what M. France has done by the way, so to speak.
In these we do not trace the growth of his mind so much as in
his other books. But as far as perfection of form and delicacy of
touch go, they are perhaps the most finished things he has
done. Were he to republish the series under one name, we
” Marguerites pour les pourceaux.”
After the dreamy childhood of little Pierre comes the feverish
period of youth ; there is an agitated violence about M. France’s
work of that time which completely disappears later on.
Les Désirs de Jean Servian, a study of youthful,
passion, is rather crude and unsatisfactory ; M. France has not
yet found his medium. Jocaste is a violent piece of melodrama, set
in an atmosphere of hard pessimism. Le Chat Maigre is merely an
interlude, a caprice of fancy. Yet here M. France has a subject
after his own heart, and he is completely successful. It is the
story of a youth who comes from Haiti to pass his baccalauréat ;
he lives in a cénacle of madmen, and so vague and irresponsible is
he himself, that it never occurs to him that they are mad.
M. France’s love of madmen, of the fantoches of humanity, is
one of his most decided characteristics. He draws a distinction
between madness and insanity. Madness, he says, is only a kind
of intellectual originality. Insanity is the loss of the intellectual
faculties. M. France leavens all his books with mad characters,
introducing us like this to the most quaint and amusing types.
In these early books M. France was giving vent to the various
phases of his youth. The restless preludes played on the tremulous
reeds were soon to be merged into the broad music of the mellow
diapasons. This is satisfactory ; because although in the crisis
of youth Moses often becomes Aaron, and expression wells from
the hard rock, it less frequently happens that Hamlet becomes
Again it often happens that Prospero is not only deserted by
Ariel, but he is left, as Mr. Arthur Benson says,
” Pent in the circle of a rugged isle . . .
. . . . . . . .
Without his large philosophy, without
Miranda, and alone with Caliban.”
In M. France’s case the shifting restlessness of youth has only
helped to make middle-age more tolerant, as we note in Le Crime
de Sylvestre Bonnard.
Le Jardin d’Epicure, M. France’s penultimate book, is
garden fit for Prospero, a Prospero who has not perhaps forgotten
” Old agitations of myrtles and roses.”
A garden where there is a somewhat more voluptuous fragrance
” A rosemary odour comingled with pansies,
With rue and the beautiful Puritan pansies.”
Let us now examine M. France’s riper works more closely.
Le Crime de Sylvestre Bonnard is M. France’s
one of his masterpieces. It consists of two stories : La Bûche
and Le Crime proper. The story of each is simplicity
the one case M. Bonnard hankers after a rare MS., which is at
last presented to him by a Russian princess whom he had once
helped, when she was poor, by sending her a bûche. Another time,
M. Bonnard rescues an orphan girl from a school where she is
unhappy and contracts a happy marriage for her : that is his crime.
M. Bonnard is a member of the Institute, a bachelor and a
bibliophile, seventy years old, with a large nose that betrays his
feelings. He is afraid of his housekeeper, and rather fond of
dainty cooking and old wine. He overflows with bavardage and
entertains his cat with suggestive philosophy, beautifully expressed.
Kindness, tolerance, and irony are his chief characteristics ; his
sole prejudice being the pretension of having no prejudices.
” Cette prétention,” says M. France (or does M. Bonnard say
it about some one else ?), “était à elle seule un gros préjugé. Il
détestait le fanatisme, mais il avait celui de la tolérance.” It
applies to M. Bonnard in any case. M. Bonnard is a child at
heart, and his tenderness is exquisite. Delightful, too, is his
pedantry, which leads him to handle romantic subjects and ideas
with the most elegant precision and unfaltering exactitude. As
for his language, it is the purest and most distinguished French ;
it is needless to say more. We will confine ourselves to quoting
one sentence. ” Etoiles qui avez lui sur la tête legère ou pesante
de tous mes ancêtres oubliés, c’est à votre clarté que je sens s’éveiller
en moi un regret douloureux. Je voudrais un fils qui vous voie
encore quand je ne serai plus.”
The complement of Sylvestre Bonnard is the Abbé Jérome
Coignard, the hero of La Rôtisserie de la reine Pédauque. M.
Coignard, who lived and died in the last century, was a priest
“abondant en riants propos et en belles manières.” Erudite and
scholar though he was, he sought for happiness in other places
besides in angello. He culled other flowers besides
the ” bloomless
buds ” which grow in the garden of the goddess who is ” crowned
with calm leaves,” which would certainly have been Sylvestre
Bonnard’s favourite garden. The difference is that L’Abbé Coig-
nard is an eighteenth-century priest, and ” behaves as such.”
The Abbé considers that the maxims of philosophers who seek to
establish a natural morality are but ” lubies et billevesées.”
” La raison des bonnes moeurs ne se trouve point dans la
nature qui est, par elle-même, indifferente, ignorant le mal comme
le bien. Elle est dans la parole divine qu’il ne faut pas trans-
gresser, à moins de s’en repentir ensuite convenablement.”
