The Yellow Book
An Illustrated Quarterly
Volume VIII January 1896
I. The Foolish Virgin . . By George Gissing. Page 11
II. Rest …. Arthur Christopher Benson 43
III. Two Stories …Frances E. Huntley . . 47
IV. P’tit-Bleu … Henry Harland .. 65
V. Aubade …. Rosamund Marriott Watson 97
VI. Dies Irae … Kenneth Grahame ..101
VII. The Enchanted Stone . Lewis Hind … 115
VIII. Two Songs … Nora Hopper … 137
IX. A Captain of Salvation . John Buchan… 143
X. Georg Brandes .. Julie Norregard .. 163
XI. Postscript … Ernest Wentworth…177
XII. In Dull Brown ..Evelyn Sharp … 180
XIII. Three Prose Fancies . Richard Le Gallienne . 205
XIV. Rain (from the French)
of Emile Verhaeren) Alma Strettell… 223
XV. A Slip under the Micro- scope H.G. Wells… 229
XVI. The Deacon … Mary Howarth .. 255
XVII. Two Sonnets . Hon. Maurice Baring . 297
XVIII. A Resurrection ..H.B. Marriott Watson . 303
XIX. The Quest of Sorrow . Mrs. Ernest Leverson .. 325
XX. A Mood … Olive Custance .. 341
XXI. Poet and Historian .. Walter Raleigh .. 349
XXII. Wait …. Frances Nicholson .. 371
XXIII. An Engagement .. Ella D’Arcy.. 379
The Yellow Book — Vol. VIII. — January, 1896
I. A Girl’s Head. . By D.Y.
Cameron Page 9
II. A Southerly Air ..A. Frew .. 39
III. Study of a Calf .. D.Gauld .. 44
IV. A Pastoral… Whitelaw Hamilton. 61
V. Stacking Hay … William Kennedy . 94
VI. A Girl’s Head. . Harrington Mann . 98
VII. The Harbour Light.. D. Martin .. 112
VIII. Evening by the River . T.C. Morton .. 133
IX. Under the Moon .. F.H. Newbery . 139
X. A Windmill … James Paterson .. 159
XI. Hen and Chickens .. George Pirie .. 173
XII. The Old Mill .. R.M. Stevenson . 178
XIII. The Forge … Grosvenor Thomas . 201
XIV. Geisha …. E. Hornel .. 220
XV. Portrait of a Lady .. George Henry .. 226
XVI. Horses …. J. Crawhall .. 252
XVII. The Ballad Monger . Kellock Brown . 293
XVIII. The Pied Piper .. J.E. Christie .. 299
XIX. Wild Roses … Stuart Park .. 321
XX. Portrait of Kenneth Grahame
XXI. Portrait of a Child E.A. Walton .. 336
XXII. A Sketch … James Guthrie .. 43
XXIII. A Barb
XXIV. Portrait of Miss Burrell John Lavery .. 366
XXV. Idling . . .
XXVI. The Window Seat Alexander Roche . 373
Back Cover, by Patten Wilson
The Cover Design and Title-page are by D. Y. Cameron.
The Pictures are by Members of the Glasgow School.
the Half-tone Blocks are by the Swan Electric Engraving Company
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.
The Foolish Virgin
By George Gissing
COMING down to breakfast, as usual, rather late, Miss Jewell
was surprised to find several persons still at table. Their
conversation ceased as she entered, and all eyes were directed to
her with a look in which she discerned some special meaning.
For several reasons she was in an irritable humour ; the significant
smiles, the subdued ” Good mornings,” and the silence that fol-
lowed, so jarred upon her nerves that, save for curiosity, she would
have turned and left the room.
Mrs. Banting (generally at this hour busy in other parts of the
house) inquired with a sympathetic air whether she would take
porridge ; the others awaited her reply as if it were a matter of
general interest. Miss Jewell abruptly demanded an egg. The
awkward pause was broken by a high falsetto.
” I believe you know who it is all the time, Mr. Drake,” said
Miss Ayres, addressing the one man present.
” I assure you I don’t. Upon my word, I don’t. The whole
thing astonishes me.”
Resolutely silent, Miss Jewell listened to a conversation the
drift of which remained dark to her, until some one spoke the name
” Mr. Cheeseman ; ” then it was with difficulty that she controlled
her face and her tongue. The servant brought her an egg. She
struck it clumsily with the edge of the spoon, and asked in an
affected drawl :
” What are you people talking about ? “
Mrs. Sleath, smiling maliciously, took it upon herself to
” Mr. Drake has had a letter from Mr. Cheeseman. He writes
that he’s engaged, but doesn’t say who to. Delicious mystery,
isn’t it ? ”
The listener tried to swallow a piece of bread-and-butter, and
seemed to struggle with a constriction of the throat. Then, look-
ing round the table, she said with contemptuous pleasantry :
” Some lodging-house servant, I shouldn’t wonder.”
Every one laughed. Then Mr. Drake declared he must be off
and rose from the table. The ladies also moved, and in a minute
or two Miss Jewell sat at her breakfast alone.
She was a tall, slim person, with unremarkable, not ill-moulded
features. Nature meant her to be graceful in form and pleasantly
feminine of countenance ; unwholesome habit of mind and body
was responsible for the defects that now appeared in her. She had
no colour, no flesh ; but an agreeable smile would well have
become her lips, and her eyes needed only the illumination of
healthy thought to be more than commonly attractive. A few
months would see the close of her twenty-ninth year ; but Mrs.
Banting’s boarders, with some excuse, judged her on the wrong
side of thirty.
Her meal, a sad pretence, was soon finished. She went to the
window and stood there for five minutes looking at the cabs and
pedestrians in the sunny street. Then, with the languid step
which had become natural to her, she ascended the stairs and
turned into the drawing-room. Here, as she had expected, two
ladies sat in close conversation. Without heeding them, she
walked to the piano, selected a sheet of music, and sat down to
Presently, whilst she drummed with vigour on the keys, some
one approached ; she looked up and saw Mrs. Banting ; the other
persons had left the room.
” If it’s true,” murmured Mrs. Banting, with genuine kindli-
ness on her flabby lips, ” all I can say is that it’s shameful—shame-
ful ! ”
Miss Jewell stared at her.
” What do you mean ? ”
” Mr. Cheeseman—to go and——”
” I don’t understand you. What is it to me ? “
The words were thrown out almost fiercely, and a crash on the
piano drowned whatever Mrs. Banting meant to utter in reply.
Miss Jewell now had the drawing-room to herself.
She ” practised ” for half an hour, careering through many fami-
liar pieces with frequent mechanical correction of time-honoured
blunders. When at length she was going up to her room, a
grinning servant handed her a letter which had just arrived.
A glance at the envelope told her from whom it came, and
in privacy she at once opened it. The writer’s address was
” My dear Rosamund,” began the letter, ” I can’t understand
why you write in such a nasty way. For some time now your
letters have been horrid. I don’t show them to William because
if I did he would get into a tantrum. What I have to say to you
now is this, that we simply can’t go on sending you the money.
We haven’t it to spare, and that s the plain truth. You think
we’re rolling in money, and it s no use telling you we are not.
William said last night that you must find some way of supporting
yourself, and I can only say the same. You are a lady and had a
thorough good education, and I am sure you have only to exert
yourself. William says I may promise you a five-pound note
twice a year, but more than that you must not expect. Now do
just think over your position—”
She threw the sheet of paper aside, and sat down to brood miser-
ably. This little back bedroom, at no time conducive to good
spirits, had seen Rosamund in many a dreary or exasperated mood ;
to-day it beheld her on the very verge of despair. Illuminated
texts of Scripture spoke to her from the walls in vain ; portraits
of admired clergymen smiled vainly from the mantelpiece. She
was conscious only of a dirty carpet, an ill-made bed, faded
curtains, and a window that looked out on nothing. One cannot
expect much for a guinea a week, when it includes board and
lodging ; the bedroom was at least a refuge, but even that, it
seemed, would henceforth be denied her. Oh, the selfishness of
people ! And oh, the perfidy of man !
For eight years, since the breaking up of her home, Rosamund
had lived in London boarding-houses. To begin with, she could
count on a sufficient income, resulting from property in which
she had a legitimate share. Owing to various causes, the value of
this property had steadily diminished, until at length she became
dependent upon the subsidies of kinsfolk ; for more than a twelve-
month now, the only person able and willing to continue such
remittances had been her married sister, and Rosamund had hardly
known what it was to have a shilling of pocket-money. From
time to time she thought feebly and confusedly of ” doing some-
thing,” but her aims were so vague, her capabilities so inadequate,
that she always threw aside the intention in sheer hopelessness.
Whatever will she might once have possessed had evaporated in
the boarding-house atmosphere. It was hard to believe that her
brother-in-law would ever withhold the poor five pounds a month.
And—what is the use of boarding-houses if not to renew indefi-
nitely the hope of marriage ?
She was not of the base order of women. Conscience yet lived
in her, and drew support from religion ; something of modesty,
of self-respect, still clad her starving soul. Ignorance and ill-luck
had once or twice thrown her into such society as may be found
in establishments outwardly respectable ; she trembled and fled.
Even in such a house as this of Mrs. Banting’s, she had known
sickness of disgust. Herself included, four single women abode
here at the present time ; and the scarcely disguised purpose of
every one of them was to entrap a marriageable man. In the
others, it seemed to her detestable, and she hated all three, even as
they in their turn detested her. Rosamund flattered herself with
the persuasion that she did not aim merely at marriage and a sub-
sistence ; she would not marryany one ; her desire was for sym-
pathy, true companionship. In years gone by she had used to
herself a more sacred word ; nowadays the homely solace seemed
enough. And of late a ray of hope had glimmered upon her dusty
path. Mr. Cheeseman, with his plausible airs, his engaging smile,
had won something more than her confidence ; an acquaintance
of six months, ripening at length to intimacy, justified her in
regarding him with sanguine emotion. They had walked toge-
ther in Kensington Gardens ; they had exchanged furtive and
significant glances at table and elsewhere ; every one grew aware
of the mutual preference. It shook her with a painful misgiving
when Mr. Cheeseman went away for his holiday and spoke no
word ; but probably he would write. He had written—to his
friend Drake ; and all was over.
Her affections suffered, but that was not the worst. Her pride
had never received so cruel a blow.
After a life of degradation which might well have unsexed her,
Rosamund remained a woman. The practice of affectations
numberless had taught her one truth, that she could never hope
to charm save by reliance upon her feminine qualities. Boarding-
house girls, such numbers of whom she had observed, seemed all
intent upon disowning their womanhood ; they cultivated mascu-
line habits, wore as far as possible male attire, talked loud slang,
threw scorn (among themselves at all events) upon domestic
virtues ; and not a few of them seemed to profit by the prevailing
fashion. Rosamund had tried these tactics, always with conscious
failure. At other times, and vastly to her relief, she aimed in
precisely the opposite direction, encouraging herself in feminine
extremes. She would talk with babbling naïveté, exaggerate the
languor induced by idleness, lack of exercise, and consequent
ill-health ; betray timidities and pruderies, let fall a pious phrase,
rise of a morning for ” early celebration ” and let the fact be
known. These and the like extravagances had appeared to fasci-
nate Mr. Cheeseman, who openly professed his dislike for andro-
gynous persons. And Rosamund enjoyed the satisfaction of
moderate sincerity. Thus, or very much in this way, would she
be content to live. Romantic passion she felt to be beyond her
scope. Long ago—ah ! perhaps long ago, when she first knew
The name, as it crossed her mind, suggested an escape from
the insufferable ennui and humiliation of hours till evening. It
must be half a year since she called upon the Hunts, her only estim-
able acquaintances in or near London. They lived at Tedding-
ton, and the railway fare was always a deterrent ; nor did she care
much for Mrs. Hunt and her daughters, who of late years had
grown reserved with her, as if uneasy about her mode of life.
True, they were not at all snobbish ; homely, though well-to-do
people ; but they had such strict views, and could not understand
the existence of a woman less energetic than themselves. In her
present straits, which could hardly be worse, their counsel might
prove of value ; though she doubted her courage when it came to
She would do without luncheon (impossible to sit at table with
those ” creatures “) and hope to make up for it at tea ; in truth
appetite was not likely to trouble her. Then for dress. Wearily
she compared this garment with that, knowing beforehand that
all were out of fashion and more or less shabby. Oh, what did
it matter ! She had come to beggary, the result that might have
been foreseen long ago. Her faded costume suited fitly enough
with her fortunes—nay, with her face. For just then she caught
a sight of herself in the glass, and shrank. A lump choked her :
looking desperately, as if for help, for pity, through gathering
tears, she saw the Bible verse on the nearest wall : ” Come unto
me—” Her heart became that of a woful child ; she put her
hands before her face, and prayed in the old, simple words of
As her call must not be made before half-past three, she could
not set out upon the journey forthwith ; but it was a relief to get
away from the house. In this bright weather, Kensington
Gardens, not far away, seemed a natural place for loitering, but
the alleys would remind her too vividly of late companionship ;
she walked in another direction, sauntered for an hour by the
shop windows of Westbourne Grove, and, when she felt tired, sat
at the railway station until it was time to start. At Teddington,
half a mile’s walk lay before her ; though she felt no hunger, long
abstinence and the sun’s heat taxed her strength to the point of
exhaustion ; on reaching her friend’s door, she stood trembling
with nervousness and fatigue. The door opened, and to her
dismay she learnt that Mrs. Hunt was away from home.
Happily, the servant added that Miss Caroline was in the
” I’ll go round,” said Rosamund at once. ” Don’t trouble—”
The pathway round the pleasant little house soon brought her
within view of a young lady who sat in a garden-chair, sewing.
But Miss Caroline was not alone ; near to her stood a man in
shirt-sleeves and bare-headed, vigorously sawing a plank ; he seemed
to be engaged in the construction of a summer-house, and Rosa-
mund took him at first sight for a mechanic, but when he turned
round, exhibiting a ruddy face all agleam with health and good
humour, she recognised the young lady’s brother, Geoffrey Hunt.
He, as though for the moment puzzled, looked fixedly at her.
” Oh, Miss Jewell, how glad I am to see you ! ”
Enlightened by his sister’s words, Geoffrey dropped the saw,
and stepped forward with still heartier greeting. Had civility
permitted, he might easily have explained his doubts. It was
some six years since his last meeting with Rosamund, and she
had changed not a little ; he remembered her as a graceful and
rather pretty girl, with life in her, even if it ran for the most part
to silliness, gaily dressed, sprightly of manner ; notwithstanding
the account he had received of her from his relatives, it astonished
him to look upon this limp, faded woman. In Rosamund’s eyes,
Geoffrey was his old sell ; perhaps a trifle more stalwart, and if
anything handsomer, but with just the same light in his eyes,
the same smile on his bearded face, the same cordiality of
utterance. For an instant, she compared him with Mr. Cheese-
man, and flushed for very shame. Unable to command her voice,
she stammered incoherent nothings ; only when a seat supported
her weary body did she lose the dizziness which had threatened
downright collapse ; then she closed her eyes, and forgot every-
thing but the sense of rest.
Geoffrey drew on his coat, and spoke jestingly of his amateur
workmanship. Such employment, however, seemed not inappro-
priate to him, for his business was that of a timber-merchant.
Of late years he had lived abroad, for the most part in Canada.
Rosamund learnt that at present he was having a longish holiday.
” And you go back to Canada ? “
This she asked when Miss Hunt had stepped into the house to
call for tea. Geoffrey answered that it was doubtful ; for various
reasons he rather hoped to remain in England, but the choice
did not altogether rest with him.
“At all events “—she gave a poor little laugh—”you haven’t
pined in exile.”
” Not a bit of it. I have always had plenty of hard work—
the one thing needful.”
” Yes—I remember—you always used to say that. And I
used to protest. You granted, I think, that it might be different
” Did I ? “
He wished to add something to the point, but refrained out of
compassion. It was clear to him that Miss Jewell, at all events,
would have been none the worse for exacting employment.
Mrs. Hunt had spoken of her with the disapprobation natural in
a healthy, active woman of the old school, and Geoffrey himself
could not avoid a contemptuous judgment.
” You have lived in London all this time ? ” he asked, before
she could speak.
” Yes. Where else should I live ? My sister at Glasgow
doesn’t want me there, and—and there’s nobody else, you know.”
She tried to laugh. ” I have friends in London—well, that is to
say—at all events I’m not quite solitary.”
The man smiled, and could not allow her to suspect how pro-
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. B
foundly he pitied such a condition. Caroline Hunt had reappeared ;
she began to talk of her mother and sister, who were enjoying
themselves in Wales. Her own holiday would come upon their
return ; Geoffrey was going to take her to Switzerland.
Tea arrived just as Rosamund was again sinking into bodily
faintness and desolation of spirit. It presently restored her, but
she could hardly converse. She kept hoping that Caroline would
offer her some invitation—to lunch, to dine, anything ; but as
yet no such thought seemed to occur to the young hostess.
Suddenly the aspect of things was altered by the arrival of new
callers, a whole family, man, wife and three children, strangers to
Rosamund. For a time it seemed as if she must go away
without any kind of solace ; for Geoffrey had quitted her, and she
sat alone. On the spur of irrational resentment, she rose and
advanced to Miss Hunt.
” Oh, but you are not going ! I want you to stay and have
dinner with us, if you can. Would it make you too late ? ”
Rosamund flushed and could scarce contain her delight. In a
moment she was playing with the youngest of the children, and
even laughing aloud, so that Geoffrey glanced curiously towards
her. Even the opportunity of private conversation which she had
not dared to count upon was granted before long ; when the
callers had departed Caroline excused herself, and left her brother
alone with the guest for half an hour. There was no time to be
lost ; Rosamund broached almost immediately the subject upper-
most in her mind.
” Mr. Hunt, I know how dreadful it is to have people asking
for advice, but if I might—if you could have patience with
” I haven’t much wisdom to spare,” he answered, with easy
” Oh, you are very rich in it, compared with poor me.—And
my position is so difficult. I want—I am trying to find some
way of being useful in the world. I am tired of living for
myself. I seem to be such a useless creature. Surely even I
must have some talent, which it s my duty to put to use !
Where should I turn ? Could you help me with a suggestion ? ”
Her words, now that she had overcome the difficulty of begin-
ning, chased each other with breathless speed, and Geoffrey was
all but constrained to seriousness ; he took it for granted, how-
ever, that Miss Jewell frequently used this language ; doubtless
it was part of her foolish, futile existence to talk of her soul’s
welfare, especially in tête-à-tête with unmarried men. The truth
he did not suspect, and Rosamund could not bring herself to
convey it in plain words.
” I do so envy the people who have something to live for ! “
Thus she panted. ” I fear I haveneverhad a purpose in life—
I m sure I don t know why. Of course I m only a woman, but
even women nowadays are doing so much. You don’t despise
their efforts, do you ? ”
” Not indiscriminately.”
” If I could feel myself a profitable member of society !—I
want to be lifted above my wretched self. Is there no great end
to which I could devote myself ?”
Her phrases grew only more magniloquent, and all the time
she was longing for courage to say : ” How can I earn money ? “
Geoffrey, confirmed in the suspicion that she talked only for
effect, indulged his natural humour.
” I’m such a groveller, Miss Jewell. I never knew these
aspirations. I see the world mainly as cubic feet of timber.”
” No, no, you won’t make me believe that. I know you
ideals ! ”
” That word reminds me of poor old Halliday. You remember
Halliday, don’t you ? ”
In vexed silence, Rosamund shook her head.
” But I think you must have met him, in the old days. A
tall, fair man—no ? He talked a great deal about ideals, and
meant to move the world. We lost sight of each other when I
first left England, and only met again a day or two ago. He is
married, and has three children, and looks fifty years old, though
he can t be much more than thirty. He took me to see his wife
—they live at Forest Hill.”
Rosamund was not listening, and the speaker became aware of
it. Having a purpose in what he was about to say, he gently
claimed her attention.
” I think Mrs. Halliday is the kind of woman who would
interest you. If ever any one had a purpose in life, she has.”
” Indeed ? And what ? ”
” To keep house admirably, and bring up her children as well
as possible, on an income which would hardly supply some women
” Oh, that’s very dreadful ! ”
” Very fine, it seems to me. I never saw a woman for whom
I could feel more respect. Halliday and she suit each other
perfectly ; they would be the happiest people in England if they
had any money. As he walked back with me to the station he
talked about their difficulties. They can’t afford to engage a
good servant (if one exists nowadays), and cheap sluts have driven
them frantic, so that Mrs. Halliday does everything with her own
” It must be awful.”
” Pretty hard, no doubt. She is an educated woman—otherwise,
of course, she couldn’t, and wouldn’t, manage it. And, by-the-
bye “—he paused for quiet emphasis—” she has a sister,
who lives in the country and does nothing at all. It occurs to
one—doesn’t it ?—that the idle sister might pretty easily find scope
for her energies.”
Rosamund stared at the ground. She was not so dull as to
lose the significance of this story, and she imagined that Geoffrey
reflected upon herself in relation to her own sister. She broke the
long silence by saying awkwardly :
” I’m sure I would never allow a sister of mine to
lead such a
” I don’t think you would,” replied the other. And, though he
spoke genially, Rosamund felt it a very moderate declaration of his
belief in her. Overcome by strong feeling, she exclaimed :
” I would do anything to be of use in the world. You
think I mean it, but I do, Mr. Hunt. I—”
Her voice faltered ; the all-important word stuck in her throat.
And at that moment Geoffrey rose.
” Shall we walk about ? Let me show you my mother’s fernery
she is very proud of it.”
That was the end of intimate dialogue. Rosamund felt aggrieved,
and tried to shape sarcasms, but the man’s imperturbable good-
humour soon made her forget everything save the pleasure of
being in his company. It was a bitter-sweet evening, yet perhaps
enjoyment predominated. Of course, Geoffrey would conduct
her to the station ; she never lost sight of this hope. There
would be another opportunity for plain speech. But her desire was
frustrated ; at the time of departure, Caroline said that they might
as well all go together. Rosamund could have wept for chagrin.
She returned to the detested house, the hateful little bedroom,
and there let her tears have way. In dread lest the hysterical sobs
should be overheard, she all but stifled herself.
Then, as if by blessed inspiration, a great thought took shape
in her despairing mind. At the still hour of night she suddenly
sat up in the darkness, which seemed illumined by a wondrous
hope. A few minutes motionless ; the mental light grew dazzling ;
she sprang out of bed, partly dressed herself, and by the rays of a
candle sat down to write a letter :
DEAR MR. HUNT,
“Yesterday I did not tell you the whole truth. I have
nothing to live upon, and I must find employment or starve. My
brother-in-law has been supporting me for a long time—I am ashamed
to tell you, but I will, and he can do so no longer. I wanted to ask
you for practical advice, but I did not make my meaning clear. For
all that, you did advise me, and very well indeed. I wish to offer
myself as domestic help to poor Mrs. Halliday. Do you think she
would have me ? I ask no wages—only food and lodging. I will
work harder and better than any general servants—I will indeed. My
health is not bad, and I am fairly strong. Don’t—don’t throw scorn
on this ! Will you recommend me to Mrs. Halliday—or ask Mrs.
Hunt to do so ? I beg that you will. Please write to me at once,
and say yes. I shall be ever grateful to you.
” Very sincerely yours,
” ROSAMUND JEWELL.”
This she posted as early as possible. The agonies she endured
in waiting for a reply served to make her heedless of boarding-
house spite, and by the last post that same evening came Geoffrey’s
letter. He wrote that her suggestion was startling. ” Your
motive seems to me very praiseworthy, but whether the thing
would be possible is another question. I dare not take upon
myself the responsibility of counselling you to such a step.
Pray, take time, and think. I am most grieved to hear of your
difficulties, but is there not some better way out of them ? ”
Yes, there it was ! Geoffrey Hunt could not believe in her
power to do anything praiseworthy. So had it been six years ago,
when she would have gone through flood and flame to win his
admiration. But in those days she was a girlish simpleton ; she
had behaved idiotically. It should be different now ; were it at
the end of her life, she would prove to him that he had slighted
her unjustly !
Brave words, but Rosamund attached some meaning to them.
The woman in her—the ever-prevailing woman—was wrought by
fears and vanities, urgencies and desires, to a strange point of
exaltation. Forthwith, she wrote again : ” Send me, I entreat
you, Mrs. Halliday’s address. I will go and see her. No, I can’t
do anything but work with my hands. I am no good for anything
else. If Mrs. Halliday refuses me, I shall go as a servant into
some other house. Don’t mock at me ; I don’t deserve it. Write
Till midnight she wept and prayed.
Geoffrey sent her the address, adding a few dry words : ” If
you are willing and able to carry out this project, your ambition
ought to be satisfied. You will have done your part towards solving
one of the gravest problems of the time.” Rosamund did not at
once understand ; when the writer s meaning grew clear, she kept
repeating the words, as though they were a new gospel. Yes !
she would be working nobly, helping to show a way out of the
great servant difficulty. It would be an example to poor ladies,
like herself, who were ashamed of honest work. And Geoffrey
Hunt was looking on. He must needs marvel ; perhaps he would
admire greatly ; perhaps—oh, oh !
Of course, she found a difficulty in wording her letter to the
lady who had never heard of her, and of whom she knew practically
nothing. But zeal surmounted obstacles. She began by saying
that she was in search of domestic employment, and that, through
her friends at Teddington, she had heard of Mrs. Halliday as a
lady who might perhaps consider her application. Then followed
an account of herself, tolerably ingenuous, and an amplification of
the phrases she had addressed to Geoffrey Hunt. On an after-
thought, she enclosed a stamped envelope.
Whilst the outcome remained dubious, Rosamund’s behaviour to
her fellow-boarders was a pattern of offensiveness. She no longer
shunned them—seemed, indeed, to challenge their observation for
the sake of meeting it with arrogant defiance. She rudely in-
terrupted conversations, met sneers with virulent retorts, made
herself the common enemy. Mrs. Banting was appealed to ;
ladies declared that they could not live in a house where they were
exposed to vulgar insult. When nearly a week had passed Mrs.
Banting found it necessary to speak in private with Miss Jewell,
and to make a plaintive remonstrance. Rosamund’s flashing eye
and contemptuous smile foretold the upshot.
” Spare yourself the trouble, Mrs. Banting. I leave the house
” Oh, but—”
” There is no need for another word. Of course, I shall pay
the week in lieu of notice. I am busy, and have no time to
The day before, she had been to Forest Hill, had seen Mrs.
Halliday, and entered into an engagement. At midday on the
morrow she arrived at the house which was henceforth to be her
home, the scene of her labours.
Sheer stress of circumstance accounted for Mrs. Halliday’s
decision. Geoffrey Hunt, a dispassionate observer, was not misled
in forming so high an opinion of his friend’s wife. Only a year
or two older than Rosamund, Mrs. Halliday had the mind and the
temper which enable woman to front life as a rational combatant,
instead of vegetating as a more or less destructive parasite. Her
voice declared her ; it fell easily upon a soft, clear note ; the kind
of voice that expresses good-humour and reasonableness, and many
other admirable qualities ; womanly, but with no suggestion of
the feminine gamut ; a voice that was never likely to test its
compass in extremes. She had enjoyed a country breeding ; some-
thing of liberal education assisted her natural intelligence ; thanks
to a good mother, she discharged with ability and content the
prime domestic duties. But physically she was not inexhaustible,
and the laborious, anxious years had taxed her health. A woman
of the ignorant class may keep house, and bring up a family, with
her own hands ; she has to deal only with the simplest demands
of life ; her home is a shelter, her food is primitive, her children
live or die according to the law of natural selection. Infinitely
more complex, more trying, is the task of the educated wife and
mother ; if to conscientiousness be added enduring poverty, it
means not seldom an early death. Fatigue and self-denial had set
upon Mrs. Halliday’s features a stamp which could never be
obliterated. Her husband, her children, suffered illnesses ; she,
the indispensable, durst not confess even to a headache. Such
servants as from time to time she had engaged merely increased
her toil and anxieties ; she demanded, to be sure, the diligence
and efficiency which in this new day can scarce be found among
the menial ranks ; what she obtained was sluttish stupidity,
grotesque presumption, and every form of female viciousness.
Rosamund Jewell, honest in her extravagant fervour, seemed at
first a mocking apparition ; only after a long talk, when Rosamund’s
ingenuousness had forcibly impressed her, would Mrs. Halliday
agree to an experiment. Miss Jewell was to live as one of the
family ; she did not ask this, but consented to it. She was to
receive ten pounds a year, for Mrs. Halliday insisted that payment
there must be.
” I can’t cook,” Rosamund had avowed. ” I never boiled a
potato in my life. If you teach me, I shall be grateful to you.”
” The cooking I can do myself, and you can learn if you like.”
” I should think I might wash and scrub by the light of
nature ? ”
“Perhaps. Good will and ordinary muscles will go a long
” I can’t sew, but I will learn.”
Mrs. Halliday reflected.
” You know that you are exchanging freedom for a hard and a
very dull life ? ”
“My life has been hard and dull enough, if you only knew.
The work will seem hard at first, no doubt. But I don’t think
I shall be dull with you.”
Mrs. Halliday held out her work-worn hand, and received a
clasp of the fingers attenuated by idleness.
It was a poor little house ; built—of course—with sham display
of spaciousness in front, and huddling discomfort at the rear.
Mrs. Halliday’s servants never failed to urge the smallness of the
rooms as an excuse for leaving them dirty ; they had invariably
been accustomed to lordly abodes, where their virtues could expand.
The furniture was homely and no more than sufficient, but here
and there on the walls shone a glimpse of summer landscape, done
in better days by the master of the house, who knew something of
various arts, but could not succeed in that of money-making.
Rosamund bestowed her worldly goods in a tiny chamber which
Mrs. Halliday did her best to make inviting and comfortable ;
she had less room here than at Mrs. Banting’s, but the cleanliness
of surroundings would depend upon herself, and she was not likely
to spend much time by the bedside in weary discontent. Halliday,
who came home each evening at half-past six, behaved to her on
their first meeting with grave, even respectful, courtesy ; his tone
flattered Rosamund’s ear, and nothing could have been more
seemly than the modest gentleness of her replies.
At the close of the first day, she wrote to Geoffrey Hunt : ” I
do believe I have made a good beginning. Mrs. Halliday is
perfect and I quite love her. Please do not answer this ; I only
write because I feel that I owe it to your kindness. I shall never
be able to thank you enough.”
When Geoffrey obeyed her and kept silence, she felt that he
acted prudently ; perhaps Mrs. Halliday might see the letter, and
know his hand. But none the less she was disappointed.
Rosamund soon learnt the measure of her ignorance in domestic
affairs. Thoroughly practical and systematic, her friend (this
was to be their relation) set down a scheme of the day’s and
the week’s work ; it made a clear apportionment between them,
with no preponderance of unpleasant drudgery for the new-comer’s
share. With astonishment, which she did not try to conceal,
Rosamund awoke to the complexity and endlessness of home
duties even in so small a house as this.
” Then you have no leisure ? ” she exclaimed, in
” I feel at leisure when I’m sewing—and when I take the
children out. And there’s Sunday.”
The eldest child was about five years old, the others three and
a twelvemonth, respectively. Their ailments gave a good deal of
trouble, and it often happened that Mrs. Halliday was awake with
one of them the greater part of the night. For children Rosa-
mund had no natural tenderness ; to endure the constant sound
of their voices proved, in the beginning, her hardest trial ; but
the resolve to school herself in every particular soon enabled her
to tend the little ones with much patience, and insensibly she grew
fond of them. Until she had overcome her awkwardness in every
task, it cost her no little effort to get through the day ; at bedtim
e she ached in every joint, and morning oppressed her with a sick
lassitude. Conscious however, of Mrs. Halliday’s forbearance,
she would not spare herself, and it soon surprised her to discover
that the rigid performance of what seemed an ignoble task
brought its reward. Her first success in polishing a grate gave her
more delight than she had known since childhood. She summoned
her friend to look, to admire, to praise.
” Haven’t I done it well ? Could you do it better yourself ?
” Admirable ! “
Rosamund waved her black-lead brush and tasted victory.
The process of acclimatisation naturally affected her health.
In a month’s time she began to fear that she must break down ;
she suffered painful disorders, crept out of sight to moan and shed
a tear. Always faint, she had no appetite for wholesome food.
Tossing on her bed at night she said to herself a thousand times :
” I must go on even if I die ! ” Her religion took the form of
asceticism and bade her rejoice in her miseries ; she prayed
constantly and at times knew the solace of an infinite self-glorifica-
tion. In such a mood she once said to Mrs. Halliday :
” Don’t you think I deserve some praise for the step I took ? “
” You certainly deserve both praise and thanks from me.”
” But I mean—it isn’t every one who could have done it ? I’ve
a right to feel myself superior to the ordinary run of girls ? :
The other gave her an embarrassed look, and murmured a few
satisfying words. Later in the same day she talked to Rosamund
about her health and insisted on making certain changes which
allowed her to take more open-air exercise. The result of this
was a marked improvement ; at the end of the second month
Rosamund began to feel and look better than she had done for
several years. Work no longer exhausted her. And the labour
in itself seemed to diminish, a natural consequence of perfect
co-operation between the two women. Mrs. Halliday declared
that life had never been so easy for her as now ; she knew the
delight of rest in which there was no self-reproach. But for
sufficient reasons she did not venture to express to Rosamund all
the gratitude that was due.
About Christmas a letter from Forest Hill arrived at Ted-
dington ; this time it did not forbid a reply. It spoke of struggles
sufferings, achievements. ” Do I not deserve a word of praise ?
Have I not done something, as you said, towards solving the
great question ? Don t you believe in me a little ? ” Four
more weeks went by, and brought no answer. Then, one
evening, in a mood of bitterness, Rosamund took a singular step ;
she wrote to Mr. Cheeseman. She had heard nothing of him, had
utterly lost sight of the world in which they met ; but his place
of business was known to her, and thither she addressed the note.
A few lines only : ” You are a very strange person, and I really
take no interest whatever in you. But I have sometimes thought
you would like to ask my forgiveness. If so, write to the above
address—my sister’s. I am living in London, and enjoying
myself, but I don’t choose to let you know where.” Having an
opportunity on the morrow, Sunday, she posted this in a remote
The next day, a letter arrived for her from Canada. Here
was the explanation of Geoffrey s silence. His words could
hardly have been more cordial, but there were so few of them.
On nourishment such as this no illusion could support itself ; for
the moment Rosamund renounced every hope. Well, she was no
worse off than before the renewal of their friendship. But could
it be called friendship ? Geoffrey’s mother and sisters paid no
heed to her ; they doubtless considered that she had finally sunk
below their horizon ; and Geoffrey himself, for all his fine words,
most likely thought the same at heart. Of course they would
never meet again. And for the rest of her life she would be
nothing more than a domestic servant in genteel disguise—
happy were the disguise preserved.
However, she had provided a distraction for her gloomy
thoughts. With no more delay than was due to its transmission
by way of Glasgow, there came a reply from Mr. Cheeseman :
two sheets of notepaper. The writer prostrated himself ; he had
been guilty of shameful behaviour ; even Miss Jewell, with all her
sweet womanliness, must find it hard to think of him with
charity. But let her remember what ” the poets ” had written
about Remorse, and apply to him the most harrowing of their
descriptions. He would be frank with her ; he would “a plain,
unvarnished tale unfold.” Whilst away for his holiday he by
chance encountered one with whom, in days gone by, he had held
tender relations. She was a young widow ; his foolish heart was
touched ; he sacrificed honour to the passing emotion. Their
marriage would be delayed, for his affairs were just now any-
thing but flourishing. ” Dear Miss Jewell, will you not be my
friend, my sister ? Alas, I am not a happy man ; but it is too
late to lament.” And so on to the squeezed signature at the
bottom of the last page.
Rosamund allowed a fortnight to pass—not before writing, but
before her letter was posted. She used a tone of condescension,
mingled with airy banter. ” From my heart I feel for you, but,
as you say, there is no help. I am afraid you are very impulsive
—yet I thought that was a fault of youth. Do not give way to
despair. I really don’t know whether I shall feel it right to let
you hear again, but if it soothes you I don’t think there would be
any harm in your letting me know the cause of your troubles.”
This odd correspondence, sometimes with intervals of three
weeks, went on until late summer. Rosamund would soon
have been a year with Mrs. Halliday. Her enthusiasm had long
since burnt itself out ; she was often a prey to vapours, to cheer-
less lassitude, even to the spirit of revolt against things in general,
but on the whole she remained a thoroughly useful member of the
household ; the great experiment might fairly be called successful.
At the end of August it was decided that the children must have
sea air ; their parents would take them away for a fortnight.
When the project began to be talked of, Rosamund, perceiving
a domestic difficulty, removed it by asking whether she would be
at liberty to visit her sister in Scotland. Thus were things
Some days before that appointed for the general departure.
Halliday received a letter which supplied him with a subject of
conversation at breakfast.
” Hunt is going to be married,” he remarked to his wife,
just as Rosamund was bringing in the children s porridge.
Mrs. Halliday looked at her helper—for no more special reason
than the fact of Rosamund’s acquaintance with the Hunt family ;
she perceived a change of expression, an emotional play of feature,
and at once averted her eyes.
” Where ? In Canada ? ” she asked, off-hand.
” No, he’s in England. But the lady is a Canadian.—I
wonder he troubles to tell me. Hunt’s a queer fellow. When
we meet, once in two years, he treats me like a long-lost brother ;
but I don’t think he’d care a bit if he never saw me or heard of
” It’s a family characteristic,” interposed Rosamund with a dry
That day she moved about with the gait and the eyes of a som-
nambulist. She broke a piece of crockery, and became hysterical
over it. Her afternoon leisure she spent in the bedroom, and at
night she professed a headache which obliged her to retire early.
A passion of wrath inflamed her ; as vehement—though so
utterly unreasonable—as in the moment when she learnt the
perfidy of Mr. Cheeseman. She raged at her folly in having
submitted to social degradation on the mere hint of a man
who uttered it in a spirit purely contemptuous. The whole
hateful world had conspired against her. She banned her kins-
folk and all her acquaintances, especially the Hunts ; she felt
bitter even against the Hallidays—unsympathetic, selfish people,
utterly indifferent to her private griefs, regarding her as a mere
domestic machine. She would write to Geoffrey Hunt, and let
him know very plainly what she thought of his behaviour in
urging her to become a servant. Would such a thought have
ever occurred to a gentleman ! And her poor life was wasted, oh !
oh ! She would soon be thirty—thirty ! The glass mocked her
with savage truth. And she had not even a decent dress to put
on. Self-neglect had made her appearance vulgar ; her manners,
her speech, doubtless, had lost their note of social superiority. Oh,
it was hard ! She wished for death, cried for divine justice in a
On the morning of release, she travelled to London Bridge,
ostensibly en route for the north. But, on alighting, she had her
luggage taken to the cloak-room, and herself went by omnibus to
the West-end. By noon she had engaged a lodging, one room in a
street where she had never yet lived. And hither before night
was transferred her property.
The next day she spent about half of her ready-money in the
purchase of clothing—cheap, but such as the self-respect of a
” lady ” imperatively demands. She bought cosmetics ; she set to
work at removing from her hands the traces of ignoble occupation.
On the day that followed—Sunday—early in the afternoon, she
repaired to a certain corner of Kensington Gardens, where she
came face to face with Mr. Cheeseman.
” I have come,” said Rosamund, in a voice of nervous exhilara-
tion which tried to subdue itself. ” Please to consider that it is
more than you could expect.”
” It is ! A thousand times more ! You are goodness itself.”
In Rosamund’s eyes the man had not improved since a year ago.
The growth of a beard made him look older, and he seemed in
indifferent health ; but his tremulous delight, his excessive homage,
atoned for the defect. She, on the other hand, was so greatly
changed for the better that Cheeseman beheld her with no less
wonder than admiration. Her brisk step, her upright bearing,
her clear eye, and pure-toned skin contrasted remarkably with the
lassitude and sallowness he remembered ; at this moment, too, she
had a pleasant rosiness of cheek which made her girlish, virginal.
All was set off by the new drapery and millinery, which threw a
shade upon Cheeseman’s very respectable but somewhat time-
honoured, Sunday costume.
They spent several hours together, Cheeseman talking of his
faults, his virtues, his calamities, and his hopes, like the impul-
sive, well-meaning, but nerveless fellow that he was. Rosamund
gathered from it all, as she had vaguely learnt from his recent
correspondence, that the alluring widow no longer claimed him ;
but he did not enter into details on this delicate subject. They
had tea at a restaurant by Netting Hill Gate ; then, Miss Jewell
appearing indefatigable, they again strolled in unfrequented ways.
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. C
At length was uttered the question for which Rosamund had long
ago prepared her reply.
” You cannot expect me,” she said sweetly, ” to answer at once.”
” Of course not ! I shouldn’t have dared to hope—”
He choked and swallowed ; a few beads of perspiration shining
on his troubled face.
” You have my address ; most likely I shall spend a week or two
there. Of course you may write. I shall probably go to my
sister’s in Scotland, for the autumn—”
” Oh ! don’t say that—don’t. To lose you again—so soon—”
” I only said, ‘probably ‘—”
” Oh, thank you !—To go so far away—And the autumn ;
just when I have a little freedom ; the very best time—if I
dared to hope such a thing—”
Rosamund graciously allowed him to bear her company as far
as to the street in which she lived.
A few days later she wrote to Mrs. Halliday, heading her
letter with the Glasgow address. She lamented the sudden im-
possibility of returning to her domestic duties. Something had
happened. “In short, dear Mrs. Halliday, I am going to be
married. I could not give you warning of this, it has come so
unexpectedly. Do forgive me ! I so earnestly hope that you will
find some one to take my place, some one better and more of a help
to you. I know I haven t been much use. Do write home at
Glasgow and say I may still regard you as a dear friend.”
This having been dispatched, she sat musing over her prospects.
Mr. Cheeseman had honestly confessed the smallness of his income ;
he could barely count upon a hundred and fifty a year ; but things
might improve. She did not dislike him—no, she did not dislike
him. He would be a very tractable husband. Compared, of
A letter was brought up to her room. She knew the flowing
commercial hand, and broke the envelope without emotion. Two
sheets—three sheets—and a half. But what was all this ?
” Despair . . . thoughts of self-destruction . . . ignoble pub-
licity . . . practical ruin . . . impossible . . . despise and
forget . . . Dante’s hell . . . deeper than ever plummet
sounded . . . forever !….” So again he had deceived her ! He
must have known that the widow was dangerous ; his reticence was
mere shuffling. His behaviour to that other woman had perhaps
exceeded in baseness his treatment of herself ; else, how could he
be so sure that a jury would give her ” ruinous damages ” ? Or was
it all a mere illustration of a man s villainy ? Why should not she
also sue for damages ? Why not ? Why not ?
The three months that followed were a time of graver peril, of
darker crisis, than Rosamund, with all her slip-slop experiences,
had ever known. An observer adequately supplied with facts,
psychological and material, would more than once have felt that
it depended on the mere toss of a coin whether she kept or lost
her social respectability. She sounded all the depths possible to
such a mind and heart—save only that from which there could
have been no redemption. A saving memory lived within her,
and at length, in the yellow gloom of a November morning—her
tarnished, draggle-tailed finery thrown aside for the garb she had
worn in lowliness—Rosamund betook herself to Forest Hill. The
house of the Hallidays looked just as usual. She slunk up to the door,
rang the bell, and waited in fear of a strange face. There appeared
Mrs. Halliday herself. The surprised but friendly smile at once
proved her forgiveness of Rosamund’s desertion. She had written,
indeed, with calm good sense, hoping only that all would be well.
” Let me see you alone, Mrs. Halliday.—How glad I am to sit
in this room again ! Who is helping you now ? ”
” No one. Help such as I want is not easy to find.”
” Oh, let me come back !—I am not
married.—No, no, there is
nothing to be ashamed of. I am no worse than I ever was. I ll
tell you everything—the whole silly, wretched story.”
She told it, blurring only her existence of the past three
” I would have come before, but I was so bitterly ashamed. I
ran away so disgracefully. Now I’m penniless—all but suffering
hunger. Will you have me again, Mrs. Halliday ? I’ve been a
horrid fool, but—I do believe—for the last time in my life. Try
me again, dear Mrs. Halliday ! ”
There was no need of the miserable tears, the impassioned
pleading. Her home received her as though she had been absent
but for an hour. That night she knelt again by her bedside in
the little room, and at seven o’clock next morning she was light-
ing fires, sweeping floors, mute in thankfulness.