The laws of men, he says, are founded on utility, a fallacious
utility, since no one knows what in reality befits men and is
useful to them. For this reason he breaks them, and is ready to
do it again and again.
” Les plus grands saints sont des pénitents, et comme le
repentir se proportionne à la faute, c’est dans les plus grands
pécheurs que se trouve l’étoffe des plus grands saints.” The Abbé
Coignard’s pupil, the simple-minded Jaques Tournebroche, ex-
presses his fear lest this doctrine, in practice, should lead men
into wild licence :
” Ce que vous appelez désordres,” rejoins the Abbé, ” n’est
en effet que dans l’opinions des juges tant civils qu’écclésiastiques,
et par rapport aux lois humaines, qui sont arbitraires et transi-
toires, et qu’en un mot se conduire selon ces lois est le fait d’une
” Un homme d’esprit ne se pique pas d’agir selon les règles en
usage au chàtelet et chez l’official. Il s’inquiète de faire son salut et
il ne se croit pas déshonoré pour aller au ciel par les voies détournées
que suivirent les plus grands saints.”
It is, therefore, by the primrose path that M. l’Abbé seeks
his salvation, relying on the cleansing dews of repentance. He
is the most subtle and entertaining arguer conceivable, but his
voyage to salvation by a ” voie detournée ” is nevertheless
brought to an abrupt end. In abetting the elopement of a lovely
Jewess with a young marquis, he is pursued by the Jewess’s
angry father, who takes him to be his daughter’s seducer, and
murders him on the Lyons road. He died at the age of fifty-
eight, after receiving the last sacraments, in an odour of repentance
and sanctity, and earnestly urging his young pupil to disregard
his old advice and forget his philosophy :
” N’écoute point ceux, qui comme moi, subtilesent sur le
bien et le mal . . . Le royaume de Dieu ne consiste pas dans
les paroles mais dans la vertu.”
These were his last words, and in dying he made it possible for
his pupil to obey him. Fortunately we are still able to be led
astray by the subtlety of his discourses. They almost make us
doubt whether the Kingdom of Heaven does not sometimes
consist in words. We may add that ” Les opinions de Jérome
Coignard ” is perhaps a more edifying book than “La Rôtisserie
de la Reine Pédauque,” where his discourses are blent with a record
of his deeds.
We have now considered almost all M. France’s works, with
the exception of Le Lys Rouge, which stands apart as his sole effort
in the province of the modern analytic novel. The book is not
very characteristic of M. France, although it contains some
brilliant writing, notably a dialogue, near the beginning, on
Napoleon, and a fine study of an artist’s jealousy ; the Florentine
atmosphere also is successfully rendered ; but we would willingly
give up the romantic part of the book for one of the Abbé
Coignard’s discourses or Sylvestre Bonnard’s reveries.
” L’artiste doit aimer la vie et nous montrer qu’elle est belle.
Sans lui nous en douterions.”
M. France has accomplished the task beautifully. Nevertheless,
the shadows of irony which temper the colour of his dream let us
more than suspect that “even while singing the song of the
Sirens, he still hearkens to the barking of the Sphinx.” Like Mr.
Stevenson, he has struck sombre and eloquent chords on the
theme of pulvis et umbra. He loves to remind us that a time
will come when our descendants, diminishing fast on an icy and
barren earth, will be as brutal and brainless as our cave-dwelling
Mr. Andrew Lang thinks that the last man will read the poems
of Shelley in his cavern by the light of a little oil, in order to see
once more the glory of sunset and sunrise, and the ” hues of
earthquake and eclipse.” This is hopeful ; but we are afraid M.
France’s theory is the more probable. The last man will be too
stupid and too cold to read Shelley in a cave.
At the same time, although M. France is fond of telling us
that man can save nothing—
“On the sands of life, in the straits of time,
Who swims in front of a great third wave,
That never a swimmer may cross or climb “—
he is yet of opinion that the pastimes of the beach are pleasant,
and can be peacefully enjoyed, in spite of the billows that may be
looming in the distance. He defends the follies of the book-
collector with warmth and elegance on that score :
” Il faudrait plutôt les envier puisqu’ils ont orné leur vie
d’une longue et paisible volupté . . . Que peut-on faire de plus
honnête que de mettre des livres dans une armoire ? Cela rappelle
beaucoup à la vérité la tâche que se donne les enfants, quand ils
font des tas de sable au bord de la mer. … La mer emporte
les tas de sable, le commissaire-priseur disperse les collections. Et
pourtant on n’a rien de mieux à faire que des tas de sable à dix ans
et des collection à soixante.”
M. France is neither a pessimist nor an optimist, but both ;
since he feels that the world is neither good nor bad, but good and
” Le mal,” he says ” est l’unique raison du bien. Que
courage loin du péril et la pitié sans la douleur ? ”
Had he made the world, he tells us, he would have made man
in the image of an insect :
” J’aurais voulu que l’homme . . . accomplit d’abord, à l’état
de larve, les travaux dégoutants par lesquels il se nourrit. En
cette phase, il n’y aurait point eu de sens, et la faim n’aurait
point avili l’amour. Puis j’aurais fait de sorte que, dans une
transformation dernière, l’homme et la femme, deployant des ailes
étincelantes, vécussent de rosée et de désir et mourussent dans un
baiser.” As, however, we are made on a somewhat different
plan, M. France puts his faith in two goddesses—Irony and
” L’une en souriant nous rend la vie aimable, l’autre qui pleure,
nous la rend sacrée. L’ironie que j’invoque n’est point cruelle.
Elle ne raille ni l’amour ni la beauté . . . son rire calme la colère
et c’est elle qui nous enseigne à nous moquer des méchants et des
sots, que nous pourrions, sans elle, avoir la faiblesse de haïr.”
The burden and keynote of M. France’s works may be found in
the most blessed words of the blessed saint : ” Everywhere I have
sought for happiness and found it nowhere, save in a corner with
To sum up, we have in M. Anatole France a fastidious and
distinguished artist in prose ; an inventor of fantastic and
delightful characters ; a thinker whose ingenious and suggestive
philosophy is based on the solid foundations of thorough scholar-
ship. His stories are as delicate as thin shells, and their subtle
echo evokes the music of the wide seas. On the other hand, his
critical essays are so graceful that they read like fairy tales. The
lightness and grace of his work have made serious people shake
their heads. They forget that a graceful use of the snaffle is
more masterly than an ostentatious control of the curb.
” A good style,” M. France says, ” is like a ray of
which owes its luminous purity to the combination of the seven
colours of which it is composed.”
M. France’s style has precisely this luminous and complicated
simplicity. But a reader unacquainted as yet with M. France’s
work must not expect too much. M. France’s talent is subdued
and limited. He is not an inventor of wonderful romance ; he
has never peered into the depths of the human soul ; neither has
his work the concise and masculine strength of a writer like Guy
de Maupassant. He contemplates life from the Garden of
Epicurus, smiling in plaintive tranquillity at the grotesque and
tragic masks of the human comedy.
” L’ambition, l’amour, égaux en leur délire,
Et l’inutile encens brulé sur les autels.”
What the reader must expect to find in his books is an exquisite
puppet-show, where fanciful comedies and fairy interludes are
interpreted by adorable marionnettes. M. France is not a player
of the thunderous organ or the divine violin ; his instrument is
rather a pensive pianoforte, on which with an incomparable touch
he plays delicate preludes and wistful nocturnes.
By Norman Gale
“Now she was deserted by her husband, and there was a
man would die for her.”
THO’ the mist is on the mountain, yet the sun is on the sea.
Don’t you hear me calling, comrade, calling you to follow
For my love is for your bosom, and my hand is for your hand,
Don’t you hear me calling, comrade ? Will you never under-
Here I want you, in the country, where the cowslip nods asleep,
Where the palm is by the water, where the peace is doubly deep ;
Where the finches chirp at matins in a green and lovely land—
Don’t you hear, my thorn and blossom ? Don’t you feel to under-
If my voice is not melodious, lo, the thrush shall aid my voice ;
Ev’ry linnet in the orchard has a trill to praise my choice :
Shall I bide a barren singer in this valley full of mist,
Unennobled, unattended, wanting you, and all unkissed ?
Oceans part us, leagues divide us ; but our spirits know a link ;
Why should you not come, my dearest, thinking warmly as you
Must I call you by a singing who should call you by my soul,
Call you by a part, beloved, who should call you by the whole ?
By this pear-tree robed for bridal, by the sun and by the dew,
By the nightingale that tells me midnight melodies of you,
By the virgin streamlet flowing ever faithful to its spouse,
Here I set my heart before you, promise of a happy house !
Is your blood the blood of battle ? Have you courage for the
Can the lane content you always with its barren and its bright ?
Do you feel the glow of mating in the heart where I would be,
When you hear me calling, calling, calling you to come to me ?
Well I know my spirit travels over meadowland and steep,
Soon its whisper in your tresses will arouse my dove from sleep ;
‘Tis a message calls to daring, ’tis a voice that bids you wake—
Let it fall as balm upon you, balm to help the strong heart-break.
Come at once o’er mead and mountain, sending first that ghostly
Felt by souls that kiss together tho’ no earthly lips are near ;
Bring my country Heaven, dearest, finer fruit and sweeter dew,
Bring across the leagues that part us all the honey, love, of you.
Take me, trust me. Stars may fail us, friends may leave us.
What is this ?
God shall watch us plight together with, as only priest, a kiss.