Halliday heard the story from his wife, and shook a dreamy,
” For goodness’ sake,” urged the practical woman, ” don’t let
her think she’s a martyr.”
” No, no ; but the poor girl should have her taste of happi-
” Of course I’m sorry for her, but there are plenty of people
more to be pitied. Work she must, and there’s only one kind of
work she’s fit for. It’s no small thing to find your vocation—is it ?
Thousands of such women—all meant by nature to scrub and
cook—live and die miserably because they think themselves too
good for it.”
” The whole social structure is rotten ! ”
” It’ll last our time,” rejoined Mrs. Halliday, as she gave a little
laugh and stretched her weary arms.
A Southerly Air
By A. Frew
By Arthur Christopher Benson
TO-DAY I’ll give to peace : I will not look
Behind, before me ; I will simply be ;
Hopes and regrets shall claim no share in me ;
Here will I lie, beside the leaping brook,
And turn the pages of some aimless book,
Sunk and submerged in vague felicity ;
Live, mute, and still, in what I hear and see,
The dreaming guardian of the upland nook.
Well, here’s my world to-day ! cicalas spare
Sawing harsh music ; beetles big, that grope
Among the grass-stems ; merry flies astir ;
And goats with impudent face and silken hair,
That poise and tinkle on the Western slope,
Breast deep in Alpen-rose and juniper.
Study of a Calf
By D. Gauld
By Frances E. Huntley
I—Points of View
WHENEVER she recalled that incredible moment, she was
conscious of a strange emotional excitement, that thrilled
her with an exquisite poignancy, that set blushes momentarily
flaming, that darkened her eyes, and parted her quick-breathing
lips. She felt a little ashamed of the sensation, so that she
wanted to put into words, to get somebody else’s opinion on,
what had occurred the evening before in the seductive corridor,
where the lights were turned low nearly to extinction, and the
scent of flowers penetrated and grew, till it took that keen
metallic odour that seems almost tangible.
The scene, familiar to weariness, had held for her always a
repulsion no less than an attraction ; it seemed such a bid for
playing at passion, and yet—commonplaces were so invariable
there ! Talk of the decorations, the floor, the guests, perhaps, as
a rarer topic, the more or less uninteresting personality of her
partner, minutely investigated—these had been the associations of
the corridor : not that she had wished it otherwise, far from that ;
but . . . well ! the feeling had been inexplicable, a mixture of
relief and disappointment, that still there was so much to learn,
that still it remained unlearnt.
And the teacher ? For him, she had imagined herself fas-
tidious, critical of shades of manner, almost impossible to please ;
and now, this morning ! … It had been a man whom she
hardly knew, but with whom she felt conicious of a strange
intimacy. He, too, repulsed and attracted her at once ; said
things to her that in any one else she would have passionately
resented, spoke to her with an almost obtrusive sans-gêne, did not
even especially amuse her, and yet—his attraction was invincible.
Directly she came into a ball-room where he was, she perceived
him, freshly disapproved of him, smiled at him, disarranged her
card to include his dances, and, the dance over, came to sit out, in
a corridor such as that last night, all voluptuousness and allurement.
. . . She raged at herself perpetually, and would talk, none the
less, her wittiest and brightest, and glance gaily into the eyes that
looked back at her with a somewhat posé cynicism.
Last night ! Over and over again the scene recalled itself, and
thrilled her with that curious tremor. . . . She longed for a
clearer view of it, a cool, unswayed opinion . . . yet to tell !
It would be schoolgirlish, typical almost of silly loquacious
womanhood ; that was her first thought, then came another : the
woman of the world—the half-cynical, half-tender type that
attracted her so strongly, that she had met with in one woman,
and loved so dearly. Would she have told ? Yes, she could
fancy her, in her bright allusive way, with her wide roguish gaze,
and enchanting suggestion of a brogue. . . . So, she would tell,
and then, she laughed to think how much she was making of it ;
it was such a little thing after all, wasn’t it ? … But she
wavered again. It would sound so crude, such a bald, almost
vulgar, statement. For, when all was said and done, what had
happened ? . . . In the moment that she felt her cheek tinge
itself again with that vivid pink, another memory came to her,
vaguely, as it seemed, unmeaningly—of a public ball she had once
gone to (a rare thing with her, she didn’t care enough for dancing
to pay for it, she always said), a ball at which were to be seen
many people of whose manners and customs she was entirely
ignorant. A scene she had witnessed there ! . . . the remem-
brance possessed her, a kind of unconscious cerebration, for which
she could not account.
A corridor, once more almost deserted, save for herself and her
partner, and, at the farther end, another couple, people she had
never seen before ; the girl, flaunting, ill-dressed, in a gown of
insistently meagre insufficiency, her hair heaped into unmeaning
shapelessness, nowhere an outline, a severity, a grave dainty
coquetry ; the effect was almost pathetic in its dull, bold cheap-
ness. And the man !—hardly more, indeed, than a boy—he bore
the huddled indistinctness, the look of imperfect detachment from
the atmosphere, whose opposite we convey by the word ” distinc-
So, in a glance, she had seen them ; and, with a kind of absent
curiosity, had watched them while she talked . . . Quite suddenly
the man slipped to the ground beside his partner’s chair, and passed
his arm familiarly, jocosely, round her unreluctant waist. A
moment more and their faces touched, their lips met, in a kiss
. . . one which, it was abundantly evident, was not of deep
feeling, or even the expression of an instant’s real emotion ; no,
there was an ineffable commonness, a painful coarsening of the
action, visible even to unaccustomed eyes … it was ” sport.”
The girl had probably invited it ; the man, more than probably,
was not the first who had been privileged. . . .
She had felt revolted.
Her partner had made some contemptuous remark : ” Can’t
they do it in private ! If she likes being hugged—” The
mere words had set her cheeks on fire, the careless, half-amused
scorn of his tone, the matter-of-course for which he had
taken it. She had rushed into one of her impetuous, heedless
” I would rather have a girl who has the realness in
her to do
something honestly wrong ! One can’t call that ‘wrong’—no,
too good a word. It’s only futile, common. Oh, better the poor
girls whose weakness has something real in it, some—courage,
foolishness . . . But that sort ! ”
The ring of her voice sounded in her ears when she recalled
the scene. It had stamped itself oddly on her memory, was always
coming back to her, haunting her. . . .
The clear, tender pink still lingered on her cheek ; for, once
more, the public ball forgotten, she had gone over that little
episode in the corridor last night—in the deserted, solitary corridor.
Why did it thrill her so ? She did not love the man who had
thus surprised her—love him ! Why, her acquaintance with him
was of the slightest ; and his feeling for her ? She could not
conceivably delude herself about that ; it was very much the same,
she divined, as hers for him . . . Then why was it ? He was
the first who had ever kissed her—could that be it ?
At the time she had felt angry, but more hurt than angry ;
hurt at his audacity ; it seemed as if he must have thought her a
girl who very lightly ” took a fancy ” for a man, a girl who was
easily attracted. . . . Some analogy was worrying her, something
like it that had happened before, something she had read perhaps.
. . . What could it be ? Why could she not remember ?
Great heaven ! the girl at the public ball, the girl who had let
a man kiss her for sport ! ” That sort ! ” . . .
Oh, no, no, there was no likeness, none, no analogy, no possible
comparison. She, with her pride, and refinement, and high-flown
romantic idealism in her theory that anything real was better than
that futile fingering of edged tools. . . . And that wild-haired,
cheap tawdriness. . . .
She writhed in restless, rebellious shame, her hands covered her
face, where the soft rosiness was turning to thick suffusing scarlet.
. . . After all, if any one had seen, it must have looked quite the
same, quite, quite the same.
The thought was intolerable. What was she to do ? How
get some denial of this sickening suspicion. Tell her sister, ask
her what she thought ? Ah, no, no ; now she could never tell
. . . and, in the glass, it seemed to her that her eyes looked bold
and glittering, and her hair, with its carefully followed outlines
and burnished softly-curving richness, appeared shapeless, unkempt
unconsidered . . . Her ball-gown ! she tore it from the box where
it lay in its fragrant mistiness … it was disgraceful, it was
immodest almost, she would never wear it again, never dance
again, never see that man again. . . .
And as she stood before the glass, with passionate quivering
lips, and eyes burning with stinging unfallen tears, the strange
delicious thrill stole through her once more, the roseate flickers
glowed on her cheek, the kiss seemed to touch her once more
with its lingering pressure. . . . Ah, surely there was a point of
view, surely there was a difference ?
She tasted in that moment something of the weakness of
womanhood—its pitiful groping artificiality, its keen passionate
I CAN hardly expect you to understand me, I fear—for, if the
truth be told, I understand myself not at all ; and of Lucille,
my comprehension is, at best, just not misapprehension : though
of that, even, I feel at times uncertain enough.
Well, after this morning, I suppose I need not think about it
any more. Need not ! must not would express it better : the
last word, so far as I am concerned in it, has been said ; the
curtain has rung down upon the little comedy-tragedy that I had
(I might say) written, or, at any rate, conceived, entirely by and
for myself ; and it has left me, the author, in a puzzlement that
is, to treat it lightly, extremely disconcerting. I can’t help
having the preposterous feeling that it is partly my fault that it
has ended so, and of course, you know, it isn’t, couldn’t be !
If we will take our drama in real life, we must not
unexpected, we must—strenuously—remember that we are author
and audience both, that we see the thing from the inside, that we
must be prepared for things actually happening, just as they seem
to be going to happen.
I suppose I thought I had thus reasoned it all out, but I see
now that my vision was irrevocably warped, that I was looking
out, with a playgoer’s certainty of anticipation, for the unpre-
pared—for the unexpected. . . . But (I meant to have said
sooner) it occurs to me that, if I put it into words for you, if I
reduce it, so to speak, to black and white, we may contrive
between us to come to some sort of an understanding about it, to
unravel at least one or two of the threads, to get, in short, an
approximate idea of that slender humorous enigma whom we used
to call Lucille Silverdale.
So now, if you are not alarmed at, repelled by, the prospect of a
riddle, a puzzle—oh, but a very charming puzzle in brown hair
and hazel eyes and sensitive contours . . . ?
Mrs. Silverdale, if she did not openly bemoan her fate, yet
intimated tolerably plainly her resentment at the trick which
nature had played upon her ; and, far from in sympathy though I
felt with her, I could not deny that, from her point of view, there
might be an excuse for her attitude. Her attitude ? But, in
truth, that is hardly the word ; it was more a resigned recog-
nition that there was no possible attitude to be taken up, a kind
of mental huddle, a backboneless disapproval, an appallingly silent
From the culprit herself, little aggression could be complained
of ; Lucille was, perhaps, as much ashamed of her inconvenience,
her inconvenance, as were the most robust-minded of her family ;
but (it seemed to me) this very modesty, this very agreement with
their envisagement of the situation, did but add an irritation the
more to her personality.
Strange enough it was, too ; one is used to see it taken so differ-
ently, that perfunctory law whereby the ages free themselves from
the muffling oblivion of mankind—that poking, freakish finger that
heredity sticks in our eyes, as we peer anxiously to see if the veil
be decorously thrown over all. The tears it brings—that mocking
inexorable finger—are not always of those that purify our mental
vision ; and of the Silverdales’ sight, so far as that concerned itself
with this slender, humorous maiden, it had made miniature havoc.
That, after all these dear mediocre centuries, he should re-assert
himself—that ancestor, who in the days of Herrick and Suckling
had held his own wittily, gloriously, with the best of them !
One might have hoped that decades upon decades of ignoring,
of snubbing, would have quelled his ghostly essence, would have
taught his undying part that at any rate it was not wanted among
the posterity of his race. But (and the situation really had its
pathetic side) here it was, with the flair of these uncanny insub-
stantialities, finding a welcome at last (though not perhaps of the
most rapturous) in the great—great—oh, je vous le donne en mille !
—in the thousandth great-niece, Lucille Silverdale, daughter and
sister of, in abstract phrase, the Healthy Commonplace of the
British Nation. It was rare enough, as I said—that shrinking
from, that deprecation of, their sole title to distinction ; one longed
to trace it back to its source, to discover from what veil that
impish ringer had darted, whether, to add a quaintness the more,
he, the wit, the sweet singer of that honeyed age, had been as
unwelcome to his family circle as she, the somewhat unwilling
inheritress of his genius, was to hers. But of that bygone blazon
upon the Silverdale ‘scutcheon, it would have been ill-advised,
perilous to speak ; to Lucille even the subject was painful, and
in the most impracticable sort of way.
She did say to me once, in a moment of acute dejection, that
in any other family she would probably have been the idol, in-
sufferably thrust for worship upon every new-comer. ” But as
it is,” she finished sadly, though with her unquenchable twinkle,
” I am a skeleton, rattling my impossible bones, not in a nice
musty hiding-place of my own, but in the comfortable, general
family-cupboard, which they can’t open without seeing me. And
they have to open it every day—before visitors, too ! ”
If I laughed somewhat oppressively at her analogy, I daresay
she divined part of the reason, and didn’t wonder that her amazing
comicality should have filled my eyes with tears. . . .
Well, skeleton or idol, she was sufficiently lonely. They were
all so rudely healthy-minded, so full of the working-out of their
rosy-cheeked conception of the joie de vivre (if it
set one wondering
and shuddering, that was one’s own concern), so insistent in
exuberance and jollity, that it was no marvel if they had little
time, or inclination to make it, for a dreamer of dreams, a seer of
visions, a hearer of the music of the spheres. Not that any of
those would have been their definition of Lucille : to them, she
was a sentimentalist, a ” mooney.” Yet, apart from the unnatural-
nesses into which she would pathetically force herself, she had her
soft appealing wildnesses, her gay roguish outbreaks, her bright
apologetic materialnesses. . . .
Seeing it written there—apologetic—it
comes to me with a
flash of annoyed divination that Lucille was an incarnate apology.
. . . I knew we should arrive at something, you and I ; and I
am proved right before I have really posed you my enigma. We
are coming to it now : Why could she not have had the courage
of her genius ? I’m sure we see it often enough, oftener than
enough, perhaps—the cocksure type of young man or woman,
who has the courage of his or her talent. The courage ! The
brazenness, more aptly ; don’t we know them ? and they are
clever—oh, clever ! Then why couldn’t she be something like
them, instead of being one desperate, appealing clutch at the
commonplace ? She would do violence to her most delicate feelings,
and look absolutely complacent over it. Sometimes it made me
swear, sometimes—for it had its humorous side, of course—it
wholly amused me.
Haven’t I heard her twanging a banjo, and singing, in that
ethereal voice of hers, the last banalities ? Haven’t I seen her
playing at hockey ? Seen her ! the smile she wore, the nervous
conciliatory smile ; the runs she took—of all futilities ; the hits
she made, or didn’t make ! Lucille’s hockey was a triumph of
failure. And she would say she liked it, afterwards : it was hard,
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. D
then, to repress one’s ironic impulse one felt that she deserved
something. . . . But it wasn’t at all that I found it a degradation,
or even a derogation, for her to play hockey—that wasn’t in the
least my feeling. It was more an irritated kind of pity for her
fatuity, her lack of humour.
Yet with humour she was otherwise fully equipped ; her eyes
caught your flying sparkle, and rayed it off into immensity of fun.
Her lips—they almost sparkled, too, so mobile, scarlet. Her very
hands dimpled sometimes with laughter of rosy finger-tips, and
suggestion. . . . In a mad moment, you might have imagined that
her feet twinkled, too, in their small jewelled slippers, enjoying
the joke like the rest ! . . .
And, after a scintillation like that, the girl would do or say
something so irritating, so painfully, insistently, commonplace. . .
It was incomprehensible, that attitude of hers : she was, as I have
told you, my Sphinx of every-day life.
An instance ? Oh, as to that, I could overwhelm you with
instances. . . . Well, to take the first that occurs . . . and, indeed,
it is typical enough, I suppose, for my purpose. . . .
I met them down the river one afternoon of last summer—all
of them, Mrs. Silverdale, Mamie, Bella, Lucille, and, I think, one
or two vague, familiar young men. Already I had divined that
one of these last (I could barely distinguish one from the other)
admired Lucille, and plumed himself hugely upon his good taste,
which, to him, indeed, one could imagine, reflected itself almost
as bad taste—the sort of bad taste that one implies in ” caviare to
the general “—with a perfect understanding of the difficulties of
This mental attitude of Lucille’s admirer (I think his name
was Willie Ruthven) produced in his demeanour a mingling of
patronage, awe, and flippancy that formed an amazing whole. If
it sometimes made me long to kick him, that was perhaps an
excess of my feeling of championship for the lovely duckling of
this complacently plain family . . . or perhaps it was that her
gentle graciousness towards him seemed to me part of that irritating
apology of hers. . . .
To-day, for example, she was sitting apart from the rest, learning,
with his assistance, a banjo-atrocity of the newest, and assuming
for histrionic completeness a parody of the vilest parody on
” What I loiked about that party wos,
They wos all of ’em so refoined.”
She was chanting in that silvery thread of hers, while he held the
music-sheet before her. And that was Lucille Silverdale ! the
” L. S.” of A Trial of Flight, that exquisite little sheaf of poems
which, like fairy-arrows, had stirred the wings of many a shy
emotion in our critical hearts—we of The Appreciator, most modern
of modernities, most connaissant of connoisseurs ! It was—well,
it was ridiculous, of course, but wasn’t it painful, too, to see a
genius so belittle the gift of the most high gods ?—wasn’t it almost
wicked, blasphemous ?
They were encamped in a mist of greenness, their boat fastened
to the long bough of a willow that pushed into the water ; it made
an ideal nook for happy lovers, and I wondered hotly if it realised
its present indignity, as, eagerly invited by the rest, I drew in my
canoe to their hiding-place. I hardly looked at Lucille and her
Companion of the Banjo, nor did she say anything by way of
welcome ; she was, I gathered, too deeply absorbed in her musical
studies. I hardly looked at her—but I saw her, more clearly than
I saw any of the others : a slender, hazel-eyed incarnation of
fragrant coolness, lying there, in white and yellow, among her
gleaming blue-green cushions, while the sunbeams glinted off
every part of the silver and polished wood of her banjo, and her
pretty fingers, too, caught the rays on their rings and their rosy
opalescent nail-tips. I could have shaken her where she lay : was
she enjoying herself, did she like it . . . ?
” Now, Miss Silverdale, you forgot your accent there ! ” cor-
rected Willie Ruthven, in tones that subdued themselves to a
growling tenderness—more could not be demanded of his gruff
organ—and even while I inwardly blustered, I felt the humour of
the moment steal over me irresistibly. Modern love-making !
Should I do it for The Appreciator ? Love-making over that blatant
ditty to the poetess of A Trial of Flight !
But Mamie was claiming my attention.
” Mr. Transfield, are you good at riddles ? We have a book
of them here—come and help us to guess them, they are such
fun ! ”
Riddles—and a book of them ! . . . Well, I went and listened
to these riddles ; of my help in guessing them, one can say little,
nor, indeed, was much opportunity for distinction afforded. Like
most posers of enigmas, Mamie had but one ambition : to give
you the answer. . . .
” And your sister, does she like riddles too ? “
I asked it almost involuntarily, annoyed at their persistent ignor-
ing of her (I don’t know whether it was chivalry or—some other
feeling, that incensed me so with her exclusion, her isolation . . .) ;
and then, besides, a riddle—even of this kind—must remind me,
must so inevitably suggest her to me. . . . I have not guessed
that answer, either, and there was no Mamie to tell it me. . . .
Perhaps there isn’t any ? Dieu sait ! . . .
” Lucille—oh, Lucille ! She never guesses
even tries or listens ; too much absorbed in intellectual pursuits ! ”
” For instance ? ” I queried, eyebrows irresistibly elevated in
my glance at the couple in the bow . . . I caught her look for
an instant . . . it seemed to say something, hope something . . .
then her fingers swept over the strings, and once more she studied
the Cockney dialect. . . .
” Anything is better than talking to the rest of us,” said Mrs.
Silverdale, crossly ; to such good purpose was the girl’s martyr-
dom ! for martyrdom, I was sure of it, her eyes had but now
implied. My heart swelled, my cheek burned, as usual. . . .
Of the rest of the day it needs not to tell you ; an epitome of
it is there, in the banjo, the cushions, Willie Ruthven, the riddles,
and the increasing crossness of the others. For, to add a hope-
lessness the more, one could more than guess that Mamie desired
Willie for herself. . . . Bella, more fortunate, chattered inter-
mittently with the other familiar vagueness ; and in our ears the
strings incessantly tinkled, the Cockney dialect futilely twanged,
Willie’s growling tendernesses reverberated. . . .
To Lucille I never once spoke.
But alone, all the way home, through the dusky gleaming of the
water, I seemed to catch again that shy elusive glance, that
appealing proud humility . . . that half-divined, wholly-lost
answer. . . .
Well, that is all ! I wonder if I thought right ? I wonder if, in
these halting half-apprehensions of mine, these unilluminative
side-lights, this one meaningless—or significant ?—instance, I
have succeeded in gaining, at least, your interest, your sympathy,
for my Sphinx of South Kensington ? I wonder if I have helped
you to an idea of her, at all corresponding to what she is ? And,
more than all, I wonder can you divine (for I cannot) where it is
that her weakness lies, what it is that makes her so spoil, so
desecrate herself ?
To me she is the riddle—shall I say, of my life ? I almost think
that, without exaggeration, without affectation, I may call her so,
for it is more than unlikely now that I shall ever know the answer.
Oh, of course, you may say that she has answered it herself, and in
the roughest black-and-white, the worst, the bluntest of type . . .
for you saw, no doubt, as I did, that announcement in the morn-
ing’s paper, that hateful, incredible juxtaposition of names :
” Ruthven—Silverdale.” . . .
But, you see, I can’t get that look out of my
flutter of the wings of her strange, sweet, mistaken soul . . . and
I think, I can’t help thinking, that Lucille has written out her
Apology to the last word. . . .
And, in the name of Reason, what was the meaning of it all ?
Oh, it sets my heart aching—but it makes me angry too . . . it
seems as if—as if—it seems (confound it !) as if I had had some-
thing given to me to do—and hadn’t done it. . . .
What do you think ? I hardly hoped you would
know . . . but perhaps you do, and—do you think I could have
done anything ? do you feel as if it had been, in any way, my fault ?
It seems a preposterous, a presumptuous notion . . . but is there
anything in it, do you think ? . . . I suppose it is useless to
expect you to answer.
By Whitelaw Hamilton
P’TIT-BLEU, poor P’tit-Bleu ! I can’t name her without a sigh ;
I can t think of her without a kind of heart-ache. Yet, all
things considered, I wonder whether hers was really a destiny to
sorrow over. True, she has disappeared ; and it is not pleasant
to conjecture what she may have to come to, what may have
befallen her, in the flesh, since her disappearance. But when I
remember those beautiful preceding years of self-abnegation, of
great love, and pain, and devotion, I find myself instinctively
believing that something good she must have permanently gained ;
some treasure that nothing, not the worst imaginable subsequent
disaster, can quite have taken from her. It is not pleasant to
conjecture what she may have done or suffered in the flesh ; but
in the spirit, one may hope, she cannot have gone altogether to the
bad, nor fared altogether ill.
In the spirit ! Dear me, there was a time when it would have
seemed derisory to speak of the spirit in the same breath with
P’tit-Bleu. In the early days of my acquaintance with her, for
example, I should have stared if anybody had spoken of her spirit.
If anybody had asked me to describe her, I should have said, ” She
is a captivating little animal, pretty and sprightly, but as soulless—
as soulless as a squirrel.” Oh, a warm-blooded little animal, good-
quick-witted, full of life and the joy of life ; a delightful
little animal to play with, to fondle ; but just a little animal, none
the less : a little mass of soft, rosy, jocund, sensual, soulless matter.
And in her full red lips, her roguish black eyes, her plump little
hands, her trim, tight little figure in her smile, her laugh— in
the toss of her head— in her saucy, slightly swaggering carriage
—I fancy you would have read my appreciation justified. No
doubt there must have been the spark of a soul smouldering some-
where in her (how, otherwise, account for what happened later
on ?), but it was far too tiny a spark to be perceptible to the
casual observer. Soul, however, I need hardly add, was the last
thing we of the University were accustomed to look for in our
feminine companions ; I must not for an instant seem to imply
that the lack of a soul in P tit-Bleu was a subject of mourning
with any of us. That a Latin Quarter girl should be soulless was
as much a part of the natural order of creation, as that she should
be beardless. They were all of them little animals, and P’tit-Bleu
diverged from the type principally in this, that where the others,
in most instances, were stupid, objectionable little animals, she was
a diverting one. She was made of sugar and spice and a hundred
nice ingredients, whilst they were made of the dullest, vulgarest
In my own case, P’tit-Bleu was the object, not indeed of love,
but of a violent infatuation, at first sight.
At Bullier’s, one evening, a chain of students, some twenty
linked hand in hand, were chasing her round and round the hall,
shouting after her, in rough staccato, something that sounded
like, “Ti-bah/ Ti-bah / Ti-bah !”—while she, a sprite-like
little form, in a black skirt and a scarlet bodice, fled before them
with leaps and bounds, and laughed defiantly.
I hadn’t the vaguest notion what ” Ti-bah ! Ti-bah ! Ti-bah !
” meant, but that laughing face, with the red lips and the roguish
eyes, seemed to me immensely fascinating. Among the faces of
the other young ladies present—faces of dough, faces of tallow,
faces all weariness, staleness, and banality, common, coarse, point-
less, insipid faces it shone like an epigram amongst platitudes, a
thing of fire amongst things of dust. I turned to some one near
me, and asked who she was. “
It’s P’tit-Bleu, the dancing-girl. She’s going to do a
P ‘tit-Bleu…. It’s the fashion, you know, in Paris, for the
girls who ” do quadrilles ” to adopt unlikely nicknames : aren’t
the reigning favourites at this moment Chapeau-Mou and Fifi-la-
Galette ? P’tit-Bleu had derived hers from that vehement little
wine of the barrier,” which, the song declares, ” vous met la
tête en feu.” It was the tune of the same song, that, in another
minute, I heard the band strike up, in the balcony over our heads.
P’tit-Bleu came to a standstill in the middle of the floor, where
she was joined by three minor dancing-girls, to make two couples.
The chain of students closed in a circle round her. And the rest
of us thronged behind them, pressing forward, and craning our
necks. Then, as the band played, everybody sang, in noisy
“P’tit-Bleu, P’tit-Bleu, P’tit-Bleu-eu,
Ça vous met la tete en feu !
Ça vous ra-ra-ra-ra-ra,
Ça vous ra-ra-ravigotte ! “
P’tit-Bleu stood with her hands on her hips, her arms a-kimbo,
her head thrown impudently back, her eyes sparkling mischievously,
her lips curling in a perpetual play of smiles, while her three
subalterns accomplished their tame preliminary measures ; and then
P’tit-Bleu pirouetted forward, and began her own indescribable
pas-seul —oh, indescribable for a hundred reasons. She wore
scarlet satin slippers, embroidered with black beads, and black silk
stockings with scarlet clocks, and simply cataracts and cataracts of
white diaphanous frills under her demure black skirt. And she
danced with constantly increasing fervour, kicked higher and
higher, ever more boldly and more bravely. Presently her hat
fell off, and she tossed it from her, calling to the member of the
crowd who had the luck to catch it, “Tiensmon chapeau !” And
then her waving black hair flowed down her back, and flew loose
about her face and shoulders. And the whole time, she laughed
—laughed —laughed. With her swift whirlings, her astonishing
undulations, and the flashing of the red and black and white, one’s
eyes were dazzled. ” Ça vous met la tête en feu ! ” My head
burned and reeled, as I watched her, and I thought, ” What a
delicious, bewitching little creature ! What wouldn’t I give to
know her ! ” My head burned, and my heart yearned covetously ;
but I was a new-comer in the Quarter, and ignorant of its easy
etiquette, and terribly young and timid, and I should never have
dared to speak to her without a proper introduction. She danced
with constantly increasing fervour, faster, faster, furiously fast : till,
suddenly—zip!—down she slid upon the flood, in the grand écart,
and sat there (if one may call that posture sitting), smiling calmly
up at us, whilst everybody thundered, ” Bravo ! Bravo! Bravo!”
In an instant, though, she was on her feet again, and had darted
out of the circle to the side of the youth who had caught her hat.
He offered it to her with a bow, but his pulses were thumping
tempestuously, and no doubt she could read his envy in his eyes.
Anyhow, all at once, she put her arm through his, and said —oh,
thrills and wonders ! —” Allons, mon petit, I authorise you to
treat me to a bock.”
It seemed as if impossible heavens had opened to me ; yet there
she was, clinging to my arm, and drawing me towards the plat-
form under the musicians gallery, where there are tables for the
thirsty. Her little plump white hand lay on my coat-sleeve ; the
air was heady with the perfume of her garments ; her roguish
black eyes were smiling encouragement into mine ; and her red
lips were so near, so near, I had to fight down a wild impulse to
stoop and snatch a kiss. She drew me towards the tables, and, on
the way, she stopped before a mirror fixed on the wall and re-
arranged her hair ; while I stood close to her, still holding her hat,
and waited, feeling the most exquisite proud swelling of the heart,
as if I owned her. Her hair put right, she searched in her pocket
and produced a small round ivory box, from which—having
unscrewed its cover and handed it to me with a ” Tiens ça ” —she
extracted a powder-puff ; and therewith she proceeded gently,
daintily, to dust her face and throat, examining the effect critically in
the glass the while. In the end she said, ” Voila, that’s better,” and
turned her face to me for corroboration. “That’s better, isn’t it ? “
” It’s perfect. But—but you were perfect before, too,” asseverated
I. Oh, what a joy beyond measure thus to be singled out and
made her confidant and adviser in these intimate affairs…. At
our table, leaning back nonchalantly in her chair, as she quaffed
her bock and puffed her cigarette, she looked like a bright-eyed,
I gazed at her in a quite unutterable ecstasy of admiration. My
conscience told me that I ought to pay her a compliment upon her
dancing ; but I couldn’t shape one : my wits were paralysed by my
emotions. I could only gaze, and gaze, and revel in my unexpected
fortune. At last, however, the truth burst from me in a sort of in-
voluntary gasp. “
But you are adorable—adorable.”
She gave a quick smile of intelligence, of sympathy, and, with a
knowing toss of the head and a provoking glance, suggested, ” Je
te mets la tête en feu, quoi ! “
She, you perceive, was entirely at her ease, mistress of the situa-
tion. It is conceivable that she had met neophytes before—that I
was by no means to her the unprecedented experience she was to
me. At any rate, she understood my agitation and sought to re-
” Don’t be afraid ; I’ll not eat you,” she promised.
I, in the depths of my mind, had been meditating what I could
not but deem an excessively audacious proposal. Her last speech
gave me my cue, and I risked it.
” Perhaps you would like to eat something else ? If—if we
should go somewhere and sup ?”
“Monsieur thinks he will be safer to take precautions,” she
laughed. Well—I submit.”
So we removed ourselves to the vestiaire, where she
put on her
cloak, and exchanged her slippers for a pair of boots (you ca
guess, perhaps, who enjoyed the beatific privilege of buttoning
them for her) ; and then we left the Closerie des Lilas, falsely so
called, with its flaring gas, its stifling atmosphere, its boisterous
merrymakers, and walked arm in arm only this time it was my
arm that was within hers—down the Boul’Miche, past the Luxem-
bourg gardens, where sweet airs blew in our faces, to the Gambrinus
restaurant, in the Rue de Médicis. And there you should have seen
P’tit-Bleu devouring écrevisses. Whatsoever this young woman’s
hand found to do, she did it with her might. She attacked her
écrevisses with the same jubilant abandon with which she had
executed her bewildering single-step. She devoured them with an
energy, an enthusiasm, a thoroughness, that it was invigorating to
witness ; smacking her lips, and smiling, and, from time to time,
between the mouthfuls, breathing soft little interjections of con-
tent. When the last pink shell was emptied, she threw herself
back, and sighed, and explained, with delectable unconsciousness, “
I was hungry.” But at my venturing to protest, ” Not really,”
she broke into mirthful laughter, and added, ” At least, I had the
appearance.” Meanwhile, I must not fail to mention, she had done
abundant honour to her share of a bottle of chablis. Don’t be
horrified—haven’t the Germans, who ought to know, a proverb
that recommends it ? ” Wein auf Bier, das rath’ ich Dir.”
I have said that none of us mourned the absence of a soul in
P’tit-Bleu. Nevertheless, as I looked at her to-night, and realised
what a bright, joyous, good-humoured little thing she was, how
healthy, and natural, and even, in a way, innocent she was, I sud-
denly felt a curious depression. She was all this, and yet . . .
For just a moment, perhaps, I did vaguely mourn the lack of some-
thing. Oh, she was well enough for the present ; she was joyous,
and good-humoured, and innocent in a way ; she was young and
pretty, and the world smiled upon her. But—for the future ?
When it occurred to me to think of her future—of what it must
almost certainly be like, of what she must almost inevitably become
—I confess my jaw dropped and the salt of our banquet lost its
What’s the matter ? Why do you look at me like that ? “
So I had to pull myself up and be jolly again. It was not alto-
gether difficult. In the early twenties, troublesome reflections are
easily banished, I believe ; and I had a lively comrade.
After her crayfish were disposed of, P’tit-Bleu called for coffee
and lit a cigarette. And then, between whiffs and sips, she
prattled gaily of the subject which, of all subjects, she was probably
best qualified to treat, and which assuredly, for the time being,
possessed most interest for her listener—herself. She told me, as
it were, the story of her birth, parentage, life, and exploits. It
was the simplest story, the commonest story. Her mother (la
recherche de la paternité est interditi), her mother had died when
she was sixteen, and Jeanne (that was her baptismal name, Jeanne
Mérois) had gone to work in the shop of a dressmaker, where,
sewing hard from eight in the morning till seven at night, with
an hour s intermission at noon, she could earn, in good seasons, as
much as two-francs-fifty a day. Two and a half francs a day—
say twelve shillings a week— in good seasons ; and one must eat,
and lodge, and clothe one’s body, and pay one s laundress, in good
seasons and in bad. It scarcely satisfied her aspirations, and she
took to dancing. Now she danced three nights a week at Bullier’s,
and during the day gave lessons in her art to a score of pupils, by
which means she contrived to keep the wolf at a respectful dis-
tance from her door. ” Tiens, here’s my card,” she concluded,
and handed me an oblong bit of pasteboard, on which was printed,
” P’tit-Bleu, Professeur de Danse, 22, Rue Monsieur le Prince.”
” Et tu n’as pas d’amoureux ? ” questioned I.
She flashed a look upon me that was quite inexpressibly arch,
and responded instantly, with the charmingest little pout, ” But
yes since I’m supping with him.”
During the winter that followed, P’tit-Bleu and I supped
together rather frequently. She was a mere little animal, she had
no soul ; but she was the nicest little animal, and she had instincts.
She was more than good-natured, she was kind-hearted ; and,
according to her unconventional standards, she was conscientious.
It would have amused and touched you, for example, if you had
been taking her about, to notice her intense solicitude lest you
should conduct her entertainment upon a scale too lavish, her
deprecating frowns, her expostulations, her restraining hand laid on
your arm. And the ordinary run of Latin Quarter girls derive an
incommunicable rapture from seeing their cavaliers wantonly,
purposelessly prodigal. With her own funds, on the contrary,
P’tit-Bleu was free-handed to a fault : Mimi and Zizette knew
whom to go to, when they were hard-up. Neither did she confine
her benefactions to gifts of money, nor limit their operation to her
particular sex. More than one impecunious student owed it to her
skilful needle that his clothes were whole, and his linen maintained
in a habitable state. ” Fie, Chalks ! Your coat is torn, there are
three buttons off your waistcoat, and your cuffs are frayed to a
point that is disgraceful. I’ll come round to-morrow afternoon,
and mend them for you.” And when poor Berthe Dumours was
turned out of the hospital, in the dead of winter, half-cured, and
without a penny in her purse, who took her in, and nursed her,
and provided for her during her convalescence ?
Oh, she was a good little thing. ” P’tit-Bleu s all right.
There’s nothing the matter with P tit-Bleu,” was Chalk’s method
of phrasing it.
At the same time, she could be trying, she could be exasperating.
And she had a temper—a temper. What she made me suffer in
the way of jealousy, during that winter, it would be gruesome to
recount. She enjoyed an exceeding great popularity in the
Quarter ; she was much run after. It were futile to pretend that
she hadn t her caprices. And she held herself free as air. She
would call no man master. You might take what she would give,
and welcome ; but you must claim nothing as your due. You
mustn’t assume airs of proprietorship ; you mustn’t presume upon
the fact that she was supping with you to-night, to complain if
she should sup to-morrow with another. Her concession of a
privilege did not by any means imply that it was exclusive. She
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. E
would endure no exactions, no control or interference, no surveil-
lance, above all, no reproaches. Mercy, how angry she would
become if I ventured any, how hoighty-toighty and unap-
You imagine that I am your property ? Did you invent me ?
One would say you held a Government patent. All rights
reserved ! Thank you. You fancy perhaps that Paris is Con-
stantinople ? Ah, mais non ! ”
She had a temper and a flow of language. There were
points you couldn’t touch without precipitating hail and
Thus my winter was far from a tranquil one, and before it
was half over I had three grey hairs. Honey and wormwood,
happiness and heartburn, reconciliations and frantic little tiffs,
carried us blithely on to Mi-Carême, when things reached a
Mi-Carême fell midway in March that year : a velvety, sweet,
sunlit day, Spring stirring in her sleep. P’ tit-Bleu and I had
spent the day together, in the crowded, crowded streets. We had
visited the Boulevards, of course, to watch the triumph of the
Queen of Washerwomen ; we had pelted everybody with confetti ;
and we had been pelted so profusely in return, that there were
confetti in our boots, in our pockets, down our necks, and
numberless confetti clung in the black meshes of P’tit-Bleu’s hair,
like little pink, blue, and yellow stars. But all day long something
in P’ tit-Bleu’s manner, something in her voice, her smile, her
carriage, had obscurely troubled me ; something not easy to take
hold of, something elusive, unformulable, but disquieting. A
certain indefinite aloofness, perhaps; an accentuated independence;
as if she were preoccupied with secret thoughts, with intentions,
feelings, that she would not let me share.
And then, at night, we went to the Opera Ball.
P’tit-Bleu was dressed as an Odalisque : a tiny round Turkish
cap, set jauntily sidewise on her head, a short Turkish jacket, both
cap and jacket jingling and glittering with sequins ; a long veil
of gauze, wreathed like a scarf round her shoulders ; then baggy
Turkish trousers of blue silk, and scarlet Turkish slippers. Oh,
she was worth seeing ; I was proud to have her on my arm. Her
black crinkling hair, her dancing eyes, her eager face and red
smiling mouth—the Sultan himself might have envied me such a
houri. And many, in effect, were the envious glances that we
encountered, as we made our way into the great brilliantly lighted
ball-room, and moved hither and thither amongst the Harlequins
and Columbines, the Pierrots, the Toréadors, the Shepherdesses
and Vivandières, the countless fantastic masks, by whom the place
was peopled. P’tit-Bleu had a loup of black velvet, which some-
times she wore, and sometimes gave to me to carry for her. I
don’t know when she looked the more dangerous, when she had it
on, and her eyes glimmered mysteriously through its peep-holes,
or when she had it off.
Many were the envious glances that we encountered, and pre-
sently I became aware that one individual was following us about :
a horrid, glossy creature, in a dress suit, with a top-hat that was
much too shiny, and a huge waxed moustache that he kept
twirling invidiously : an undersized, dark, Hebraic-featured man,
screamingly ” rasta’.” Whithersoever we turned, he hovered
annoyingly near to us, and ogled P’tit-Bleu under my very beard.
This was bad enough ; but—do sorrows ever come as single
spies ?—conceive my emotions, if you please, when, by-and-by,
suspicion hardened into certitude that P’tit-Bleu was not merely
getting a vainglorious gratification from his attentions, but that
she was positively playing up to them, encouraging him to persevere !
She chattered—to me, indeed, but at him—with a vivacity there
was no misconstruing ; laughed noisily, fluttered her fan,
flirted her veil, donned and doffed her loup, and, I daresay, when
my back was turned, exchanged actual eye-shots with the brute.
…In due time quadrilles were organised, and P’tit-Bleu led a
set. The glossy interloper was one of the admiring circle that
surrounded her. Ugh ! his complacent, insinuating smile, the
conquering air with which he twirled his moustachios ! And
P’tit-Bleu. . . . When, at the finish, she sprang up, after her
grand écart, what do you suppose she did ? . . . The brazen little
minx, instead of rejoining me, slipped her arm through his, and
went tripping off with him to the supper-room.
Oh, the night I passed, the night of anguish ! The visions
that tortured me, as I tramped my floor ! The delirious revenges
that I plotted, and gloated over in anticipation ! She had left me
—the mockery of it !—she had left me her loup, her little black
velvet loup, with its empty eye-holes, and its horribly reminiscent
smell. Everything P’tit-Bleu owned was scented with peau-
d’ Espagne. I wreaked my fury upon that loup, I promise you. I
smote it with my palm, I ground it under my heel, I tore it limb
from limb, I called it all manner of abusive names. Early in the
morning I was at P’tit-Bleu’s house; but the concierge grunted,
” Pas rentrée.” Oh, the coals thereof are coals of fire. I returned
to her house a dozen times that day, and at length, towards night-
fall, found her in. We had a stormy session, but of course, the
last word of it was hers : still, for all slips, she was one of Eve’s
family. Of course she justified herself, and put me in the wrong.
I went away, vowing I would never, never, never see her again.
” Va ! Ca m est bien égal,” she capped the climax by calling after
me. Oh, youth ! Oh, storm and stress ! And to think that
one lives to laugh at its memory.
For the rest of that season, P’ tit-Bleu and I remained at daggers
drawn. In June I left town for the summer ; and then one thing
and another happened, and kept me away till after Christmas.
When I got back, amongst the many pieces of news that I
found waiting for me, there was one that affected P’tit-Bleu.
” P’tit-Bleu,” I was told, ” is collée with an Englishman—
but a grey-beard, mon cher—a gaga—an Englishman old enough
to be her grandfather.”
A stolid, implicit cynicism, I must warn you, was the mode of
the Quarter. The student who did not wish to be contemned
for a sentimentalist, dared never hesitate to believe an evil report,
nor to put the worst possible construction upon all human actions.
Therefore, when I was apprised by common rumour that during
the dead season P’tit-Bleu (for considerations fiscal, bien entendu)
had gone to live ” collée ” with an Englishman old enough to be
her grandfather—though, as it turned out, the story was the
sheerest fabrication—it never entered my head to doubt it.
At the same time, I confess, I could not quite share the
humour of my compeers, who regarded the circumstance as a
stupendous joke. On the contrary, I was shocked and sickened.
I shouldn t have imagined her capable of that. She was a mere
little animal ; she had no soul ; she was bound, in the nature of
things, to go from bad to worse, as I had permitted myself, indeed,
to admonish her, in the last conversation we had had. ” Mark
my words, you will go from bad to worse.” But I had thought
her such a nice little animal ; in my secret heart, I had hoped that
her progress would be slow—even, faintly, that Providence might
let something happen to arrest it, to divert it. And now. . . . !
As a matter of fact, Providence had let something happen to
divert it ; and that something was this very relation of hers with
an old Englishman, in which the scandal-lovers of the Latin
Quarter were determined to see neither more nor less than a
mercenary ” collage.” The diversion in question, however, was
an extremely gradual process. As yet, it is pretty certain, P’tit-
Bleu herself had never so much as dreamed that any diversion was
But she knew that her relation with the Englishman was an
innocent relation ; and of its innocence, I am glad to be able to
record, she succeeded in convincing one, at least, of her friends,
tolerably early in the game. In the teeth of my opposition, and
at the expense of her own pride, she forced an explanation, which,
I am glad to say, convinced me.