Are you coming to the valley ? Answer thro’ the darkness,
I am standing in the valley ; slumber takes your golden head,
But my spirit flies to stir you in the whiteness of your bed—
In that garden where are clustered in the keeping of the south
All the lilies of your bosom, and the rosebud of your mouth.
Don’t you hear me calling, comrade, don’t you hear me calling
For the fragrance of your coming and the freedom of your feet ?
O, my love is for your loving, and my help is for your hand—
Don’t you hear me calling, comrade? Will you never under-
L’Evêché de Tourcoing
Par Anatole France
M. LE PRÉFET WORMS-CLAVELIN causait avec M. l’abbé Guitrel
dans le magasin de Rondonnean jeune, orfevre et bijoutier.
M. Worms-Clavelin était ce jour-là de très bonne humeur. II se
renversa dans un fauteuil et croisa les jambes de sorte qu’une
semelle des bottines se dressait vers le menton du doux vieillard.
— Monsieur l’abbé, vous avez beau dire ; vous êtes un prêtre
éclairé ; vous voyez dans la religion un ensemble de prescriptions
morales, une discipline nécessaire, et non point des dogmes
surannés, des mystères dont l’absurdité n’est que trop peu
M. Guitrel avait, comme prêtre, d’excellentes règles de conduite.
L’une de ces règles était d’éviter le scandale, et de se taire plutôt que
d’exposer la vérité aux risées des incrédules. Et, comme cette
précaution s’accordait avec la prudence de son caractère, il l’observait
exactement. Mais M. le préfet Worms-Clavelin manquait de
discrétion. Son nez vaste et charnu, ses lèvres épaisses, apparaissaient
comme de puissants appareils pour pomper et pour absorber, tandis
que son front fuyant, sous de gros yeux pâles, trahissaient la
résistance à toute délicatesse morale. Il insista, poussa contre les
dogmes chrétiens des arguments de loges maçonniques et de cafés
littéraires, conclut qu’il était impossible à un homme intelligent de
The Yellow Book—Vol. V. R
croire un mot du catéchisme ; puis, abattant sur l’épaule du prêtre
sa grosse main à bagues, il dit :
—Vous ne répondez rien, mon cher abbé, vous êtes de mon
M. Guitrel, martyre en quelque manière, dut confesser sa foi.
—Pardonnez moi, monsieur le préfet, ce petit livre, qu’on
affecte de mépriser en certains milieux, le catéchisme, contient plus
de vérités que les gros traités de philosophie qui mènent si grand
bruit par le monde. Le catéchisme joint la métaphysique la plus
savante à la plus efficace simplicité. Cette appréciation n’est pas
de moi, elle est d’un philosophic éminent, M. Jules Simon, qui
met le catéchisme audessus du Timée de Platon.
Le préfet n’osa rien opposer au jugement d’un ancien ministre
Il lui souvint en même temps que son supérieur hierarchique, le
ministre actuel de l’intérieur, était protestant. Il dit :
—Comme fonctionnaire, je respecte également tous les cultes,
le protestantisme et le catholicisme. En tant qu’homme je suis libre
penseur, et si j’avais une préférence dogmatique, permettez moi de
vous dire, monsieur l’abbé, qu’elle serait en faveur de la réforme.
Guitrel doux et têtu, repondit d’une voix onctueuse :
—Il y a sans doute parmi les protestants des personnes éminem-
ment estimables au point de vue des moeurs, et j’ose dire des
personnes exemplaires, mais l’église prétendue réformée n’est qu’un
membre tranché de l’église catholique, et l’endroit de la rupture
Indifférent à cette forte parole, empruntée à Bossuet, M. le préfet
tira de son étui un gros cigare, l’alluma, puis tendant l’étui au
—Voulez vous accepter un cigare, monsieur l’abbé ?
N’ayant aucune idée de la discipline ecclésiastique, et croyant
que le tabac à fumer était interdit aux membres du clergé, c’était
pour l’embarrasser ou le séduire, qu’il offrait un cigare à M. Guitrel.
Dans son ignorance il croyait, par ce présent, induire le porteur
de soutane en péché, le faire tomber dans la désobeissance, peut être
dans le sacrilège et presque dans l’apostasie. Mais M. Guitrel prit
tranquillement le cigare, le coula avec précaution dans la poche de
sa douillette, et dit avec bonne grâce, qu’il le fumerait après souper,
dans sa chambre.
Ainsi M. le préfet Worms-Clavelin et M. l’abbé Guitrel, pro-
fesseur d’èloquence sacrée au grand séminaire, conversaient dans le
cabinet de l’orfèvre. Prè; d’eux Rondonneau jeune, fournisseur de
l’archevêché, qui travaillait aussi pour la préfecture, assistait discrète-
ment à l’entretien, sans y prendre part. Il faisait son courrier, et
l’on ne voyait que son crâne nu sur la table chargée de régistres
et d’échantillons d’orfèvrerie commerciale.