I had just passed her and her Englishman in the street. They
were crossing the Boulevard St. Michel, and she was hanging on
his arm, looking up into his face, and laughing. She wore a
broad-brimmed black hat, with a red ribbon in it, and a knot of
red ribbon at her throat ; there was a lovely suggestion of the same
colour in her cheeks ; and never had her eyes gleamed with
I assure you, the sensation this spectacle afforded me amounted
to a physical pain—the disgust, the anger. If she could laugh
like that, how little could she feel her position ! The hardened
shamelessness of it !
Turning from her to her companion, I own I was surprised
and puzzled. He was a tall, spare old man, not a grey-beard, but
a white-beard, and he had thin snow-white hair. He was dressed
neatly indeed, but the very reverse of sumptuously. His black
overcoat was threadbare, his carefully polished boots were patched.
Yet, everybody averred, it was his affluence that had attracted
her ; she had taken up with him during the dead season, because
she had been ” à sec.” A detail that did nothing to relieve my
perplexity was the character of his face. Instead of the florid
concupiscent face, with coarse lips and fiery eye-balls, I had
instinctively expected, I saw a thin, pale face, with mild, melan-
choly eyes, a gentle face, a refined face, rather a weak face,
certainly the very last face the situation called for. He was a
beast of course, but he didn’t look like a beast. He looked like a
gentleman, a broken-down, forlorn old gentleman,
singularly astray from his proper orbit.
They were crossing the Boulevard St. Michel as I was leaving
the Café Vachette ; and at the corner of the Rue des Ecoles we
came front to front. P’tit-Bleu glanced up ; her eyes brightened,
she gave a little start, and was plainly for stopping to shake hands.
I cut her dead. . . .
I cut her dead, and held my course serenely down the Boulevard
—though I m not sure my heart wasn’t pounding. But I could lay
as unction to my soul the consciousness of having done the appro-
priate thing, of having marked my righteous indignation.
In a minute, however, I heard the pat-pat of rapid footsteps on
the pavement behind me, and my name being called. I hurried
on, careful not to turn my head. But, at Cluny, P’tit-Bleu arrived
abreast of me.
” I want to speak to you,” she gasped, out of breath from
I shrugged my shoulders.
” Will you tell me why you cut me like that just now ? “
” If you don’t know, I doubt if I could make you understand,”
I answered, with an air of imperial disdain.
” You bear me a grudge, hein ? For what I did last March ?
Well, then, you are right. There. I was abominable. But I
have been sorry, and I ask your pardon. Now will you let bygones
be bygones ? Will you forgive me ?
” Oh,” I said, ” don’t try to play the simpleton with me. You
are perfectly well aware that isn’t why I cut you.”
” But why, then ? ” cried she, admirably counterfeiting (as I
took for granted) a look and accent of bewilderment.
I walked on without speaking. She kept beside me.
” But why, then ? If it isn’t that, what is it ? “
” Oh, bah ! “
” I insist upon your telling me. Tell me.”
” Very good, then. I don t care to know a girl who lives
collée with a gaga,” I said, brutally.
P’tit-Bleu flushed suddenly, and faced me with blazing eyes.
” Comment ! You believe that ? ” she cried.
“Pooh!” said I.
” Oh, mais non, mais non, mais non, alors ! You don’t believe
that ? ”
” You pay me a poor compliment. Why should you expect
me to be ignorant of a thing the whole Quarter knows ? ”
” Oh, the whole Quarter ! What does that matter to me, your
Quarter? Those nasty little students ! C’est dela crasse, quoi !
They may believe—they may say—what they like. Oh, ça m’est
bien égal ! ” with a shake of the head and a skyward gesture. ” But
you—but my friends ! Am I that sort of girl ? Answer.”
“There’s only one sort of girl in the precincts of this University,”
declared her disenchanted interlocutor. “You’re all of one pattern.
The man’s an ass who expects any good from any of you. Don’t
pose as better than the others. You’re all a—un tas de saletés.
I’m sick and tired of the whole sordid, squalid lot of you. I
should be greatly obliged, now, if you would have the kindness
to leave me. Go back to your gaga. He ll be impatient wait-
That speech, I fancied, would rid me of her. But no.
” You are trying to make me angry, aren’t you ? But I refuse
to leave you till you have admitted that you are wrong,” she
persisted. ” It’s an outrageous slander. Monsieur Long (that is
his name, Monsieur Long), he lives in the same house with me,
on the same landing ; et voilà tout. Dame ! Can I prevent him ?
Am I the landlord ? And, for that, they say I’m collée with
him. I don’t care what they say. But you ! I swear to you it
is an infamous lie. Will you come home with me now, and
see ? ”
” Oh, that’s mere quibbling. You go with him everywhere
, you dine with him, you are never seen without him.”
” Dieu de Dieu ! ” wailed P’tit-Bleu. ” How shall I convince
you ? He is my neighbour. Is it forbidden to know ones neigh-
bours ? I swear to you, I give you my word of honour, it is
nothing else. How to make you believe me ? ”
” Well, my dear,” said I, ” if you wish me to believe you, break
with him. Chuck him up. Drop his acquaintance. Nobody in
his senses will believe you so long as you go trapesing about the
Quarter with him.”
” Oh, but no,” she cried, ” I can t drop his acquaintance.”
” Ah, there it is,” cried I.
” There are reasons. There are reasons why I
can’t, why I mustn’t. ”
I thought so.” ” Ah, voyons ! ” she broke out, losing patience. ” Will you
not believe my word of honour ? Will you force me to tell
you things that don’t concern you—that I have no right to tell ?
Well, then, listen. I cannot drop his acquaintance, because —this
is a secret—he would die of shame if he thought I had betrayed it
—you will never breathe it to a soul—because I have discovered
that he has a—a vice, a weakness. No—but listen. He is an
Englishman, a painter. Oh, a painter of great talent ; a painter
who has exposed at the Salon —quoi ! A painter who is known
in his country. On a meme parle de lui dans les journaux ;
voilà. But look. He has a vice. He has half ruined, half
killed himself with a drug. Yes—opium. Oh, but wait, wait.
I will tell you. He came to live in our house last July, in the
room opposite mine. When we met, on the landing, in the
staircase, he took off his hat, and we passed the bonjour. Oh, he
is a gentleman ; he has been well brought up. From that we
arrived at speaking together a little, and then at visiting. It was
the dead season, I had no affairs. I would sit in his room in the
afternoon, and we would chat. Oh, he is a fine talker. But,
though he had canvases, colours, all that is needed for painting,
he never painted. He would only talk, talk. I said, But you
ought to paint. He said always, Yes, I must begin something
to-morrow. Always to-morrow. And then I discovered what
it was. He took opium. He spent all his money for opium.
And when he had taken his opium he would not work, he
would only talk, talk, talk, and then sleep, sleep. You think
that is well—hein ? That a painter of talent should do no
work, but spend all his money for a drug, for a poison, and
then say To-morrow ? You think I could sit still and see
him commit these follies under my eyes and say nothing, do no-
thing ? Ruin his brain, his health, his career, and waste all his
money, for that drug ? Oh, mais non. I made him the sermon.
I said, You know it is very bad, that which you are doing
there. I scolded him. I said, But I forbid you to do that —do
you understand ? I forbid it. I went with him everywhere, I
gave him all my time ; and when he would take his drug I would
annoy him, I would make a scene, I would shame him. Well,
in the end, I have acquired an influence over him. He has sub-
mitted himself to me. He is really trying to break the habit. I
keep all his money. I give him his doses. I regulate them, I
diminish them. The consequence is, I make him work. I give
him one very small dose in the morning to begin the day. Then
I will give him no more till he has done so much work. You
see ? Tu te figures que je suis sa maîtresse ? Je suis plutôt sa
nounou—va ! Je suis sa caissiere. And he is painting a great
picture—you will see. Eh bien, how can I give up his acquaint-
ance ? Can I let him relapse, as he would do to-morrow without
me, into his bad habit ?
” I was walking with long strides, P’tit-Bleu tripping at my
elbow ; and before her story was finished we had left the
Boulevard behind us, and reached the middle of the Pont St.
Michel. There, I don’t know why, we halted, and stood look-
ing off towards Notre-Dame. The grim grey front of the
Cathedral glowed softly amethystine in the afternoon sun, and
the sky was infinitely deep and blue above it. One could be
intensely conscious of the splendid penetrating beauty of this
picture, without, somehow, giving the less attention to what P’tit-
Bleu was saying. She talked swiftly, eagerly, with constantly
changing, persuasive intonations, with little brief pauses, hesita-
tions, with many gestures, with much play of eyes and face.
When she had done, I waited a moment. Then, grudgingly,
” Well,” I began, ” if what you tell me is true—”
If it is true ! ” P’tit-Bleu cried, with sudden
fierceness. ” Do
you dare to say you doubt it ? ”
And she gazed intently, fiercely, into my eyes, challenging me,
as it were, to give her the lie.
Before that gaze my eyes dropped, abashed.
” No—I don’t doubt it,” I faltered, ” I believe you. And—
and allow me to say that you are a a damned decent little girl.”
Poor P’tit-Bleu ! How shall I tell you the rest of her story
—the story of those long years of love and sacrifice and devo-
tion, and of continual discouragement, disappointment, with his
death at the end of them, and her disappearance ?
In the beginning she herself was very far from realising what
she had undertaken, what had befallen her. To exercise a little
friendly supervision over her neighbour s addiction to opium, to
husband his money for him, and spur him on to work—it seemed
a mere incident in her life, an affair by the way. But it be-
came her exclusive occupation, her whole life’s chief concern.
Little by little, one after the other, she put aside all her former
interests, thoughts, associations, dropped all her former engage-
ments, to give herself as completely to caring for, guarding,
guiding poor old Edward Long, as if she had been a mother, and
he her helpless child.
Throughout that first winter, indeed, she continued to dance
at Bullier’s, continued to instruct her corps of pupils, and con-
tinued even occasionally, though much less frequently than of
old time, to be seen at the Vachette, or to sup with a friend at
the Gambrinus. But from day to day Monsieur Edouard (he
had soon ceased to be Monsieur Long, and become Monsieur Edouard)
absorbed more and more of her time and attention ; and
when the spring came she suddenly burned her ships.
You must understand that she had one pertinacious adversary in
her efforts to wean him of his vice. Not an avowed adversary,
for he professed the most earnest wish that she might be success-
ful ; but an adversary who was eternally putting spokes in her
wheel, all the same. Yes, Monsieur Edouard himself. Never
content with the short rations to which she had condemned him,
he was perpetually on the watch for a chance to elude her vigil-
ance ; she was perpetually discovering that he had somehow con-
trived to lay in secret supplies. And every now and again, openly
defying her authority, he would go off for a grand debauch.
Then her task of reducing his daily portion to a minimum must
needs be begun anew. Well, when the spring came, and the
Salon opened, where his picture (her picture ?) had been received
and very fairly hung, they went together to the Vernissage.
And there he met a whole flock of English folk—artists and
critics, who had ” just run over for the show, you know ): —with
whom he was acquainted ; and they insisted on carrying him away
with them to lunch at the Ambassadeurs.
I, too, had assisted at the Vernissage ; and when I left it, I
found P’tit-Bleu seated alone under the trees in the Champs-
Elysées. She had on a brilliant spring toilette, with a hat and a
sunshade. . . . Oh, my dear ! It is not to be denied that P’ tit-
Bleu had the courage of her tastes. But her face was pale, and
her lips were drawn down, and her eyes looked strained and
” What’s the row ? ” I asked.
And she told me how she had been abandoned—” plantée la “
was her expression—and of course I invited her to lunch with me.
But she scarce relished the repast. ” Pourvu qu’il ne fasse pas de
bêtises ! ” was her refrain.
She returned rather early to the Rue Monsieur le Prince, to see
if he had come home ; but he hadn’t. Nor did he come home
that night, nor the next day, nor the next. At the week’s end,
though, he came : dirty, haggard, tremulous, with red eyes, and
nude—yes, nude—of everything save his shirt and trousers ! He
had borrowed a sovereign from one of his London friends, and
when that was gone, he had pledged or sold everything but his
shirt and trousers—hat, boots, coat, everything. It was an equally
haggard and red-eyed P’tit-Bleu who faced him on his reappear-
ance. And I’ve no doubt she gave him a specimen of her
eloquence. ” You figure to yourself that this sort of thing amuses
me, hein ? Here are six good days and nights that I haven’t been
able to sleep or rest.”
Explaining the case to me, she said, ” Ah, what I suffered ! I
could never have believed that I cared so much for him. But—
what would you ?—one attaches oneself, you know. Ah, what I
suffered ! The anxiety, the terrors ! I expected to hear of
him run over in the streets. Well, now, I must make an end of this
business. I m going to take him away. So long as he remains in
Paris, where there are chemists who will sell him that filthiness
(cette crasse) it is hopeless. No sooner do I get my house of
cards nicely built up, than—piff !— something happens to knock it
over. I am going to take him down into the country, far from
any town, far from the railway, where I can guard him better. I
know a place, a farm-house, near Villiers-St. -Jacques, where we
can get board. He has a little income, which reaches him every
three months from England. Oh, very little, but if I am
careful of it, it will pay our way. And then—I will make him
” Oh, no,” I protested. ” You’re not going to leave the
Quarter.” And I’m ashamed to acknowledge, I laboured hard to
dissuade her. ” Think of how we’ll miss you. Think of how
you’ll bore yourself. And anyhow, he’s not worth it. And
besides, you won’t succeed. A man who has an appetite for opium
will get it, coûte que coûte. He’d walk twenty miles in bare feet
to get it.” This was the argument that I repeated in a dozen
different paraphrases. You see, I hadn’t realised yet that it didn’t
matter an atom whether she succeeded, or whether he was worth
it. He was a mere instrument in the hands of Providence. Let
her succeed or let her fail in keeping him from opium : the
important thing . . . how shall I put it ? This little Undine
had risen out of the black waters of the Latin Quarter and
attached herself to a mortal. What is it that love gains for
” Que veux-tu ? ” cried P’ tit-Bleu. “I am fond of him.
I can’t bear to see him ruining himself. I must do what
And the Quarter said, ” Ho-ho ! You chaps who didn’t believe
it was a collage ! He-he ! What do you say now f She’s
chucked up everything, to go and live in the country with
In August or September I ran down to the farm-house near
Villiers-St.-Jacques, and passed a week with them. I found a
mightily changed Monsieur Edouard, and a curiously changed
P’tit-Bleu, as well. He was fat and rosy, he who had been so thin
and white. And she—she was grave. Yes, P’tit-Bleu was grave :
sober, staid, serious. And her impish, mocking black eyes shone
with a strange, serious, calm light.
Monsieur Edouard (with whom my relations had long before
this become confidential) drew me apart, and told me he was
having an exceedingly bad time of it.
” She’s really too absurd, you know. She’s a martinet, a tyrant.
Opium is to me what tobacco is to you, and does me no more
harm. I need it for my work. Oh, in moderation ; of course
one can be excessive. Yet she refuses to let me have a tenth of my
proper quantity. And besides, how utterly senseless it is, keeping
me down here in the country. I m dying of ennui. There’s not
a person I can have any sort of intellectual sympathy with, for
miles in every direction. An artist needs the stimulus of contact
with his fellows. It’s indispensable. If she’d only let me run up
to Paris for a day or two at a time, once a month say. Couldn’t
you persuade her to let me go back with you ? She’s the most
awful screw, you know. It s the French lower middle class
parsimony. I m never allowed to have twopence in my pocket.
Yet whose money is it ? Where does it come from ? I really
can’t think why I submit, why I don’t break away from her, and
follow my own wishes. But the poor little thing is fond of me ;
she’s attached herself to me. I don’t know what would become of
her if I cast her off. Oh, don’t fancy that I don t appreciate
her. Her intentions are excellent. But she lacks wisdom, and
she enjoys the exercise of power. I wish you’d speak with
P’tit-Bleu also drew me apart.
” Please don’t call me P’tit-Bleu any more. Call me Jeanne.
I have put all that behind me—all that P’tit-Bleu signifies. I
hate to think of it, to be reminded of it. I should like to
When I had promised not to call her P’tit-Bleu any more, she
went on, replying to my questions, to tell me of their life.
” Of course, everybody thinks I am his mistress. You can’t
convince them I’ m not. But that’s got to be endured. For the
rest, all is going well. You see how he is improved. I give him
fifteen drops of laudanum, morning, noon, and night. Fifteen
drops—it is nothing. I could take it myself, and never know it.
And he used to drink off an ounce—an ounce, mon cher—at a
time, and then want more at the end of an hour. Yes ! Oh,
he complains, he complains of everything, he frets, he is not
contented. But he has not walked twenty miles in bare feet,
as you said he would. And he is working. You will see his
” And you— how do you pass your time ? What do you do ? “
I pose for him a good deal. And then I have much sewing
to do. I take in sewing for Madame Deschamps, the deputy’s
wife, to help to make the ends meet. And then I read. Madame
Deschamps lends me books.”
” And I suppose you’re bored to death ? “
” Oh, no, I am not bored. I am happy. I never was really
happy—dans le temps.”
They were living in a very plain way indeed. You know what
French farmhouses are apt to be. His whole income was under
a hundred pounds a year ; and out of that (and the trifle she earned
by needlework) his canvases, colours, brushes, frames, had to be
paid for, as well as his opium, and their food, clothing, everything.
But P’tit-Bleu—Jeanne—with that ” lower-middle-class parsi
mony ” of hers, managed somehow. Jeanne ! In putting off the
name, she had put off also, in great measure, the attributes of
P’tit-Bleu ; she had become Jeanne in nature. She was grave,
she was quiet. She wore the severest black frocks—she made them
herself. And I never once noticed the odour of peau-d’Espagne,
from the beginning to the end of my visit. But—shall I own it ?
Jeanne was certainly the more estimable of the two women, but
shall I own that I found her far less exciting as a comrade than
P’tit-Bleu had been ? She was good, but she wasn’t very lively or
P’tit-Bleu, the heroine of Bullier’s, that lover of noisy pleasure,
of daring toilettes, of risky perfumes, of écrevisses and chablis, of
all the rush and dissipation of the Boul’Miche and the Luxem-
bourg, quietly settling down into Jeanne of the home-made frocks,
in a rough French farmhouse, to a diet of veal and lentils, lentils
and veal, seven times a week, and no other pastime in life than
the devoted, untiring nursing of an ungrateful old English opium-
eater here was variation under domestication with a vengeance.
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. F
And on Sunday . . . P’ tit-Bleu went twice to church !
About ten days after my return to Paris, there came a rat-ta-ta-
tat at my door, and P’tit-Bleu walked in—pale, with wide eyes.
” I don’t know how he has contrived it, but he must have got some
money somewhere, and walked to the railway, and come to town.
Anyhow, here are three days that he has disappeared. What to
do ? What to do ? >: She was in a deplorable state of mind, poor
thing, and I scarcely knew how to help her. I proposed that we
should take counsel with a Commissary of Police. But when that
functionary discovered that she was neither the wife nor daughter
of the missing man, he smiled, and remarked, ” It is not our
business to recover ladies protectors for them.” P’tit-Bleu walked
the streets in quest of him, all day long and very nearly all night
long too, for close upon a fortnight. In the end, she met him
on the quays—dazed, half-imbecile, and again nude of everything
save his shirt and trousers. So, again, having nicely built up her
house of cards— piff !—something had happened to topple it over.
” Let him go to the devil his own way,” said I. ” Really, he’s
unworthy of your pains.”
” No, I can’t leave him. You see, I’m fond of him,” said she.
He, however, positively refused to return to the country.
” The fact is,” he explained, ” I ought to go to London. Yes, it
will be well for me to pass the winter in London. I should like
to have a show there, a one-man show, you know. I dare say I
could sell a good many pictures, and get orders for portraits.” So
they went to London. In the spring I received a letter from
P’tit-Bleu—a letter full of orthographic faults, if you like—but a
letter that I treasure. Here’s a translation of it :
“MY DEAR FRIEND,
” I have hesitated much before taking my pen in hand
write to you. But I have no one else to turn to. We have had a
dreadful winter. Owing to my ignorance of the language one speaks
in this dirty town, I have not been able to exercise over Monsieur
Edouard that supervision of which he has need. In
before. Every penny, every last sou, which he could command, has
been spent for that detestable filth. Many times we have passed
whole days without eating, no, not the end of a crust. He has
no desire to eat when he has had his dose. We are living in a slum of
the most disgusting, in the quarter of London they call Soho. Every-
thing we have, save the bare necessary of covering, has been put with
the lender-on-pledges. Yesterday I found a piece of one shilling in
the street. That, however, I have been forced to dispense for opium,
because, when he has had such large quantities, he would die or go
mad if suddenly deprived.
” I have addressed myself to his family, but without effect. They
refuse to recognise me. Everybody here, of course, figures to himself
that I am his mistress. He has two brothers, on: of the army, one an
advocate. I have besieged them in vain. They say, We have done
for him all that is possible. We can do no more. He has exhausted
our patience. Now that he has gone a step farther, and, in his age,
disgraced himself by living with a mistress, as well as besotting himself
with opium, we wash our hands of him for good. And yet, I cannot
leave him, because I know, without me, he would kill himself within
the month, by his excesses. To his sisters, both of whom are married
and ladies of the world, I have appealed with equal results. They
refuse to regard me otherwise than as his mistress.
” But I cannot bear to see that great man, with that mind, that
talent, doing himself to death. And when he is not under the
influence of his drug, who is so great I Who has the wit, the wisdom,
the heart, the charm, of Monsieur Edouard ? Who can paint like him ?
The Yellow Book Vol. VIII. F
” My dear, as a last resource, I take up my pen to ask you for
assistance. If you could see him your heart would be moved. He is
so thin, so thin, and his face has become blue, yes, blue, like the
face of a dead man. Help me to save him from himself. If you can send
me a note of five hundred francs, I can pay off our indebtedness here,
and bring him back to France, where, in a sane country, far from a
town, again I can reduce him to a few drops of laudanum a day, and
again see him in health and at work. That which it costs me to make
this request of you, I have not the words to tell you. But, at the end
of my forces, having no other means, no other support, I confide
myself to your well-tried amity.
” I give you a good kiss.
If the reading of this letter brought a lump into my throat and
something like tears into my eyes—if I hastened to a banker’ s,
and sent P’tit-Bleu the money she asked for, by telegraph if I
reproached her bitterly and sincerely for not having applied to me
long before,—I hope you will believe that it wasn t for the sake of
They established themselves at St.-Etienne, a hamlet on the
coast of Normandy, to be further from Paris. Dieppe was their
nearest town. They lived at St.-Etienne for nearly three years.
But, periodically, when she had got her house of cards nicely built
up— piff !—he would walk into Dieppe.
He walked into Dieppe one day in the autumn of 1885, and it
took her a week to find him. He was always ill, after one of his
grand debauches. This time he was worse than he had ever been
before. I can imagine the care with which she nursed him, her
anxious watching by his bedside, her prayers, her hope, the blank-
ness when he died.
She came back to Paris, and called three times at my lodgings.
But I was in England, and didn’t receive the notes she left till
nearly six months afterwards. I have never
seen her since, never heard from her.
What has become of her ? It is not pleasant to conjecture. Of
course, after his death, she ought to have died too. But the Angel
of this Life,
“Whose care is lest men see too much at
couldn’t permit any such satisfying termination. So she has simply
disappeared, and, in the flesh, may have come to … one would
rather not conjecture. All the same, I can’t believe that in the
spirit she will have made utter shipwreck. I can’t believe that
nothing permanent was won by those long years of love and pain.
Her house of cards was toppled over, as often as she built it up ;
but perhaps she was all the while building another house,
a house not made with hands, a house, a temple, indestructible.
Poor P’tit Bleu !
So late last night I watched with you, and yet
You come to wake me while the dews are grey,
Before the sun is forth upon his way,
Almost as though you feared I might forget.
And still you count, unmoved, importunate,
Each pitiful item in my sorrow’s freight—
As lovers all their vows before they part
Over and over recapitulate—
Though well you know I have it all by heart.
O Grief, this little while forbear, refrain
Telling your beads so loud, so soon, again,
Tuning your summons to the blackbird’s song.
Here, where the dawn hangs dark in lawn and tree,
Do but a little longer wait for me,
I, who am mindful of you all day long.
A Girl’s Head
By Harrington Mann
THOSE memorable days that move in procession, their heads just
out of the mist of years long dead—the most of them are
full-eyed as the dandelion that from dawn to shade has steeped itself
in sunlight. Here and there in their ranks, however, moves a
forlorn one who is blind—blind in the sense of the dulled window-
pane on which the pelting raindrops have mingled and run down,
obscuring sunshine and the circling birds, happy fields and storied
garden ; blind with the spatter of a misery uncomprehended,
unanalysed, only felt as something corporeal in its buffeting
Martha began it ; and yet Martha was not really to blame. Indeed,
that was half the trouble of it—no solid person stood full in view,
to be blamed and to make atonement. There was only a wretched,
impalpable condition to deal with. Breakfast was just over ; the
sun was summoning us, imperious as a herald with clamour of
trumpet ; I ran upstairs to her with a broken bootlace in my hand,
and there she was, crying in a corner, her head in her apron.
Nothing could be got from her but the same dismal succession of
sobs that would not have done, that struck and hurt like a physical
beating ; and meanwhile the sun was getting impatient, and I
wanted my bootlace.
Enquiry below stairs revealed the cause. Martha’s brother was
dead, it seemed—her sailor brother Billy ; drowned in one of those
strange far-off seas it was our dream to navigate one day. We had
known Billy well, and appreciated him. When an approaching
visit of Billy to his sister had been announced, we had counted the
days to it. When his cheery voice was at last heard in the kitchen
and we had descended with shouts, first of all he had to exhibit his
tattoed arms, always a subject for fresh delight and envy and awe ;
then he was called upon for tricks, jugglings, and strange, fearful
gymnastics ; and lastly came yarns, and more yarns, and yarns till
bedtime. There had never been any one like Billy in his own
particular sphere ; and now he was drowned, they said, and Martha
was miserable, and—and I couldn’t get a new bootlace. They
told me that Billy would never come back any more, and I stared
out of the window at the sun which came back, right enough,
every day, and their news conveyed nothing whatever to me.
Martha’s sorrow hit home a little, but only because the actual sight
and sound of it gave me a dull, bad sort of pain low down inside—
a pain not to be actually located. Moreover, I was still wanting
This was a poor sort of a beginning to a day that, so far as
outside conditions went, had promised so well. I rigged up a sort
of jurymast of a bootlace with a bit of old string, and wandered
off to look up the girls, conscious of a jar and a discordance in the
scheme of things. The moment I entered the schoolroom some-
thing in the air seemed to tell me that here, too, matters were
strained and awry. Selina was staring listlessly out of the window,
one foot curled round her leg. When I spoke to her she jerked a
shoulder testily, but did not condescend to the civility of a reply.
Charlotte sprawled in a chair absolutely unoccupied, and there were
signs of sniffles about her, even at that early hour. It was but a
trifling matter that had caused all this electricity in the atmosphere,
and the girls’ manner of taking it seemed to me most unreasonable.
Within the last few days the time had come round for the despatch
of a hamper to Edward at school. Only one hamper a term
was permitted him, so its preparation was a sort of blend of revelry
and religious ceremony. After the main corpus of the thing had
been carefully selected and safely bestowed—the pots of jam, the
cake, the sausages, and the apples that filled up corners so nicely—
after the last package had been wedged in, the girls had deposited
their own private and personal offerings on the top. I forget their
precise nature ; anyhow, they were nothing of any particular
practical use to a boy. But they had involved some contrivance
and labour, some skimping of pocket money, and much delightful
cloud-building as to the effect on their enraptured recipient. Well,
yesterday there had come a terse acknowledgment from Edward
heartily commending the cakes and the jam, stamping the sausages
with the seal of Smith major’s approval, and finally hinting that,
fortified as he now was, nothing more was necessary but a remit-
tance of five shillings in postage stamps to enable him to face the
world armed against every buffet of fate. That was all. Never
a word or a hint of the personal tributes or of his appreciation of
them. To us—to Harold and me, that is—the letter seemed
natural and sensible enough. After all, provender was the main
thing, and five shillings stood for a complete equipment against the
most unexpected turns of luck. The presents were very well in
their way—very nice, and so on—but life was a serious matter, and
the contest called for cakes and half-crowns to carry it on, not
gew-gaws and knitted mittens and the like. The girls, however,
in their obstinate way, persisted in taking their own view of the
slight. Hence it was that I received my second rebuff of the
Somewhat disheartened, I made my way downstairs and out
into the sunlight, where I found Harold, playing Conspirators by
himself on the gravel. He had dug a small hole in the walk and
had laid an imaginary train of powder thereto ; and, as he sought
refuge in the laurels from the inevitable explosion, I heard him
murmur : ” My God ! said the Czar, my plans are frustrated ! ”
It seemed an excellent occasion for being a black puma. Harold
liked black pumas, on the whole, as well as any animal we were
familiar with. So I launched myself on him, with the appropriate
howl, rolling him over on the gravel.
Life may be said to be composed of things that come off and
things that don’t come off. This thing, unfortunately, was one
of the things that didn’t come off. From beneath me I heard a
shrill cry of, ” O, it’s my sore knee ! ” And Harold wriggled
himself free from the puma’s clutches, bellowing dismally. Now,
I honestly didn’t know he had a sore knee, and, what’s more, he
knew I didn’t know he had a sore knee. According to boy-
ethics, therefore, his attitude was wrong, sore knee or not, and no
apology was due from me. I made half-way advances, however,
suggesting we should lie in ambush by the edge of the pond and
cut off the ducks as they waddled down in simple, unsuspecting
single file ; then hunt them as bisons, flying scattered over the
vast prairie. A fascinating pursuit this, and strictly illicit. But
Harold would none of my overtures, and retreated to the house
wailing with full lungs.
Things were getting simply infernal. I struck out blindly for
the open country ; and even as I made for the gate a shrill voice
from a window bade we keep off the flower-beds. When the
gate had swung to behind me with a vicious click I felt better,
and after ten minutes along the road it began to grow on me that
some radical change was needed, that I was in a blind alley, and
that this intolerable state of things must somehow cease. All
that I could do I had already done. As well-meaning a fellow as
ever stepped was pounding along the road that day, with an
exceeding sore heart ; one who only wished to live and let live,
in touch with his fellows, and appreciating what joys life had to
offer. What was wanted now was a complete change of environ-
ment. Somewhere in the world, I felt sure, justice and sympathy
still resided. There were places called pampas, for instance, that
sounded well. League upon league of grass, with just an occa-
sional wild horse, and not a relation within the horizon ! To a
bruised spirit this seemed a sane and a healing sort of existence.
There were other pleasant corners, again, where you dived for
pearls and stabbed sharks in the stomach with your big knife. No
relations would be likely to come interfering with you when thus
blissfully occupied. And yet I did not wish—just yet—to have
done with relations entirely. They should be made to feel their
position first, to see themselves as they really were, and to wish—
when it was too late—that they had behaved more properly.
Of all professions, the army seemed to lend itself the most
thoroughly to the scheme. You enlisted, you followed the drum,
you marched, fought, and ported arms, under strange skies,
through unrecorded years. At last, at long last, your opportunity
would come, when the horrors of war were flickering through the
quiet country-side where you were cradled and bred, but where
the memory of you had long been dim. Folk would run together,
clamorous, palsied with fear ; and among the terror-stricken
groups would figure certain aunts. ” What hope is left us ? ”
they would ask themselves, ” save in the clemency of the General,
the mysterious, invincible General, of whom men tell such romantic
tales ? ” And the army would march in, and the guns would
rattle and leap along the village street, and last of all you—you,
the General, the fabled hero—you would enter, on your coal-black
charger, your pale set face seamed by an interesting sabre-cut
And then—but every boy has rehearsed this familiar piece a score
of times. You are magnanimous, in fine—that goes without
saying ; you have a coal-black horse, and a sabre-cut, and you can
afford to be very magnanimous. But all the same you give them
a good talking-to.
This pleasant conceit simply ravished my soul for some twenty
minutes, and then the old sense of injury began to well up afresh,
and to call for new plasters and soothing syrups. This time I took
refuge in happy thoughts of the sea. The sea -was my real sphere,
after all. On the sea, in especial, you could combine distinction
with lawlessness, whereas the army seemed to be always weighted
by a certain plodding submission to discipline. To be sure, by
all accounts, the life was at first a rough one. But just then I
wanted to suffer keenly ; I wanted to be a poor devil of a cabin-
boy, kicked, beaten, and sworn at—for a time. Perhaps some
hint, some inkling of my sufferings might reach their ears. In
due course the sloop or felucca would turn up—it always did—
the rakish-looking craft, black of hull, low in the water, and
bristling with guns ; the jolly Roger flapping overhead, and my-
self for sole commander. By and bye, as usually happened, an
East Indiaman would come sailing along full of relations—not a
necessary relation would be missing. And the crew should walk
the plank, and the captain should dance from his own yard-arm,
and then I would take the passengers in hand—that miserable
group of well-known figures cowering on the quarter-deck !—and
then—and then the same old performance : the air thick with
magnanimity. In all the repertory of heroes, none is more truly
magnanimous than your pirate chief.
When at last I brought myself back from the future to the
actual present, I found that these delectable visions had helped me
over a longer stretch of road than I had imagined ; and I looked
around and took my bearings. To the right of me was a long
low building of grey stone, new, and yet not smugly so ; new, and
yet possessing distinction, marked with a character that did not
depend on lichen or on crumbling semi-effacement of moulding
and mullion. Strangers might have been puzzled to classify it ;
to me, an explorer from earliest years, the place was familiar
enough. Most folk called it ” The Settlement,” others, with
quite sufficient conciseness for our neighbourhood, spoke of ” them
there fellows up by Halliday’s ” ; others again, with a hint of
derision, named them the ” monks.” This last title I supposed to
be intended for satire, and knew to be fatuously wrong. I was
thoroughly acquainted with monks—in books—and well knew the
cut of their long frocks, their shaven polls, and their fascinating
big dogs, with brandy-bottles round their necks, incessantly haul-
ing happy travellers out of the snow. The only dog at the
settlement was an Irish terrier, and the good fellows who owned
him, and were owned by him, in common, wore clothes of the
most nondescript order, and mostly cultivated side-whiskers. I
had wandered up there one day, searching (as usual) for something
I never found, and had been taken in by them and treated as
friend and comrade. They had made me free of their ideal little
rooms, full of books and pictures, and clean of the antimacassar
taint ; they had shown me their chapel, high, hushed, and faintly
scented, beautiful with a strange new beauty born both of what it
had and what it had not—that too-familiar dowdiness of common
places of worship. They had also fed me in their dining-hall,
where a long table stood on trestles plain to view, and all the
woodwork was natural, unpainted, healthily scrubbed, and redolent
of the forest it came from. I brought away from that visit, and
kept by me for many days, a sense of cleanness, of the freshness
that pricks the senses—the freshness of cool spring water ; and
the large swept spaces of the rooms, the red tiles, and the oaken
settles, suggested a comfort that had no connexion with padded
On this particular morning I was in much too unsociable a
mind for paying friendly calls. Still, something in the aspect of
the place harmonised with my humour, and I worked my way
round to the back, where the ground, after affording level enough
for a kitchen-garden, broke steeply away. Both the word Gothic
and the thing itself were still unknown to me ; yet doubtless the
architecture of the place, consistent throughout, accounted for its
sense of comradeship in my hour of disheartenment. As I mused
there, with the low, grey, purposeful-looking building before me,
and thought of my pleasant friends within, and what good times
they always seemed to be having, and how they larked with the
Irish terrier, whose footing was one of a perfect equality, I
thought of a certain look in their faces, as if they had a common
purpose and a business, and were acting under orders thoroughly
recognised and understood. I remembered, too, something that
Martha had told me, about these same fellows doing ” a power o’
good,” and other hints I had collected vaguely, of renouncements,
rules, self-denials, and the like. Thereupon, out of the depths of
my morbid soul swam up a new and fascinating idea ; and at
once the career of arms seemed over-acted and stale, and piracy,
as a profession, flat and unprofitable. This, then, or something
like it, should be my vocation and my revenge. A severer line
of business, perhaps, such as I had read of ; something that in-
cluded black bread and a hair-shirt. There should be vows, too
—irrevocable, blood-curdling vows ; and an iron grating. This
iron grating was the most necessary feature of all, for I intended
that on the other side of it my relations should range themselves—
I mentally ran over the catalogue, and saw that the whole gang
was present, all in their proper places—a sad-eyed row, combined
in tristful appeal. ” We see our error now,” they would say ; ” we
were always dull dogs, slow to catch—especially in those akin to
us—the finer qualities of soul ! We misunderstood you, mis-
appreciated you, and we own up to it. And now—” ” Alas,
my dear friends,” I would strike in here, waving towards them an
ascetic hand—one of the emaciated sort, that lets the light shine
through at the finger-tips—” Alas, you come too late ! This
conduct is fitting and meritorious on your part, and indeed I
always expected it of you, sooner or later ; but the die is cast,
and you may go home again and bewail at your leisure this too
tardy repentance of yours. For me, I am vowed and dedicated,
and my relations henceforth are austerity and holy works. Once
a month, should you wish it, it shall be your privilege to come
and gaze at me through this very solid grating ; but—”
A well-aimed clod of garden soil, whizzing just past my ear,
starred on a tree-trunk behind, spattering me with dirt. The
present came back to me in a flash, and I nimbly took cover
behind the tree, realising that the enemy was up and abroad, with
ambuscades, alarms, and thrilling sallies. It was the gardener’s
boy, I knew well enough ; a red proletariat, who hated me just
because I was a gentleman. Hastily picking up a nice sticky
clod in one hand, with the other I delicately projected my hat
beyond the shelter of the tree-trunk. I had not fought with Red-
skins all these years for nothing.
As I had expected, another clod, of the first class for size and
stickiness, took my poor hat full in the centre. Then, Ajax-like,
shouting terribly, I issued from shelter and discharged my
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. G
ammunition. Woe then for the gardener’s boy, who, unprepared,
skipping in premature triumph, took the clod full in his stomach !
He, the foolish one, witless on whose side the gods were fighting
that day, discharged yet other missiles, wavering and wide of the
mark ; for his wind had been taken with the first clod, and he
shot wildly, as one already desperate and in flight. I got another
clod in at short range ; we clinched on the brow of the hill, and
rolled down to the bottom together. When he had shaken him-
self free and regained his legs, he trotted smartly off in the direc-
tion of his mother’s cottage ; but over his shoulder he discharged
at me both imprecation and deprecation, menace mixed up with
an under-current of tears.
But as for me, I made off smartly for the road, my frame
tingling, my head high, with never a backward look at the
Settlement of suggestive aspect, or at my well-planned future
which lay in fragments around it. Life had its jollities, then, life
was action, contest, victory ! The present was rosy once more,
surprises lurked on every side, and I was beginning to feel
Just as I gained the road a cart came rattling by, and I rushed
for it, caught the chain that hung below, and swung thrillingly
between the dizzy wheels, choked and blinded with delicious-
smelling dust, the world slipping by me like a streaky ribbon
below, till the driver licked at me with his whip, and I had to
descend to earth again. Abandoning the beaten track, I then
struck homewards through the fields ; not that the way was very
much shorter, but rather because on that route one avoided the
bridge, and had to splash through the stream and get refreshingly
wet. Bridges were made for narrow folk, for people with aims
and vocations which compelled abandonment of many of life’s
highest pleasures. Truly wise men called on each element alike
to minister to their joy, and while the touch of sun-bathed air,
the fragrance of garden soil, the ductible qualities of mud, and the
spark-whirling rapture of playing with fire, had each their special
charm, they did not overlook the bliss of getting their feet wet.
As I came forth on the common Harold broke out of an adjoining
copse and ran to meet me, the morning rain-clouds all blown away
from his face. He had made a new squirrel-stick, it seemed.
Made it all himself ; melted the lead and everything ! I ex-
amined the instrument critically, and pronounced it absolutely
magnificent. As we passed in at our gate the girls were distantly
visible, gardening with a zeal in cheerful contrast to their heartsick
lassitude of the morning. ” There’s bin another letter come to-
day,” Harold explained, ” and the hamper got joggled about on
the journey, and the presents worked down into the straw and all
over the place. One of ’em turned up inside the cold duck. And
that’s why they weren’t found at first. And Edward said, Thanks
awfully ! ”
I did not see Martha again until we were all re-assembled at
teatime, when she seemed red-eyed and strangely silent, neither
scolding nor finding fault with anything. Instead, she was very
kind and thoughtful with jams and things, feverishly pressing
unwonted delicacies on us, who wanted little pressing enough.
Then suddenly, when I was busiest, she disappeared ; and Char-
lotte whispered me presently that she had heard her go to her
room and lock herself in. This struck me as a funny sort of
The Harbour Light
By D. Martin
The Enchanted Stone
By Lewis Hind
THIS is a true account of the Enchanted Stone, and of the
strange circumstances by which it came into my
The paper had been running eighteen months, when one
November morning, among the manuscripts that arrived by the
early post, I found one, written in a queer, square handwriting,
and redolent of a pungent Eastern perfume. It was unsigned,
but at the foot of the last page stood a symbol of irregular outline,
about the size of a two-shilling piece. The surface was wrinkled,
like the face of an old woman by Rembrandt, and also bore
three dark markings, in appearance somewhat akin to sun-spots,
seen through a powerful telescope. This disc was pierced by an
arrow an inch long, scrawled over by some mystic letters.
The manuscript, which was written in flowery language, began
with these words—” Om !! Salutation to the Revered and
Sublime White Queen, whose arms encircle the globe,” and ended
with this cryptic peroration—” I am not inconsiderate, like the
grass-eating animals. I will repay. The earth and the mountains
may be overthrown, but I, O Queen, will not rest till I regain the
The body of the manuscript contained, so far as I gathered in a
hurried perusal, a pious request that a certain gem which was about
to be presented to the Queen by the Raja of Pepperthala, should
be restored to the writer, who proclaimed himself the lineal
descendant of the rightful owner of the gem. The Raja of
Pepperthala, I concluded, was the broken-down ruler of a bank-
rupt feudatory state in Northern India. Further the communica-
tion stated that the writer would call upon me that afternoon at
I was puzzling over this odd manuscript when the tape machine
that stands in the corner of my room began to tick. As it was
unusual for news to be sent through at such an early hour, I threw
down the anonymous effusion, and hastened toward the instru-
ment. The tape coiled from the machine, and I spelled out the
” 10.30 a.m. Prince of Wales has just left Marlborough House to
call upon the Raja of Pepperthala, who is staying at Buckingham
Palace by Her Majesty’s invitation.”
That was a remarkable item of news in itself, to say nothing of
the coincidence. Our last Indian visitor, I knew, had lodged in
the Gloucester Road. Why then should the Raja of Pepperthala,
an insignificant chieftain, whose name was not even mentioned in
Griffith’s Indian Princes, be staying at Buckingham Palace by
Her Majesty’s invitation ? It being Press day, I had not time to
puzzle over the anomaly, so I sent the manuscript and the news
item to Mayfair, my friend and sub-editor, who worked in a room
at the end of the passage, asking him to investigate the affair and
let me know the result before four o’clock. Although Mayfair was
but twenty-one years of age, he was like certain of the children of
Israel, one in whom there was no blemish, well-favoured, and
skilful in all wisdom, cunning in knowledge, understanding many
things, who had easily brought himself into my favour and tender
By this time it was eleven o’clock, the hour when the printer
began to send down pages to be passed for press. The strain
lasted well into the afternoon, and the mysterious manuscript had
been quite driven from my mind, when a card was brought to me
bearing nothing but a duplication of the symbol that sprawled at
the foot of the perfumed article. I looked at the clock. The
hands pointed to four.
I told the messenger to show the stranger into the ante-room,
and to ask Mr. Mayfair to come to me at once.
” Hush,” I whispered when Mayfair appeared. ” He’s in there,”
indicating the adjoining chamber. ” Will you sit at my desk ?
Pretend to be writing. Listen attentively, but do not speak
unless I address you.”
The clock struck four. I threw open the door of the ante-
The man who came forward, lightly and noiselessly, with the
grace of a free animal, was yellow like a Mongolian, but his
features were finely chiselled, and in stature he was tall and slim.
He wore a long, frayed frock-coat buttoned high up around his
neck. The crown of his head resembled a yellow billiard ball. I
have never seen a man with less hair. His eyes were deep-set and
piercing, and, like the slight nostrils, and the thin quivering lips,
alive with intelligence.
” You have read my words ? ” he asked eagerly, and in excellent
I nodded an affirmative.
” And you will publish my words in your paper ? “
I shrugged my shoulders. ” We are so crowded. Our space
is limited. Besides—”
He strode to my side. ” I am some judge of character,” he
remarked, in a tone quite innocent of egoism, speaking as if he
were stating an incontrovertible fact. ” You believe in the good
and wise God ? ”
” Really,” I began.
” Yet,” he swept on, ” you will hinder the revelation He has
promised to mankind.”
” Do you refer to me, or to the paper ? ” I asked gently. It
was clear I had to deal with a religious fanatic.
” Yours is a great journal,” he continued, ignoring my question.
” You are the Editor ! You wield power ! You are not rich !
Procure for me the Enchanted Stone, and I will give you two,
three, five thousand pounds.”
With that he drew from an outer pocket a bundle of bank
notes, and flung them upon the table. They were for £1000
each, and undoubtedly genuine.
” Replace those, please,” I said. ” This is not a private enquiry
office. Now let us understand one another. I gather that a poor
old gentleman, the present Raja of Pepperthala, who is now lodging
at Buckingham Palace, by Her Majesty’s invitation, has in his
possession a valuable stone which you assert is your property, you
being the lineal descendant of the rightful owners, who centuries
past were Rajas of Pepperthala. You also state that this gem was
stolen some hundreds of years ago by a Mohammedan chief at the
time of the invasion of India ; that the said stone has brought
nothing but trouble and disaster to its various owners ; that the
present possessor has in a moment of generosity determined to
present this ill-omened and unlucky gem to Her Majesty, and that
he has travelled to England for that purpose. Further, you are
so anxious to get possession of the gem as to offer me a bribe of
£5000 if I succeed in restoring it to you. Now, before I move a
step in this matter, I must ask you first to produce documents
satisfying me that the stone ever belonged to your ancestors, and,
secondly, to show proofs of your own identity ; in a word, make it
clear to me that you are the lineal descendant of the former Rajas
of Pepperthala. For all I know, the stone has been already handed
over to Her Majesty, and is at this moment lodged in the Tower
with the other Regalia. I m afraid I could not consent to steal
the Crown jewels even for a bribe of £5000.”
“To restore, not to steal,” he interposed, quickly.
I laughed a little contemptuously at the emendation. His
demeanour changed. He drew himself up to his full height, the
long lashes fell across his eyes, his head sunk upon his breast, and
he cried in a broken voice and with hands upraised : ” How long,
O Lord, how long ? I am as one standing upon the housetops,
trying to grasp the stars of heaven.”
His dejection was so poignant that my heart softened. ” Pro-
cure me the proofs,” I said, ” and I will see what can be done.
In the meantime we will insert a paragraph, non-committal, but
of a nature that may arouse public interest and, possibly, sym-
Having thus delivered myself I threw open the door of the
ante-room, as a hint that the interview was ended.
The chamber faced the west. The sky was clear, save for a
bank of heavy clouds along the horizon. The fog which hung
about the streets was of that wreathy, fantastic character that
makes potential mysteries of chimneypots, wayfarers, and telegraph
posts. As I threw open the door, a heavy cloud was just rolling
away from the setting sun. I paused in admiration—I had almost
written adoration—of the spectacle. For one moment the sun
glowed like a great angry eye, with a little feathery wing dancing
impishly over its surface ; then another cloud-bank swept up, like
a puff of gun-fire from a distant coast. The good, round light
went out, and in its place came gloom and the shadows of night.
Then the cloud rolled away, and for a moment the sun shone
forth upon the world again in a blaze of good-night splendour.
What happened next was begun and ended in the space of three
seconds. A trill of low laughter fell upon my ears ; turning
swiftly, I observed Mayfair trying, with poor success, to preserve
his gravity. Seeking for the cause, I found it in the Yellow Man,
who had fallen upon his knees, with long arms raised reverently
towards the sun, that glowed full upon his ascetic face and head,
which bobbed in unison to a torrent of words, in some unknown
tongue, that broke from his lips. It was the back of the man’s
nodding head that moved Mayfair to mirth. Had he seen his face
as I saw it at that moment he would have felt no inclination to
laugh—so sad, so profound, was the look of passionate entreaty
that illumined his countenance. It moved me strangely, and
then, in a flash, my wonder was changed into horror—and I was
rushing across the room to where Mayfair sat still laughing, but
now in a desperate kind of way.
I caught the Yellow Man’s arm as the dagger gleamed down-
wards in a sharp, swift stroke, and so lessened the force of the
blow, but I was not in time to save the boy. Then blood spurted
from the wound, and Mayfair fell forward upon his face.
” You devil,” I cried, seizing the creature’s hand that still
gripped the dagger ; but he slipped from my grasp like an eel and
disappeared from the room, closing the door silently after him. I
let him go, for Mayfair had fainted and needed me. His
pretty white necktie—he always liked dainty clothing—was stained
with blood. I staunched the flow, bound up the wound as well
as I knew how, laid him down full length upon the floor, and
then considered. At all costs the affair must be hushed up. I
wrote a note explaining the nature of the injury, then rang the
bell, and met the messenger outside the room.
” Take this letter to Doctor Eastern,” I said. ” Bring him
back with you.”
Then I locked the door and waited. My fears, I confess, were
selfish, but the dread of losing Mayfair was more than I dared
contemplate. In a little he moved, raising himself upon one
” What—where—— ? “
” Be quiet, there’s a dear fellow,” I whispered.
” Oh, I remember,” he said, trembling at the sight of the red
bandages. ” I’m peppered, zounds, a dog, a cat, to scratch a man
to death ! a braggart—how does it go ? Oh—h ! ” He fainted
By the time the doctor arrived I had decided upon my course
of action. ” You know my name,” I said. ” Well, this gentle-
man has been stabbed. It was a stupid quarrel. I take all
responsibility, you understand. It’s an unfortunate business, and
I want it to be kept quiet.”
The doctor was young and accommodating, and, after an ex-
amination of the injury, pronounced it to be nothing more than a
” Can he be moved ? ” I asked.
” Oh, yes.”
He dressed the wound and left, promising to call in the evening
at the address I should send.
In half an hour Mayfair was able to converse. I decided to
remove him at once, and, without attracting any particular atten-
tion, succeeded in getting him downstairs, and into a cab. I gave
the driver the address of my rooms.
” No, no,” he whispered, ” take me home.”
” To your mother’s house ? ” I asked, in astonishment.
” No, no ; take me to my bride.”
” Your bride ? ” I gasped.
” Yes, my bride,” he repeated, petulantly, and called to the
cabman to drive to the Albert Embankment, opposite Lambeth
He was very much in earnest, so I let him have his way, and
babbled of our next holiday, and green fields, of anything, in fact,
that might distract his mind. Arrived at our destination he
dismissed the cab, and, clinging to my arm, guided me towards
Lambeth pier. Bearing to the right we descended the steps that
lead down to the water s edge. A boat was waiting. I pushed
off, under his directions, and in another moment collided against
a raft. We landed, and picked our steps over the old boats and
the refuse of half a century scattered there. I heard the oily lap,
lap, of the waves against the raft, but could see little for the fog
that hung motionless in the still air—so wet and chill. With
each step my companion leant heavier upon my arm. A horrible
idea flashed into my mind. By his bride did he—could he mean
this unseen river oozing past in the dark like some huge prehistoric
reptile. I shuddered at the thought, and at that moment we
confronted the outline of a low log-hut at the eastern end of the
raft. Warm welcome light streamed from the little window.
My companion knocked at the door, which was immediately
thrown open by a young girl—pale, work -weary, and wistful, like
a Fillipino Lippi Madonna.
” I’m ill, Mary,” he said simply.
She gave a little start, and cried, ” Oh, my beloved.” The
voice was not the voice of a gentlewoman.
Then warm arms enfolded him, and he was carried within.
The door closed, and friendship s victim was left alone, with
the fog above and fog around, and below the greasy planks sighing
and soughing as they collided in the movement of the water.
In the hurried journey back to the office, the events of the day
pattered through my brain, and the long fingers of Imagination
stretched before me, pointing to strange and fantastic develop-
ments. I heard nothing, saw nothing as we raced through the
lighted streets, except a nimble paper seller who flashed an eager
hatchet face through the cab window. I bought one, a halfpenny
sheet, I forget which—receiving a contemptuous comment because
I demanded the change from my penny. My eye had caught the
word Pepperthala on the front page.
When I arrived at the office I chipped a dark stain from the
woodwork of the chair in which Mayfair had been sitting, and
then carefully studied the prospect from the window. The
opposite houses were still wrapped in fog. Good ! The blood-
guiltiness of the Yellow Man remained our secret. No human
eye could have penetrated that dense envelope, which had grown
still more opaque since sunset ; I could not even distinguish the
outline of the stone parapet that ran in front of my window,
practically making a promenade round the building.
Turning away, the evening paper I had purchased caught
my eye. The front page contained half a column about
the visit of the Raja of Pepperthala. It was invertebrate
stuff, all pure conjecture, with an imaginative account of the
decay of the State of Pepperthala, and a disquisition on the present
parlous condition of its Chief. As to the reason of the Raja’s
visit to England the reporter was silent, but a paragraph and
a portrait at the end of the article roused my interest to the
It was to the effect that the Raja had been accompanied to
England by Mr. Edward Kettle, ” so well known a few years back
in connection with Colonial politics, who is now acting as cicerone
and interpreter to the Raja of Pepperthala.”
Now I knew something about Mr. Kettle—something not quite
creditable to that gentleman—in connection with a certain transfer
of Government land, which I had kept close in that sanctuary of
the memory reserved for the bad deeds of others. My forbearance
made me the victim of repeated offers of service from Kettle.
The opportunity had now arrived. I determined to go down at
once to Buckingham Palace, and claim from him a slight fulfil-
ment of his many promises. I remembered Kettle as a particularly
vulgar snob, unprincipled but clever, and always ready with word
On presentation of my card with the name of the paper
engraved upon it, I found no difficulty in obtaining admittance
to the Palace. The porter was haughty at first, but I prevailed
over him, and he disappeared with my communication up a wide
staircase, leaving me to wait in a large room, where the furniture
was all covered up in brown holland. In a few minutes he
returned, even haughtier than before. Mr. Kettle was dressing
for dinner and could not see me. I wrote three words on a card,
slipped it into an envelope and induced the Royal emissary to
repeat his journey. . . . This time I was more successful. Mr.
Kettle would see me, and at once.
The Raja of Pepperthala occupied a suite of rooms on the first
floor. The night was too dark for me to locate the apartment
into which I was shown, but I imagine it looked out upon the
Palace gardens that stretch away to Grosvenor Place. Several
minutes passed. I grew impatient. Somebody moved in the
next room, then Kettle’s voice reached me giving instructions to
a servant. ” A plague on this man,” said I, and without more ado
threw open the door that separated us. Mr. Kettle was standing
before the fire paring his nails. Oiled hair, curled moustache,
liquid eyes, short putty figure, a velvet collar to his dinner coat ;
he was the same hopeless, middle-aged dandy—unchanged,
unregenerate. I knew my man, and so came to the point at once.
” Kettle,” I said, ” I want to have some conversation with the
Raja of Pepperthala, and I should also be much obliged if you
would let me have a peep at a certain valuable known to fame as
‘the Enchanted Gem.’ ”
He looked up quickly, smiled in an embarrassed kind of way,
and flicked a crumb from his sleeve.
” Such an interview, my dear fellow, is quite ultra
vires. I have
already refused some of the very smartest people in London. As
to what you call the Enchanted Gem I don’t know what you
mean. It’s caviare to me, quite caviare,” he repeated, fumbling
nervously with a gold toothpick.
I caught him by the arm (he reeked of patchouli) and whispered
something in his ear. I was not in a mood to bandy words with
the fellow, who rolled his foolish little foreign expressions round
his tongue like a bear with a piece of honeycomb. He shrunk
away from me, spreading his hands between us. ” All right,”
he stuttered, breaking back to the accent of other days. ” Play
fair ! ”
Observing the amusement I made no effort to conceal, he
quickly recovered himself.
” What you require is difficile,” he said
sententiously. ” The old
fellow is mad with rum and disease. Really I daren’t present
him to a stranger. Stop ! I have an idea bien trouvé ! He is in
the next room alone. I’ll turn down the gas. You sit here on a
line with the door. I open it, inventing an excuse to speak to
him. That is your opportunity, n’cest ce pas ! But don’t utter
a sound. And if he catches sight of you make yourself
scarce ! Comprenez vous ? He’s like a tiger with that
I promised to remain perfectly still. Then he lowered the gas,
and cautiously opened the door.
I saw a broadly-built man with dusky face, long matted hair,
and a thick neck, upon which the skin folded itself in great
ridges. Over his shoulders a blanket was thrown. He was
fondling and patting a smooth, oval object, the size and shape of
a cocoa-nut, but the colour was the colour of gold. When the
door opened he grabbed the casket to his chest, and, by a rapid
movement of his broad shoulders, concealed the shining object
beneath the blanket. That was all I saw of the Raja of Pepper-
thala, but I never forgot the sight. His ancestors may, or may
not have been, bullies and bastards, but this poor tamed creature
had in his time been king of broad lands, with power to save or
kill, and in his hands the keys of palaces, and temples, and vaults
heaped high with treasure.
Kettle closed the door. He was quite pale.
” You have seen him,” he whispered, ” and I’m sure you ought
to be infernally obliged to me ; and, my boy, you’ve also seen the
case which contains the blessed stone. Oh, don’t ask me any-
thing further ! This Desire of the Nations, as they call it, is
driving me mad, absit omen. I’ll just tell you one thing,” he said,
mysteriously, ” and you may repeat it to whoever gets hold of the
blooming stone—caveat emptor. That’s what I say. Good
The adventures of the day had given me material for quite a
pretty little article. I walked briskly up Constitution Hill,
arranging the paragraphs in my mind, thence into Hyde Park,
and by the time I had travelled as far as the Marble Arch, and
back again to Hyde Park Corner, the article was clamouring to be
written. So I hastened down Grosvenor Place, purposing to take
the train at Victoria.
The fog had become so much denser during the last hour, that
I was quite glad to have the friendly wall of Buckingham Palace
Garden as a guide. With my left hand trailing against it, I
slowly and cautiously groped my way, till I drew near the spot
where Grosvenor Place turns sharply round to the left into Little
Grosvenor Place. There an adventure befell me. At this
point, where the pavement narrows, I was crouching under the
lee of the wall, to remove myself as far as possible from a brilliantly
lamped Parcels Post van that came rattling through the fog,
when suddenly a man dropped upon me from the top of the
wall. He doubled himself up as he fell, alighting gracefully
upon my head, enveloping me as if he were an extinguisher, and
I a candle. At the same time a metal vessel, escaping from his
hands by the violence of the shock, clanged upon the pavement,
while a smaller object struck sharply against my foot.
I tumbled incontinently upon the pavement, while my visitor,
recovering himself while I was still blinking, picked up the
metal vessel, which I observed had burst open, and disappeared
into the fog.
For a moment I sat motionless, unhurt, but confused with
amazement. The person who had dropped so indecorously over
the garden wall was my yellow friend of the afternoon, and the
metal object which had burst open as he fell was the case that
the Raja of Pepperthala had concealed beneath the blanket a few
As I was considering the bearings of this new development
upon my article there fell upon the hushed air, from the direction
of the Palace, a wail, repeated three times, so eerie, so pregnant
with despair, that I felt almost as if something had cut into a
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. H
tissue of my sensibility. Then I heard shouts in the garden, a
dog’s deep bay, and a voice crying : ” Quick ! Here’s the
That narrow slip of pavement, where I sat cross-legged like a
Buddha, was clearly no place for me. Mechanically I picked up
the object that had struck against my foot, slipped across the
road, and was soon out of earshot of the voices.
Upon examination, my find proved to be an oval case made of
very hard wood, similar in shape to the Raja of Pepperthala’s
stolen treasure, but smaller. On pressing a little deflection at
the extreme end the case flew open. It contained nothing but
an ordinary stone, in size and shape something like a hen’s
egg. When I arrived home I examined the stone minutely, but
although it was unlike other stones one might pick up in
Grosvenor Place, I could discover nothing remarkable about its
appearance. It bristled all over with little corrugations and
spikes. A space of about an inch square had been polished, and
on this shining surface I detected three vague nebulous markings ;
the colour was black, and the thing was moist to the touch.
I wrote the article, and soon after midnight retired to bed,
after emptying, according to habit, the contents of my pockets
upon a table that stands in the centre of my room. When I
awoke, considerably after my usual hour, the sun was shining
through the window, and I observed, in the drowsy, semi-con-
scious way we note things in the first moment of waking, that
soon the broad white beam of sunlight which streamed through
the window would fall upon the heterogeneous collection of
articles that I had thrown upon the table the night before. Then
I fell asleep again. When I re-awoke the articles lay full in the
glare of the sunshine—knife, keys, match-box, and, towering
above them all, the big stone, flanked by its ragged-edged shadow.
I gazed sleepily at them, too lazy even to turn my head away,
till gradually it dawned upon me that I had been mistaken in
supposing that the stone was black. Its colour was red. I
rubbed my eyes, and sat up in bed. Yes, the stone was certainly
red—a heavy dark red. And yet as I looked it became clear to
me that the stone was by no means a dark red. It was a living
red, the colour of blood. I jumped from my bed, and touched
the stone with my fore-finger. It burnt.
I am not a nervous man, but I confess to feeling startled and
troubled. Was I going blind ? Was I in for a serious illness ?
I had been working and worrying overmuch of late, and Nature,
I knew, sometimes sent her warnings through odd channels.
But then why should the stone burn ? I pulled myself to-
gether, bathed and dressed leisurely, concentrating my mind by a
great effort on other subjects. Half an hour passed. I then
looked again. The stone stood in the shade, and was quite black
—as black as a mourning hat-band.
Could . . . ? Could . . . ? I lifted the stone, it was now
cold and moist to the touch, and again placed it in the centre of
the beam of light, gazing intently with paper and pencil in my
hand to note exactly what happened.
The rays of the sun concentrated themselves upon its surface,
and, as the thing warmed, the deep black of its normal con-
dition gave place to a dull red. Presently the red grew into a
glow like a November sunset, then it hissed to a white heat, the
colour of a furnace fire, and there before me was the thing
palpitating and panting as if it were alive. With the point of my
penknife I pushed it still further into the light, and even as I
Methodically and carefully I cut two thin strips of paper, and
placed them upon the table at either side of the stone. Then I
closed my eyes. When I opened them again one of the strips of
paper was untouched. The other was gone—burnt. Its charred
ends were curled up an inch behind the stone.
What did it mean ?—A stone that glowed, and pulsed, and moved
when placed in a beam of light. A stone that the sun had power
to vivify. What did it mean ?
The Sun ! ! The events of yesterday swept back to me—the
Yellow Man—his mysterious words—his anxiety to procure the
gem, his adoration of the setting sun. The sun again ! !
I pressed my hands to my head. The voice of a paper seller in
the streets below struck into my thoughts—” Robbery at Bucking-
ham Palace. Strange Rumours.”
I ran to the window. A cab drew up at my door. In another
moment, Mayfair, paler than pallor itself, burst, or rather staggered
into the room.
” Madman,” I cried, ” to leave your bed.”
With a ripple of laughter he placed his hand upon my shoulder,
” I’m. the madman am I ? ” he murmured, gazing at me, his blue
eyes shining with merriment and admiration, ” and you, what
about you ? Oh, my friend, my friend ! Don’t speak. Let me
laugh before you explain. You-you-you Napoleon ! Oh ! Oh !
Oh ! They’re after you,” he added. ” You haven’t heard ?
The Raja and Kettle were found gagged and bound, and
the gentle Kettle accuses you of the robbery—protests you were his
only visitor during the evening. It was you, wasn’t it ? Say
it was you, do ! ”
As the words fell from his lips he reeled against me, and would
have fallen had I not caught him in my arms. He was so weak,
he looked so fragile, the collapse after the excitement of the morn-
ing was so complete and so sudden that I determined to keep him
under my roof, and after a deal of persuasion I induced him to
undress, and get into bed, where I left him in charge of
my housekeeper, promising to telegraph immediately to his wife.
I then dropped the stone, not without a shudder, into my pocket
and started for the office. Before I had gone a hundred yards
it became clear to me that I must be rid of the thing at any cost.
The placard bills of the evening papers blazoned the words
” Robbery—Buckingham Palace—Strange Rumours ” from every
street corner. There would be the very devil to pay if the stone
were found in my possession. My head ached with attempts to
devise schemes of getting rid of it. The obvious plan was to
drop it down a sewer or over Westminster Bridge—back staircase
schemes all of them, I decided, and outside consideration.
Restore it to the Raja ! I dare not. Who would believe my
yarn that the thing had fallen at my feet from the clouds on a
foggy night in Grosvenor Place ? If only I could hand it to
the Yellow Man, and earn the £5000 ! Impossible. Oh, quite
As I drew near the office I found the lamps lighted, and the
streets enveloped in a fog denser even than that of the
previous day. A furtive look played over the hall porter’s face,
and the messenger boys were beaming with suppressed excitement.
When I reached my room I found that every drawer and cupboard
had been ransacked. The hall porter, a faithful creature, entered
the room without knocking, crept timorously towards me, and
whispered in my ear : ” ‘Scuse me, sir, but two men from Scot-
land Yard have been a searching here. Gone to your house now,
sir, and one of them give me the tip, sir, that they would be back
I thanked him, locked the door, turned down the gas, and threw
myself upon the sofa. What on earth was I to do with the stone ?
Some sort of decision must be arrived at immediately. The room
was in semi-darkness. Fog lurked in the corners. The leaping
fire threw fantastic reflections upon the windo pane. That was
not the sole illumination.
As I lay there thinking, thinking, a sound came to me through
the darkness like a cat scratching upon glass. Raising myself
upon my elbow, I looked hard at the window whence the noise
proceeded, and as I stared, a face, a thin, ascetic face, yellow, like
a Mongolian’s, with deep, searching eyes, and a restless mouth,
shaped itself out of the surrounding gloom.
For a moment we stared at one another, and then an idea leapt
into my mind. Slowly I arose from the sofa, lifted the stone
from my coat pocket, and placed it upon the table within a foot
from the window.
The thin scratch, scratch of a diamond cutting through glass fell
upon my ear, then a pane was softly withdrawn from its frame,
and through the opening a long yellow hand extended itself
towards the stone, seized it, and disappeared back into the fog. I
waited breathlessly for the pane to be replaced, but instead five
bank notes fluttered through the opening, and fell upon the table.
Then the glass returned noislessly into position, and the face
disappeared from behind the window.
The above is a true account of the strange chance that brought
the Enchanted Stone into my possession, and the expedient by
which I got rid of it. What I did with the £5000, together with
the wonderful and fruitful adventures that befell the Enchanted
Stone, and all those who became associated with it, I may
perhaps tell at some future time.
Evening By the River
By T. C. Morton
By Nora Hopper
I—Ma Creevin O !
MA CREEVIN O, with your breast of snow,
Why would you go through the convent door ?
Why stand apart with a folded heart,
Feeding the hungry poor ?
Let others kneel and give milk and meal,
While the grey hours steal their youth away,
What grief have you known that you leave us, lone,
Gra, to a sunless day?
Your hands like silk gave meal and milk
To all the ilk of the wandering shee:
Stay here and learn how your own fires burn
And let the grey nuns be.
Kind loves to your door we’ll bring galore,
And the best love, asthore, that is not kind :
No blast shall wither your quicken-tree
So you leave cold saints for the kindly shee,
And the nunnery door behind !
II—Phyllis and Damon
PHYLLIS and Damon met one day :
Phyllis was sad and Damon grey,
Tired with treading a separate way.
Damon sighed for his broken flute :
Phyllis went with a noiseless foot,
Under the olives stripped of fruit.
Met they, parted they, all unsaid ?
Ah, but a ghost’s lips are not red :
Damon was old, and Phyllis dead—
(Heigho, heigho !)
Under the Moon
By F. H. Newbury
A Captain of Salvation
NOR is it any matter of sorrow to us that the gods of the
are no more. For whatsoever virtue was theirs is embodied
in our most blessed faith. For whereas Apollo was the most noble of
men in appearance and seemed to his devotees the incarnation (if I may
use so sacred a word in a profane sense} of the beauty of the male, we
have learned to apprehend a higher beauty of the Spirit, as in our
blessed Saints. And whereas Jupiter was the king of the world, we
have another and more excellent King, even God the Father, the holy
Trinity. And whereas Mars was the god of war, the strongest and
most warlike of beings, we have the great soldier of our cause, even the
Captain of our Salvation. And whereas the most lovely of women
was Venus, she whom all men worshipped, to us there is one greater
and. better, beautiful alike in spirit and body, to wit our Blessed Lady.
So it is seen that whatever delights are carnal and of the flesh, such
are met by greater delights of Christ and His Church. “—An Extract
from the writings of Donisarius, a Monk of Padua.
The Salvation Captain sat in his room at the close of a windy
March day. It had been a time of storm and sun, blustering
showers and flying scuds of wind. The spring was at the thresh-
old with its unrest and promise ; it was the season of turmoil and
disquietude in Nature, and turmoil and disquietude in those whose
ears are open to her piping. Even there, in a three-pair back, in
the odoriferous lands of Limehouse, the spring penetrated with
scarcely diminished vigour. Dust had been whistling in the
narrow streets ; the leaden sky, filled with vanishing spaces of
blue, had made the dull brick seem doubly sordid ; and the sudden
fresh gusts had caused the heavy sickening smells of stale food
and unwholesome lodging to seem by contrast more hateful than
The Captain was a man of some forty years, tall, with a face
deeply marked with weather and evil living. An air of super-
induced gravity served only to accentuate the original. His
countenance was a sort of epitome of life, full of traces of passion
and nobler impulse, with now and then a shadow of refinement
and a passing glimpse of breeding. His history had been of that
kind which we would call striking, were it not so common. A
gentleman born, a scholar after a fashion, with a full experience of
the better side of civilisation, he had begun life as well as one can
nowadays. For some time things had gone well ; then came the
utter and irretrievable ruin. A temptation which meets many
men in their career met him, and he was overthrown. His name
disappeared from the books of his clubs, people spoke of him in a
whisper, his friends were crushed with shame. As for the man
himself, he took it otherwise. He simply went under, disappeared
from the ranks of life into the seething, struggling, disordered
crowd below. He, if anything, rather enjoyed the change, for
there was in him something of that brutality which is a necessary
part of the natures of great leaders of men and great scoundrels.
The accidents of his environment had made him the latter ; he
had almost the power of proving the former, for in his masterful
brow and firm mouth there were hints of extraordinary strength.
His history after his downfall was as picturesque a record as needs
be. Years of wandering and fighting, sin and cruelty, generosity
and meanness followed. There were few trades and few parts of
the earth in which he had not tried his luck. Then there had
come a violent change. Somewhere on the face of the globe he
had met a man and heard words ; and the direction of his life
veered round of a sudden to the opposite. Culture, family ties,
social bonds had been of no avail to wean him from his headstrong
impulses. An ignorant man, speaking plainly some strong
sentences which are unintelligible to three-fourths of the world,
had worked the change ; and spring found him already two years
a servant in that body of men and women who had first sought to
teach him the way of life.
These two years had been years of struggle, which only a man
who has lived such a life can hope to enter upon. A nature
which has run riot for two decades is not cabined and confined at
a moment s notice. He had been a wanderer like Cain, and the
very dwelling in houses had its hardships for him. But in this
matter even his former vice came to aid him. He had been
proud and self-willed before in his conflict with virtue. He would
be proud and self-willed now in his fight with evil. To his com-
rades and to himself he said that only the grace of God kept him
from wrong ; in his inmost heart he felt that the grace of God
was only an elegant name for his own pride of will.
As he sat now in that unlovely place, he felt sick of his
surroundings and unnaturally restive. The day had been a trying
one for him. In the morning he had gone West on some money-
collecting errand, one which his soul loathed, performed only as an
exercise in resignation. It was a bitter experience for him to pass
along Piccadilly in his shabby uniform, the badge in the eyes of
most people of half-crazy weakness. He had passed restaurants
and eating-houses, and his hunger had pained him, for at home he
lived on the barest. He had seen crowds of well-dressed men and
women, some of whom he dimly recognised, who had no time
even to glance at the insignificant wayfarer. Old ungodly
longings after luxury had come to disturb him. He had striven to
banish them from his mind, and had muttered to himself many
texts of Scripture and spoken many catchword prayers, for the fiend
was hard to exorcise.
The afternoon had been something worse, for he had been
deputed to go to a little meeting in Poplar, a gathering of factory-
girls and mechanics who met there to talk of the furtherance of
Christ’s kingdom. On his way the spirit of spring had been at
work in him. The whistling of the wind among the crazy
chimneys, the occasional sharp gust from the river, the strong
smell of a tanyard, even the rough working-dress of the men he
passed, recalled to him the roughness and vigour of his old life. In
the forenoon his memories had been of the fashion and luxury of
his youth ; in the afternoon they were of his world-wide wander-
ings, their hardships and delights. When he came to the stuffy
upper-room where the meeting was held, his state of mind was far
from the meek resignation which he sought to cultivate. A sort
of angry unrest held him, which he struggled with till his whole
nature was in a ferment. The meeting did not tend to soothe
him. Brother followed sister in aimless remarks, seething with
false sentiment and sickly enthusiasm, till the strong man was near
to disgust. The things which he thought he loved most dearly, of
a sudden became loathsome. The hysterical fervours of the girls,
which only yesterday he would have been ready to call ” love for
the Lord,” seemed now perilously near absurdity. The loud
” Amens ” and ” Hallelujahs ” of the men jarred, not on his good
taste (that had long gone under), but on his sense of the ludicrous.
He found himself more than once admitting the unregenerate
thought, ” What wretched nonsense is this ? When men are
living and dying, fighting and making love all around, when the
glorious earth is calling with a hundred voices, what fools and
children they are to babble in this way ! ” But this ordeal went
by. He was able to make some conventional remarks at the end,
which his hearers treasured as ” precious and true,” and he left the
place with the shamefaced feeling that for the first time in his new
life he had acted a part.
It was about five in the evening ere he reached his room and
sat down to his meal. There was half a stale loaf, a pot of cheap
tea, and some of that extraordinary compound which the humorous
grocers of the East call butter. He was hungry and ate without
difficulty, but such fragments of aesthetic liking as he still
possessed rose against it. He looked around his room. The table
was common deal, supported by three legs and a bit of an old
clothes-prop. On the horsehair sofa among the dusty tidies was
his Bible, one or two publications of the Army, two bundles of the
War Cry, some hymn-books, and—strange relic of the past—a
tattered Gaboriau. On the mantelpiece was a little Burmese idol,
which acted as a watch-stand, some hideous photographs framed in
black, and a china Duke of Wellington. Near it was his bed,
ill-made and dingy, and at the bottom an old sea-trunk. On the
top lay one relic of gentility, which had escaped the wreck of his
fortunes, a silver-backed hair-brush.
The place filled him with violent repugnance. A smell of rich,
greasy fish came upstairs to his nostrils ; outside a woman was
crying ; and two children sprawled and giggled beside his door.
This certainly was a wretched hole, and his life was hard almost
beyond words. He solemnly reviewed his recent existence. On
the one side he set down the evils—bad pay, severe and painful
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. I
work, poor lodgings, poor food and dismal company. Something
stopped him just as he was about to set down the other. ” Oh,”
he cried, ” is the love of Jesus nothing that I think like that ? “
And he began to pray rapidly, ” Lord, I believe, forgive my
For a little he sat in his chair looking straight before him. It
would be impossible to put down in words the peculiar hardness of
his struggle. For he had to fight with his memory and his
inclinations, both of which are to a certain extent independent of
the will ; and he did this not by sheer strength of resolution, but
by fixing his thought upon an abstraction and attempting to clothe
it in warm, lovable attributes. He thought upon the countless
mercies of God towards him, as his creed showed them ; and so
strong was the man that in a little he had gotten the victory.
By-and-by he got up and put on his overcoat, thin and patched,
and called so only by courtesy. He suddenly remembered his
work, how he was engaged that night to lead a crusade through
some of the worst streets by the river. Such a crusade was the
romantic description by certain imaginative Salvationists of a pro-
cession of some dozen men and women with tambourines and
concertinas, singing hymns, and sowing the good seed broadcast
in the shape of vociferous invitations to mercy and pardon. He
hailed it as a sort of anodyne to his pain. There was small time
for morbid recollection and introspection if one were engaged in
leading a crew of excited followers in places where they were by
no means sure of a favourable reception.
There was a noise without on the stairs, then a rap at the door,
and Brother Leather entered, whom Whitechapel and the Mile-
End Road knew for the most vigilant of soldiers and violent of
” Are you strong in the Lord, Captain ?” he asked. “For to-night
we’re goin’ to the stronghold of Satan. It haint no use a invitin’
and invitin’ . It haint no good ‘nless you compel them to come
in. And by the ‘elp of God we ‘opes to do it. Sister Stokes, she
has her tamb’rine, and there’s five concertinies from Gray Street,
and Brother Clover’s been prayin’ all day for a great outpourin’
of blessin’ . ‘The fields are wite unto th’ ‘arvest,’ ” he quoted.
The Captain rose hastily. ” Then hadn’t we better be going ? ”
he said. ” We’re to start at seven, and it’s half-past six already.”
“Let’s have a word of prayer fust,” said the other ; and straight-
way, in defiance of all supposed rules of precedence, this strange
private soldier flopped on his knees beside the sofa and poured forth
entreaties to his Master. This done he arose, and along with the
Captain went down the dingy stairway to the door, and out into
the narrow darkening street. The newly-lit gas lamps sent a flicker
on the men’s faces—the one flabby, soft and weak, but with eyes
like coals of fire ; the other as strong as steel, but listless and
uneager. As they passed, a few ragged street-boys cried the old
phrase of derision, ” I love Jesus,” at the sight of the caps and the
red-banded coats. Here again the one smiled as if he had heard
the highest praise, while the other glanced angrily through the
gloom as if he would fain rend the urchins, as the bears did the
children who mocked Elisha.
At last they turned down a stone-paved passage and came into
a little room lined with texts which represented the headquarters
of the Army in the district. Sitting on the benches or leaning
against the wall were a dozen or so of men and women, all wearing
the familiar badge, save one man who had come in his working
corduroys, and one girl in a black waterproof. The faces of the
men were thin and eager, telling of many sacrifices cheerfully made
for their cause, of spare dinners, and nights spent out o’ bed, of
heart-searchings and painful self-communings, of fervent praying
and violent speaking. Thin were the women too, thin and weary,
with eyes in which utter lassitude strove against enthusiasm,
and backs which ached as they rested. They had come from their
labours, as seamstresses and milliners, as shop-girls and laundry-
maids, and, instead of enjoying a well-won rest, were devoting
their few hours of freedom to the furtherance of an ideal which
many clever men have derided. Verily it is well for the world
that abstract truth is not the measure of right and wrong, of joy
The Captain gave a few directions to the band and then pro-
ceeded to business. They were silent men and women in private
life. The world was far too grave a matter for them to talk idly.
It was only in the streets that speech came thick and fast ; here
they were as silent as sphinxes—sphinxes a little tired, not with
sitting but with going to and fro on the earth.
” Where are we going ? ” asked one woman.
The Captain considered for a minute ere he replied. ” Down
by the Modern Wharves,” he said, ” then up Blind Street and
Gray Alley to Juke’s Buildings, where we can stop and speak.
You know the place, friend Leather ? ”
” Do I know my own dwellin’ ? ” asked the man thus addressed
in a. surprised tone. ” Wy, I’ve lived there off an’ on for twenty
year, and I could tell some tyles o’ the plyce as would make yer
that keen you couldn’t wait a minute but must be off doin’ Christ’s
” We’ll be off now,” said the Captain, who had no desire for his
assistant’s reminiscences. ” I’ll go first with the flag and the rest
of you can come in rank. See that you sing out well, for the
Lord has much need of singing in these barren lands.” The
desultory band clattered down the wooden stair into the street.
Once here the Captain raised the hymn. It was ” Oh, haven’t
I been happy since I met the Lord ? ” some rhapsodical words set
to a popular music-hall air. To the chance hearer who hailed
from more civilised places the thing must have seemed little better
than a blasphemous parody. But all element of farce was absent
from the hearts of the grim-faced men and women ; and the scene
as it lay, the squalid street with its filth stirred by the March wind,
the high shifting sky overhead, the flicker and glare of the street
lamps as each gust jostled them, the irregular singing, the marching
amid the laughs or silent scorn of the bystanders—all this formed
a picture which had in it more of the elements of the tragic or the
noble than the ludicrous.
And the heart of the man at the head of the little procession
was the stage of a drama which had little of the comic about it.
The street, the open air, had inflamed again the old longings.
Something of the enthusiasm of his following had entered into his
blood ; but it was a perverted feeling, and instead of desiring
earnestly the success of his mission, he longed madly, fiercely for
forbidden things. In the short encounter in his room he had
come off the victor ; but it had only been a forced peace, and
now the adversary was at him tooth and nail once more. The
meeting with the others had roused in him a deep disgust. Heaven
above, was it possible that he, the cock of his troop, the man
whom all had respected after a fashion, as men will respect a
strong man, should be a bear-leader to fools ! The shame of it
took him of a sudden, and as he shouted the more loudly he felt
his heart growing hot within him at the thought. But, strangely
enough, his very pride came once more to help him. At the
thought, ” Have I really come to care what men say and think
about me ? ” the strong pride within him rose in revolt and restored v him to himself.
But the quiet was to be of short duration. A hateful, bitter
thought began to rise in him—” What am I in the world but a
man of no importance ? And I might have been—oh, I might
have been anything I chose ! I made a mess of it at the begin-
ning, but is it not possible for a man to right himself again with
the world ? Have I ever tried it ? Instead of setting manfully
to the task, I let myself drift, and this is what I have become.
And I might have been so different. I might have been back at
my old clubs with my old friends, married, maybe, to a pretty
wife, with a house near the Park, and a place in the country with
shooting and riding to hounds, and a devilish fine time of it. And
here I must go on slaving and gabbling, doing a fool’s work at a
drainer’s pay.” Then came a burst of sharp mental anguish,
remorse, hate, evil craving. But it passed, and a flood of counter-
thoughts came to oppose it. The Captain was still unregenerate
in nature, as the phrase goes, but the leaven was working in him.
The thought of all that he had gained—God’s mercy, pardon for
his sins, a sure hope of happiness hereafter, and a glorified ideal to
live by—made him stop short in his regrets.
The hymn had just dragged itself out to its quavering close.
Wheeling round, he turned a burning eye on his followers. ” Let
us raise another, friends,” he cried ; and began, ” The Devil and
me we can’t agree “—which the rest heartily joined in.
And now the little procession reached a new stage in its journey.
The narrow street had grown still more restricted. Gin palaces
poured broad splashes of garish light across the pavement. Slat-
ternly women and brutal men lined the footpath, and in the
kennels filthy little urchins grinned and quarrelled. Every now
and then some well-dressed, rakish artiste, or lady of the half-world,
pushed her way through the crowds, or a policeman, tall and silent,
stalked among the disorderly. Vanity Fair and its denizens were
everywhere,from the chattering hucksters to the leering blackguards
and sleek traffickers in iniquity. If anything on earth can bring a
ray of decency into such a place, then in God’s name let it come,
whether it be called sense or rant by stay-at-home philosophers.
The hymn-singing added one more element to the discordant
noise. But there was in it a suggestion of better things, which
was absent from the song of the streets. The obvious chords of
the music in that place acquired an adventitious beauty, just as
the song of a humble hedge-linnet is lovely amid the croaking of
ravens and hooting of owls. The people on the pavement looked
on with varying interest. To most it was an everyday exhibition
of the unaccountable. Women laughed, and shrieked coarse
railleries ; some of the men threatened, others looked on in
amused scorn ; but there was no impulse to active violence. The
thing was tolerated as yonder seller of cheap watchguards was
borne ; for it is an unwritten law in the slums, that folk may do
their own pleasure, as long as they cease from interfering offen-
sively with the enjoyment of others.
” ‘Oo’s the cove wi’ the flag, Bill ? ” asked one woman. ” ‘E
haint so bad as the rest. Most loikely ‘e’s taken up the job to
dodge the nick.”
” Dodge the nick yersel’ , Lizer,” said the man addressed.
” Wy, it’s the chap’s wye o’ making his livin’ , a roarin’ and a
preachin’ like that. S’help me, I’d rather cry ‘Welks’ any dye
than go about wi’ sich a crew.”
A woman, garishly adorned, with a handsome flushed face,
looked up at the Captain.
” Why, it’s Jack,” she cried. ” Bless me if it ain’t Jack.
Jack, Jack, what are you after now, not coming to speak to me.
Don’t you mind Sal, your little Sal. I’m coming to yer, I ain’t
forgotten yer.” And she began to push her way into mid-street.
The Captain looked to the side, and his glance rested upon her
face. It was as if the Devil and all his angels were upon him
that night. Evil memories of his past life thronged thick and fast
upon him. He had already met and resisted the world, and now
the flesh had come to torment him. But here his armour was
true and fast. This was a temptation which he had choked at
the very outset of his reformation. He looked for one moment at
her, and in the utter loathing and repugnance of that look, she
fell back ; and the next instant was left behind.
The little streets, which radiate from the wharf known as
Mordon’s, are so interlaced and crooked that to find one’s way in
them is more a matter of chance than good guiding even to the
initiated. The houses are small and close, the residence of the
very sweepings of the population ; the shops are ship-chandlers
and low eating-houses, pawnshops, emporia of cheap jewellery,
and remnant drapers. At this hour of the night there is a blaze
of dull gas-light on either side, and the proprietors of the places of
custom stand at their doors inviting the bystanders to inspect
their goods. This is the hotbed of legalised crime, the rendezvous
of half the wickedness of the earth. Lascars, Spaniards, French-
men jostle Irishmen, and Scotsmen, and the true-born Englishmen
in these narrow purlieus. If a man disappears utterly from view
you may be sure to find him somewhere in that network of alleys,
for there it would be hard for the law to penetrate incolis invitis.
It is a sort of Cave of Adullam on the one hand, to which the
morally halt and maimed of all nations resort ; and, on the other,
a nursery of young vice and unformed devilry. Sailors straddled
about the pavement, or stood in knots telling their tales in loud
voices and plentiful oaths ; every beershop was continually dis-
charging its stream of filthy occupants, filthy and prosperous.
The element of squalor and misery was here far less in evidence.
All the inhabitants seemed gorged and well clad, but their faces
were stained with vice so horrible that poverty and tatters would
have been a welcome relief.
The Salvation band penetrated into this Sodom with fear in the
heart of each member. It was hard for the Gospel to strive with
such seared and branded consciences. The repulsive, self-satisfied
faces of the men, the smug countenances of the women, made
that little band seem hopeless and Quixotic in the extreme. The
Captain felt it, too ; but in him there was mingled another feeling.
He thought of himself as a combatant entering the arena. He
felt dimly that some great struggle was impending, some monstrous
temptation, some subtle wile of the Evil One. The thought made
him the more earnest. ” Sing up, men,” he cried, ” the Devil is
strong in this place.”
It was the truth, and the proof awaited him. A man stepped
out from among the bystanders and slapped his shoulder. The
Captain started and looked. It was the Devil in person.
” Hullo, Jack ! ” said the new-comer. ” Good God, who’d have
thought of seeing you here ? Have you gone off your head
now ? ”
The Captain shivered. He knew the speaker for one of his
comrades of the old days, the most daring and jovial of them all.
The two had been hand and glove in all manner of evil. They
had loved each other like brothers, till the great change came over
the one, which fixed a gulf between them for ever.
” You don’t mean to tell me you’ve taken up with this infernal
nonsense, Jack ? No, I won’t believe it. It’s just another of
your larks. You were always the one for originality.”