Brusquement M. le préfet se mit debout, poussa M. l’abbé
Guitrel à l’autre bout de la pièce, dans l’embrasure de la fenêtre, et
lui dit à l’oreille :
—Mon cher Guitrel, vous savez que l’évêché de Tourcoing
– J’ai appris en effet, répondit le prêtre, la mort de mon-
seigneur Duclou. C’est une grande perte pour l’église. Monseigneur
Duclou avait autant de mérite que de modestie. Et il excellait
dans l’homélie. Ses instructions pastorales sont des modèles
d’éloquence parénétique. Oserai-je rappeler que je l’ai connu à
Orléans, du temps qu’il était encore M. l’abbé Duclou, le
vénérable Curé de Saint-Euverte, et qu’à cette époque il daignait
m’honorer de sa bienveillante amitié ? La nouvelle de sa fin
prématurée a été particulièrement douloureuse pour moi.
Il se tut, laissant pendre ses lèvres en signe d’affliction.
—Ce n’est pas de cela qu’il s’agit, dit le préfet. Il est mort ;
il s’agit de le remplacer.
M. Guitrel avait changé de figure. Maintenant il faisait des
petits yeux tous ronds, comme un rat qui voit le lard dans le
—Vouz concevez, mon cher Guitrel, reprit le préfet, que toute
cette affaire ne me regarde en aucune façon. Ce n’est pas moi
qui nomme les évêques. Je ne suis pas le garde des Sceaux, ni le
pape, Dieu merci !
Il se mit à rire.
—A propos, en quels termes êtes vous avec le nonce ?
—Le nonce, monsieur le préfet, me regarde avec bienveillance,
comme un enfant soumis et respectueux du Saint Père.
—Mon cher abbé, si je vous parle de cette affaire—tout à fait
entre nous, n’est ce pas ? — c’est qu’il est question d’envoyer à
Tourcoing un prêtre de mon chef-lieu. Je sais de bonne source
qu’on met en avant le nom de M. l’abbé Lantaigne, directeur du
grand séminaire, et il n’est pas impossible que je sois appelé à
fournir des notes confidentielles sur le candidat. Il est votre
supérieur hiérarchique. Que pensez vous de lui ?
M. Guitrel, les yeux baissés, répondit :
—Il est certain que M. l’abbé Lantaigne porterait sur le siége
épiscopal sanctifié jadis par Saint Loup des vertus éminentes et les
dons précieux de la parole. Ses carêmes préchés à Saint-Exupère
ont été justement appréciés pour l’ordonnance des idées et la
force de l’expression, et l’on s’accorde à reconnaitre qu’il ne
manquerait rien à la perfection de quelques uns de ses sermons, s’il
s’y tiouvait cette onction, cette huile parfumée et bénie, oserai-je
dire, qui seule pénêtre les coeurs. M. le Curé de Saint-Exupère
s’est plu le premier à déclarer que M. Lantaigne, en portant la
parole dans la chaire de Saint-Exupère avait bien mérité de ce
grand apôtre des Gaules par un zèle dont les excès même
trouvent leur excuse dans leur source charitable. Il a déploré
seulement les incursions de l’orateur dans le domaine de l’histoire
contemporaine. Car il faut avouer que M. Lantaigne ne craint
pas de marcher sur des cendres encore brûlantes. M. Lantaigne
est éminent par la piété, la science et le talent. Quel dommage
que ce prêtre, digne d’être élevé aux plus hauts degrés de la
hiérarchie, croie devoir afficher un attachement louable sans doute
dans son principe, mais immodéré dans ses effets, à une famille
exilée dont il reçut les bienfaits ? Il se plaît à montrer un
exemplaire de l’Imitation de Jésus-Christ, qui lui fut donné,
couvert de pourpre et d’or, par madame la Comtesse de Paris, et il
étale trop volontiers les pompes de sa fidèlité et de sa reconnaissance.
Et quel malheur que la superbe, excusable peut être dans un si
beau génie, l’emporte jusqu’a parler sous les quinconces, publique-
ment, de Monseigneur le Cardinal-archevêque en des termes que
je n’ose rapporter ! Hélas ! à défaut de ma voix, tous les arbres
du mail vous rediront ces paroles tombées de la bouche de M.
Lantaigne, en présence de M. Borgeret, professeur à la faculté des
lettres : “En esprit seulement Sa Grandeur observe la pauvreté
évangélique.” Il est coutumier de tels propos, et ne l’entendit-on
pas dire à la dernière ordination, quand Sa Grandeur s’avança
revêtu de ses ornements pontificaux, qu’il porte avec tant de
noblesse malgré sa petite taille : “Crosse d’or, évêque de bois.”