” Go away, Hilton,” said the Captain hoarsely, ” go away. I’ve
done with you. I can’t see you any more.”
” What the deuce has come over you, Jack ? Not speak to
me any more ! Why, what foolery is this ? You’ve gone and
turned a regular old wife, bless me if you haven’t. Oh, man,
give it up. It’s not worth it. Don’t you remember the fun
we’ve had in our time ? Gad, Jack, when you and I stood behind
yon big tree in Kaffraria with twenty yelling devils wanting our
blood ; don’t you remember how I fell and you got over me, and,
though you were bleeding like a pig, you kept them off till the
Cape troopers came up ? And when we were lost, doing picket-
ing up in the Drakenberg, you mind how we chummed together
for our last meal ? And heavens ! it was near our last. I feel
that infernal giddiness still. And yet you tell me to go away.”
” Oh, Hilton,” said the Captain, ” come and be one of us.
The Lord’s willing to receive you, if you’ll only come. I’ve got
the blessing, and there’s one waiting for you if you’ll only take
” Blessing be damned ! ” said the other with a laugh. ” What
do I want with your blessing when there’s life and the world to
see ? What’s the good of poking round here, and crying about
the love of Jesus and singing twaddle, and seeing nobody but old
wives and white-faced shopmen, when you might be out on the
open road, with the wind and the stars and the sun, and meet
with men, and have your fling like a man. Don’t you remember
the days at Port Said, when the old Frenchman twanged his banjo
and the girls danced and—hang it, don’t you feel the smell of the
sand and the heat in your nostrils, you old fool ? :
” Oh, my God ! ” said the Captain, ” I do. Go away, Hilton.
For God’s sake, go away and leave me ! ”
” Can’t you think,” went on the other, ” of the long nights
when we dropped down the Irrawaddy, of the whistle of the wind
in the white sails, and the singing of the boatmen, and the sick-
suck of the alligators among the reeds ; and how we went ashore
at the little village and got arrack from the natives, and made a
holy sight of the place in the morning ? It was worth it, though
we got the sack for it, old man.”
The Captain made no answer. He was muttering some-
thing to himself. It might have been a prayer.
* And then there was that time when we were up country in
Queensland, sugar farming in the bush, thinking a billy of tea the
best thing on earth, and like to faint with the work and the heat.
But, Jove, wasn’t it fine to head off the cattle when you knew you
might have a big bull’s horn in your side every minute ? And then
at night to sit outside the huts and smoke pig-tail and tell stories
that would make your hair rise ! We were a queer lot, Jack, but
we were men, men, do you hear ? ”
A flood of recollection came over the Captain, vehement, all-
powerful. He felt the magic of the East, the wonder of the South,
the glory of the North burning in his heart. The old wild voices
were calling him, voices of land and sea, the tongues of the moon
and the stars and the beasts of the field, the halcyon voices of
paganism and nature which are still strong in the earth. Behind
him rose the irregular notes of the hymn ; at his side was the
tempter, and in his own heart was the prince of the world, the
master of pleasure, the great juggler of pain. In that man there
was being fought the old fight, which began in the Garden, and
will never end, the struggle between the hateful right and the
” Oh man, come with me,” cried Hilton, ” I’ve got a berth down
there in a ship which sails to-morrow, and we’ll go out to our old
place, where they’ll be glad to get us, and we’ll have a devilish good
time. I can’t be staying here, with muggy stinks, and white-
faced people, and preaching and praying, and sloppy weather.
Come on, and in a month we’ll be seeing the old Coal-sack above
us, and smelling the palms and the sea-water ; and then, after that,
there’ll be the Bush, the pines and the gum-trees and the blue-sky,
and the hot, clear air, and rough-riding and adventure ; and by
God we’ll live like gentlemen and fine fellows, and never come
back to this cursed hole any more. Come on, and leave the psalm-
A spasm of convulsive pain, of exquisite agony, of heart-break-
ing struggle came over the Captain’s face, stayed a moment, and
passed. He turned round to his followers. ” Sing louder, lads,” he
cried, ” we’re fighting a good fight.” And then his voice broke
down, and he stumbled blindly on, still clutching the flag.
By James Paterson
An old ballad sings of Denmark as a swan’s nest, thrown on the
Her sons are the swans.
Of these many have kept close to the nest, patiently strengthen-
ing and guarding it, till they sank in death and their saga
But there were other swans with mightier wills and more
arduous desires. These spread out their strong wings and flew
over the world, bringing to foreign lands tidings of their humble
homestead. Their names are shining in gold on the silver tablets
of fame : Thorvaldsen, Orsted, Hans Christian Andersen, Gade,
and there, forcibly writ—the youngest of them all—Georg
* * * * *
The youngest, yes, but not the least illustrious. For, indeed,
in every city throughout Europe where literature holds a place of
honour, his name is known as that of the finest of living critics.
He is a special favourite in Berlin and Vienna, and is treated as
a prince in St. Petersburg. His very name is a banner of liberty
to the Polish student, and theTzecs look up to him as one of the
bravest fighters for freedom. In Paris he belongs to those artistic
circles to which but few foreigners are welcomed. Amongst his
best friends are Bourget and Daudet, as was the late M. Taine,
who, Dr. Brandes says, was the man who, more than any other,
has influenced his mind and opinions.
The country that has honoured him least, and least understood
the value of his genius, is the land to which he has given his youth,
his work, and the very finest music of his soul—the land where he
When, therefore, during his recent stay in London, the repre-
sentative of the Daily Chronicle asked him “What is your position
in Copenhagen ? ” it was the bitter truth Dr. Brandes spoke when
he answered, ” I have none.”
Indeed, none of those honours governments are accustomed to
bestow on the best men in the country have been bestowed on
him. He was the only man for the chair of aesthetics at the
University, but pedantic prejudice has denied it him for years. He
has no title, no decoration, no subsidy. He is seldom a guest at
Court, nor is he a lion in the salons of the aristocracy.
From a social point of view he might even be called a no-
Yet, for all that, there is no Danish citizen with a finer, more
significant position. His influence, however unacknowledged, is
far-reaching and of a curiously subtle power. It shows itself
everywhere. Many are those whose whole lives have been changed
by a word of his. His helping hand, stretched out in the last
moment, has saved for the nation art and individualities, which
otherwise might have vanished into Nirvana.
There is not to-day in Denmark, Norway, or Sweden, an author,
a thinker, a critic, from the greatest to the youngest aspirant, who
does not owe something to Georg Brandes. His honours lie in
their gratitude, his kingdom in their hearts.
* * * * *
Having taken his degree as a doctor at the University of Copen-
hagen, he has a right to lecture in the buildings of the University,
and he has largely exercised that right. It was the 3rd of
November 1871, after his return from a journey to Italy, that
Georg Brandes gave his first lecture. Timidly, he had chosen the
smallest room. But on his arrival he found people standing all
down the staircase, and already the first evening the largest room
had to be used. It is this room, No. 7, which has ever since been
the forum whence his inspired words have gone forth.
It was here, through his lectures, even more than through his
books, that he influenced the minds of young Danish men and
How well 1 remember those evenings, twice a week, when we
stood together waiting outside the big door. It was not opened till
seven o’clock, but to secure a seat we had to be there long before.
All young, all enthusiastic, all dreaming of the possibilities life had
in store for us, we stood there, crowded together on the steps
leading to the portal. Round us the quiet square, clad in its robe
of snow ; behind us the dome, silent and solemn. Over us the moon
and a thousand stars glittering with that cold radiance only known
in the winter nights of the north.
Woe to the porter, if he did not open for us the minute the big
clock sounded. How we used to hammer on the door, till it
echoed through the old buildings. Then there was the run
upstairs, the rush down the corridors, the crush and struggle,
till at last one could breathe contentedly in one s favourite
A few minutes after, a storm of clapping hands ; then silence.
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. K
On the cathedra stood Georg Brandes.
A tall, lithe figure, dressed simply but with scrupulous care.
And what a wonderful face is his ! Irregular features, some might
even be called ugly ; it seems impossible to say exactly what they
are like, captivated as one is by their ever-changing expression—
quiet thoughtfulness flashing into humour, tired melancholy break-
ing into a sunlit smile.
He speaks without pose and affectation, seems scarcely to raise
his voice above the pitch of ordinary conversation, yet it carries
each phrase to the furthest corner of the room. But behind the
quietness is felt the quivering of a passionate nature, which now
and then, when he is roused by some best loved or best hated
theme, flashes on the audience with a suddenness that electrifies.
Sometimes we would follow him with Goethe to the Court of
Weimar, or another time he would reveal to us the gigantic fancy
concealed behind the mountains of dull description in the works
of Zola. With glowing words he would paint for us the poetry and
romance of Polishliterature, or illuminate for us the golden thoughts
of Niezche, young Germany’s ill-fated philosopher.
Winter after winter has passed, and youth has fled with the
years. The sadness in his eyes has deepened, and his hair is
touched with silver, but his vitality is still the same, his spiritual
alertness as keen as ever. Still he gathers round him the young
men and women of Copenhagen, and when he showers on them
the sparks of his own rich personality, he sets aflame the smoulder-
ing fire of their natures, brings into bloom the flowers that lie
sleeping in their souls.
* * * * *
A favourite saying of Dr. Brandes’ is ” that men and women
can be divided into three classes those who command, those who
obey, and those who can neither command nor obey and that they
ought to be killed,” and how savagely his voice rings out the last
word—it sounds like the click of the guillotine.
Many minutes are not needed to find out to what class he him-
self belongs. It is written on his brow that he was born to
command, was intended by the Norns for a leader of men. Many
are the incidents in his life which show how his strong will has
carried everything before him.
More characteristic than any seems this little story of how his
first pamphlet was printed. He was a very young man at the time,
known only in University circles as a promising student, and
publicly his name meant nothing. He had written a paper upon
some burning question of the day, and brought it to one of the big
printers at Copenhagen. Calling shortly afterwards to fetch the
proofs, he found that nothing had yet been done with the MS.
The manager told him in rather an off-handed way that he must
wait, they had other important work to do first. Georg Brandes
looked at him hard, and told him that no work could be more im-
portant than his, and that his MS. must be set up at once—his
MS. could never wait. ” Let me tell the printers myself,” he said.
Before the astonished manager could interfere he heard from the
workroom a clear, strong voice commanding the men that whenever
they got his writings they must put aside all other work and do his
first. But such was the fire of his temperament, such the will-
power in his face, that the men did not shrug their shoulders as at
a madman, but instead they gave him an ” Hurrah ! ” and followed
out his orders. Shortly after he began writing his books, and every
morning he brought to the printers some few sheets, of which the
proofs were sent to him in the evening. The curious point in his
method of working is that he gets his books printed page by page
as he goes along. For as wine invigorates the blood, so does the
printed word inspire his brain.
Here, as in so many other ways, he shows himself an impatient
man—a man who must not be kept waiting. His desires must be
fulfilled at once. In this there would lie danger for his work were
not his impatience balanced by great perseverance. His impatience
does not make him hurry ; his work is finished as that of few
other writers, and no pains seem to him too great, no trouble too
tedious, if thereby his book may be strengthened.
Thus he gave twenty-three years of his life to his most important
work, ” Main Currents of European Literature in the Nineteenth
Century.” To convey an idea of the varied knowledge he
possesses, I give the sub-titles. They are : ” The Literature of
Emigrants,” ” The Romantic School in Germany,” ” The Reaction
in France,” ” Naturalism in England,” ” The Romantic School in
France,” and ” Young Germany.”
The last six years Dr. Brandes ” has lived with Shakespeare,”
to use his own phrase. The first two volumes of his study of
him have appeared in Danish, the last and third he is now writing.
Fortunately, this great work is being translated into English by
Mr. William Archer, and when it appears will, without doubt,
make a deep impression. Dr. Brandes hopes that he has been
successful in his attempt to bring forth the great poet s personality
by a critical study of his work. ” For,” as he says, ” when a
writer leaves thirty volumes behind him, it is the world’s fault if
it knows nothing of his life.” Of the critical value of the book,
others more competent must judge. I can only say that it reads
like a fairy-tale.
Though crammed with facts, it does not belong to the ” dry
goods ” of literature. The historical events of that most picturesque
period of English history are painted in colouring, the glow and
richness of which remind one of some great master of the
Renaissance, and the exposition of the dramas is so subtle, so
fantastically vivid, that it seems to add new treasures to the
* * * * *
Sparkling as is the writing of Dr. Brandes, his conversation is no
less so. Indeed, a more entertaining companion can hardly be
imagined. He seems to know everything, to have seen every-
thing and in his travels all over Europe he has met most of
the great ones of the earth. He talks freely about every
subject, casts new light over the most trivial matter, and can, in
a few words, give a sketch of this or that famous person.
Stuart Mill, Renan, Ibsen, Max Klinger, Tolstoy, Bismarck ;
he will pass in review all such powerful influences of our century.
The last name brings him to talk of his long stay in Berlin,
and of the old Emperor and his Court, and suddenly he says :
” I have never felt myself so completely left out in the cold as
when at a great Court ball at Potsdam. I was the only one of
eleven hundred guests who had no decoration.” With a twinkle
in his eye he adds : ” Unless it was when at a big dinner in
Switzerland I found myself the only one who was not condemned
to death all the others being Russian and Polish exiles.”
Being an excellent causeur it is no wonder that Dr.
has always been a great favourite with women. His mind
fascinates them, and they never feel overwhelmed with his
knowledge, because he always cares most to try and make
them talk about themselves, and he is certainly an artist at that.
That dreadful female monster—if it is proper to call her female
—who, two minutes after being introduced, tells one that she
wears ” divided skirts ” and starts her day with a brandy-and-soda,
has no interest for Dr. Brandes. He combines with his very
advanced views in other directions the old-fashioned idea that
womanhood still remains the greatest fascination of woman.
I don’t mean by this that he opposes the liberty women now-
adays have obtained. Nothing could be further from his mind.
He means the two sexes to have equal rights and equal freedom.
But he has no sympathy with the woman who, because she works
and fights her own battles, must throw to the winds all grace and
beauty. For there is nothing book-wormish about Georg
Brandes. As a true pagan, he loves to be surrounded by youth
and loveliness. There is an old-world tenderness and grace about
his bearing towards women, and he belongs to that race of men
who, like Bismarck, believe that a man never looks more charm-
ing than when reverently bending over a woman’s hand.
It need scarcely be said that Dr. Brandes often finds the oppor-
tunity to look charming !
* * * * *
On the 26th of October 1891, it was twenty-five years since
he had published his first book. The anniversary was a good
opportunity for his friends and followers to honour him. A
public dinner was arranged, and in the course of the evening the
workmen, the artists, and the students greeted him with torches.
The great preparations on the part of his friends, and the com-
plete silence with which the Conservative papers treated the
matter, aroused curiosity, and when the evening came all Copen-
hagen was in the streets to see the procession.
The dinner was given at the Concert Palace, a beautiful
rococo building in one of the main streets. On the balcony
stood Georg Brandes, surrounded by his nearest friends, while
every window in the great building was thronged with festive
men and women. In front the big courtyard was filled with the
young men carrying torches, and outside on the pavement and
down the side streets were thousands of spectators.
It was from this balcony that Dr. Brandes thanked all those
who paid him homage—thanked them in words which have never
ceased to burn in the memories of those present. Though the
wonderful fire of the speech must more or less be lost in transla-
tion, I think that even the poorest translation could not fail to
convey some of its original poetry and power.
” Thanks for those torches !
” Thanks for lighting them. Thanks for carrying them. May
they still blaze, still go on shining—fire in the minds, fire in the
wills, blood-red fire burning through life.
” Thanks for those torches !
” Torches in the night mean hope in time of darkness. In the
early Christian days they used to be carried on Easter Saturday as
a symbol of the Resurrection. May the resurrection of our own
time be not too far away.
” I take this fire as an omen. It is good, it is splendid to see
workmen, artists, students, all carrying torches together. Let us
go on like this, and we will get light.
” No element is so pure as fire. It cleanses the air. May it
purify the foul air in this town.
” No element is so gay as fire. It stiis the nerves like
music and like wine. May it brighten the minds in this
” The light of the torches is as the light of the mind. As rain
cannot quench the one, mere words cannot kill the other ; nay,
not even a storm of words. The light of thought cannot be
quenched, and liberty and justice are the two torches which set
each other aflame.
” Thanks for those torches !
” May they shine and warm. May they burn up all lies and
conventionalities. May they burn to ashes all the thought-corpses
from times dead and gone.
” Are you tired of carrying torches ? Then hand them to the
” In Latin the morning star is called Lucifer, which means the
light-bringer. Old fathers of the Church, misunderstanding a
scriptural sentence, believed, and made others believe, that this
spirit of the morning star, this Lucifer, was a demon
” Never believe that ! It is the most stupid, the most dangerous
of all superstitions. The nation that believes that is lost. Lucifer,
the father of fire, the torch-bearer, the flame-spirit, whose symbol
is the torch he lifts high in his hand : he is that very spark of life
which fires our blood ; he is the star of intelligence that makes
bright our heaven.
” He is the true angel of light. Never believe that the angel of
light has fallen or could fall. It is a lie !
” Thanks for those torches !
” See that they blaze ! See that they shine ! ”
* * * * *
So did he speak ; but what he asked of those young men who,
in the dark October night, crowded around him, torches in hand,
he himself has fulfilled. Never has his enemy had the strength to
snatch the torch from his hand ; never has he tired of carrying it
high, that it might shed its radiant light over his country and his
Thank you, torch-bearer, for the light you gave us !
By Ernest Wentworth
THIS enviable paper ! Oh, to think
That it will go, will really, really go
To her, my mistress. Had it soul to know,
What enviable paper ! Oh, to think—
The sweet light of her eyes, her sweet clear eyes,
Shall shine on it ; her sweet cool hands caress it,
And bear it to her sweet warm lips ; and press it
The sweet pale roses of her cheek. First, eyes,
Hands, lips, and cheek, and then, at night, all night,
In the sweet darkness of her room (ah, so !)
In the sweet stillness of her room (speak low !)
I guess where it will lie, at night, all night.
The Old Mill
By R. M. Stevenson
In Dull Brown
” ALL the same,” said Nancy, who was lazily sipping her coffee
in bed, ” brown doesn’t suit you a bit.”
” No,” said Jean sadly, ” and I should not be wearing it at all
if my other skirt did not want brushing. Nevertheless, a russet-
brown frock demands adventures. The girls in novels always wear
russet-brown, whatever their complexion is, and they always have
” Isn’t it time you started ? ” asked the gentle voice of her sister.
Jean glanced at the clock and said something in English that was
” I shall have to take an omnibus. Bother ! ” she said, and the
heroine of the russet-brown frockmade an abrupt andundignified exit.
It was a fine warm morning in November, the sort of day that
follows a week of stormy wet weather as though to cheat the un-
wary into imagining that the spring instead of the winter is on
its way. The pavements were still wet from yesterday’s rain, the
trees in the park stood stripped by yesterday’s gale ; only the sun
and the sparrows kept up the illusion that it was never going to
rain any more. But the caprices of the atmosphere made no im-
pression on the people who cannot help being out ; and Jean, as
she made the fourteenth passenger on the top of an omnibus, had
a vague feeling of contempt for the other thirteen who were en-
grossed in their morning papers.
” Just imagine missing that glorious effect,” she thought to her-
self, as they rumbled along the edge of the Green Park where the
mist was slowly yielding to the warmth of the sun and allowing
itself to be coaxed out of growing into a fog. And almost simul-
taneously she became as material as the rest, in her annoyance with
her neighbour for taking more than his share of the seat.
” Nice morning ! ” he said at that moment, and folded up his
Yes,” said Jean, in a tone that was not encouraging. That
the morning was ” nice ” would never have occurred to her ; and
it seemed unfair to sacrifice the effect over the Green Park, even
for conversational purposes. Then she caught sight of his face,
which was a harmless one, and in an ordinary way good-looking,
and she accused herself of priggishness, and stared at the uncon-
scious passenger in front, preparatory to cultivating the one at her
We deserve some compensation for yesterday,” she continued,
Yesterday ? Oh, it was beastly wet, wasn’t it ? I suppose
you don’t like wet weather, eh ? ” said the man, with a suspicion
of familiarity in his tone. Jean frowned a little.
“That comes of the simple russet gown,” she thought ; “of
course he thinks I am a little shop-girl.” But the sun was
shining, and life had been very dull lately, and she would be
getting down at Piccadilly Circus. Besides, he was little more
than a boy, and she liked boys, and there would be no harm in
having five minutes’ conversation with this one.
” I suppose no one does. I wasn’t trying to be particularly
original,” she replied carelessly.
He smiled and glanced at her with more interest. Her identity
was beginning to puzzle him.
” Going to business ? ” he asked tentatively.
Well, yes, I suppose so. At least, I am going to teach three
children all sorts of things they don’t want to learn a bit.”
” How awfully clever of you ! “
The little obvious remark made her laugh. In spite of the
humble brown dress that did not suit her, she looked very pretty
when she threw back her head and laughed.
That is because you have never taught,” she said ; ” to be a
really good teacher you must systematically forget quite half of
what you do know. For instance, I can teach German better than
anything else in the world, because I know less about it. Perhaps
that is why I always won the German prizes at school,” she added
You are very paradoxical—or very cynical, which is it ? ” asked
her neighbour, smiling.
” Oh, I don’t know. Am I ? But did you ever try to
teach ? ”
” Not I. Gives one the hump, doesn’t it ? I should just whack
the little beasts when they didn’t work. Don’t you feel like that
sometimes ? ”
” Clearly you never tried to teach,” she said, and laughed
Those are lucky pupils of yours,” he observed.
Why ? ” she asked abruptly, and flashed a stern look at him
” Oh, because you—seem right on it, don’t you know,” he
answered hastily. The adroitness of his answer pleased her, and
she put him down as a gentleman, and felt justified in going a little
” I like
” I like teaching, yes,” she went on gravely. ” But all the same
I am glad that I only teach for my living and can draw for my
pleasure. Now whatever made me tell you that I wonder ? ”
” It was awfully decent of you to tell me,” he said ; ” I suppose
you thought I should be interested, eh ? ”
” I suppose I did,” she assented, and this time she laughed for no
” Will you let me say something very personal ? ” he asked,
waxing bolder. But his tone was still humble, and she felt more
kindly towards him now that he evidently knew she was not to be
patronised. Besides, she was curious. So she said nothing to dis-
suade him, and he went on.
” Why do you look so beastly happy, and all that, don’t you
know ? Is it because you work so hard ? ”
” I look happy ! ” she exclaimed. ” I suppose it is the sun,
then, or the jolly day, or—or the feel of everything after the rain.
Yes, I suppose it must be that.”
” I don’t, then. Lots of girls might feel all that and not look
as you do. I think it is because you have such a bally lot to
” I should stop thinking that, if I were you,” said Jean a little
bitterly ; ” I know that is the usual idea about women who work
—among those who don’t. They should try it for a time, and
” I believe you are cynical after all,” observed her companion.
” Don’t you like being called happy ? ”
” Oh, yes, I like it. But I hate humbug, and it is all nonsense
to pretend that working hard for one’s living is rather an amusing
thing to do. Because it isn’t, and if it has never been so for a
man, why should it be for a woman ? If anything, it is worse
for women. For one happy hour it gives us two sad ones ; it
makes us hard—what you call cynical. It builds up our characters
at the expense of our hearts. It makes heroines of us and spoils
the woman in us. We learn to look the world in the face, and it
teaches us to be prigs. We probe into its realities for the first
time, and the disclosure is too much for us. Working hard to get
enough bread and butter to eat is a sordid, demoralising thing,
and the people who talk .cant about it never had to do it them-
selves. You don’t like the kind of woman who works, you know
you don’t ! ”
The omnibus was slowing at the Circus. Jean stopped
suddenly and glanced up at her companion with an amused, half
” I am so sorry. You see how objectionable it has made me.
Aren’t you glad you will never see me again ?
And before he had time to speak she had slipped away, and the
omnibus was turning ruthlessly down Waterloo Place.
” What deuced odd things women are,” he reflected, by way of
deluding himself into the belief that amusement and not interest
was the predominant sensation in his mind. But the next morn-
ing saw him waiting carefully in West Kensington for the same
City omnibus as before ; and when it rumbled on its way to
Piccadilly Circus and no one in russet-brown got up to relieve the
monotony of black coats and umbrellas round him, he was quite
unreasonably disappointed, though he told himself savagely at the
same time that of course he had never expected to see her at all.
” And if I had, she would have avoided me at once. Women
are always like that,” he thought, and just as the reflection shaped
itself in his mind he caught a glimpse of Air Street that sent his
usual composure to the winds and brought him down the steps at
a pace that upset the descent of all the other passengers who had
no similar desire to rush in the direction of Air Street.
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. L
” Did yer expect us to take yer to Timbuctoo ? ” scoffed the
conductor, with the usual contempt of his kind for the passenger
who gets into the wrong omnibus. But the victim of his scorn
was as regardless of it as of the pink ticket he was grinding into
pulp in his hand ; and he stood on the pavement with his under-
lip drawn tightly inwards, until he had regained his customary air
of gentlemanly indifference. Then he turned up into Regent
Street and made a cross cut through the slums that lie on the
borders of Soho.
And as Jean was hastening along Oxford Street, ten minutes
later, she met him coming towards her with a superb expression of
pleased surprise on his face, which deceived her so completely that
she bowed at once and held out her hand to him, although,
as she said afterwards to Nancy, ” he was being most dreadfully
unconventional, and I couldn’t help wondering if he would have
spoken to me again, if I had worn my new tailor-made gown and
looked ordinary.” At the time she only felt that Oxford Street,
even on a damp and muggy morning, was quite a nice place for a
” Beastly day for you to be out,” he began, taking away her
umbrella and holding his own over her head. To be looked after
was a novel experience to Jean, and she found herself half resenting
his air of protection.
” Oh, it’s all right. You get used to it when you have to,”
she said with a short laugh. It was not at all what she wanted to
say to him, but the perversity of her nature was uppermost and she
had to say it.
” All the same, it is beastly rough on you,” he persisted.
” Why ? Some one must do the work,” she said defiantly.
” Is it so important, then ? ” he asked with a smile that was
half a sneer. Jean blushed hotly.
” It means my living to me,” she said ; and he winced at her
” You were quite different yesterday, weren’t you ? ” he com-
” You speak as though my being one thing or another ought
to depend on your pleasure,” she retorted ; ” of course, you think
like everybody else that a woman is only to be tolerated as long
as she is cheerful. How can you be cheerful when the weather is
dreary, and you are tired out with yesterday’s work ? You don’t
know what it is like. You should keep to the women who don’t
work ; they will always look pretty, and smile sweetly and behave
in a domesticated manner.”
” I don’t think I said anything to provoke all that, did I ? “
” Yes, you did,” she answered unreasonably. ” I said—I mean
you said, oh never mind ! But you do like domesticated women
best, don’t you ? On your honour now ? ”
There was no doubt that he did, especially at that moment.
But he lied, smilingly, and well.
” I like all women. But most of all, women like you. Didn’t
I tell you yesterday how happy you looked ? You are such a rum
little girl—oh hang, please forgive me. But without any rotting,
I wish you’d tell me what you do want me to say. When I said
how jolly you looked, you were offended ; and now I pity you
for being out in the rain, you don’t like that any better. What
am I to do ? ”
” I don’t see why you should do anything,” she said curtly.
They had reached the corner of Berners Street, and she came to a
standstill. ” I am glad I met you again,” she added very quickly,
without meeting his eyes. And then she ran down the street,
and disappeared inside a doorway.
Tom Unwin stepped into a hansom with two umbrellas and an
unsatisfactory impression of the last quarter of an hour. And for
the next two mornings he went to the City by train. But the
third saw him again in Oxford Street shortly before nine o’clock,
and he held a small and elegant umbrella in his hand, although it
was a cloudless day, and there was hoar frost beneath the gravel on
the wood pavement.
” How very odd that we should meet again,” she exclaimed,
blushing in spite of the self-possession on which she prided her-
” Not so very odd,” he replied ; ” I believe I am responsible for
” I feel sure there is a suitable reply to that, but you mustn’t
expect me to make it. I am never any good at making suitable
replies,” said Jean ; and she laughed as she had done the first time
” I don’t want suitable replies from you,” he rejoined, just as
lightly ; ” tell me what you really think instead.”
” That it was quite charming of you to come this particular
way to the City on this particular morning,” said Jean demurely.
” Now, do you know, I should have thought it was ever so much
quicker to go along the Strand.”
” On the contrary, I find it very much quicker when I come
along Oxford Street.”
” At all events, you know how to make suitable replies.”
” Then you thought that was a suitable reply ? Got you
there, didn’t I ? ” and he laughed, which pleased her immensely,
although she pretended to be hurt.
” Isn’t it queer how one can live two perfectly different lives at
the same time ? ” she said irrelevantly.
” Two ? I live half a dozen. But let’s hear yours first.”
” I was only thinking,” continued Jean, ” that if the mother of
my pupils knew I was walking along Oxford Street with some one
I had never been introduced to—”
” Well ? ” he said, as she paused.
” Oh, well, it isn’t exactly an ordinary thing to do, is it ? ”
” Why not ? “
“Well, it isn’t, is it ?”
” But must one be ordinary ? “
” People won’t forgive you for being anything else, unless you
are in a history book, where you can’t do any harm.”
” People be hanged ! When shall I see you again ? “
” Next time you take a short cut to the City, I suppose. Good-
” Stop ! ” he cried. And when she did stop, with an air of
innocent inquiry on her face, he found he had nothing whatever
” You—you haven’t told me your name,” he stammered
” Is that all ? You needn’t make me any later just for that,”
she exclaimed, turning away again. ” Besides, you haven’t told
me yours,” she added, over her shoulder.
” Do you want to know it ?
” Why, no ; it doesn’t matter to me. But I thought you
wanted to make some more conversation. Good-bye, again.”
” Well, I’m hanged ! Look here, if I tell you mine, will you
tell me yours ?:
” But I don’t mind a bit if you don’t tell me yours.”
” Will you, though ? “
” Oh, make haste, or else I can’t wait to hear it.”
” Here you are, then. It is—Tom.”
She faced him sternly.
” Why don’t you go on ? “
” Unwin,” he added, hastily. ” Now yours, please.”
But the only answer he got was a mocking smile ; and he was
again left at the corner of Berners Street with a lady’s umbrella in
The next morning there was a dull yellow fog, and Jean was in
a perverse mood.
” I think you are very mistaken to walk to business on a day
like this, when you might go by train,” she said, as she reluctantly
gave up her books to be carried by him. The fog was making
her eyes smart, and she felt cross.
” But I shall get my reward,” he said, with elaborate
” Oh, please don’t. The fog is bad enough without allusions
to the hymn-book. Besides, I can’t stand being used as a means
for somebody else to get into heaven. It is very selfish of me, I
suppose, but I don’t like it.”
” I am afraid you mistake me. I never for a moment associated
you with my chances of salvation.”
” Then why didn’t you ? ” she cried indignantly. ” I should
like to know why you come and bother me every morning like
this if you think I am as hopelessly bad as all that ! I didn’t ask
you to come, did I ? Please give me my books and let me go.”
” I think you hopelessly bad ? Why, I assure you—”
” Give me my books. Can’t you see how late I am ? ” she
said, stamping her foot impetuously. And she seized Bright’s
English History and Cornwall’s Geography out of his hand, and
left him precipitately, without another word.
” You are a most unreasonable little girl,” he exclaimed hotly ;
and the policeman to whom he said it smiled patiently.
He started with the intention of going by train on the following
morning ; then he changed his mind, and ran back to take an
omnibus. After that he found it was getting late, so he took a
cab to Oxford Circus, and then strolled on towards Holborn as
though nothing but chance or necessity had brought him there.
But, although he walked as far as Berners Street and back again
to the Circus, he met no one in a dull brown frock. And he was
just as unsuccessful the next morning, and the one after, and at
the end of a week he found himself the sad possessor of a slender silk
umbrella, a regretful remembrance, and a fresh store of cynicism.
” She is like all the others,” he told himself, with a shrug of his
shoulders ; ” they play the very devil with you until they begin to
get frightened of the consequences, and then they fight shy. And
I’m hanged if I even know her name ! ”
And the days wore on, and the autumn grew into winter, and
Oxford Street no longer saw the playing of a comedy at nine
o’clock in the morning. And Tom Unwin found other interests
in life, and if a chance occurrence reminded him of a determined
little figure in russet brown, the passing thought brought nothing
but an amused smile to his lips.
Then the spring came, suddenly and completely, on the heels
of a six weeks’ frost ; and chance took him down Piccadilly one
morning in March, where the budding freshness of the trees drew
him into the Green Park. The impression of spring met him
everywhere, in the fragrance of the almond-trees, and the quarrel-
ling of the sparrows, and the transparency of the blue haze over
Westminster ; and, indifferent though he was to such things,
there was a note of familiarity in it all that affected him strangely,
and left him with a lazy sensation of pleasure. What that some-
thing was he did not realise until his eyes fell on one of the chairs
under the trees, and then, as he stood quite still and wondered
whether she would know him again, he discovered what there was
in the air that had seemed to him so familiar and so pleasant.
” I was
” I was just thinking about you,” he said deliberately, when she
had shown very decidedly that she did mean to know him. He
spoke with an easy indifference that she showed no signs of
” Oh, I have been wondering—” she began, in a voice that
trembled with eagerness.
” Yes ? Supposing we sit down. That s better. You have
been wondering—? ”
She leaned back in her chair, and looked up through the branches
at the pale blue sky beyond. There was an odd little look of
defiance on her face.
” So, after all, you did find that the Strand was the quickest
way,” she said abruptly.
” Possibly. And you ? ” he asked, with his customary smile.
” How often did you go down Oxford Street after—the last time
I saw you ? ”
” As far as I can remember, the measure of my endurance was
a week. And how much longer did you take the precaution of
avoiding such a dangerous person as myself ? ”
She turned round and stared at him with great wondering eyes,
into which a look of comprehension was slowly creeping.
” You actually thought I did that ? And all the time I was ill,
I was having visions of you—”
” Ill ? You never told me you had been ill,” he interrupted.
” You didn’t exactly give me the chance, did you ? It was the
fog, I suppose. I am all right now. They thought I should
never go down Oxford Street again. But I take a good deal of
killing; and so here I am again.” She ended with a cynical smile.
He was making holes in the soft turf with his walking-stick. She
went on speaking to the pale blue sky and the network of branches
“And the odd part is that I did not mind the illness so much
as—” And she paused again.
” Yes ? ” he said, in a voice that had lost some of its jauntiness.
” I think it won’t interest you.”
” How can you say that unless you tell me ? “
” I am sure it won’t,” she said decidedly. ” And I couldn’t
possibly tell you, really.”
” Go on, please,” he said, looking round at her ; and she went
” The thing that bothered me was my having been cross the
last time we met. You see, it was not the being cross that I
minded exactly ; that wouldn’t have mattered a bit if I had seen
you again the next day, but—
” I quite understand. Bad temper is a luxury we keep for our
most familiar friends. I am honoured by the distinction,” he said,
and his smile was not a sneer.
” I wish you wouldn’t laugh at me,” she said, a little wistfully.
” I am not laughing at you, child,” he hastened to assure her,
and he took one of her hands in his. ” I have missed you, too,”
he went on, in a low tone that he strove to make natural.
” Did you really ? I thought you would at first,
then I thought you would just laugh, and forget. And you really
did think of me sometimes ? I am so glad.”
He had a twinge of conscience. But a reputation once acquired
is a tender thing, and must be handled with delicacy.
” I have not forgotten,” he said, and tried to change the con-
versation. ” And you never even told me your name, you perverse
little person,” he added playfully.
” You told me yours,” she said, and laughed triumphantly.
” And yours, please ?
” It will quite spoil it all,” she objected.
” Is it so bad as that, then ? Never mind, I can bear a good
deal. What is it—Susan, Jemima, Emmelina ? ”
There was a little pause, and then she nodded at the pale
blue sky above and said ” Jean ” in a hurried whisper. And he
was less exigent than she had been, for he did not ask for any more.
When he left her on her own doorstep she lingered for a
moment in the sunlight before she went in to Nancy.
“And he really is coming to see me to-morrow,” she said out
loud with a joyous laugh ; ” I wonder, shall I tell Nancy or not ? “
After mature consideration she decided not to tell Nancy, though
if Nancy had been less unsuspicious she would certainly have
noticed something unusual in the manner of her practical little
eldest sister, when she started for Berners Street on the following
morning, and twice repeated that she would be back to tea should
any one call and ask for her.
” Nobody is likely to ask for you,” said Nancy with sisterly
frankness, ” nobody ever does. You needn’t bother to be back to
tea unless you like,” she added with a self-conscious smile.
” Jimmy said he might look in.”
” So much the better,” thought Jean ; ” I can bring in a cake
without exciting suspicion.” And she started gaily on her way,
and wondered ingenuously why all the people in the street seemed
so indifferent to her happiness. At Berners Street, a shock was
awaiting her. Would Miss Moreen kindly stay till five to-day as
the children’s mother was obliged to go out, and nurse had a
holiday ? And as the children’s mother had already gone out and
nurse’s holiday had begun before breakfast, there was no appeal
left to poor Jean, and she settled down to her day’s work with a
sense of injustice in her mind and a queer feeling in her throat
that had to be overcome during an arithmetic lesson. But as the
day wore on her spirits rose to an unnatural pitch ; she spent the
afternoon in romping furiously with her pupils ; and when five
o’clock came, she was standing outside in the street counting the
coins in her little purse.
” I can just do it, and I shall ! ” she cried, and a passing cabby
pulled up in answer to her graphic appeal and carried her away
westwards. He whistled when she paid him an extravagant fare,
and watched her with a chuckle as she flew up the steps and
fumbled nervously at the keyhole before she was able to unlock
the door. He would have wondered more, or perhaps less, had he
seen her standing on the mat outside the front room on the first
floor, giving her hat and hair certain touches which did not affect
their appearance in the least, and listening breathlessly to the
sound of voices that came from within. Then she turned the
handle suddenly and went in.
The lamp was not yet lighted and the daylight was waning.
The room was in partial darkness, but the fire was burning brightly,
and it shone on the face of a man as he leaned forward in a low
chair, and talked to the beautiful girl who lay on the sofa, smiling
up at him in a gentle deprecating manner, as if his homage were
new and overwhelming to her.
The man was not the expected Jimmy, and Jean took two swift
little steps into the room. The spell was broken and they looked
round with a start.
” Oh, here you are,” cried Nancy, gliding off the sofa and
putting her arms round her in her pretty affectionate manner.
” Poor Mr. Unwin has been waiting quite an hour for you.
Whatever made you so late ?
Jean disengaged herself a little roughly, and held out her hand
” Have you been very bored ? ” she asked him with a slight curl
of her lip.
” That could hardly be the case in Miss Nancy’s company,” he
replied in his best manner ; ” but if she had not been so kind to
me your tardiness in coming would certainly have been harder to
The carefully picked words did not come naturally from the
boyish fellow who had talked slang to her on the top of the
omnibus, but Tom Unwin never talked slang when there was a
situation of any kind. Jean was bitterly conscious of being
the only one of the three who was not behaving in a picturesque
manner. The other two vied with each other in showing
her little attentions, a fact that entirely failed to deceive her.
” Do they think I am a fool ? ” she thought scornfully. ” Why
should they suppose that I need propitiating ? ”
And she insisted curtly on pouring out her own cup of tea, and
sat down obstinately on a high chair, without noticing the low one
he was pulling forward for her.
” Don’t let me disturb you,” she said calmly ; ” you made such a
charming picture when I came in.”
They only seemed to her to be making a ridiculous picture now.
She was conscious of nothing but the satirical view of the situation,
and she had a mad desire to point at them and scream with
laughter at their fatuity in supposing that she did not see through
” We thought you were never coming,” began Nancy in her
gentle tired voice ; ” I was afraid you had been taken ill or
” Yes, indeed,” added Tom with strained jocularity ; ” it was
all I could do to restrain Miss Nancy from sending a telegram
to somebody about you. She only gave up the idea when
I got her to acknowledge that she didn t even know where to
” Now, that is really too bad of you,” exclaimed Nancy with a
carefully studied pout ; ” you know quite well—”
” Indeed, I appeal to you, Miss Moreen—”
” Don’t listen to him, Jean.”
” It doesn’t seem to me to matter very much,” said Jean with
much composure ; ” I am very glad that I gave you so much to
They made another attempt to conciliate her.
” Do have some cake. It isn’t bad,” said Nancy invitingly.
” Or some more tea ? ” added Tom anxiously. ” You must be
so played out with your long day’s work. Have the little brats
been very trying ? ”
” Oh, you needn’t worry about the little brats, thanks,” said Jean,
eating bread and butter voraciously for the sake of an occupation.
” Come nearer the fire,” said Nancy coaxingly ; ” Mr. Unwin
will move up that other chair.”
” Of course,” said Mr. Unwin with alacrity, glad of any
excuse that removed him for a moment from the unpleasant
scrutiny of her large cold eyes.
” You are both very kind to bother about me like this. I am
really not used to it,” said Jean with a hard little laugh. ” Won’t
you go on with your conversation while I write a postcard ?
She made a place for her cup on the tea-tray, strolled across the
room to the bureau, and sat down to look vacantly at a blank
postcard. The other two seated themselves stiffly at opposite
ends of the hearthrug, and manufactured stilted phrases for the
ears of Jean.
” Your sister draws, I believe ? “
” Oh, yes. Jean is fearfully clever, you know. She used to
win prizes and things. I never won a prize in my life. Oh, yes ;
Jean is certainly very clever indeed.”
” I am
” I am sure of it. It must be charming to be so clever.”
” Yes. Nothing else matters if you are as clever as all that.
It doesn’t affect Jean in the least if things happen to go wrong,
because she always has her cleverness to console her, don’t you
” Brains are a perennial consolation,” said Tom solemnly ; ” I
always knew, Miss Nancy, that your sister was very exceptional.”
” Exceptional ! Yes, I suppose I am that,” thought Jean with
a curious feeling of dissatisfaction. The burden of her own clever-
ness was almost too much for her, and she would have given
worlds, just then, to have been as ordinary as Nancy—and as
” Will you forgive me if I go upstairs and finish a drawing ? ”
she said, coming forward into the firelight again. They uttered
some conventional regrets, and Tom held the door open for her.
” Good-bye,” she said, smiling, ” I am sorry my drawing won’t
wait. It has to go in to-morrow morning.”
” I envy you your charming talent,” he said with a sigh that
was a little overdone.
” Do you ? It prevents me from being domesticated, you know,
and that is always a pity, isn’t it ? ” she said, and drew her hand
Upstairs with her head on an old brown cloak she lay and
listened to the hum of voices below.
” Why wasn’t I born a fool with a pretty face ? ” she murmured.
” Fools are the only really happy people in the world, for they are
the only people the rest of us have the capacity to understand.
And to be understood by the majority of people is the whole secret
of happiness. No one would take the trouble to understand me.
Of course, it is unbearably conceited to say so, but there is no one
When Nancy came up to bed, she found her sister working
away steadily at her drawing.
” It was very mean of you to leave me so long with that man,
Jean ; he stayed quite an hour after you left,” she said, suppressing
” Oh, I thought you wouldn’t mind ; I don’t get on with him
half so well as you do. Stand out of the light, will you ? ”
” He thinks you’re immensely clever,” said Nancy ; ” he says he
never met any one so determined and plucky in his life. Of course
you will get on, he says.”
” Yes,” said Jean with a strange smile, as she nibbled the top
of her pencil ; ” I suppose I shall get on. And to the end of my
days people will admire me from a distance, and talk about my
talent and my determination, just as they talk about your beauty
and your womanly ways. That is so like the world ; it always
associates us with a certain atmosphere and never admits the
possibility of any other.”
Nancy was perched on the end of the bed in her white peignoir,
with her knees up to her chin and a puzzled expression on her face.
” How queer you are to-night, Jean,” she said ; ” I don’t think I
” My atmosphere,” continued Jean in the same passionless tone,
“is the clever and capable one. It is the one that is always
reserved for the unattractive people who have understanding, the
sort of people who know all there is to know, from observation, and
never get the chance of experiencing one jot of it. They are the
people who learn about life from the outside, and remain half alive
themselves to the end of time. Nobody would think of falling in
love with them, and they don’t even know how to be lovable. It
is a very clinging atmosphere,” she added sadly ; ” I shall never
shake it off.”
Nancy stopped making a becoming wreck of her coils of hair,
and looked more bewildered than before.
” I don’t understand, Jean,” she said again.
Jean looked at her for a moment with eyes full of admiration.
” Don’t worry about it, child,” she said slowly ; ” you will never
have to understand.”
Three Prose Fancies
I—A Poet in the City
” In the midway of this our mortal life,
I found me in a gloomy wood, astray.”
I (and when I say I, I must be understood to be speaking dra-
matically) I only venture into the City once a year, for the
very pleasant purpose of drawing that twelve-pound-ten by which
the English nation, ever so generously sensitive to the necessities,
not to say luxuries, of the artist, endeavours to express its pride and
delight in me. It would be a very graceful exercise of gratitude for
me here to stop and parenthesise the reader on the subject of all that
twelve-pound-ten has been to me, how it has quite changed the
course of my life, given me that long-desired opportunity of
doing my best work in peace, for which so often I vainly sighed
in Fleet Street, and even allowed me an indulgence in minor
luxuries which I could not have dreamed of enjoying before the
days of that twelve-pound-ten. Now not only peace and plenty,
but leisure and luxury are mine. There is nothing goes so far
Usually on these literally State occasions, I drive up in state, that
is in a hansom . There is only one other day in the year in which I
am so splendid, but that is another beautiful story. It, too, is a day
and an hour too joyous to be approached otherwise than on winged
wheels, too stately to be approached in merely pedestrian fashion.
To go on foot to draw one’s pension seems a sort of slight on the
great nation that does one honour, as though a Lord Mayor should
make his appearance in the procession in his office coat.
So I say it is my custom to go gaily, and withal stately, to meet
my twelve-pound-ten in a hansom. For many reasons the occa-
sion always seems something of an adventure, and I confess I always
feel a little excited about it, indeed, to tell the truth, a little nervous
As I glide along in my state barge (which seems a much more
proper and impressive image for a hansom than “gondola,” with
its reminiscences of Earl’s Court) I feel like some fragile country
flower torn from its roots, and bewilderingly hurried along upon
the turbid, swollen stream of London life.
The stream glides sweetly with a pleasant trotting tinkle of bells
by the green park -side of Piccadilly, and sweet is it to hear the
sirens singing and to see them combing their gilded locks on the
yellow sands of Piccadilly Circus—so called, no doubt, from the
number of horses and the skill of their drivers. Here are the
whirling pools of pleasure, merry wheels of laughing waters, where
your hansom glides along with a golden ease—it is only when
you enter the First Cataract of the Strand that you become aware
of the far-distant terrible roar of the Falls ! They are yet nearly
two miles away, but already, like Niagara, thou hearest the sound
thereof—the fateful sound of that human Niagara, where all the
great rivers of London converge : the dark, strong floods surging
out from the gloomy fastnesses of the East End, the quick-running
streams from the palaces of the West, the East with its waggons,
the West with its hansoms, the four winds with their omnibusses,
the horses and carriages under the earth jetting up their companies
of grimy passengers, the very air busy with a million errands.
You are in the rapids, metaphorically speaking, as you crawl
down Cheapside, and there where the Bank of England and the
Mansion House rise sheer and awful from, shall we say, this boiling
cauldron, this ” hell ” of angry meeting waters—Threadneedle
Street and Cornhill, Queen Victoria Street and Cheapside, each
” running,” again metaphorically, ” like a mill race “—here in this
wild maelstrcem of human life and human conveyances, here is the
true ” Niagara in London,” here are the most wonderful falls in
the world—the London Falls.
” Yes ! ” I said softly to myself, and I could see the sly, sad
smile on the face of the dead poet, at the thought of whose serene
wisdom a silence like snow seemed momentarily to cover up the
turmoil—” Yes ! ” I said softly, ” there is still the same old crush
at the corner of Fenchurch Street ! ”
By this time I had disbursed one of my two annual cab fares,
and was standing a little forlorn at that very corner. It was a
March afternoon, bitter and gloomy ; lamps were already popping
alight in a desolate way, and the east wind whistled mournfully
through the ribs of the passers-by. A very unflower-like man was
dejectedly calling out ” daffodowndillies ” close by. The sound of
the pretty old word thus quaintly spoken, brightened the air better
than the electric lights which suddenly shot rows of wintry moon-
light along the streets. I bought a bunch of the poor, pinched
flowers, and asked the man how he came to call them ” daffodown-
” D’vunshire,” he said, in anything but a Devonshire accent,
and then the east wind took him and he was gone—doubtless to
a neighbouring tavern ; and no wonder, poor soul. Flowers cer-
tainly fall into strange hands here in London.
Well, it was nearing four, and if I wanted a grateful country’s
twelve-pound-ten, I must make haste—so presently I found
myself in a great hall, of which I have no clearer impression than
that there were soft little lights all about me, and a soft chime of
falling gold, like the rippling of Pactolus. I have a sort of idea, too,
of a great number of young men with most beautiful moustaches,
playing with golden shovels—and as I thus stood among the soft
lights and listened to the most beautiful sound in the world, I
thought that thus must Danae have felt as she stood amid the
falling shower. But I took care to see that my twelve sovereigns
and a half were right number and weight for all that.
Once more in the street, I lingered awhile to take a last look
at the Falls. What a masterful, alien life it all seemed to me. No
single personality could hope to stand alone amid all that stress of
ponderous, bullying forces. Only public companies and such
great impersonalities could hope to hold their own, to swim in
such a whirlpool and even they, I had heard whisper, far away in
my quiet starlit garret, sometimes went down. ” How,” I cried,
“… my tiny spark of being wholly vanish in your
deeps and heights . . .
Rush of suns, and roll of systems, and your fiery
clash of meteorites,”
again quoting poetry. I always quote poetry in the City, as a
protest—moreover, it clears the air.
The more people buffeted against me the more I felt this crush-
ing sense of almost cosmic forces. Everybody was so plainly an
atom in a public company, a drop of water in a tyrannous stream
of human energy—companies that cared nothing for their indi-
vidual atoms, streams that cared nothing for their component
drops ; such atoms and drops, for the most part to be had
for thirty shillings a week. These people about me seemed no
more like individual men and women than individual puffs in a
mighty rushing wind, or the notes in a great scheme of music,
are men and women—to the banker so many pens with ears
whereon to perch them, to the capitalist so many ” hands,” and
to the City man generally so many ” helpless pieces of the game
he plays ” up there in spidery nooks and corners of the City.
As I listened to the throbbing of the great human engines in
the buildings about me, a rising and a falling there seemed as of
those great steel -limbed monsters, weird contortionists of metal, that
jet up and down, and writhe and wrestle this way and that behind
the long glass windows of great water-towers, or toil like Vulcan
in the bowels of mighty ships—an expression of frenzy seems to
come up even from the dumb tossing steel, sometimes it seems to
be shaking great knuckled fists at one and brandishing threaten-
ing arms, as it strains and sweats beneath the lash of the compul-
sive steam. As one watches it there seems something of
human agony about its panic-stricken labours, and something
like a sense of pity surprises one—a sense of pity that anything
in the world should have to work like that, even steel, even, as w
e say, senseless steel. What, then, of these great human engine
houses ! Will the engines always consent to rise and fall, night
and day, like that ? or will there some day be a mighty convulsion,
and this blind Samson of labour pull down the whole engine-house
upon his oppressors ? Who knows ? These are questions for
great politicians and thinkers to decide, not for a poet, who is too
much terrified by these forces to be able calmly to estimate and
prophesy concerning them.
Yes ! if you want to realise Tennyson s picture of ” one poor
poet s scroll ” ruling the world, take your poet s scroll down to
Fenchurch Street and try it there. Ah, what a powerless little
” private interest ” seems poetry there, poetry ” whose action is no
stronger than a flower.” In days of peace it ventures even into the
morning papers, but let only a rumour of war be heard and it
vanishes like a dream on doomsday morning. A County Council
Election passeth over it and it is gone.
Yet it was near this very spot that Keats dug up the buried
beauty of Greece, lying hidden beneath Finsbury Pavement ! and
in the deserted City churches great dramatists lie about us. Maybe
I have wronged the City—and at this thought I remembered a
little bookshop but a few yards away, blossoming like a rose right
in the heart of the wilderness.
Here, after all, in spite of all my whirlpools and engine-houses,
was for me the greatest danger in the City. Need I say, therefore,
that I promptly sought it, hovered about it a moment—and
entered. How much of that grateful governmental twelve-pound-
ten came out alive, I dare not tell my dearest friend.
At all events I came out somehow reassured, more rich in faith.
There was a might of poesy after all. There were words in the
little yellow-leaved garland, nestling like a bird in my hand, that
would outlast the bank yonder, and outlive us all. I held it up.
How tiny it seemed, how frail amid all this stone and iron. A
mere flower—a flower from the seventeenth century—long-lived
for a flower ! Yes, an immortelle.
II—Variations upon Whitebait
A VERY Pre-Raphaelite friend of mine came to me one day
and said apropos of his having designed a very Early English
chair : ” After all, if one has anything to say one might as well
put it into a chair ! ”
I thought the remark rather delicious, as also his other remark
when one day in a curiosity-shop we were looking at another
chair, which the dealer declared to be Norman. My friend
seated himself in it very gravely, and after softly moving about
from side to side, testing it, it would appear, by the sensation it
imparted to the sitting portion of his limbs, he solemnly decided
” I don t think the flavour of this chair is Norman ! ”
I thought of this Pre-Raphaelite brother as the Sphinx and I
were seated a few evenings ago at our usual little dinner, in our
usual little sheltered corner, on the Lover’s Gallery of one of the
great London restaurants. The Sphinx says that there is only
one place in Europe where one can really dine, but as it is
impossible to be always within reasonable train service of that
Montsalvat of cookery, she consents to eat with me—she cannot
call it dine—at the restaurant of which I speak. I being very
simple-minded, untravelled, and unlanguaged, think it, in my
Cockney heart, a very fine place indeed, with its white marble
pillars surrounding the spacious peristyle, and flashing with a
thousand brilliant lights and colours ; with its stately cooks, clothed
in white samite, mystic, wonderful, ranged behind a great altar
loaded with big silver dishes, and the sacred musicians of the
temple ranged behind them—while in and out go the waiters
clothed in white and black, waiters so good and kind that I am
compelled to think of Elijah being waited on by angels.
They have such an eye for a romance, too, and really take it person-
ally to heart if it should befall that our little table is usurped by others
that know not love. I like them, too, because they really seem to
have an eye for the strange beauty and charm of the Sphinx, quite
an unexpected taste for Botticelli. They ill conceal their envy of
my lot, and sometimes in the meditative pauses between the
courses I see them romantically reckoning how it might be possible
by desperately saving up, by prodigious windfalls of tips, from
unexampled despatch and sweetness in their ministrations, how it
might be possible in ten years time, perhaps even in five—the
lady would wait five years ! and her present lover could be artisti-
cally poisoned meanwhile !—how it might be possible to come and
sue for her beautiful hand. Then a harsh British cry for ” waiter “
comes like a rattle and scares away that beautiful dream-bird,
though, as the poor dreamer speeds on the quest of roast beef for
four, you can see it still circling with its wonderful blue feathers
around his pomatumed head.
Ah, yes, the waiters know that the Sphinx is no ordinary woman.
She cannot conceal even from them the mystical star of her face ;
they too catch far echoes of the strange music of her brain ; they
too grow dreamy with dropped hints of fragrance from the rose of
her wonderful heart.
How reverently do they help her doff her little cloak of silk and
lace ; with what a worshipful inclination of the head, as in the
presence of a deity, do they await her verdict of choice between
rival soups shall—it be ” clear or thick ? : And when she decides
on ” thick ” how relieved they seem to be, as if—well, some few
matters remain undecided in the universe, but never mind, this
is settled for ever, no more doubts possible on one portentous
issue, at any rate—Madame will take htr soup ” thick.”
” On such a night ” our talk fell upon whitebait.
As the Sphinx’s silver fork rustled among the withered silver
upon her plate, she turned to me and said :
” Have you ever thought what beautiful little things these
whitebait are ? ”
” Oh, yes,” I replied, ” they are the daisies of the deep sea, the
threepenny-pieces of the ocean.”
” You dear ! ” said the Sphinx, who is alone in the world in
thinking me awfully clever. ” Go on, say something else, some-
thing pretty about whitebait—there’s a subject for you ! ”
Then it was that, fortunately, I remembered my Pre-Raphaelite
friend, and I sententiously remarked : ” Of course, if one has any-
thing to say one cannot do better than say it about whitebait. . . .
Well, whitebait. . . .”
But here, providentially, the band of the beef—that is, the band
behind the beef ; that is, the band that nightly hymns the beef
(the phrase is to be had in three qualities)—struck up the overture
from ” Tannhäuser,” which is not the only music that makes
the Sphinx forget my existence ; and thus, forgetting me, she
momentarily forgot the whitebait. But I remembered, remem-
bered hard—worked at pretty things, as metal-workers punch out
their flowers of brass and copper. The music swirled about us
like golden waves, in which swam myriad whitebait, like showers
of tiny stars, like falling snow. To me it was one grand pro-
cessional of whitebait, silver ripples upon streams of gold.
The music stopped. The Sphinx turned to me with the soul of
Wagner in her eyes, and then she turned to the waiter : “Would
it be possible,” she said, ” to persuade the bandmaster to play that
wonderful thing over again ? ”
The waiter seemed a little doubtful, even for the Sphinx, but
he went off to the bandmaster with the air of a man who has at
last an opportunity to show that he can dare all for love. Person-
ally, I have a suspicion that he poured his month s savings at the
bandmaster s feet, and begged him to do this thing for the most
wonderful lady in the world ; or perhaps the bandmaster was really
a musician, and his musician s heart was touched—lonely there
amid the beef—to think that there was really some one, invisible
though she were to him, some shrouded silver presence, up there
among the beefeaters, who really loved to hear great music.
Perhaps it was thus made a night he has never forgotten ; perhaps
it changed the whole course of his life—who knows ? The sweet
reassuring request may have come to him at a moment when, sick
of heart, he was deciding to abandon real music for ever, and settle
down amid the beef and the beef-music of Old England.
Well, however, it was the waiter came back radiant with a
Yes ” on every shining part of him, and if the ” Tannhäuser “
had been played well at first, certainly the orchestra surpassed them-
selves this second time.
When the great jinnee of music had once more passed out of
the hall, the Sphinx turned with shining eyes to the waiter :
” Take,” she said, ” take these tears to the bandmaster. He has
indeed earned them.”
Tears, little one,” I said. ” See how they swim like whitebait
in the fishpools of your eyes ! ”
” Oh, yes, the whitebait,” rejoined the Sphinx, glad of a subject
to hide her emotion. ” Now tell me something nice about them,
though the poor little things have long since disappeared. Tell
me, for instance, how they get their beautiful little silver water-
proofs ? ”
” Electric Light of the World,” I said, ” it is like this. While
they are still quite young and full of dreams, their mother takes
them out in picnic parties of a billion or so at a time to where the
spring moon is shining, scattering silver from its purse of pearl far
over the wide waters, silver, silver, for every little whitebait that
cares to swim and pick it up. The mother, who has a contract
with some such big restaurateur as ours here, chooses a convenient
area of moonlight, and then at a given sign they all turn over on
their sides, and bask and bask in the rays, little fin pressed lovingly
against little fin—for this is the happiest time in the young white-
bait s life : it is at these silvering parties that matches are made
and future consignments of whitebait arranged for. Well, night
after night, they thus lie in the moonlight, first on one side then
on the other, till by degrees, tiny scale by scale, they have become
completely lunar-plated. Ah ! how sad they are when the end of
that happy time has come.”
” And what happens to them after that ? ” asked the Sphinx.
” One night when the moon is hidden their mother comes to
them with treacherous wile, and suggests that they should go off on
a holiday again to seek the moon—the moon that for a moment
seems captured by the pearl-fishers of the sky. And so off they
go merrily, but, alas, no moon appears, and presently they are aware
of unwieldly bumping presences upon the surface of the sea,
presences as of huge dolphins, and rough voices call across the
water, till, scared, the little whitebaits turn home in flight—to find
themselves somehow meshed in an invisible prison, a net as fine and
strong as air, into which, O agony, they are presently hauled, lovely
banks of silver, shining like opened coffers beneath the coarse and
ragged flares of yellow torches. The rest is silence.”
” What sad little lives ! and what a cruel world it is ! ” said the
Sphinx—as she crunched with her knife through the body of a
lark, that but yesterday had been singing in the blue sky. Its
spirit sang just above our heads as she ate, and the air was thick
with the grey ghosts of all the whitebait she had eaten that night.
But there were no longer any tears in her eyes.
III—A Seaport in the Moon
No one is so hopelessly wrong about the stars as the astronomer,
and I trust that you never pay any attention to his remarks on
the moon. He knows as much about the moon as a coiffeur knows
of the dreams of the fair lady whose beautiful neck he makes still
more beautiful. There is but one opinion upon the moon—
namely, our own. And if you think that science is thus wronged
, reflect a moment upon what science makes of things near at hand.
Love, it says, is merely a play of pistil and stamen, our most
fascinating poetry and art is ” degeneration,” and human life,
generally speaking, is sufficiently explained by the ” carbon
compounds “—God-a-mercy ! If science makes such grotesque
blunders about radiant matters right under its nose, how can one
think of taking its opinion upon matters so remote as the
stars or even the moon, which is comparatively near at hand ?
Science says that the moon is a dead world, a cosmic ship littered
with the skeletons of its crew, and from which every rat of vitality
has long since escaped. It is the ghost that rises from its tomb,
every night to haunt its faithless lover, the world. It is a country
of ancient silver mines, unworked for centuries. You may see
the gaping mouths of the dark old shafts through your telescopes.
You may even see the rusting pit tackle, the ruinous engine-
houses, and the idle pick and shovel. Or you may say that it is
counterfeit silver, coined to take in the young fools who love to
gaze upon it. It is, so to speak, a bad half-a-crown.
As you will ! but I am of Endymion s belief—and no one was
ever more intimate with the moon. For me the moon is a
country of great seaports, whither all the ships of our dreams
come home. From all quarters of the world, every day of the
week, there are ships sailing to the moon. They are the ships
that sail just when and where you please. You take your passage
on that condition. And it is ridiculous to think for what a trifle
the captain will take you on so long a journey. If you want to
come back, just to take an excursion and no more, just to take a
lighted look at those coasts of rose and pearl, he will ask no more
than a glass or two of bright wine ; indeed, when the captain is
very kind, a flower will take you there and back in no time ; if
you want to stay whole days there, but still come back dreamy
and strange, you may take a little dark root and smoke it in a
silver pipe, or you may drink a little phial of poppy-juice, and thus
you shall find the Land of Heart’s Desire ; but if you are wise
and would stay in that land forever, the terms are even easier : a
little powder shaken into a phial of water, a little piece of lead no
bigger than a pea and a farthing s worth of explosive fire, and thus
also you are in the Land of Heart’s Desire for ever.
I dreamed last night that I stood on the blustering windy
wharf, and the dark ship was there. It was impatient, like all of
us, to leave the world. Its funnels belched black smoke, its
engines throbbed against the quay like arms that were eager to
strike and be done, and a bell was beating impatient summons to
be gone. The dark captain stood ready on the bridge, and he
looked into each of our faces as we passed on board. ” Is it for
the long voyage ? ” he said. ” Yes ! the long voyage,” I said—
and his stern eyes seemed to soften as I answered.
At last we were all aboard, and in the twinkling of an eye
were out of sight of land. Yet, once afloat, it seemed as though we
should never reach our port in the moon—so it seemed to me as I lay
awake in my little cabin, listening to the patient thud and throb
of the great screws, beating in the ship s side like a human heart.
Talking with my fellow-voyagers, I was surprised to find that
we were not all volunteers. Some in fact complained pitifully.
They had, they said, been going about their business a day or
two before, and suddenly a mysterious captain had laid hold of
them, and pressed them to sail this unknown sea. Thus, without
a word of warning, they had been compelled to leave behind them
all they held dear. This one felt was a little hard of the captain ;
but those of us whose position was exactly the reverse, who had
friends on the other side, all whose hopes indeed were invested
there, were too selfishly expectant of port to be severe on the
captain who was taking us thither.
There were three friends I had especially set out to see : two
young lovers who had emigrated to those colonies in the moon
just after their marriage, and there was another. What a surprise
it would be to all three, for I had written no letter to say I was
coming. Indeed, it was just a sudden impulse, the pistol flash of a
I tried to imagine what the town would be like in which they
were now living. I asked the captain, and he answered with a sad
smile, that it would be just exactly as I cared to dream it.
” O, well then,” I thought, ” I know what it will be like. There
shall be a great restless, tossing estuary, with Atlantic winds for
ever ruffling the sails of busy ships, ships coming home with
laughter, ships leaving home with sad sea-gull cries of farewell.
And the shaggy tossing water shall be bounded on either bank with
high granite walls, and on one bank shall be a fretted spire soaring
with a jangle of bells, from amid a tangle of masts, and underneath
the bells and the masts shall go streets rising up from the strand,
streets full of faces, and sweet with the smell of tar and the sea.
O, captain, will it be morning or night when we come to my
city ? In the morning my city is like a sea-blown rose, in the
night it is bright as a sailor’s star.
” If it be early morning, what shall I do ? I will run to the
house in which my friends lie in happy sleep, never to be parted
again, and kiss my hand to their shrouded window ; and then I will
run on and on till the city is behind and the sweetness of country
lanes is about me, and I will gather flowers as I run, from sheer
wantonness of joy, and then at last, flushed and breathless, I will
stand beneath her window. I shall stand and listen, and I shall
hear her breathing right through the heavy curtains, and the hushed
garden and the sleeping house will bid me keep silence, but I shall
cry a great cry up to the morning star, and say, No, I will not
keep silence. Mine is the voice she listens for in her sleep. She
will wake again for no voice but mine. Dear one, awake, the
morning of all mornings has come ! ‘”
As I write, the moon looks down at me like a Madonna from
the great canvas of the sky. She seems beautiful with the beauty
of all the eyes that have looked up at her, sad with all the tears of
all those eyes ; like a silver bowl brimming with the tears of dead
lovers she seems. Yes, there are seaports in the moon, there are
ships to take us there.
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. N
By E. Hornel
Long as unending threads, the long-drawn rain
Interminably, with its nails of grey,
Athwart the dull grey day,
Rakes the green window-pane—
So infinitely, endlessly, the rain,
The long, long rain,
Since yesternight it keeps unravelling
Down from the frayed and flaccid rags that cling
About the sullen sky,
The low black sky ;
Since yesternight, so slowly, patiently,
Unravelling its threads upon the roads,
Upon the roads and lanes, with even fall
Along the miles
That twixt the meadows and the suburbs lie,
By roads interminably bent, the files
Of waggons, with their awnings arched and tall,
Struggling in sweat and steam, toil slowly by
With outline vague as of a funeral.
Into the ruts, unbroken, regular,
Stretching out parallel so far
That when night comes they seem to join the sky,
For hours the water drips ;
And every tree and every dwelling weeps,
Drenched as they are with it,
With the long rain, tenaciously, with rain
The rivers, through each rotten dyke that yields,
Discharge their swollen wave upon the fields,
Where coils of drowned hay
Float far away ;
And the wild breeze
Buffets the alders and the walnut trees ;
Knee-deep in water great black oxen stand,
Lifting their bellowings sinister on high
To the distorted sky ;
As now the night creeps onward, all the land,
Thicket and plain,
Grows cumbered with her clinging shades immense,
And still there is the rain,
The long, long rain,
Like soot, so fine and dense.
The long, long rain,
Rain and its threads identical
And its nails systematical,
Weaving the garment, mesh by mesh amain,
Of destitution for each house and wall,
And fences that enfold
The villages, neglected, grey, and old :
Chaplets of rags and linen shreds that fall
In frayed-out wisps from upright poles and tall,
Blue pigeon-houses glued against the thatch,
And windows with a patch
Of dingy paper on each lowering pane,
Houses with straight-set gutters, side by side,
Across the broad stone gambles crucified,
Mills, uniform, forlorn,
Each rising from its hillock like a horn,
Steeples afar and chapels round about,
The rain, the long, long rain,
Through all the winter wears and wears them out.
Rain, the long rain,
With wrinkles, and grey nails, and watery strands
Of hair that downward flow,
The long rain of these old, old lands,
Eternal, torpid, slow !
Portrait of a Lady
By George Henry
A Slip Under the Microscope
By H. G. Wells
OUTSIDE the laboratory windows was a watery-grey fog, and
within a close warmth and the yellow light of the green-
shaded gas lamps that stood two to each table down its narrow
length. On each table stood a couple of glass jars containing the
mangled vestiges of the crayfish, mussels, frogs, and guinea-pigs,
upon which the students had been working, and down the side of
the room, facing the windows, were shelves bearing bleached dis-
sections in spirits, surmounted by a row of beautifully executed
anatomical drawings in whitewood frames and overhanging a row
of cubical lockers. All the doors of the laboratory were panelled
with blackboard, and on these were the half-erased diagrams of
the previous day s work. The laboratory was empty, save for the
demonstrator, who sat near the preparation-room door, and silent,
save for a low, continuous murmur, and the clicking of the rocker
microtome at which he was working. But scattered about the
room were traces of numerous students : hand-bags, polished boxes
of instruments, in one place a large drawing covered by a news-
paper, and in another a prettily bound copy of News from Nowhere
a book oddly at variance with its surroundings. These things
had been put down hastily as the students had arrived and hurried
at once to secure their seats in the adjacent lecture theatre.
Deadened by the closed door, the measured accents of the professor
sounded as a featureless muttering.
Presently, faint through the closed windows came the sound
of the Oratory clock striking the hour of eleven. The clicking of
the microtome ceased, and the demonstrator looked at his watch,
rose, thrust his hands into his pockets, and walked slowly down
the laboratory towards the lecture theatre door. He stood listen-
ing for a moment, and then his eye fell on the little volume by
William Morris. He picked it up, glanced at the title, smiled,
opened it, looked at the name on the fly-leaf, ran the leaves
through with his hand, and put it down. Almost immediately
the even murmur of the lecturer ceased, there was a sudden burst
of pencils rattling on the desks in the lecture theatre, a stirring, a
scraping of feet, and a number of voices speaking together. Then
a firm footfall approached the door, which began to open, and
stood ajar, as some indistinctly heard question arrested the new
The demonstrator turned, walked slowly back past the micro-
tome, and left the laboratory by the preparation-room door. As
he did so, first one, and then several students carrying notebooks,
entered the laboratory from the lecture theatre and distributed them-
selves among the little tables, or stood in a group about the door-
way. They were an exceptionally heterogeneous assembly, for while
Oxford and Cambridge still recoil from the blushing prospect of
mixed classes, the College of Science anticipated America in the
matter years ago—mixed socially, too, for the prestige of the
College is high and its scholarships, free of any age limit, dredge
deeper even than do those of the Scotch universities. The class
numbered one-and-twenty, but some remained in the theatre
questioning the professor, copying the blackboard diagrams before
they were washed off, or examining the special specimens he had
produced to illustrate the day’s teaching. Of the nine who had
come into the laboratory three were girls, one of whom, a little
fair woman, wearing spectacles and dressed in greyish-green, was
peering out of the window at the fog, while the other two, both
wholesome-looking, plain-faced schoolgirls, unrolled and put on
the brown holland aprons they wore while dissecting. Of the
men, two went down the laboratory and sat down in their places,
one, a pallid, dark-bearded man, who had once been a tailor ; the
other a pleasant-featured, ruddy young man of twenty, dressed in
a well-fitting brown suit ; young Wedderburn, the son of
Wedderburn the eye specialist. The others formed a little knot
near the theatre door. One of these, a dwarfed, spectacled figure,
with a hunch back, sat on a bent wood stool ; two others, one a
short, dark youngster, and the other a flaxen-haired, reddish-
complexioned young man, stood leaning side by side against the
slate sink, while the fourth stood facing them, and maintained the
larger share of the conversation.
This last person was named Hill. He was a sturdily built
young fellow, of the same age as Wedderburn ; he had a white
face, dark grey eyes, hair of an indeterminate colour, and pro-
minent, irregular features. He talked rather louder than was
needful, and thrust his hands deeply into his pockets. His collar
was frayed and blue with the starch of a careless laundress, his
clothes were evidently ready-made, and there was a patch on the
side of his boot near the toe. And as he talked or listened to the
others, he glanced now and again towards the lecture theatre door.
They were discussing the depressing peroration of the lecture
they had just heard, the last lecture it was in the introductory
course in zoology. ” From ovum to ovum is the goal of the
higher vertebrata,” the lecturer had said in his melancholy tones,
and so had neatly rounded off the sketch of comparative anatomy
he had been developing. The spectacled hunchback had repeated
it, with noisy appreciation, had tossed it towards the fair-haired
student with an evident provocation, and had started one of
those vague, rambling discussions on generalities, so unaccountably
dear to the student mind all the world over.
” That is our goal, perhaps—I admit it—as far as science goes,”
said the fair-haired student, rising to the challenge. ” But there
are things above science.”
“Science,” said Hill, confidently, “is systematic knowledge.
Ideas that don’t come into the system—must anyhow—be loose
ideas.” He was not quite sure whether that was a clever saying
or a fatuity until his hearers took it seriously.
The thing I cannot understand,” said the hunchback, at large,
” is whether Hill is a materialist or not.”
” There is one thing above matter,” said Hill, promptly, feeling
he had a better thing this time, aware, too, of someone in the
doorway behind him, and raising his voice a trifle for her benefit,
” and that is, the delusion that there is something above matter.”
” So we have your gospel at last,” said the fair student. ” It’s
all a delusion, is it ? All our aspirations to lead something more
than dogs’ lives, all our work for anything beyond ourselves. But
see how inconsistent you are. Your socialism, for instance. Why
do you trouble about the interests of the race ? Why do you
concern yourself about the beggar in the gutter ? Why are you
bothering yourself to lend that book”—he indicated William Morris
by a movement of the head—” to everyone in the lab. ? ”
” Girl,” said the hunchback, indistinctly, and glanced guiltily
over his shoulder.
The girl in brown, with the brown eyes, had come into the
laboratory, and stood on the other side of the table behind him,
with her rolled-up apron in one hand, looking over her shoulder,
listening to the discussion. She did not notice the hunchback,
because she was glancing from Hill to his interlocutor. Hill’s
consciousness of her presence betrayed itself to her only in his
studious ignorance of the fact ; but she understood that, and it
pleased her. ” I see no reason,” said he, ” why a man should live
like a brute because he knows of nothing beyond matter, and does
not expect to exist a hundred years hence.”
” Why shouldn’t he ? ” said the fair-haired student.
” Why should he ? ” said Hill.
” What inducement has he ? ”
” That’s the way with all you religious people. It’s all a
business of inducements. Cannot a man seek after righteousness
for righteousness’ sake ? ”
There was a pause. The fair man answered with a kind of
vocal padding, ” But—you see—inducement—when I said induce-
ment,” to gain time. And then the hunchback came to his
rescue and inserted a question. He was a terrible person in the
debating society with his questions, and they invariably took one
form—a demand for a definition. ” What’s your definition of
righteousness ? ” said the hunchback at this stage.
Hill experienced a sudden loss of complacency at this question,
but even as it was asked relief came in the person of Brooks, the
laboratory attendant, who entered by the preparation-room door,
carrying a number of freshly killed guinea-pigs by their hind legs,
” This is the last batch of material this session,” said the youngster,
who had not previously spoken. Brooks advanced up the laboratory,
smacking down a couple of guinea-pigs at each table. The rest
of the class, scenting the prey from afar, came crowding in by the
lecture theatre door, and the discussion perished abruptly as the
students who were not already in their places hurried to them to
secure the choice of a specimen. There was a noise of keys rattling
on split rings as lockers were opened and dissecting instruments
taken out. Hill was already standing by his table, and his box of
scalpels was sticking out of his pocket. The girl in brown came
a step towards him, and, leaning over his table, said softly : ” Did
you see that I returned your book, Mr. Hill ? ”
During the whole scene she and the book had been vividly
present in his consciousness ; but he made a clumsy pretence of
looking at the book and seeing it for the first time. ” Oh, yes,”
he said, taking it up. ” I see. Did you like it ? ”
” I want to ask you some questions about it—sometime.”
“Certainly,” said Hill. “I shall be glad.” He stopped
awkwardly. ” You liked it ? ” he said.
” It’s a wonderful book. Only some things I don’t under-
Then suddenly the laboratory was hushed by a curious braying
noise. It was the demonstrator. He was at the blackboard ready
to begin the day’s instruction, and it was his custom to demand
silence by a sound midway between the ” Er ” of common inter-
course and the blast of a trumpet. The girl in brown slipped
back to her place ; it was immediately in front of Hill’s, and Hill,
forgetting her forthwith, took a note-book out of the drawer of
his table, turned over its leaves hastily, drew a stumpy pencil from
his pocket, and prepared to make a copious note of the coming
demonstration. For demonstrations and lectures are the sacred text
of the college students. Books, saving only the Professor’s own,
you may—it is even expedient to—ignore.
Hill was the son of a Landport cobbler, and had been hooked
by a chance blue paper the authorities had thrown out to the
Landport Technical Colege. He kept himself in London on his
allowance of a guinea a week, and found that, with proper care,
this also covered his clothing allowance, an occasional water-
proof collar, that is ; and ink and needles and cotton, and such-
like necessaries for a man about town. This was his first year
and his first session, but the brown old man in Landport had
already got himself detested in many public-houses by boasting of
his son, ” the professor.” Hill was a vigorous youngster, with a
serene contempt for the clergy of all denominations, and a fine
ambition to reconstruct the world. He regarded his scholarship
as a brilliant opportunity. He had begun to read at seven, and
had read steadily whatever came in his way, good or bad, since
then. His worldly experience had been limited to the Island of
Portsea, and acquired chiefly in the wholesale boot factory in
which he had worked by day, after passing the seventh standard
of the Board school. He had a considerable gift of speech, as the
College Debating Society, which met amidst the crushing
machines and mine models in the metallurgical theatre down-
stairs, already recognised, recognised by a violent battering of
desks whenever he rose. And he was just at that fine emotional
age when life opens at the end of a narrow pass like a broad valley
at one’s feet, full of the promise of wonderful discoveries and
tremendous achievements. And his own limitations, save that he
knew that he knew neither Latin nor French, were all unknown
At first his interest had been divided pretty equally between his
biological work at the College and social and theological theoris-
ing, an employment which he took in deadly earnest. Of a night,
when the big museum, library was not open, he would sit on the
bed of his room in Chelsea with his coat and a muffler on, and
write out the lecture notes and revise his dissection memoranda,
until Thorpe called him out by a whistle—the landlady objected
to open the door to attic visitors—and then the two would go
prowling about the shadowy, shiny, gas-lit streets, talking, very
much in the fashion of the sample just given, of the God Idea,
and Righteousness, and Carlyle, and the Reorganisation of Society.
And, in the midst of it all, Hill, arguing not only for Thorpe,
but for the casual passer-by, would lose the thread of his argument
glancing at some pretty painted face that looked meaningly at
him as he passed. Science and Righteousness ! But once or
twice lately there had been signs that a third interest was creep-
ing into his life, and he had found his attention wandering from
the fate of the mesoblastic somites or the probable meaning of the
blastopore, to the thought of the girl with the brown eyes who
sat at the table before him.
She was a paying student ; she descended inconceivable social
altitudes to speak to him. At the thought of the education she
must have had, and the accomplishments she must possess, the
soul of Hill became abject within him. She had spoken to him
first over a difficulty about the alisphenoid of a rabbit’s skull, and
he had found that, in biology at least, he had no reason for self-
abasement. And from that, after the manner of young people
starting from any starting-point, they got to generalities, and
while Hill attacked her upon the question of socialism—some
instinct told him to spare her a direct assault upon her religion—
she was gathering resolution to undertake what she told herself
was his aesthetic education. She was a year or two older than he,
though the thought never occurred to him. The loan of News
from Nowhere was the beginning of a series of cross loans. Upon
some absurd first principle of his, Hill had never ” wasted time ”
upon poetry, and it seemed an appalling deficiency to her. One
day in the lunch hour, when she chanced upon him alone in the
little museum where the skeletons were arranged, shamefully eat-
ing the bun that constituted his midday meal, she retreated, and
returned to lend him, with a slightly furtive air, a volume of
Browning. He stood sideways towards her and took the book
rather clumsily, because he was holding the bun in the other
hand. And in the retrospect his voice lacked the cheerful clear-
ness he could have wished.
That occurred after the examination in comparative anatomy,
on the day before the College turned out its students, and was
carefully locked up by the officials, for the Christmas holidays.
The excitement of cramming for the first trial of strength had
for a little while dominated Hill, to the exclusion of his other
interests. In the forecasts of the result in which everyone in-
dulged, he was surprised to find that no one regarded him as a
possible competitor for the Harvey Commemoration Medal, of
which this and the two subsequent examinations disposed. It
was about this time that Wedderburn, who so far had lived in-
conspicuously on the uttermost margin of Hill’s perceptions,
began to take on the appearance of an obstacle. By a mutual
agreement, the nocturnal prowlings with Thorpe ceased for the
three weeks before the examination, and his landlady pointed out
that she really could not supply so much lamp oil at the price.
He walked to and fro from the College with little slips of mnemonics
in his hand, lists of crayfish appendages, rabbits’ skull-bones, and
vertebrate nerves, for example, and became a positive nuisance to
foot-passengers in the opposite direction.
But, by a natural reaction, Poetry and the girl with the brown
eyes ruled the Christmas holiday. The pending results of the
examination became such a secondary consideration that Hill
marvelled at his father’s excitement. Even had he wished it,
there was no comparative anatomy to read in Landport, and he
was too poor to buy books, but the stock of poets in the library
was extensive, and Hill s attack was magnificently sustained. He
saturated himself with the fluent numbers of Longfellow and
Tennyson, and fortified himself with Shakespeare ; found a
kindred soul in Pope, and a master in Shelley, and heard and
fled the siren voices of Eliza Cook and Mrs. Hemans. But he
read no more Browning, because he hoped for the loan of other
volumes from Miss Haysman when he returned to London.
He walked from his lodgings to the College with that volume
of Browning in his shiny black bag, and his mind teeming with
the finest general propositions about poetry. Indeed, he framed
first this little speech and then that with which to grace the re-
turn. The morning was an exceptionally pleasant one for
London ; there was a clear, hard frost and undeniable blue in the
sky, a thin haze softened every outline, and warm shafts of sun-
light struck between the house-blocks and turned the sunny side
of the street to amber and gold. In the hall of the College he
pulled off his glove and signed his name with fingers so stiff with
cold that the characteristic dash under the signature he cultivated
became a quivering line. He imagined Miss Haysman about him
everywhere. He turned at the staircase, and there, below, he
saw a crowd struggling at the foot of the notice-board. This,
possibly, was the biology list. He forgot Browning and Miss
Haysman for the moment, and joined the scrimmage. And at last,
with his cheek flattened against the sleeve of the man on the step
above him, he read the list.
H. J. Somers Wedderburn
and thereafter followed a second class that is outside our present
sympathies. It was characteristic that he did not trouble to look
for Thorpe on the Physics list, but backed out of the struggle at
once, and in a curious emotional state between pride over common
second-class humanity and acute disappointment at Wedderburn’s
success, went on his way upstairs. At the top, as he was hanging
up his coat in the passage, the zoological demonstrator, a young
man from Oxford who secretly regarded him as a blatant
“mugger “of the very worst type, offered his heartiest congratula-
At the laboratory door Hill stopped for a second to get his breath,
and then entered. He looked straight up the laboratory and saw all
five girl students grouped in their places, and Wedderburn, the once
retiring Wedderburn, leaning rather gracefully against the window,
playing with the blind tassel and talking, apparently to the five of
them. Now Hill could talk bravely enough and even overbearingly
to one girl, and he could have made a speech to a roomful of girls, but
this business of standing at ease and appreciating, fencing, and return
ing quick remarks round a group was, he knew, altogether beyond
him. Coming up the staircase his feelings for Wedderburn had
been generous, a certain admiration perhaps, a willingness to
shake his hand conspicuously and heartily as one who had fought
but the first round. But before Christmas Wedderburn had
never gone up to that end of the room to talk. In a flash Hill’s
mist of vague excitement condensed abruptly to a vivid dislike of
Wedderburn. Possibly his expression changed. As he came up
to his place Wedderburn nodded carelessly to him, and the others
glanced round. Miss Haysman looked at him and away again, the
faintest touch of her eyes. ” I can’t agree with you, Mr. Wedder-
burn,” she said.
” I must congratulate you on your first class, Mr. Hill,” said
the spectacled girl in green, turning round and beaming at him.
” It’s nothing,” said Hill, staring at Wedderburn and Miss
Haysman talking together, and eager to hear what they talked about.
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. O
” We poor folks in the second class don’t think so,” said the girl
What was it Wedderburn was saying ? Something about
William Morris ! Hill did not answer the girl in spectacles, and
the smile died out of his face. He could not hear and failed to
see how he could ” cut in.” Confound Wedderburn ! He sat
down, opened his bag, hesitated whether to return the volume of
Browning forthwith, in the sight of all, and instead drew out his
new notebooks for the short course in elementary botany that
was now beginning, and which would terminate in February.
As he did so a fat, heavy man, with a white face and pale grey
eyes, Bindon, the professor of botany, who came up from Kew for
January and February, came in by the lecture theatre door, and
passed, rubbing his hands together and smiling, in silent affability
down the laboratory.
In the subsequent six weeks Hill experienced some very rapid
and curiously complex emotional developments. For the most
part he had Wedderburn in focus—a fact that Miss Haysman
never suspected. She told Hill (for in the comparative privacy of
the museum she talked a good deal to him of socialism and
Browning and general propositions), that she had met Wedder-
burn at the house of some people she knew, and ” he’s inherited
his cleverness ; for his father, you know, is the great eye specialist.”
” My father is a cobbler,” said Hill, quite irrelevantly, and
perceived the want of dignity even as he said it. But the gleam
of jealousy did not offend her. She conceived herself the funda-
mental source of it. He suffered bitterly from a sense of Wed-
derburn’s unfairness, and a realisation of his own handicap. Here
was this Wedderburn had picked up a prominent man for a father,
and instead of his losing so many marks on the score of that
advantage, it was counted to him for righteousness ! And while
Hill had to introduce himself and talk to Miss Haysman clumsily
over mangled guinea-pigs in the laboratory, this Wedderburn, in
some backstairs way, had access to her social altitudes and could
converse in a polished argot that Hill understood perhaps but felt
incapable of speaking. Not of course that he wanted to. Then
it seemed to Hill that for Wedderburn to come there day after
day with cuffs unfrayed, neatly tailored, precisely barbered, quietly
perfect, was in itself an ill-bred, sneering sort of proceeding.
Moreover, it was a stealthy thing for Wedderburn to behave
insignificantly for a space, to mock modesty, to lead Hill to fancy
that he himself was beyond dispute the man of the year, and
then suddenly to dart in front of him, and incontinently to swell
up in this fashion. In addition to these things Wedderburn
displayed an increasing disposition to join in any conversational
grouping that included Miss Haysman, and would venture and
indeed seek occasion to pass opinions derogatory to Socialism and
Atheism. He goaded Hill to incivilities by neat, shallow, and
exceedingly effective personalities about the socialist leaders, until
Hill hated Bernard Shaw s graceful egotisms, William Morris’s
limited editions and luxurious wall-papers, and Walter Crane’s
charmingly absurd ideal working men, about as much as he hated
Wedderburn. The dissertations in the laboratory that had been his
glory in the previous term, became a danger, degenerated into
inglorious tussles with Wedderburn, and Hill kept to them only
out of an obscure perception that his honour was involved. In the
debating society Hill knew quite clearly that, to a thunderous
accompaniment of banged desks, he could have pulverised Wedder-
burn. Only Wedderburn never attended the debating society
to be pulverised, because—nauseous affectation ! he ” dined late.”