II censurait ainsi, mal à propos, la magnificence avec laquelle
Monseigneur Charlot se plaît à régler l’ordonnance de ses repas
officiels, et notamment du dîner qu’il donna au général commandant
le cinquième corps d’armée, et auquel vous fûtes prié, monsieur le
préfet. Et c’est particulièrement votre présence à l’archevêché qui
offusquait M. l’abbé Lantaigne, trop enclin malheureusement à
prolonger, au mépris des préceptes de Saint Paul et des enseigne-
ments de Sa Sainteté Leon XIII, les pénibles malentendus dont
souffrent également l’Eglise et l’Etat.
Le préfet tendait les oreilles et ouvrait la bouche toute grande,
ayant coutume d’écouter par la bouche.
—Mais, dit-il, ce Lantaigne est imbu du plus détestable esprit
clerical. Il m’en veut ? Que me reproche-til ? Ne suis-je pas assez
tolérant, libéral? N’ai-je pas fermé les yeux quand de toutes parts
les moines, les soeurs, rentraient dans les couvents, dans les écoles ?
Car si nous maintenons énergiquement les lois essentielles de la
république, nous ne les appliquons guères. Mais les prêtres sont
incorrigibles. Vous êtes tous les mêmes. Vous criez qu’on vous
opprime tant que vous n’opprimez pas. Et que dit-il de moi, votre
—On ne peut rien articuler de formel centre l’administration de
M. le préfet Worms-Clavelin, mais une âme intransigeante comme
M. Lantaigne, ne vous pardonne ni votre affiliation à la franc-
maçonnerie, ni vos origines israélites.
Le préfet secoua la cendre de son cigare.
—Les juifs, dit-il, ne sont pas mes amis. Je n’ai pas d’attaches
dans le monde juif. Mais soyez tranquille, mon cher abbé, je vous
fiche mon billet que M. Lantaigne ne sera pas évêque de Tourcoing.
J’ai assez d’influence dans les bureaux pour lui faire échec. Ecoutez
bien, Guitrel ; je n’avais pas d’argent, quand j’ai débuté dans la vie.
Je me suis fait des relations. Les relations valent la fortune. Et
moi, j’ai de belles relations. Je veillerai à ce que l’abbé Lantaigne
se casse le cou dans les bureaux. D’ailleurs ma femme a un can-
didat à l’évêché de Tourcoing. Et ce candidat c’est vous, Guitrel.
A ce mot, l’abbé Guitrel leva les bras et baissa les yeux.
—Moi, dit-il, m’asseoir dans le siége sanctifié par le bienheureux
Loup et par tant de pieux apôtres des Gaules septentrionales.
Madame Worms-Clavelin a-t-elle eu cette pensée ?
—Mon cher Guitrel, elle veut que vous portiez la mitre. Et
je vous assure qu’elle est de force à faire un évêque. Je vous
surprendrais bien si je vous nommais le ministre qui lui doit son
portefeuille. Et moi même je ne serai pas faché de donner à la
république un évêque républicain.
M. Guitrel, soupirant, versa des paroles indistinctes qui
coulaient de ses lèvres comme le murmure d’une source cachée.
—Il est vrai que je porterais dans les fonctions épiscopates cet
esprit de soumission aux pouvoirs établis qui est, à mon sens,
eminemment chrètien. Toute puissance vient de Dieu, celle de
la république comme les autres. C’est une maxime dont je
suis intimement pénétré.
Le préfet approuva de la tête.
—C’est entendu, mon cher Guitrel ; voyez l’archevêque et le
nonce ; ma femme et moi, nous ferons agir les bureaux.
Et M. Guitrel murmurait les mains jointes :
—Le siége antique et vénérable de Tourcoing !
—Un évêché de troisième classe, un trou, mon cher abbé.
Mais il faut commencer. Tenez ! moi, savez vous où j’ai fait mes
débuts dans l’administration ? A Céret ! J’ai été sous préfet de
Céret, dans les Pyrénees-Orientales ! Adieu, monseigneur.
Le préfet tendit la main au prêtre. Et M. Guitrel s’en alla
par la tortueuse rue des Tintelleries, humble, le dos rond, mèditant
des démarches savantes et se promettant, au jour où il porterait la
mitre et tiendrait la crosse, de résister, en prince de l’église, au
gouvernement civil, de combattre les franc-maçons, et de jeter
l’anathême aux principes de la libre pensée, de la république, et de
Fleet Street Eclogue*
St. George’s Day
BASIL. MENZIES. PERCY. BRIAN. HERBERT. SANDY.
WHAT thought may burst the bond
Of rasping spleen ?
What hope its victim soothe ?
What dream assuage his pains ?
An old stile stands between
Two beeches silvery smooth,
All carved and kissed by lovers fond.
The foolish country swains !
* Copyright in America by John Lane.
Oh ! but the old stile stands,
For ever dear to me—
Foot-worn, its bars by many hands
Polished like ebony !
But me my city spleen
Holds in a fretting bond.
And the quickset hedges mantle green,
And the fields roll green beyond ;
While the antique footpath winds about
By farms and little towns,
By waterways, and in and out,
And up and over the downs.