You must not imagine that these things presented themselves in
quite such a crude form to Hill’s perception. Hill was a born
generaliser. Wedderburn to him was not so much an individual
obstacle as a type, the salient angle of a class. The economic
theories that, after infinite ferment, had shaped themselves in Hill’s
mind, became abruptly concrete at the contact. The world
became full of easy-mannered, graceful, gracefully dressed, con-
versationally dexterous, finally shallow Wedderburns, Bishops
Wedderburn, Wedderburn M.P.s, Professors Wedderburn, Wed-
derburn landlords, all with finger-bowl shibboleths and epigram-
matic cities of refuge from a sturdy debater. And every one ill-
clothed or ill-dressed, from the cobbler to the cab-runner, was a
man and a brother, a fellow-sufferer, to Hill’s imagination. So
that he became, as it were, a champion of the fallen and oppressed,
albeit to outward seeming only a self-assertive, ill-mannered young
man, and an unsuccessful champion at that. Again and again a
skirmish over the afternoon tea that the girl students had inaugu-
rated, left Hill with flushed cheeks and a tattered temper, and the
debating society noticed a new quality of sarcastic bitterness in
You will understand now how it came about that, in the
interests of humanity, Hill should demolish Wedderburn in the
forthcoming examination and outshine him in the eyes of Miss
Haysman, and you will perceive, too, how Miss Haysman fell into
some common feminine misconceptions. The Hill-Wedderburn
quarrel, for in his unostentatious way Wedderburn reciprocated
Hill’s ill-veiled rivalry, became a tribute to her indefinable charm ;
she was the Queen of Beauty in a tournament of scalpels and
stumpy pencils. To her confidential friend’s secret annoyance, it
even troubled her conscience, for she was a good girl and painfully
aware, from Ruskin and contemporary fiction, how entirely men’s
activities are determined by women s attitudes. And if Hill never
by any chance mentioned the topic of love to her, she only
credited him with the finer modesty for that omission.
So the time came on for the second examination, and Hill’s
increasing pallor confirmed the general rumour that he was working
hard. In the aërated bread shop near South Kensington Station
you would see him, breaking his bun and sipping his milk, with
his eyes intent upon a paper of closely written notes. In his bed-
room there were propositions about buds and stems round his
looking-glass, a diagram to catch his eye, if soap should chance to
spare it, above his washing basin. He missed several meetings of
the debating society, but he found the chance encounters with
Miss Haysman in the spacious ways of the adjacent art museum,
or in the little museum at the top of the College, or in the College
corridors, more frequent and very restful. In particular, they used
to meet in a little gallery full of wrought-iron chests and gates,
near the art library, and there Hill used to talk under the gentle
stimulus of her flattering attention, of Browning and his personal
ambitions. A characteristic she found remarkable in him was his
freedom from avarice. He contemplated quite calmly the prospect
of living all his life on an income below a hundred pounds a year.
But he was determined to be famous, to make, recognisably in his
own proper person, the world a better place to live in. He took
Bradlaugh and John Burns for his leaders and models, poor, even
impecunious, great men. But Miss Haysman thought that such
lives were deficient on the aesthetic side, by which, though she
did not know it, she meant good wall paper and upholstery, pretty
books, tasteful clothes, concerts, and meals nicely cooked and
At last came the day of the second examination, and the pro-
fessor of botany, a fussy, conscientious man, rearranged all the
tables in a long narrow laboratory to prevent copying, and put his
demonstrator on a chair on a table (where he felt, he said, like a
Hindoo god) to see all the cheating, and stuck a notice outside the
door, ” Door closed,” for no earthly reason that any human being
could discover. And all the morning from ten till one the quill
of Wedderburn shrieked defiance at Hill’s, and the quills of the
others chased their leaders in a tireless pack, and so also it was in
the afternoon. Wedderburn was a little quieter than usual, and
Hill’s face was hot all day, and his overcoat bulged with text-books
and note-books against the last moment’s revision. And the next
day, in the morning and in the afternoon, was the practical exami-
nation when sections had to be cut and slides identified. In the
morning Hill was depressed because he knew he had cut a thick
section, and in the afternoon came the mysterious slip.
It was just the kind of thing that the botanical professor was
always doing. Like the income tax, it offered a premium to the
cheat. It was a preparation under the microscope, a little glass
slip, held in its place on the stage of the instrument by light steel
clips, and the inscription set forth that the slip was not to be
moved. Each student was to go in turn to it, sketch it, write in
his book of answers what he considered it to be, and return to his
place. Now, to move such a slip is a thing one can do by a
chance movement of the finger, and in a fraction of a second.
The professor’s reason for decreeing that the slip should not be
moved depended on the fact that the object he wanted identified
was characteristic of a certain tree stem. In the position in
which it was placed it was a difficult thing to recognise, but once
the slip was moved so as to bring other parts of the preparation
into view, its nature was obvious enough.
Hill came to this, flushed from a contest with staining re-agents,
sat down on the little stool before the microscope, turned the
mirror to get the best light, and then, out of sheer habit, shifted
the slip. At once he remembered the prohibition, and, with an
almost continuous motion of his hands, moved it back, and sat
paralysed with astonishment at his action.
Then, slowly, he turned his head. The professor was out of
the room ; the demonstrator sat aloft on his impromptu rostrum,
reading the Q. Jour. Mi. Sci. , the rest of the examinees were
busy, and with their backs to him. Should he own up to the
accident now ? He knew quite clearly what the thing was. It
was a lenticel, a characteristic preparation from the elder-tree.
His eyes roved over his intent fellow-students, and Wedderburn
suddenly glanced over his shoulder at him with a queer expression
in his eyes. The mental excitement that had kept Hill at an
abnormal pitch of vigour these two days gave way to a curious
nervous tension. His book of answers was beside him. He did
not write down what the thing was, but with one eye at the
microscope he began making a hasty sketch of it. His mind was
full of this grotesque puzzle in ethics that had suddenly been
sprung upon him. Should he identify it f or should he leave this
question unanswered f In that case Wedderburn would probably
come out first in the second result. How could he tell now
whether he might not have identified the thing without shifting
it ? It was possible that Wedderburn had failed to recognise it,
of course. Suppose Wedderburn, too, had shifted the slide ? He
looked up at the clock. There were fifteen minutes in which to
make up his mind. He gathered up his book of answers, and the
coloured pencils he used in illustrating his replies, and walked back
to his seat.
He read through his manuscript, and then sat thinking and
gnawing his knuckle. It would look queer now if he owned up.
He must beat Wedderburn. He forgot the examples of those
starry gentlemen, John Burns and Bradlaugh. Besides, he re-
flected, the glimpse of the rest of the slip he had had was, after all,
quite accidental, forced upon him by chance, a kind of providential
revelation rather than an unfair advantage. It was not nearly so
dishonest to avail himself of that as it was of Broome, who
believed in the efficacy of prayer, to pray daily for a first-class.
” Five minutes more,” said the demonstrator, folding up his paper
and becoming observant. Hill watched the clock hands until two
minutes remained ; then he opened the book of answers, and, with
hot ears and an affectation of ease, gave his drawing of the lenticel
When the second pass list appeared, the previous positions of
Wedderburn and Hill were reversed, and the spectacled girl in
green, who knew the demonstrator in private life (where he was
practically human), said that in the result of the two examinations
taken together Hill had the advantage of a mark—167 to 166 out
of a possible 200. Every one admired Hill in a way, though the
suspicion of ” mugging ” clung to him. But Hill was to find
congratulations and Miss Haysman’s enhanced opinion of him, and
even the decided decline in the crest of Wedderburn tainted by an
unhappy memory. He felt a remarkable access of energy at first,
and the note of a democracy marching to triumph returned to his
debating society speeches ; he worked at his comparative anatomy
with tremendous zeal and effect, and he went on with his aesthetic
education. But through it all, a vivid little picture was continually
coming before his mind’s eye—of a sneakish person manipulating a
No human being had witnessed the act, and he was cocksure
that no higher power existed to see it ; but for all that it worried
him. Memories are not dead things, but alive ; they dwindle in
disuse, but they harden and develop in all sorts of queer ways if
they are being continually fretted. Curiously enough, though at
the time he perceived clearly that the shifting was accidental, as
the days wore on his memory became confused about it, until at
last he was not sure—although he assured himself that he was sure
—whether the movement had been absolutely involuntary. Then
it is possible that Hill’s dietary was conducive to morbid con-
scientiousness ; a breakfast frequently eaten in a hurry, a midday
bun, and, at such hours after five as chanced to be convenient, such
meat as his means determined, usually in a chop-house, in a back
street off the Brompton Road. Occasionally he treated himself
to threepenny or ninepenny classics, and they usually represented
a suppression of potatoes or chops. It is indisputable that out-
breaks of self-abasement and emotional revival have a distinct
relation to periods of scarcity. But apart from this influence on
the feelings, there was in Hill a distinct aversion to falsity that
the blasphemous Landport cobbler had inculcated by strap and
tongue from his earliest years. Of one fact about professed
Atheists I am convinced ; they may be—they usually are—fools,
void of subtlety, revilers of holy institutions, brutal speakers, and
mischievous knaves, but they lie with difficulty. If it were not
so, if they had the faintest grasp of the idea of compromise, they
would simply be liberal Churchmen. And, moreover, this memory
poisoned his regard for Miss Haysman. For she now so evidently
preferred him to Wedderburn that he felt sure he cared for her,
and began reciprocating her attentions by timid marks of personal
regard ; at one time he even bought a bunch of violets, carried it
about in his pocket, and produced it, with a stumbling explanation,
withered and dead, in the gallery of old iron. It poisoned, too,
the denunciation of capitalist dishonesty that had been one of his
life’s pleasures. And lastly, it poisoned his triumph in Wedderburn.
Previously he had been Wedderburn’s superior in his own eyes,
and had raged simply at a want of recognition. Now he began
to fret at the darker suspicion of positive inferiority. He fancied
he found justifications for his position in Browning, but they
vanished on analysis. At last—moved, curiously enough, by
exactly the same motive forces that had resulted in his dishonesty
—he went to Professor Bindon, and made a clean breast of the
whole affair. As Hill was a paid student Professor Bindon did not
ask him to sit down, and he stood before the Professor’s desk as he
made his confession.
” It’s a curious story,” said Professor Bindon, slowly realising
how the thing reflected on himself, and then letting his anger
rise : ” A most remarkable story. I can’t understand your doing
it, and I can’t understand this avowal. You’re a type of student
—Cambridge men would never dream—I suppose I ought to
have thought—Why did you cheat ? ”
” I didn’t—cheat,” said Hill.
” But you have just been telling me you did.”
” I thought I explained—
” Either you cheated or you did not cheat.”
” I said my motion was involuntary.”
” I am not a metaphysician, I am a servant of science—of fact.
You were told not to move the slip. You did move the slip. If
that is not cheating—”
” If I was a cheat,” said Hill, with the note of hysterics in his
voice, ” should I come here and tell you ? ”
” Your repentance of course does you credit,” said Professor
Bindon, ” but it does not alter the original facts.”
” No, sir,” said Hill, giving in in utter self-abasement.
” Even now you cause an enormous amount of trouble. The
examination list will have to be revised.”
” I suppose so, sir.”
” Suppose so ! Of course it must be revised. And I don’t see
how I can conscientiously pass you.”
” Not pass me ! ” said Hill. ” Fail me ! ”
” It’s the rule in all examinations. Or where should we be ?
What else did you expect ? You don’t want to shirk the conse-
quences of your own acts ? :
“I thought, perhaps,” said Hill. And then, “Fail me! I
thought as I told you, you would simply deduct the marks given
for that slip——”
” Impossible ! ” said Bindon. ” Besides, it would still leave
you above Wedderburn. Deduct only the marks—Preposterous !
The Departmental Regulations distinctly say——”
” But it’s my own admission, sir.”
” The Regulations say nothing whatever of the manner in
which the matter comes to light. They simply provide——”
” It will ruin me. If I fail this examination, they won’t renew
” You should have thought of that before.”
” But, sir, consider all my circumstances——”
” I cannot consider anything. Professors in this college are
machines. The Regulations will not even let us recommend our
students for appointments. I am a machine, and you have worked
me. I have to do——”
” It’s very hard, sir.”
” Possibly it is.”
” If I am to be failed this examination I might as well go home
” That is as you think proper.” Bindon’s voice softened a little ;
he perceived he had been unjust, and, provided he did not contra-
dict himself, he was disposed to amelioration. “As a private
person,” he said, ” I think this confession of yours goes far to
mitigate your offence. But you have set the machinery in motion
and now it must take its course. I—I am really sorry you gave
A wave of emotion prevented Hill from answering. Suddenly
very vividly he saw the heavily lined face of the old Landport
cobbler, his father. ” Good God ! What a fool I have been ! ”
he said hotly and abruptly.
” I hope,” said Bindon, ” that it will be a lesson to you.”
But curiously enough they were not thinking of quite the same
There was a pause.
” I would like a day to think, sir, and then I will let you know
—about going home, I mean,” said Hill, moving towards the
The next day Hill’s place was vacant. The spectacled girl in
green was, as usual, first with the news. Wedderburn and Miss
Haysman were talking of a performance of the Meistersingers
when she came up to them.
” Have you heard ? ” she said.
” Heard what ? “
” There was cheating in the examination.”
” Cheating ! ” said Wedderburn, with his face suddenly hot.
” How ? ”
” That slide——”
” Moved ? Never ! “
” It was. That slide that we weren’t to move——”
” Nonsense ! ” said Wedderburn. ” Why ! How could they
find out ? Who do they say——? ”
” It was Mr. Hill.”
” Hill ! ”
” Mr. Hill ! ”
” Not—surely not the immaculate Hill ? ” said Wedderburn,
” I don’t believe it,” said Miss Haysman. ” How do you
know ? ”
” I didn’t,” said the girl in spectacles. ” But I know
for a fact. Mr. Hill went and confessed to Professor Bindon
” By Jove ! ” said Wedderburn. ” Hill of all people. But I
am always inclined to distrust these philanthropists-on-prin-
” Are you quite sure ? ” said Miss Haysman, with a catch in
” Quite. It’s dreadful, isn’t it ? But you know, what can
you expect ? His father is a cobbler.”
Then Miss Haysman astonished the girl in spectacles.
” I don’t care. I will not believe it,” she said, flushing darkly
under her warm tinted skin. ” I will not believe it until he has
told me so himself—face to face. I would scarcely believe it
then,” and abruptly she turned her back on the girl in spectacles,
and walked to her own place.
” It’s true, all the same,” said the girl in spectacles, peering and
smiling at Wedderburn.
But Wedderburn did not answer her. She was indeed one of
those people who are destined to make unanswered remarks.
By J. Crawhall
By Mary Howarth
” Can flowers that breathe one little day
In odorous sweetness life away,
And wavering to the earth decay,
Have any claim to rank with her,
Warmed in whose soul impulses stir,
Then bloom to goodness ; and aver
Her worth through spheral joys shall move
When suns and systems cease above,
And nothing lives but perfect Love ? ”
BEST described in the words used by Thomas Woolner to
express his Beautiful Lady, ” A wild-rose blossom of the
wood ” is Johanna. For her loveliness was rarely simple ; her
mind was rarely pure. Happy the man—so one would think—
who should snatch her from the bush, and in his bosom wear her.
Nevertheless Johanna when she married him who to her had
been her heart s rest from the day on which she first of all saw
him, married one in whose brightest moments but a faint concep-
tion of her wonderful beauties was apparent to himself. If
Johanna was satisfied however, shall it be for any one else to cavil ?
And she was. God in His heaven knows and gladdens over the
rapture of Johanna. To few only is such power to love given ;
to those for whom the angels and the great God care most
There is on earth no joy to be compared with this of perfect
love, save one. And that one, that joy transcending all others, is
when such love is met with such love.
Johanna knew not that joy. Hers was on her own side only.
And therein is the essence of its wondrous pathos, which is indeed
very, very great. But it may be hoped that her mind was blind
to the lack. It may be hoped that she never recognised that her
husband many and many a time bitterly resented his marriage, or
that to it he traced the downfall of his early ambitions.
She, at least, was absolutely and entirely satisfied.
The deacon sat in the schoolroom and looked over a sheet of paper
he held in his hand. It was covered with notes, and was indeed
a synopsis of what he meant to say in church that day, when upon
the occasion of his last appearance at Helga, where he had taught
the children for three years, the priest would address a public fare-
well to him and he would have to reply.
” My friends,” he read in a low voice, ” my brethren, I am
sorry to leave you. But first let me thank you for your kind
words and good wishes. I have tried here in Helga to be a faith-
ful servant to my church and country ; to teach the children as
the State commands, to conduct such services as my priest dictated,
and to make myself unto you what I could of comfort and solace.
Now I am going further into the world to teach others, to pray
with strangers, to comfort and to solace those whom, so far, I have
not seen and do not know.”
” Hjorth, Hjorth, the breakfast is ready, and here have I invited
Lauritz and Pauline to come in. They were so anxious to see
the deacon eat ! Little curiosities ! have they never seen anyone
eat before ? ”
It was the cheery voice of Karen, the woman who came in in
the morning to clean the schoolhouse and prepare the deacon’s
Hjorth folded up the sheet of paper over which he had hastily
glanced to the end, and, crying out that he would be in the kitchen
immediately, set about to clear away the writing materials he had
From the outer room came the chatter of young voices, and the
deacon, glancing out of the high window in the schoolroom, saw
that a number of his pupils were congregated about the door.
” They have made you some fancy gardens,” called Karen, ” the
children, I mean. You must come and see them before they fade.
What is in them, Pauline ? Speak up ; the deacon will not chide.
Hjorth, do you hear ? ”
” I hear,” said the deacon.
” Well then, Pauline, what is in them ? “
” There is ling,” piped a small, timid voice.
” And sweet gale,” shouted a bolder one.
” I got the purple loose-strife down by the river and the grass
of Parnassus came from the meadow,” cried a child outside the
” And you remember the name, which is more,” shouted Karen,
approvingly, and glancing at Hjorth, who at that moment appeared
in the kitchen.
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. P
The deacon smiled. His was a serious face, a good deal covered
with black hair, which contrasted strongly with his white com-
plexion and pale grey eyes. When he smiled his expression became
kind and indulgent. He knew this, and sometimes smiled instead
of speaking, a plan that saved him trouble and was effective.
A small, fat, and solemn boy of seven, and a sprightly and
coquettish damsel of four, advanced shyly to the breakfast table
in response to his invitation. Usually quite a home with their
teacher—a due allowance being made for the awe in which they
held his office—they displayed a newly-acquired timidity upon
this occasion. Not even encouraging remarks from Karen, and
an unlimited supply of pancakes added to the usual Norwegian
breakfast fare of smoked salmon, cheese, and flat-brod, sufficed to
put them quite at their ease. They felt towards the deacon that
odd degree of strangeness that forces itself upon one in one’s rela-
tions towards anybody who has been very familiar and is destined
shortly to enter upon another sphere. Thus the sister who is
going to be married, the brother who has accepted an appointment
abroad, the friend who has won distinction from the outer world,
become momentarily some one unknown. The difference disturbs
the old sympathy, but, of course, only quite fleetingly, and is
recognised merely by those whose temperaments cause them to be
hyper-sensitive to such impressions, as children are.
Lauritz and Pauline, moreover, were aware of their own
importance upon the occasion, and were the observed of many
observers, who clustered about the half-opened door and took turns
to peep into the kitchen. This in itself was sufficient to make
them self-conscious and shy. Every time the deacon looked in
that direction there was a fresh little face, a little pale-haired crown,
a couple of pink cheeks, a pair of blue eyes, and a moist open little
How anxious and inquisitive their expression was at first ! But
they smiled when their master smiled on them, and withdrew their
heads rapidly after the smile.
When breakfast was over, and he had passed outside with
Lauritz and Pauline to admire the mimic gardens the children
had made for him in the sandy soil before the school, Hjorth
dismissed them and bent his steps towards the sea-shore. He
desired to be alone. He wanted to exult once more in the sensa-
tions of the occasion, and to picture again to himself the scene
that was shortly to take place in the church, in which he would
be the man of the hour. Accustomed as he was to live alone,
this habit of introspective and anticipatory imagination had grown
upon him. Whenever he was strongly moved he craved for
solitude and an opportunity to think the whole situation through,
just as urgently as other men crave for the companionship and
sympathy of a dearly loved friend, into whose ears they can tell,
perhaps in a fragmentary way, perhaps fully, as best suits their
needs, all that is in their hearts.
The young deacon would not have felt himself so satisfying if he
had not been true to himself. Mistaken and foolish he was, perhaps,
but at least in his way he was honest.
He almost ran to the shore ; he was so anxious to get to a
certain place where he knew he should be absolutely alone. He
found it. It was a high promontory jutting out into the open
ocean, from which he could see, as he stood looking landwards
upon his left, a wild shallow bay of sand, upon his right a jagged
outline of sea-fringe, one mass of rocks, and then as far as the
horizon pile after pile of strange boulder hills, like an exaggerated
lava field, melting away above the sandy bay into a waving plain
of wild moorland.
He was absolutely alone ; the one human thing in a great in-
animate world. He had purposely chosen for such moments this
desolate spot, because from it not even a human habitation could
Conqueror of the universe, full to overflowing of majesty and
power, conscious even to sorrow of his own omnipotence, he stood
there and gazed around him. The youth, the strength, the
ambition, the perseverance, the dauntlessness within him joined
with the beautiful exhilaration of the air to produce a feeling of
majestic supremacy. There was the world before him ; there
was he, imperial.
His mind went back a little. He had caught the day before,
while he officiated at the funeral of an old man from the fjelds, a
transitory impression that had pleased him. It was while he
headed the procession and chanted the scriptural sentences that
came at the beginning of the service. Between him and the
coffin placed on its shabby bier, a farm trolly, and pulled by a
mountain pony, had come on foot the old man’s near relations, and
next after them all the crowd of followers that could be collected
from the country-side. The dirge-like chant was familiar enough
to him to permit his thoughts to wander while he sang, but
because he had had to lead the procession over the pathless meads
he had not been able to follow up his ideas so carefully and absorb
ingly as here on this rocky promontory. The particularly grati-
fying one that he had caught and stowed away for future enjoyment
was a strange mixture qf the sensations of the moment. He
had left it for absorbing contemplation until a more convenient
season. He had thought he was looking inside that rude coffin
and gazing upon the seamed, grey face of the aged man, pathetic
in its image of care, yet beautiful exceedingly in its meek-
ness and patience. And without knowing at the moment
why he thus spoke, he thought he had quoted these words :
” God, I thank Thee that I am not as other men are—or even
He had been pleased. Yes ; he had been pleased. Dwelling
over it now it seemed to bear a fantastic, indeed a blasphemous
significance. Why had he been pleased ? He must know.
Gazing around once more with arms stretched out in yearning
love for the prospect and what it meant to him, he recognised that
for the life within him, glorious, promising, full of possibilities
of God only knew what greatness and joy, he had been
rapturously happy that he was not as that corpse : a dead man
after a life of much and grinding misery, such as the constant
struggle for existence implies for the labourer in a sterile
Heaven be praised, he was not as that cold clay, but young
and strong and lusty, free as the ocean behind him, strong as the
hills before him, and full, full, full to the lips, of vivid pulsing
Sorry ? Was he sorry to be leaving this place where there
were less than a dozen houses, for the town where they reckoned
them by hundreds ? He knew he was not sorry.
Was he sorry for one moment to leave anyone in it ; any single
person, beautiful Johanna for example, with her red rose mouth,
her pink cheeks melting in a rich cream, her chestnut hair with
the love locks curling tendril-wise upon her brow ? Would there
be one pang for her ? He passed down from the promontory to
the shore, and from the shore to the road, with his mind strangely
fixed upon Johanna, meeting and greeting many families in
carrioles and stolkjaerres, and on horse-back, who were on their
way to the church.
Not that he had encouraged the thought of her habitually.
Indeed it was she who had encouraged him. She had what he
called taken a fancy to him, and a very embarrassing fancy it had
been, displayed in bunches of flowers and bowls of wild fruit
which she had deposited upon his desk, when she brought her little
cousins Pauline and Lauritz to school. He had been compelled
to be almost rude when she ran after him across the mead one
evening, to tell him that the fish were rising in a favourite pool,
and to imply a lie when he remarked that that was no business of
his. Also he had purposely neglected her flowers, and pushed the
bowls of fruit aside.
No ; he should not regret Johanna for a moment. She was a
forward child ; just that.
So during the service that came next he paid no more attention
to Johanna Tubering than a deacon should to any member of the
congregation. Neither did he think less of his own vastly im-
portant share in the ceremony. He was conscious all the while
that he was the cynosure of every eye there, and when he stood
up to answer the priest, who in a few fatherly words had bade him
God-speed in his own name and that of the people, the very
modesty and repression of his demeanour was the result of a care-
fully thought out and cultivated attitude of mind and manner,
Johanna’s eyes, on the contrary, were frankly turned towards
him throughout the ceremony. She sat with her aunt and the
other women on the left side of the church ; the men occupying
the pews upon the right. She thought of nothing, this child
Johanna, but that he was going, and would God bless him ? ” Oh,
God, Father in Heaven, bless him, I pray Thee. Oh, my God,
bless him. Oh, Saviour Christ, I beseech Thee to bless him,
Dear God, bless him.” Such were her prayers, what time the
old priest besought the Lord for all sorts and conditions of
And below the oft-repeated supplication came the accompanying
added plea : ” Oh, God, I do so love him. If it may be that
Thou wilt bless him because I love him so dearly, do so I pray
She seemed to think that the God she loved would care more
for him because she loved him. God was to her a personality ;
a kind, loving Father, indulgent to His daughters, because He
loved them. Nine times out of ten she did not add the greatest
importunement of all : for Christ’s sake.
She had it in her mind that she herself went hand in hand with
It transpired that Hjorth did not immediately settle in the town
whither he had been sent. Directly he got there he was despatched
to a hamlet up country, where he was to combine the duties of
schoolmaster and deacon during the absence of the priest. It
happened that the praestegaard or parsonage was being thoroughly
overhauled ; something very wrong had been discovered respecting
its drainage. The priest was therefore lodged in the inn, where
the deacon joined him, for there were many matters upon which
the elder man found it necessary to confer with the younger before
The deacon now discovered what a strangely desolate life he
had led in that little sea-coast Helga. He had not recognised
while he was there in the middle of the children that he was so
alone. He found himself among these people dizzy with their
talk. Existence seemed to him a dream and not reality. It was
the ending of the tourist season, and there were several English in
the house. If it had been the height of the season the poor man
would certainly have lost his head. As it was, he went a long way
towards doing so.
After his first shyness had worn off he began to take note of
his companions, and immediately became interested in a certain
young lady who was the governess of some children staying in the
hotel. Had he been told that the cause of his interest in her was
hers in him, he would not have believed it. Hjorth was a man
who was thoroughly imbued with a sense of his own originality.
It all came about after she had asked him to be so kind as to
pass the sugar at “aftens,” the evening meal corresponding to
English high tea. A little discussion ensued as to the Norwegian
for sugar, in which the children, her charges, joined. Hjorth,
who, of course, like every educated Norsemen, could speak English,
instructed them in the word, and then they asked for bread, tea,
coffee, and eggs, all of which he translated for them.
The governess laughed merrily with the children. The
languages were exactly alike, they declared.
Afterwards he met her now and then, taking walks by herself
or with the little girls. Amy Travis contrived that they should
meet alone not seldom. She on her side was interested in him.
She used to draw him out. She was a creature of impulses and
fads, and her fad at the moment was Norway. During the season
that she had just passed in London with the family with whom
she lived, she had taken every opportunity that presented itself of
going to the theatre to see the Ibsen plays. She had read what
she had not seen acted, and was really grateful to the Norwegian
writer, declaring that he had given her a taste for the reading of
drama, and that since she had known Ibsen and not till then, she
had been able to read and enjoy Shakespeare. The deacon was to
her a very romantic object. Moreover he seemed to be much in
the same position that she occupied—a subordinate one. She felt
for him. The mind that is essentially mediocre kicks continually
against the subordinate, though it never rises beyond it. Hjorth,
to do him justice, did not feel this. But he felt something else
keenly. It was being borne in upon him that he ached for sym-
pathy ; that so far he had only been half a creature ; that he must
have the completion of himself. What has been already said
about Miss Amy Travis ought to be sufficient to show that he
was frightfully over-sanguine, indeed utterly mistaken, in imagin-
ing that in her he would find his other soul side. This girl would
never in her then condition penetrate further than the eyes and
the heart of a man. She was pretty and her manner was
attractive. But good as these two attributes undoubtedly are,
they go but a short way in the formation of that marriage of true
minds that is of all unions the most perfect and enduring on God’s
He talked to her about Ibsen, rallying her gently upon her
enthusiasm, for one whom he, in company with many of his
countrymen, called brain-sick. Nevertheless he spent some hours
of each night reading him up in Norsk, so that in the daytime
he could compare vexed passages with Miss Amy and, if it might
be, explain to her items that had puzzled her, or rather that had
puzzled wiser heads in London, Miss Amy having read in the
newspapers concerning these disputed lines and appropriated unto
herself the bewilderments they expressed. It was significant of
the girl’s mind that they never discussed Ibsen’s theories or ethics.
Amy Travis deduced nothing from what she read, and had there-
for nothing to say upon such topics. But Hjorth did not detect
this. Indeed, he would have been shocked had the girl started
the subject of say heredity with him, or of the rights of men to
suicide, or of other weighty matters shut out from the considera-
tion of women. Had the girl overstepped by half an inch the
limits his inherited convictions set for her, he, the deacon, who
was to be a priest, would have been repulsed instantly. Yet he
craved the other soul side of him ; fiercely, eagerly. It is impos-
sible to laugh at Hjorth. One does not laugh at a baby who
fondly imagines it has got the moon it cried for, when it is given
an indiarubber ball.
The people in the hotel began to take an interest in the pair.
Trust Norwegians for curiosity. They are one of the most
inquisitive people on the earth’s surface, as inquisitive as the Welsh.
That is where the old romance of their forefathers comes in. It is
what it has worked round to. Now that the ancient days of the
Vikings are over, with all that they brought of glorious sensation-
stirring deeds, the people have to amuse themselves. So they
weave all sorts of romances about other people, feeding their ideas,
or setting them in the right direction, by inquisitive questions.
It is an innocent form of amusement. They are not spiteful.
But not comprehending this national weakness, when to her ears
the general gossip came, Amy Travis’s mistress—shall we call her ?
—spoke to the girl laughingly :
” You are making him worship the very ground you tread on,”
she said. And then she adjured her to remember Ernest.
Whereupon the bright-faced girl also laughed and shook her
head merrily. But at the same time she hated her employer
a little more than she had done before, for her unwarrantable
When once Hjorth got an idea into his head, it consumed him.
He was so passionately constituted, a man of such wildness of
disposition, just the sort to rise to any height. Had he not felt
unconquerable out there on the rocks at Helga ? It is never given
to any one to feel master of the world for nothing. It is a sign of
the will that is indomitable, the best attribute, if all others are
equal, a man or a woman can possess. Yes, a woman also. Hjorth
waited long enough therefore to sound himself only ; not to think
of her and whether she manifested any show of feeling that should
lead him to suppose she really cared for him. And then he
They were standing together beneath the flag-staff on a
promontory outside the hotel overlooking the lake deep down
below them, and on the other side of the valley the glacier
mountain, part of the way up which they had all that day walked
to see the reindeer cows with their young come down to feed.
It was evening. Amy Travis, in her romantic, high-flown way,
had been telling Hjorth that a party of republican Norsemen who
had been at the inn that day, had said to the manageress that
they hoped next time they came, a pure flag would be flying
instead of the one there was then. What they meant by a pure
flag was the Norwegian without the quarterings of Sweden in the
” And I hope so too,” the girl added, raising her face, so that
the wind blew full upon it. ” This land is too beautiful and too
free to stand yoked. It should be alone ; independent, sole.”
Hjorth stood and admired her. What joy she had in Norway !
How pleasant it was to be so appreciated !
” Yes,” he said, meditatively yet modestly, ” it is a beautiful
land. I am glad you like it.”
” And for why ? ”
” Because I want you to stay in it,” he answered immediately.
” Because I ask you to remain in it—to be my wife, Miss Travis.
That is why.”
It was an open place this, that had shaped itself into his arena
for declaration, and, so far, the dusk of the evening was not suffi-
ciently thick to veil their proceedings. Amy Travis took the situa-
tion in at a flash. Her presence of mind was wonderful. She laughed
a low little laugh, half frightened, half encouraging, stepped
just the minutest way from him, turned half round on her heel
and spoke :
” What,” she said, ” become a priest’s wife ; out here in
Norway—live in the praestegaard, or not that even ; surely you
are only a deacon so far ?—in the little house behind the schoolroom ?
And in time—perhaps—in time to improve into someone like Frue
Margetson, with her sad, wrinkled face and eager, anxious eyes,
Do you ask me to do this, Herr Hjorth ? ”
” I ask you to be my wife,” he repeated, ignoring the chance
she gave him of tacking away from the serious side of the subject.
He spoke sullenly. The prescience of disappointment was upon
him. Amy Travis turned half towards him and then back before
” Surely you must have known ; surely this must have told
you that I am already engaged,” she asked, holding forth her
left hand and touching a single ring that adorned the third
finger of it.
The deacon shuddered. Here indeed was a blow.
” No, no, I did not,” he stammered, ” the ring told me nothing.
We wear it on the right hand here in Norway.”
” I am sorry,” said the girl ; and then she turned from him in
real earnest and left him standing there beside the flag-staff, where
he continued to stand until the inn-porter came and hauled the
flag down, and the deacon strode off to the house.
This episode annoyed him terribly. His pride was so abased
that he assured himself he had been outrageously badly treated.
It seemed to him so monstrous that a man who was going to be
a priest should be made the subject of a frivolous girl s flirtation.
He was now as enraged with Amy Travis and her attentions as
before he had been flattered by them. It was pretty generally the
feeling in the hotel also that he had been badly treated. They
looked upon the deacon as a raw young schoolmaster set in a
position above his rights. The mistress of Amy Travis was very
justly vexed with the girl’s conduct, and threatened to tell Ernest
the whole circumstances. But her husband, to whom she confided
her anger, remembering the lad Ernest, and thinking of him
with compassion, counselled her to let Amy bear her own burdens
and Ernest his as he met them. This was after it had leaked out
in the house that the deacon had proposed to Amy, which of
course it did when it became known that that very evening Hjorth
had removed all his belongings to a farm-house a mile away, and
had apprised the priest of the fact that he could no longer stay at
A general break-up of the party then occurred. Amy’s
employers moved on upon their travels, taking her with them ;
the priest with his sad-eyed wife left for their holiday, and Hjorth
was alone. But before he went, the priest, who on his part had
thought the deacon extremely foolish, took upon himself the task
of informing him as much. He had lived beyond his first feelings
of sympathy for the lover and disgust for the girl, and blamed
Hjorth pretty plainly for this presumptuous sin of youth, as he
termed it. Hjorth was abandoned, sore and miserable. What
wonder that his mind turned back to Johanna, the girl at Helga
farm, whose deep devotion to himself had been unmistakable ? He
locked the thought of her and her adulation in his heart, however,
struck body and soul into his work, and upon the return of the
priest to his parish, departed to the town with praises ringing in
his ears. The priest had had a holiday, one out of half a dozen
in a lifetime, and Hjorth was flourishing as young men can on
thoughts of love and what love means. Strangely enough, this
rebuff had failed to teach him its most obvious lesson. And yet
why write strangely ? A wise Norwegian proverb has it that ’tis
the eyes that go blind first, and another in another land that a
man is never a prophet in his own country. So the most open
book is that least read, and the moral that is more plain than
any, discovered last of all.
And now for Johanna.
The Johanna whom Hjorth had left was not the Johanna of
three weeks later. She had been only an imaginative child while
the deacon was at Helga, a child whom nature was expanding
from a lover of fairy stories and the wonderful supernatural, to a
worshipper of the human living hero. When the object of her
delightful day-dreams, of her very active and ever-present admira-
tion was withdrawn, she comprehended reality. Reality became
to her an unpleasant fact. She understood the meaning of life, and
life was sad to the girl.
It was sad to her so far as she could recognise a reason, because
she could look no further forward than the dull, uninteresting
present. Existence is very monotonous in farm life. Every day
brought her the same duties to perform ; the care of her small
cousins and of the poultry yard, the laying of the table and the
clearing up and washing of the things, needlework, more care of
the children and of the poultry yard, more needlework, and then
bed. To a nature in which environment was scarcely less actual
than the spirit of past ages, this was weariness. Johanna came
of a stock of adventurers. The blood of the Vikings coursed in
her veins, and, strangely enough, though she was a gentle maiden,
most delicately and tenderly formed, and though for generations
past her forebears had been drifting slowly and very securely into
the haven of quiet uneventfulness in which the average modern
Norwegian passes his life, Johanna’s circumstances and Johanna’s
nature were at war with one another. Concentration was the crux
of the girl’s being. Interests spread over the domesticity of farm
life bred in her a state of hopeless ennui. She was unable to put
her desires into words ; and had any far-seeing creature, divining her
mind, suggested that she ought to have been a boy so that she
could go before the mast, or, like so many of her compatriots, to
America, she would have denied the truth of the suggestion, even
while an uneasy questioning of its sagacity troubled her.
The departure of the deacon opened her eyes to her surroundings.
Her daily duties had, while he was near, been gilded with the
beatitude of worship. From a distance she had adored. He had
mingled with her conception of God, and, unconsciously Pantheistic,
she had instilled divinity into everything. God was in the
atmosphere, so that whether there was sunshine or mist, rain or
calm, Johanna was satisfied with His likeness ; God was in the
sea, so that the life of it or the death it dealt were to her alike
acceptable ; God was about her path and around her. She was
But when Hjorth went, this gracious, goodly Pantheism went
also. Atmosphere, sea, her daily tasks, all were sordid, uninteresting
facts. She saw Helga and her existence there stretch out into the
infinite. Though she was seventeen only a cruel comprehension
of decay haunted her. She noticed for the first time in her life a
darkening, weary look beneath her eyes. It seemed to her that
she was growing old. Not all of a sudden old, be it understood,
but more dismally than that, gradually old. Other signs she
looked for. She could not find them. There were no hollows on
her temples ; no doubling of her chin ; no stoop of her neck ; no
wrinkles anywhere. Nevertheless she realised that age was. She
would change from year to year though her life remained the
same. Oh, the intense misery of an outlook so completely hope-
less ! Johanna hated her own indifference to life. Yet life under
its new conditions seemed absorbed in indifference. She was a
human being stranded ; impotent to carve her own future ; a
vegetable just sentient enough to be conscious of vegetation.
So the summer chilled into winter. Autumn is not accounted
a season in Norway. As the days shortened and grew colder,
the stove in the farm parlour was lighted, and customs assumed
their character in keeping. Card games began in the evenings,
and there were dances now and then. The first was in honour
of the sheep-shearing. The sheep, which all through the
warm weather had been fending for themselves up in the hills
were brought down to the farm, clipped, and let loose within
its boundary. Then the farm hands made merry, and with
them their master and mistress and the friends of the family.
Johanna the year before had been in her quiet way completely
happy on this joyful occasion. It was true that the deacon was
not present. His dignity he held in too lofty an estimation to
permit him to mix thus freely with the people. But Johanna
had had the impression of him about her. So she had danced
and laughed—all quite quietly, as was her manner—and looked
fresh and light-hearted, and had assured her aunt that she had
thoroughly enjoyed herself. Perhaps most of that delicious con-
tent had been secured by her absence from Helga upon the
business of gathering the flocks upon the mountains. It was so
completely satisfying to return, knowing that he was there ;
knowing that, though upon that Saturday night in the barn he
would not be present among the merrymakers, the next morning
she would see him in church. How those Sundays were
blessed ! Only illness could deny her his presence thrice that
day, excepting during the three months when he took travelling
school in the mountains. And Hjorth and Johanna were
Her uncle invited her to go up with him to fetch the flocks
home again this time. She consented. The affair took them
three days. One whole day they drove up in the old family
carriole into the hills, meeting on the way scores of others on the
same errand as themselves. The next was occupied by a sorting
of the sheep (which had been driven into pens in the valley
by boys) and a village entertainment. The third saw the return
journey. Johanna took the whole occasion with more than usual
quietude. She had no disappointment to face. The blank lack
of interest that life at Helga meant for her would not, she had
felt, be dispelled by the three days’ jaunt to the hills. She had
expected no change. She accepted the listless joylessness of
existence, and did not even sigh for sorrow that such life was.
But her uncle noticed her indifference, and determined to lose no
time in settling the girl. He had already an eligible bridegroom
for her in his eye. He reminded himself of Ole Ormond. Some
sensible man like Ormond would, as the farmer put it mentally,
make all the difference to Johanna. Herr Berg knew nothing of
his niece’s passion for Hjorth. If he had, his honest heart would
have beat heavily with emotion, for Johanna was strangely,
pathetically wistful, and Berg was aware that, just as it ran in
the family to be concentrative, so did it to be constant. Without
any idea but that his niece was sad, and needed brightening, he
thought often of her mother, his sister, who, after three months
of wedded happiness had lost her husband, and had herself died a
heart-broken woman directly after Johanna’s birth. Even, how-
ever, had Berg been conscious of the reason of his niece s grief,
he must have acted as he did. For he would have felt quite sure
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. Q
that for the deacon to look at his niece was something as unlikely as
that his own little Lauritz should some day aspire to a princess of
the reigning house. It was not that the deacon was in reality
far removed in the social scale from Johanna. It was that the
deacon was Hjorth, a man of pronounced ambition, with an
exaggerated estimate of his own peculiar importance.
Never had the tragedy of being, as opposed to the comedy of
doing, been so plainly focussed on the lens of Johanna’s vision as
on the evening upon which she first made the acquaintance of
Ole Ormond. She, who had always been open-eyed to the
influences of nature, was now dominated by what was happening
about her. All was so changed with the outgoing of the Godli-
ness that had before been the essence of all she saw and was
impressed by, that she existed in a maze of mysteries. Mysteries
alarm. Johanna was intimidated. For the winter mists that
constantly rolled down the valley now, that crept up suddenly
and quietly from one point or from all, and sucked up to the very
walls of the farmhouse, seemed to be enveloping her and her life
into what she comprehended it was become. All was narrowing,
encircling closer and more close, towards a prevention of any
change or stir. The tragedy of being is bitter. Johanna’s
realisation of it came early, and found her an easy victim. The
girl had no wit for self-sacrifice. She was unaware that she might
defy the desperation of her case by declaring that, though for her
the actualities of existence were over, there should remain oppor-
tunities for benefiting others of which she would avail herself.
Tragedy with her had the fullest chance. She was devoid of the
cunning to parry—an easy prey to the foil of cruel circumstance.
Therefore she met Ole Ormond, aware that he was the husband
intended for her, and terrified because Fate had gone against her
and was so powerful. It was Fate now, not God, that held her life.
She tightened her lips therefore, and hardened her heart in
presence of the inevitable.
As for Johanna’s uncle, when he of set purpose invited Ole
Ormond to sup with him at the farm and spend the night, he
acted, as he would have declared, entirely for his niece’s benefit.
Ormond was a thriving man. He had been the only child of his
parents, and they, too, were without relations. The farm he had
inherited had become his, then, without encumbrances. To
Johanna’s uncle—who had charged upon his estate the keeping of
two aged aunts, three sisters, and a mother, all of whom participated
according to Norwegian law, in its profits—this was a circumstance
much in Ole’s favour and to his personal advantage.
But Berg must have hesitated, for he was a humane and kindly
creature, in bringing so inflammatory a nature, so yearning a
nature, as Ormond’s, in contact with that of a girl so sweetly
fascinating as Johanna, had he guessed what Ormond was and
known Johanna’s feelings. A glance at the man would have told
a thinker of such things that Ormond was no ordinary person.