I hear the idle workmen’s sighs ;
I hear their children’s hungry cries ;
I hear the burden of the years ;
I hear the drip of women’s tears ;
I hear despair, whose tongue is dumb,
Speak thunder in the ruthless bomb.
But why keep brooding over ill ?
Why hearken such discordant tones ?
We dream, we sing ; we drive the quill
To keep the flesh upon our bones :
Therefore what trade have we with wrongs,
With ways and woes that spoil our songs ?
None, none ! Alas, there lies the sting !
We see, we feel, but cannot aid ;
We hide our foolish heads and sing ;
We live, we die ; and all is said.
To wonder-worlds of old romance
Our aching thoughts for solace run.
And some have stolen fire from France.
And some adore the Midnight Sun.
I, too, for light the world explore,
And, trembling, tread where angels trod ;
Devout at every shrine adore,
And follow after each new god.
But by the altar everywhere
I find the money-changer’s stall ;
And littering every temple-stair
The sick and sore like maggots crawl.
Hush, hush !
I cannot hush ! The poor,
The maimed, the halt, the starving come,
Crying for help at every door ;
But loud the ecclesiastic drum
Outbids them ; and behind it wait
The bones and cleavers of the State.
This smacks of Disestablishment !
We’ll find him next attacking Rent !
Your talk is vain ; your voice is hoarse.
I would they were as hoarse and vain
As their wide-weltering spring and source
Of helpless woe, of wrath insane.
Why will you hug the coast of Hell ?
Why antedate the Judgment Day ?
Nay, flout me not ; you know me well.
Right, comrade ! Give your fancy way.
I cannot see the stars and flowers,
Nor hear the lark’s soprano ring,
Because a ruddy darkness lowers
For ever, and the tempests sing.
I see the strong coerce the weak,
And labour overwrought rebel ;
I hear the useless treadmill creak,
The prisoner, cursing in his cell ;
I see the loafer-burnished wall ;
I hear the rotting match-girl whine ;
I see the unslept switchman fall ;
I hear the explosion in the mine ;
I see along the heedless street
The sandwichmen trudge through the mire ;
I hear the tired quick-tripping feet
Of sad, gay girls who ply for hire ;
I hear the gibbering of the mad ;
Sinister workhouse folk I note ;
I mark the sable ironclad
In every sound and channel float.
The growl of armies, bound in chains
Of parchment peace that chafes and frets
Their seven-leagued limbs and bristled manes
Of glittering bayonets,
The glowing blast, the fire-shot smoke,
Where guns are forged and armour-plate,
The mammoth hammer’s pounding stroke—
The din of our dread iron date ;
And always divers undertones
Within the roaring tempest throb—
The chink of gold, the labourer’s groans,
The infant’s wail, the woman’s sob :
Hoarsely they beg of Fate to give
A little lightening of their woe,
A little time to love, to live,
A little time to think and know.
I see where in the East may rise
Some unexpected dreadful dawn—
The gleam of steeled and scowling eyes,
A flash of women’s faces wan !
This is St. George’s Day.
St. George ? A wretched thief, I vow.
Nay, Menzies, you should rather say,
St. George for Merry England, now !
That surely is a phantom cry,
Hollow and vain for many years.
I hear the idle workmen sigh ;
I hear the drip of women’s tears.
I hear the laughing, singing voice
Of Shakespeare warming England through ;
His birthday, this.
For this is Wordsworth’s birthday, too.
I hear the agitator shout ;
I hear the broker cheapen love ;
I hear poor ladies crying out
For license men are weary of.
I hear the lofty lark,
The lowly nightingale.
The Present is a dungeon dark
Of social problems. Break the gaol !
Get out into the splendid Past,
Or bid the splendid Future hail.
Nor then, nor now, nor first, nor last,
I know. The slave of ruthless Law,
To me Time seems a dungeon vast
Where Life lies rotting in the straw.
I care not for your images
Of Life and Law. I want to sing
Of England and of Englishmen
Who made our country what it is.
And I to praise the English Spring.
PERCY.St. George for Merry England, then!
There is no England now, I fear.
No England, say you ; and since when ?
Cockney and Celt and Scot are here,
And Democrats and “ans” and “ists”
In clubs and cliques and divers lists ;
But now we have no Englishmen.
You utter what you never felt,
I know. By bog and mount and fen,
No Saxon, Norman, Scot, or Celt
I find, but only Englishmen.
In all our hedges roses bud.
And thought and speech are more than blood.
Away with spleen, and let us sing
The English Spring, the English Spring !
The Yellow Book—Vol. V. S
In weeds of gold and purple hues
Glad April bursts with piping news
Of swifts and swallows come again,
And of the tender pensive strain
The bullfinch sings from bush to bush.
And oh ! the blackbird and the thrush
Interpret as no maestro may
The meaning of the night and day.
They catch the whispers of the breeze
And weave them into melodies.
They utter for the hours that pass
The purpose of their moments bright.
They speak the passion of the grass,
That grows so stoutly day and night.
St. George for Merry England then !
For we are all good Englishmen !
We stand as our forefathers stood
For Liberty’s and Conscience’ sake.
We are the sons of Robin Hood,
The sons of Hereward the Wake.
The sons of yeomen, English-fed,
Ready to feast or drink or fight.
The sons of kings—of Hal and Ned,
Who kept their island right and tight.
The sons of Cromwell’s Ironsides,
Who knew no king but God above.
We are the sons of English brides,
Who married Englishmen for love.
Oh, now I see Fate’s means and ends !
The Bruce and Wallace wight I ken,
Who saved old Scotland from its friends,
Were mighty northern Englishmen.
And Parnell, who so greatly fought
To make a mob people, then
With Fate inevitably wrought
That Irish should be Englishmen.
By bogland, highland, down, and fen,
All Englishmen, all Englishmen !
There is no England now, I say—
No England now ? My grief, my grief !
We lie widespread, the dragon-prey
Of any Cappadocian thief.
In Arctic and Pacific seas
We lounge and loaf; and either pole
We reach with sprawling colonies—
Unwieldy limbs that lack a soul.
St. George for Greater England, then !
The Boreal and the Austral men !
They reverence the heroic roll
Of Englishmen who sang and fought :
They have a soul, a mighty soul,
The soul of English speech and thought.
And when the soul of England slept—
St. George for foolish England, then !—
Lo ! Washington and Lincoln kept
America for Englishmen !
Hurrah ! The English people reigns
Across the wide Atlantic flood !
It could not bind itself in chains,
For Yankee blood is English blood !
And here the spring is queen
In robes of white and green.
In chestnut sconces opening wide
Tapers shall burn some fresh May morn.
And the elder brightens the highway side,
And the bryony binds the thorn.
White is the snow of the leafless sloe,
The saxifrage by the sedge,
And white the lady-smocks a-row
And sauce-alone in the hedge.
England is in her Spring ;
She only begins to be.
Oh ! for an organ voice to sing
The summer I can see !
But the Past is there ; and a mole may know,
And a bat may understand,
That we are the people wherever we go—
Kings by sea and land !
And the spring is crowned and stoled
In purple and in gold.
Wherever light, wherever shade is,
Gold and purple may be seen.
Gold and purple lords-and-ladies
Tread a measure on the green.
Among the long brown furrow lines
The charlock’s mustard flowers come up.
On happy banks the primrose shines ;
In lustrous meads, the buttercup.
In deserts where the wild wind blows
Blossoms the magic hæmony,
Deep in the Chiltern woodland glows
The purple pasque anemone.
And England still grows great,
And never shall grow old ;
Within our hands we hold
The world’s fate.
We hold the world’s fate ?
The cry seems out of date.
Not while a single Englishman
Can work with English brains and bones !
Awaiting us since time began,
The swamps of ice, the wastes of flame
In Boreal and Austral zones
Took life and meaning when we came.
The Sphinx that watches by the Nile
Has seen great empires pass away :
The mightiest lasted but a while ;
Yet ours shall not decay.
Because, although red blood may flow,
And ocean shake with shot,
Not England’s sword but England’s Word
Undoes the Gordian Knot.
Bold tongue, stout heart, strong hand, brave brow
The world’s four quarters win ;
And patiently with axe and plough
We bring the deserts in.
Whence comes this patriotic craze ?
Spare us at least the hackneyed brag
About the famous English flag.
I’ll spare no flourish of its praise.
Where’er our flag floats in the wind
Order and justice dawn and shine.
The dusky myriads of Ind,
The swarthy tribes far south the line,
And all who fight with lawless law,
And all with lawless men who cope,
Look hitherward across the brine,
For we are the world’s forlorn hope.
That makes my heart leap up ! Hurrah !
We are the world’s forlorn hope !
And with the merry birds we sing
The English Spring, the English Spring.
Iris and orchis now unfold.
The drooping-leaved laburnums ope
In thunder-showers of greenish gold.
And we are the world’s forlorn hope !
The lilacs shake their dancing plumes
Of lavender, mauve, and heliotrope.
The speedwell on the highway blooms.
And we are the world’s forlorn hope !
Skeletons lurk in every street.
We push and strike for air and scope.
The pulses of rebellion beat
Where want and hunger sulk and mope.
But though we wander far astray,
And oft in utter darkness grope,
Fearless we face the roughest day,
For we are the world’s forlorn hope.
St. George for Merry England then !
For we are all good Englishmen !
St. George for Greater England then !
The Boreal and the Austral men !
By bogland, highland, down, and fen,
All Englishmen, all Englishmen !
Who with their latest breath shall sing
Of England and the English Spring !
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The Yellow Book, vol. 5, April 1895. 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/YBV5_all