Johanna, to whom the aspect of anything was always arrestive,
looked at him again and again, with the furtive, watching gaze
of a perplexed but interested spectator, at supper upon the first
night of their meeting. Ormond’s hair was absolutely white—
thick, healthy, in generous waves, but white. His face, too, was
white, his features clearly cut and strong, his eyes dark and flashing.
The pathetic droop of his mouth betrayed him. He was a man
of intense feeling. Even while he laughed and made merry with
the house mistress, upon whom the fascination of his picturesque
presence was not lost, and flung answers to the observations of
his host, the impression of pathos clung to him. Johanna decided
that she liked him. He was not of a pattern with the rest of her
uncle s guests.
He stayed a week at the farm, then went away for a few days,
and then returned. Johanna treated him with absolute trust, the
affectionate trust of a little child. Ormond, on his part, fell
passionately in love with her. But this feeling he did not manifest.
There was nothing vulgar, nothing positive about his wooing. He
had been in the habit all through life of suppressing his emotions.
His intensity had been unwelcome at home to the widowed,
shrewish mother with whom he lived. So he had become used to
reserve, and, as use is second nature, had grown to like it. Though
there was about him, in his every look, his every word, his every
action, something that Johanna would have expressed as kindness
the most patent, there was nothing to tell the girl she was the
personification of all he had in his solitary life dreamed of as heaven,
the possible heaven of this earthly sphere.
There are men whom women could swear loved them unselfishly.
Their manner betokens the essence of highest, purest, least human
love. Women have wept to see such love, have laughed aloud,
with the teardrops still dewing their eyes, to find themselves mis-
taken. There came no opportunity to Johanna to change the
impression she had received of Ole Ormond. She never knew
that his way of loving her was selfish. Had she been told so she
would have been unable to believe it. Had she at last been con-
vinced, she would have been very grieved. Every action of her
immediate after-life was founded on this belief, that Ole loved her
with such completeness that he would forego all things for her
sake, voluntarily arrange all things for her happiness. Love, so she
thought, meant selflessness with Ole.
Ormond carried his tale to his dearest’s uncle first, and the good
farmer received with acclamation the protestations of his devotion
and the recital of his means. ” They are all right,” he declared ;
“take the rest to Johanna and see if she approves.” So Ormond
Johanna consented to become his wife.
Fate was too strong to be defied.
It was then arranged that Ole should go home upon some
necessary business, that he should next proceed to the town, where
he should buy the wedding-ring, which, during her betrothal, the
Norwegian bride wears, a badge as sacred and binding as the matri-
monial circlet itself, and that upon his reappearance at the farm the
engagement should be made known and the wedding-day fixed.
There was no need to postpone the event. Ole’s house was ready,
and Johanna’s uncle was anxious to see the girl settled.
To this point matters had come when Hjorth, in his lonely
lodgings, determined to lose no more time in offering himself to
Johanna. He was weary of a solitary life, and in Vik he felt
miserably a unit.
Johanna’s uncle accompanied Ole when he left the farm ;
Johanna, therefore, and her aunt were alone with the children.
It was three mornings after the men had gone that Johanna
received a letter. There was nothing extraordinary in that, as a
circumstance, for Johanna’s schoolfellows often wrote to her.
But this letter she saw at a glance was from no schoolfellow. It
was from Hjorth. She knew his handwriting. Among her
treasures—it was her most precious—she kept a note he had sent
to her aunt, a polite refusal to one of her parties, which the irate
lady had thrown away in disgust. What could this letter have to
say ? Johanna’s heart beat gladly. At least here was a letter from
him. She covered the envelope with ardent kisses, but did not
open it until her early morning work was finished, and she was
free to rush away into a lonely place where no one would intrude
between her and the supreme moment of her life. She had a
letter from him. So off she ran, and to the sea of course. The
sea called to her, as it had to Hjorth, to come and be solitary, one
with the element whose voice is sympathy in sound, whose very
impersonality is strangely human, something mightier than man,
above the denizens of earth, and beneath the God of heaven. The
meadows were hard and dry, though the damp mists of autumn
still obscured the sky ; the air was very still. Johanna’s skirts as
she hurried only slightly rose with the movement of her feet ;
there was no wind to meddle with them. One hand she kept in
her pocket holding her precious letter ; with the other she pressed
the middle wire of the two fences she had to get through, passing
from the fields on to the broad sands. Her favourite rock she
gained with more than usual celerity, though it was difficult of
access. She was as nimble as a goat. Then her heart began to
beat, as it had beat when she received the letter, at first slowly with
dull thumps that she could feel, almost with pain, then more and
more quickly. The letter must ease her she felt. She drew her hand
out of her pocket with it in it, read it without ado, and instantly
started back for the farm, at a wild run, the slim page clasped in
her palm, her hand and it upon her lips.
Her aunt was in the kitchen, but Johanna called to her from the
house room and Frue Berg entered, her face reddened by the fire,
her eyes sparkling with mingled impatience and wonder at being
thus peremptorily summoned.
” Will you take me ? ” asked Johanna in a small, half-gasping
voice, as she handed the letter to her. This is what the astonished
farmer’s wife read :
DEAR MISS TUBERING,
I hope you will not be displeased when you read this. I
write to ask you if you will be my wife. I am very lonely here, and
when I was at Helga I used to think you cared for me. I am going
to write to your uncle to ask him if he will allow your aunt to bring
you here to Vik. I know he has relations in the town who would
take you in, and what I desire is, if my proposition meets with your
approval, that we should be married forthwith. Of course I should
have liked to come to Helga and fetch you away myself. But this I
cannot do. Pray, then, influence your uncle to waive all ceremony,
and what you do must be done quickly. If I could be certain of
seeing you this week I should feel happier than I do now. I never
thought that in so large a town as this I could feel so much alone.
Helga was different.
Johanna only gave her amazed relative time to read to the end
of the letter, before she interrupted the exclamation she saw was
coming by this question.
” Will you take me this afternoon ? ” she pleaded. Her aunt
flushed anew, but her eyes softened and grew kind as she walked
over to the girl’s side, laid her hand on her shoulder, and looking
into her face said, gently :
” Then it was Hjorth you loved all the time. I knew it.”
Johanna did not make any reply, but she too rose, and while her
aunt went to the tall bureau in the corner of the room, pulled out
a drawer and from it took her black silk dress, Johanna fetched a
small desk, which she placed upon the table, and seated herself to
write a letter. It was to Ole, and in it the girl expressed quite
simply her reasons for taking the step that was to change both
their lives. She loved Hjorth, she said, and she knew that Ole
loved her so dearly that he would want her to do what pleased her
most. She added that she had known Hjorth one year for every
week that Ole had known her. The meaning of this she was
certain Ole would understand.
” I am not sure whether I should,” demurred Frue Berg, as
she eyed the white frilling in her grown, to see that it was clean.
Johanna looked back at her. She was just leaving the room for
The train leaves in half-an-hour,” she said, and went away.
” If it’s to be done, it must be done quickly,” muttered the farmer’s
wife to herself. ” I never could think matters over. And it’s a
match, quite a good and high match for Johanna. She loves the
deacon. He’ll rise in the world for certain.”
As the woman and the girl travelled to Vik, Johanna was
speechless, but her aunt was extremely voluble.
” I justify myself for what I am doing,” said she, ” by recollect-
ing the days of my own courtship. My position was exactly that
of yours, Johanna, only that in England we do not think of
betrothals so solemnly as you do here in Norway. What I said
to your uncle was that though I had been engaged to Tom Wills
for a month to please my mother, I should now consider myself.
And it ended in our making a runaway match, very much as you
are doing, my dear.”
Johanna turned her head from the window, whence she had
been gazing over the great expanse of moorland, which is a
peculiarity of that corner of the southern seaboard, and her serene
eyes met those of her aunt, who forthwith continued her rather
“What I shall tell your uncle will be just this,” said she ;
” Johanna cares for the deacon in the same way that I cared for
you. That is why I took her off. He cannot blame me, for, if
he should do so, it will show that his love for me is dead, and
that,” she added, in lower tones, and with a gay toss of her head,
” I am sure is not the case.”
Still Johanna said nothing. She was never a girl of many
words, and this affair had the astonishing strangeness of the un-
expected about it ; that is to say, it so convinced Johanna of its
absolute positiveness that had she known for years past that
Hjorth loved her, she could not have felt more at home with the
knowledge than she did then.
When they alighted at Vik station the farmer’s wife, whose
nervousness was becoming more assertive, proposed that they
should go straight away to Hjorth’s house.
” Better see him and make all arrangements,” she remarked,
” before going to your uncle’s sister’s. Then we shall know how
to act. Let me see now. We have the address in the letter.”
She felt in her pocket for the letter, pulled out her handkerchief,
an extra pair of gloves and her keys, then turned the pocket
inside out, but there was no letter. ” That is annoying,” she
said, ” because I think I have left it on the table for everyone to
look at. But we can’t help it, and I remember that he lives in
” The number is 52,” Johanna said quietly, drawing the letter
from her own pocket.
Their few belongings the women had packed in a couple of
boxes used by Norwegians, oval wooden things, gaily painted,
with tightly fitting tops and convenient handles. These they
carried to Hjorth s lodgings, where they arrived ten minutes after
leaving the station. The trepidation, which Frue Berg was slow
to acknowledge, once more asserted itself as they climbed the
stairs to Hjorth’s room ; so, catching sight of an oil-stove through
the half-opened door of the kitchen as they passed, she declared
she must positively go in and see the ” machine,” so that she might
order one for herself like it.
You go on,” she said to Johanna, ” and I will follow in a few
So Johanna went on calmly enough, and, when she had knocked
at the door of the deacon’s room and had got no reply she walked
inside, to find Hjorth lying back in a chair asleep. As she stood
looking at him his eyes opened, and seeing her, he sprang to his
feet, took her hands in his and kissed them gently.
” So you have come,” he said. ” That is good.”
Nevertheless, five minutes later Johanna walked downstairs
again, and tapping her aunt on the shoulder, separated her from
the woman of the house, with whom she was in lively conversa-
tion concerning the stove, with these words :
” We are to go back by the first train to Helga. He says
so. There are only a few minutes in which to catch it. Be
Then Johanna’s aunt understood that she had made a great
mistake. It did not need any explanation on Johanna’s part,
though the girl gave it in calm, even tones, to assure her that
Hjorth refused to marry one who was already promised to
” Why did you tell him ? ” she asked, rather ruefully.
” Of course I told him,” Johanna replied.
” Then more silly you,” said her aunt. ” That should have
So they caught the train, and went journeying homewards.
The afternoon was closing in, and the great Jaederen plain
stretched drearily, a great, sad, mysterious blank on either side of
them, and when they reached Helga station it was quite dark, and
they had been speechless for more than half an hour.
Hjorth had sent her back ; that was all Johanna’s numbed mind
Johanna and her aunt separated at the station. Frue Berg set off
at a great pace for the farm, but Johanna turned in just the
opposite direction. Frue Berg was tired, anxious, and very cross.
Foreshadowing, of distress and discomfort as a result of the after-
noon’s escapade haunted her. She vaguely wondered in what
form her niece’s and her own action would be punished, and settled
in her mind that there should be good excuses coined for their
visit to Vik, which Herr Berg would accept without any doubt.
Johanna, she determined, should be made to understand that her
foolishness in telling Hjorth she was betrothed must not be
repeated by making a clean breast of matters to Ormond. ” If
I’d understood the girl,” grumbled the farmer’s wife to herself,
” she should have gone down on her bended knees before I’d have
taken her to Vik.”
As she tramped sullenly along the sandy road leading from
the station, head downwards, walking in growing wrath mingled
largely with resentment, with a thought for the baking she had left
behind, and the teasing side conviction that the fact that she had
done so unhousewifely an action would materially interfere with
the appearance of truth her tale would bear, Frue Berg heard a
sudden chorus of shouts.
” It’s something to do with Lauritz,” she cried out, quite loud ;
and with the mother-wit of a woman there flashed into her mind
a prescience of what was actually partly the case. ” He’s at the
eel-traps,” she said as she ran, ” he s drowning ; my boy’s dead.”
Glimpses of lights flashing here and there in the dimness down
through the leafless trees in the meadows where the river ran,
confirmed her suspicions. Unaccustomed though she was to
running, she struggled on, thick, incessant utterances forcing
themselves from her trembling lips. ” To think I should have
left them—wicked woman as I am. Won’t someone tell me
whether my Lauritz is drowned ? Is he dead—is he dead, I
say ? ” There was not a creature at hand to reply. Frue Berg
had never felt so much alone, nor so helpless, in all her life
As she approached nearer her worst fears were confirmed. The
lanterns were certainly being carried backwards and forwards, in
an agitated medley, beside the river’s brink. But before she
actually reached the crowd of men, women, and children, her ears
were gladdened by tones she recognised, though they were shrill
and terrified, as her boy’s.
” It was here,” she heard Lauritz declare. ” Just here.”
Frue Berg stumbled forward, made a way for herself through
the cluster of folk, and seized the child by the arm.
He was dripping wet.
” What is it all about ? ” she asked roughly, once more anger
predominating now that fear was soothed.
Then Lauritz and a woman servant separated themselves from
the rest, and told their tale, but Lauritz broke away from the
recital to cry, and as his mother’s grip became tighter his wailings
grew more intense, for he feared the wrath to come. Frue Berg
hurried him to the house, listening to the servant the while.
It transpired that Lauritz, whose ambition it had long been to
set some eel traps in a place upon which he had had his eye for
some time, had seized the very obvious opportunity of his mother’s
absence to carry out the scheme. He had therefore stolen out of
the farm very quietly, had got into the boat, and had pushed off
into the river. His haste and fear that he should be found out
had been his own undoing, for, leaning out of the boat at his work,
he had fallen into the river and would have drowned only for Ole
Ormond’s interference. Frue Berg gasped.
” Ole Ormond,” she screamed, ” how, when did he come ?
Where is he ? ”
” He is there,” replied the servant, pointing out riverwards.
” That is why——”
Lauritz here raised redoubled cries. His mother, who was
undressing him, slapped him and pushed him away. Then she
rose and took the woman servant by the shoulders.
” You shall tell me all,” she said sternly, ” all from the very
beginning. But first, is he dead—Ole Ormond—is he
drowned ? :
” That is what they fear,” declared the woman. ” They can-
not find him. But he saved your son’s life, Frue Berg, that he
did ; it is certain.” The farmer’s wife could have shrieked.
Here was life playing her a sorry trick, and all for one little false
step. She controlled herself, however, to listen. It was important
that every wit she possessed should be about her.
The servant said that Ormond had arrived at the farm an hour
after Frue Berg and her niece had left it. The blot on the
Froken’s letter to him was barely dry when she handed it to Herr
Ormond she declared.
” Then he got the letter,” groaned Frue Berg.
” Certainly, yes, he got the letter,” the maid answered, with
some resentment. ” It was for him, and I saw that he had it.”
” And afterwards ? ”
” Afterwards he seemed angry.”
” Did he say anything ? ”
” Say, no, that is, I know nothing. I was at work in the
kitchen,” the woman replied. ” He went out into the garden and
sat on the seat. He and Lauritz there were talking.”
” Never a word,” whimpered Lauritz from his bed. He had
got himself into that haven of repose and felt that he might speak
at last with impunity.
” What do you mean ? ” his mother asked sharply.
” Just that and no more,” answered the boy. ” What Anna
heard was Ormond talking to himself. I went up to him and he
was swearing—cursing aloud—bad, wicked oath words.”
” Go to sleep,” said the farmer’s wife, and left the room with
” You haven’t heard the rest,” Anna whispered, with her apron
to her eyes. She proceeded to narrate that directly she had missed
Lauritz, she had rushed out to the river, and, rinding, the boat gone,
had shouted across the water for him to come back. Almost at
that moment there was a shriek from the lad. ” He is drowning,
he is drowning,” she had cried aloud, running towards Herr Ormond.
Then Herr Ormond had strode past her with all his speed to the
river, and had swam out to Lauritz.
” He came back with him so quickly that I couldn’t have believed
it possible,” concluded she.
” And then ? ”
” No one knows. He was missed. The farm men had hurried
up. But not a creature could discover him. Nils says he must
have slipped back into the stream with cramp on him, and been
taken off by the current over the rocks. They are searching.
God send they may find the good gentleman.”
They were searching still when Frue Berg went out again ;
dragging the river with huge salmon nets, the handiest means they
” It’s for the body,” explained the maid, who kept close by the
mistress’s side ; ” they’ll never find him alive.”
Frue Berg groaned again. A great wish was upon her for her
husband. She longed to tell him everything, to hold back nothing,
to gloss nothing. She sent a man post-haste to Bruvand, where
she believed that he would be, to fetch him.
Four miles out of Helga the man, who was mounted on one of
the creamy yellow farm ponies, met Berg in the stolkjaerre
coming homewards. With him was Johanna. The man shouted
the dire news out to Berg, who whipped up the companion pony
he was driving into a fierce gallop. It was dangerous to drive on
so dark a night at speed so terrible, along a rough road, with loose
stones everywhere, and deep pools at constant intervals unpro-
tected from the causeway, but Berg was a man who got the utmost
out of his cattle with safety. Before he started off, he gave the
mounted man directions.
” Go instantly to Ormond’s house,” he said, ” and see if he is
there. Say nothing of all this to Madam. Simply inquire of the
servant and return with your information. Borrow a horse for
There was a long shawl wrap across his shoulders and Johanna’s
which he gathered tightly about her and himself, and gave into her
” What can it mean, child ? ” he whispered as he bent over her
to adjust the wrap. His voice was very tender.
” Lars will find him safe enough,” she declared calmly. ” I
passed him and had speech with him an hour since, on the road.”
” As we go tell me again. The night is still. I shall hear.”
So Johanna retold her tale, and the farmer, tormented as he was
with fear and sorrow, had the acumen to observe that in no way
did it differ from her previous story. She was as clear, as self-
possessed, as satisfied as she had been before. Her very utterance
bore the sound of simplest truth.
She declared that at the station her only wish was to find her
uncle and Ormond, and tell them all she had done. Ten miles off
was Ormond’s house. She had set out with the intention of
getting there as fast as possible to ask him for his consent to her
marriage with Hjorth. She was certain he would give it when he
knew that Hjorth wanted her, and she him. Seven miles away,
from Helga—three from Bruvand, where Ormond lived—Ormond
had passed her. He was running along the road. She had not
seen him ; she had heard him. He was running towards her, at the
back of her, and she knew that it was he from his step. She had
turned and called Ormond aloud, and Ormond had answered,
” Well.” She resumed that she and he had not come together,
that the voice from the very first travelled across to her from a
path or way beyond the road over water, a short cut probably to
his home, upon which he must have struck directly she had
recognised him by his footstep on the road. It was a grassy path,
she was certain, for whereas his hurrying presence was manifested
by the sound of his feet upon the highway, there was nothing to
hear during their short conversation, although they both ran, and
in the same direction, she on the road, he beyond the lake on the
sward. She described how his voice had travelled, at first clear
and loud, then more and more distantly, until at last it had alto-
gether become inaudible. She had talked the most ; she had told
him everything. ” He will be happy,” she ended with serenity.
” He wished me well and blessed me. I always knew it. I could
not be mistaken. He cared for me just as God cares.”
Upon the arrival of the pair at the farm the same explanation
was given again, with the same conviction of its truth as far as
Johanna was concerned, and the information added that she had
tarried at the roadside after her interview, if such it could be called,
was over, in order that she might consider whether to proceed to
Bruvand to find her uncle, or whether to go home and await him
there. While she was waiting she had heard the wheels of the
stolkjserre and had run to meet it. Her uncle was in it, and she
had repeated the history to him out there beneath the fjelds on the
lonely road, telling him also of her so recent meeting with Ole.
To her the idea that Ole was drowned was ridiculous. But to
her aunt and to the farm folk it was like a conviction of the
worst fears, this meeting with the unseen. His body, it was true,
was not found, but neither was there to be discovered one
single person who could say they had seen the man after he had
handed Lauritz over to the maid. The farmer’s wife sobbed out
that it was Ormond’s ghost that had held communion with
Johanna. The farm folk shuddered, and believed their mistress.
The girl’s uncle dragged the river the night through with proper
appliances but no result, and in the morning the message that
Lars brought back from Bruvand was that the master had not been
seen there, and up to the time of Lars’ departure for the farm had
not arrived. Then the whole country-side was roused, and search
But Ormond was not found.
Hjorth in Vik town when the news reached him was absolutely
furious. Fortune was never to favour him, it seemed, in love.
He had persuaded himself that Johanna was really dear to him
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. R
after his disappointment over Amy Travis ; now he knew that
it was no more Johanna than it was the girl who waited on him
in his rooms. He had been lonely and had wanted a companion.
Johanna, the woman who had worshipped him, appealed to him as
a desirable one ; that was all. But here was a pother. Here was
a matter that concerned him nearly ; though it was in no way one
of his making. He had proposed for the second time to a girl who
was already engaged, and this one, foolish idiot, had compromised
him, had involved him in a tragedy that had ended in the self-
inflicted death of her lover.
It was in the spirit of self-defence that Hjorth journeyed down
to Helga, and made his way to the farm. Rumours in Vik so far
had suggested no solution of the mystery of Ormond’s death (all
were convinced that he was dead) that involved any idea of suicide.
Hjorth had not the slightest doubt personally but that suicide had
presented itself to the wretched man. He was persuaded that the
reason of Johanna’s journey to Vik had become known to her
lover, and that the fact of the boy’s accident had put into Ormond’s
way his chance of release. To save his own name from the
stigma of dishonour and treachery that must stick to it, he felt, with-
out any just cause, should his part in the tragedy not be properly
understood by all concerned, he hurried to his former home.
Helga hailed him with welcome ; hailed him with welcome
and not a whisper of reproach. It was at first a relief, as intense
as it was unexpected, to find that he was honoured just as he
had always been in the little sea-board village, from which he
had gone to the big world. Then he became suspicious, and probed
the innermost of the people secretly but certainly. When he was
convinced that Ormond’s death was taken to have occurred as a
result of accident after saving the lad Lauritz’s life men must
die, said the people ; it was sad, but it was that way exactly with
hosts of others ; they drowned a good deal in Norway—he repented
him of his haste, and almost deplored the sanctity in which he
held his good name.
It had never been in jeopardy. No one, it transpired, had had
the smallest idea that Ormond was a suitor for Johanna’s hand.
The three who had known it—Berg, his wife, and Johanna—had
not breathed the news to any person. It was very clear to
Hjorth, on the other hand, that he and Johanna were looked upon
as a likely couple. People nodded, and smiled, and surmised
with cunning meaning that he was ready for a bride. At the
farm, where he was entertained with the utmost courtesy and
respectful cordiality, he met with no hint of the kind, it is true,
for all mention of what was past was withheld ; but the very fact
of this restraint proved to him clearly that he was looked upon as
the man to save the situation, to remove the tense horror of what
had happened, from the minds of Frue Berg and her husband.
He proposed, therefore, for the third time, and was accepted
with a delight that pleased his pride at last. There was no doubt
about Johanna’s love ; it was intense. From beginning to end
she had cared for him with a passion that had never cooled, a love
that burned unalterably bright.
Johanna had been a wife some time when her story of the
meeting with Ole on the Bruvand road was confirmed by his
She and the deacon were living many miles from Helga then.
They heard the news from the good uncle who had so generously
believed in Johanna at that dreadful time, and had, by his patient
philosophy and calm common-sense, made the best of what seemed
to have been a fatally foolish step on his wife’s part. Ormond, he
said, had come home from America (he wrote as if they had all
been well aware that he had gone there), with a charming wife
and a beautiful child. He did not mention that he looked quite
an old man, and that the white moustache he wore completely
changed the expression of his face. But so it was. Ormond had
materialised in spite of the few seconds of his last meeting with
Johanna, and the self-abnegation of his parting words ; and the
moustache, had it been removed, would have revealed a cynical
curve of the lips that erstwhile had drooped, before the sorrow that
was to come.
Johanna read about the charming wife and beautiful little child
with eyes that beamed with joy. The deacon, on the other hand,
made no comment—verbal or expressive.
By Maurice Baring
BECAUSE she listened to the quiring spheres
We thought she did not hear our homely strings ;
Stars diademed her hair in misty rings,
Too late we understood those stars were tears.
Without she was a temple pure as snow,
Within were piteous flames of sacrifice ;
And underneath the dazzling mask of ice
A heart of swiftest fire was dying slow.
She in herself, as lonely lilies fold
Stiff silver petals over secret gold,
Shielded her passion, and remained afar
From pity :—Cast red roses on the pyre !
She that was snow shall rise to Heaven as fire
In the still glory of the morning star.
You were the Queen of evening, and the skies
Were soft above you, knowing you were fair,
With Sunset’s dewy gold about your hair,
And Twilight in the stillness of your eyes.
You did not know your dear divinity,
And, childlike, all unconscious that you walked
In a high, mystic space, you smiled and talked,
And stooped to pluck a rose and give it me.
As at the gate of Heaven an angel-child
Might wonder at an outcast’s pleading gaze,
An outcast kneeling at the golden bars,
And say : ” Come be my playmate, here the days
Are longer and the ways outside are wild,
And you shall play with suns and silver stars.”
The Pied Piper
By J. E. Christie
By H. B. Marriott Watson
THE book slid gently from Gregory’s fingers, and closed with a
rustle upon the table. He was not conscious of the move-
ment, for in a moment he was rapt among high and tender
memories. The verses sang in the current of his blood, and
pulsed to the beating of his arteries. They resounded from distant
years with the full ryhthm of an immediate echo. These instant
reverberations in a heart long silent startled him with their unex-
pectedness. It was so long since he had provoked that pale
wraith and image of his old passion. And now of a sudden his
fibres were quick with a soft and melancholy yearning. With
that passage in the poem, long since forgotten, the resurrection of
this untimely ghost was charged with delicate and private mean-
ing. His eyes fell again upon the closed volume, and he repeated
the verses in a soothing whisper to himself.
He could see Dorothea’s lips move to the phrases, her hand flutter
unawares about her heart, according to a habit which had always
affected him. He saw her bend and lean to touch him with her
pretty air of assurance ; soft fingers rested upon his arm. He
sighed, and dropping slowly in his chair smiled very quietly at his
He was conscious of a certain penitence for the long omission
of this memorial respect. The appeal of those lines allured him ;
he smarted and stung to reflect upon that oblivion in which so long
she had been buried. Dorothea’s eyes solicited him with their
soft radiance ; they seemed to intercede with him for an interval of
silent communion. That ghostly visitant in his mind tremulously
pleaded her cause. Was it so much, she seemed to urge, to snatch
a little space, a fragmentary hour, from out a life dedicated to
another, a meagre alms to that poor soul he once had loved ?
It seemed odd to him that the voice he once had heard ring so
clearly in those rooms had been so persistently mute. The echoes
of those familiar tones had died out with the years. What
brought them sounding from the silent corners at so irretrievable
a time as this evening ? He had foregone his leaky. He sighed
and directed his glance upon the wall of his study where hung a
slight water-colour sketch. It formed but a dash of colour, with
no discernible proportions of a woman, and still less the faithful
lineaments of the model. Yet Dorothea had stood and posed for
that dainty sketch, and she it was in a manner that still inhabited
the coarse cloth and looked forth upon him from blurred eyes.
Gregory slowly unlocked a drawer in his bureau, and withdrew a
photograph carefully enwrapped between covers. He held it before
him, scrutinising it with attention, and the light of the reading-
lamp streamed thickly upon the face.
There was just such a look in those poor eyes as had fulfilled
them many a time in life. She watched him with that grave
patience that had so sweetly mingled with her pretty playfulness.
The head to Gregory wore an aureole, with its flow of bright
hair. As he regarded the picture from under the arch of his hand,
the facts and tenants of that room lost their importunate reality.
At a stroke the winter was gone, and across the budding
English meadows he walked with Dorothea in the spring. It
was not so very long ago, but the ten years had spanned a tragedy
for him. Was it possible, he wondered, that love should pass
quite away, should change and commute like the fashions of a
generation ? His eyes suffused. Ah no, he thought, not such
a passionate whole love as theirs. He had not forgotten, only not
remembered these six months. Somewhere under the sweet earth
Dorothea’s gracious heart throbbed to his pulses, her pleading eyes
were lit with thoughts of him. The photograph dropped from
his fingers, as the book had done, and the curtains swung in a
mist before him. His memories provoked a warm and happy
past ; a sense, as it were, of physical pleasure filled him in the
recollection of those fine days, now gathered into forgotten Time.
The sadness of his reveries filled him with a positive delight. He
sighed again, and his glance fell newly upon the picture. Re-
informed by his sensitive imagination the bright flesh sparkled with
life, and reproached him with its immeasurable eyes. It seemed
that those five years which had sounded in his ears so desolately
long, which had worn so wearily, inadequately marked his supreme
sorrow. The grass was ancient over Dorothea in those five miser-
able years. The world might well attribute to him a remarkable
fidelity. At nights he had sat and thought upon her, those long
and terrible nights when her departure was fresh among his griefs,
those sad nights, too, upon which it became something of a solace
to recall and remember and to weep. The devotion of his mourn-
ing spoke to his great love, and yet now that his old happiness
and glory were vivid before him, he knew that not five years, not
ten, that a lifetime should be the limit of his irreconciliation.
The tears welled in his eyes ; a short little sob shook him ; his
shaded eyes devoured the portrait ; and then a knock fell on the
door, and a light voice broke upon him.
” May I come in, Frank ? Are you busy ? “
The speaker awaited no invitation, as if sure of her answer, but
came forward briskly to the table, and placed a hand affectionately
upon Gregory’s shoulder. With a hasty motion he slipped the
photograph between the covers of the blotting-sheet before him.
” Marion ! ” he said softly, and touched her fingers gently,
looking towards the fire in abstraction.
The sudden contrast offered by this apparition took him aback,
and for a full moment he was appalled at his own infidelity. Those
ashes of the past burning brightly in his heart, he was newly
affronted with the present. But the ache faded slowly, leaving in
its place a sensation which he could not determine for pleasure or
pain. His thoughts ranged vaguely over the enlarged area of the
” You are thinking, dear ? ” asked his wife, smoothing his hair
with a gentle hand.
There was something particularly caressing in her touch, which
fitted with Gregory’s mood. He looked up at her and smiled.
” Yes, child,” he assented with a sigh.
” Aren’t they happy thoughts ? ” she asked, bending quickly to
him with an imperious suggestion of affection.
He indulged the sentiment in his blood. He was used to flow
upon his emotions, and now the resumed loyalty to Dorothea in
nowise jarred upon a present kindliness for the beautiful woman at
his side. He patted her hand, and sought her face with a distant
smile. As he did so the tenderness of her regard struck him.
Her hair, the full form of her face, were as unlike Dorothea’s as
they might well be, but there returned to him sharply the nameless
and indefinite resemblances which had first attracted him to Marion.
Was it merely that she inspected him with the same eyes of love,
or was it some deeper community of spirit between the dead and
the living that recalled this likeness ? For the first time he realised
quite clearly why he had married her. Turning with an abrupt
movement in his chair, he held her with his melancholy gaze.
The sudden act ruffled the papers on the desk, and the blotting-
pad slipped and fell to the floor. With her usual impulsiveness
Marion stooped and gathered the scattered papers, still clinging to
his hand. He had not understood the misadventure, and her next
words startled him.
” Who is this ? ” she asked.
Gregory saw that she had the photograph in her hand. He
thrust out his disengaged arm, and put his fingers on it.
” It is a—a friend,” he murmured faintly. Her clutch resisted
his ; she surveyed the portrait slowly.
” What friend ? ” she asked curiously, and glanced at him.
Something she perceived in him made her drop his hand, and
scrutinise the photograph again.
” Who is it, Frank ? ” she said, with a show of agitation.
He cleared his throat. Though to himself the situation
presented no anomalies, he felt that this was no occasion for
” Oh, a very old friend, who is dead,” he said ; and then, break-
ing the silence that followed, ” let me have it, Marion, I’ll put it
” No,” she said, starting from him. ” I know.”
He seemed to catch something tragic in her tone, but he laughed
a little, as though undisturbed. ” I don’t think you do,” he said
vaguely, ” you never met her.”
” So this is she,” said Marion in a low voice, heedless of his
interruption. She contemplated the picture in silence, and then
with a bitter cry threw it from her. ” If I had known,” she
moaned, ” if I had only realised ! ”
Gregory stirred uneasily. ” Come, Marion,” he said soothingly.
She shook off his hand, and lifted her face. ” Did you love that
woman ? ” she asked suddenly.
Her manner hardened him ; it was ungenerous that she should
so reproach him.
” You know I was married before,” he said coldly.
” Did you love her ? ” she repeated.
Her demeanour put him in the wrong ; it was as if she was
inviting him to plead guilty that she might pronounce his sentence.
He rose impatiently.
” I think we have discussed this enough,” he observed.
” You will not answer me,” she broke forth passionately ; and
then ” yes,” she assented, ” quite enough ; ” and without a word
further walked from the room, closing the door behind her softly.
Gregory was vaguely troubled. A confluence of emotions
mingled in his mind. He resented the interruption upon his
thoughts. The opposition of the two women did not appear to
him incongruous. He had been willing enough to entertain them
in company, the one as that revisiting memory, the other as the
near associate of his life. He had a sense of irritation with Marion’s
jealousy which had thus disturbed the current of his great regret.
He was not a man accustomed to confront vexatious problems, and
wondered petulantly why he might not follow his own feelings with-
out challenge. He walked to the fire and poked it in annoyance,
and then, returning to his table, once more took up the photograph.
The simplicity of that countenance was underanged ; its regard
dwelt upon him with changeless affection. He sighed. Dorothea,
at least, kept her full heart, placid with the old accustomed passion.
It pleased and soothed him to consider that here he might commune
with her still, discharged from the gross accidents of life. His
attachment to Marion did not conflict with his undying compassion
for the forsaken companion of his youth. And now, again, his blood
was spinning with thoughts of that one who had been wrapt these
five years in the shroud of death. The flow of the old mood
resumed in him, and softly replacing the picture in his drawer,
he opened the long windows of his room and walked forth silently
upon the lawn.
The wind was blowing through the garden, and the rain flew in
gusts upon his face. He passed down the walks and entered the
dark shrubbery. Here was an interval of silence in the savage
night. The little arbour peered through the barren branches,
seeming to beg his pity, thus abject to the desolation of the winds.
He could see through the dull panes Dorothea’s face pass and
repass. Her large eyes beckoned him. This spot was consecrated
with recollections, and the horrid winter aspect made him shiver.
It appeared to consist with the broken pieces of his life. He
recognised now how tragic was the dissolution of the beautiful
dream. Inside the house he had taken a warmer prospect ; but
here his heart turned cold insensibly. The shrieking in the
branches and the driven rain, the rude turmoil of these barbarous
elements, partook of a demonstration against him. Only here, and
apart from the public spaces of the garden, lay a little private altar
between him and the past. He wondered drearily how he could
have married again, wondered with no judgment upon himself, but
only with a caressing pity, with tears, with a pathetic sense of
He had grown into a very tender mood, and once indoors again,
went direct to his wife s room. In the dim light he could
discern her stretched in abandonment upon the bed, and putting
out his hand he touched her.
” Come, dear,” he said gently.
He was very full of kindness, and had the desire to hold her to
him, and to comfort her. The roaring rain and the wind accom-
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. S
panied his feelings. Marion moved convulsively and gave no
” Come, dear,” he repeated affectionately.
She broke out weeping, and he gathered her in his arms, hushing
her as he would a child upon his knee. He was sure that his heart
was buried with Dorothea, and it was duty to console and soothe
this poor girl with fraternal solicitude. Suddenly she sprang from
” No, no,” she cried between her sobs ; ” your arms have been
about her ; her head has rested on you. Oh, my God, Frank !
Why didn’t you tell me ? Why didn’t I realise ? You have given
me nothing—I have only the remnants. You are divided between
me and the dead.”
” No, no, no,” he urged softly ; ” you are overwrought ; you
are foolish, Marion. This is being morbid.” He would not deny
the re-arisen love. It had broken its grave, and come forth, and
its arms were about him.
She clung to him ; she whispered passionately in his ear : she
pleaded with him to dishonour and annul that old affection so
associated with memories. And slowly in the accession of her
neighbourhood, and under the warm spell of her arms, the forlorn
images which he had entertained in his fancy retreated. Her clasp
stirred him ; the grace of her slender body, abandoned to this
agony of weeping, shook him ; her face, superfluous with its tears,
invited his hesitant lips. He drew her closer, whispering to her
” Yes, yes, you know I love you, dear,” he murmured ; ” and
you are first, darling, you are first.”
Before this renunciation that freshly-awakened ghost withdrew
reluctant. She was denied her dignity ; her attendance was dis-
charged. Beneath the earth, where Dorothea’s gracious heart
had so long beat to his, she must again seek the cold refuge of
Marion put her hands about his neck, and the eyes that looked
upon her were alight and shining.
As the sun struck through his window Gregory set down his
pen and looked forth. It was odd, he reflected, that these thoughts
pursued him at this particular stage in his life. The remem-
brance of his first wife had not fallen upon him since his re-
marriage, until this trivial accident had provoked it. And now
she returned persistently. He was quite aware that the verses
upon which he was engaged were inspired with the sentiments of
that revival. He felt in his secret thoughts that it was impossible
to forget. He was still loyal to his dead wife, and it was only in
the actual mellay of daily life that the living interfered with her
sovereignty. He hung now between the past and the present,
with no embarrassment and with no mental confusion, but merely
with alternate and comfortable changes of sentiment. Though
Marion’s nature was infinitely more emotional in reality, his own
was wont to be more readily occluded by the drifts and shadows
of spectral passions. She, upon her part, was for the time recon-
ciled with her fears. He had confessed that she was first in his
heart, and in the glory of that truth she was losing her pain
at the knowledge that he had ever thought he cared for some
” It was before he met me,” she repeated to assure herself, ” and
he has never loved any one but me.” . . . ” Men make mistakes,”
she told herself, ” and he took pity upon her. . . . With that
childish face, of course—;” and of a sudden the image of the
woman that had forestalled her stabbed her like a knife. But in
the glow of her returning confidence she put the temptation from
her heart. And thus Gregory sat in his room composing his
tender lyric to the dead, and his wife following her domestic
charges about the house smiled at her foolish distrust.
But in truth these various moods were too delicate to endure,
and the passionate nature of the woman was as perilous as the
sentimental weakness of the man.
” Sing something, Marion,” said Gregory in the evening.
She started, roused sharply from a temporary doubt that was
darkening her thoughts.
” What shall I sing ? ” she asked unemotionally.
She wondered dismally if such a request had ever been presented
before in that room, and the recurrence of that thought quickened
her with sudden pain. She glanced at her husband, where he lay
sunk within the comfortable arms of his chair, his own gaze
vacant and wistful upon the fire.
” What is it you want ? ” she demanded in a sharper note.
He started. ” Let us have—you play Chopin, don’t you,
Marion ? Play that waltz. You must know it. I think it’s 69.”
Marion’s hands fell rudely upon the keyboard. Like himself she
was designed by her own emotions, with little interference of her
reason ; but what in him proceeded in weak sentimentality issued
of her in loud passion. Her blood was resolutely gathering heat,
and she was slowly graduating into a frenzy of anger. But
Gregory sat by unconscious, floating upon the music along past
reaches of his life. He stirred upon the conclusion, and lifted his
chin with a sigh. At that, the woman broke forth on him.
” Why do you sigh ? ” she cried fiercely, turning swiftly upon
her seat and confronting him. ” What do you mean by treating
me like that ? How dare you ? You coward ! You’re thinking
—you’re thinking—I know what you’re thinking of. You cannot
deny it. I defy you to deny it.”
To his early start of surprise succeeded in Gregory’s face a cold
” I do not understand you,” he said in a chilling voice. ” You
are singularly hysterical. I cannot pretend to follow you.”
She laughed harshly, and struck the notes in a discord.
” Don’t you ? I have less difficulty in following you,” she
replied, with suppressed scorn. She played a bar or two. ” I will
not be used to recover your memories of the dead.”
A flush sprang in Gregory s cheeks. ” What do you mean ? ”
he asked angrily.
” You understand quite well,” she replied with passionate
deliberation, smoothing her cuffs with studied calm. ” It was an
excellent thought to make me fill the place of that—that woman.
Men must condescend to makeshifts and stopgaps. But now that
I know, it is another matter. I have no intention of supporting
the memory, or of filling the post of—what was her name, by the
way ? ” she inquired with some exultation.
Gregory shuddered. He had been hurried into such rude and
abrupt emotions. As he considered her, Marion appeared to him
at this moment vulgar, clamant, almost as a shrieking shrew with
hands to her hips. And he had been roused from a meditation of
sorrowful sweetness to confront this. He had been moving freely
among the tender memories of Dorothea, and the music had
assisted his mood. This strident outbreak irritated him, and he
” You—you drive me beyond endurance,” he cried, in a lower
voice and with a gesture of despair.
Marion laughed. ” Oh, I daresay,” she said, being herself
indeed under the stress of feelings that could find no issue in
He rose, and the sound distracted her. She clutched him fiercely
by the arm.
” It was true ? ” she asked, fixing him with her scornful eyes.
” What was true ? ” he asked, shifting his glance uneasily.
” You were thinking of—why, what was her name ? I ought
to have informed myself of that long ago.”
She laughed hysterically. He shook off her hand ; the woman
was blatant, and deserved no consideration.
” It was true that I was thinking of past episodes in my life
which were more pleasant than the present,” he said slowly, and
with the intention to hurt her.
She rose with a cry from her stool, and, with blazing eyes,
confronted him a moment. Then, with a swift change, the
whole aspect of her face was struck to despair. She sprang to him.
“Oh, my God! don’t say that, Frank, don’t say that. Oh, you
will break my heart—you are killing me.”
She broke into convulsive sobbing ; a great, dull pain throbbed
in her side. Mechanically he patted her.
” There, there,” he said.
Don’t you see you are killing me ? ” she murmured. ” Oh,
you don’t know. You kill me. Oh, my God ! I don’t want to
hear her name. Say, you lied, you lied. You did not think of
her, did you—did you, Frank ? ”
The desolation of that clinging figure touched him.
” No, no,” he said soothingly, ” no, no, dear. You—you are
mistaken. But you aggravated me. You—”
” Yes, yes, forgive me,” she pleaded. ” I know it was only the
piece itself affected you. We have both been melancholy to-day.
Oh, Frank, Frank ! ”
Her arms encircled him ; he was enclosed, as it were, within
the greedy emotion of her love. Her face, moist with tears,
entreated him. with a quick access of affection. He bent and
” I think we must not misunderstand each other, Marion,” he
said. She lifted her face against his with a little shudder.
” O darling,” she sighed, ” I am mad, I am mad. Of course
I know. But you see, dear, it is this way. Now I know that
you care for me, and never cared for her. It’s bad enough like that,
isn’t it, dear Frank ? But we won’t think of that. I am your
only love. Men make mistakes ; there are many fancies, but only
one thing is real. Isn t that it ? ”
Yes, dear, yes,” he murmured tenderly.
He was engaged in the proximity of her beauty. He felt that
he loved her. No shadow of the dead fell across that recon-
” We will never think of it again,” he whispered.
” Never, never,” she murmured tenderly. ” We will destroy
all traces that might bring bitterness. Come,” she cried, starting
from him impulsively, “let us do so now.”
” What do you mean, dear ? ” he asked softly.
” The—the photograph,” she answered. ” Let us burn all our
misunderstandings with it.”
She caught his hand, and the warmth of her touch stirred him.
He followed her from the room into his study.
Marion opened the drawer and withdrew the picture. She held
it averted from her.
” Take it, dear, take it,” she cried tremulously. She thrust it
into Gregory’s hand, and, still with his clasp in hers, he contem-
plated in silence the faded lineaments. A vague sense of pitiful-
ness crept over him. The claims, embodied in that face, arose
resurgent in his heart. Dorothea looked forth on him with the
familiar eyes ; but this unnatural conflict were best determined,
this memory were best re-laid in its habitual grave. He moved
towards the grate.
” Throw it in,” urged Marion. He stood hesitant, the prey of
discordant motives. ” Frank ! Frank ! ” she called pitifully.
With a sudden movement of his fingers the card was jerked
into the fire, and lay for a second intact upon the bright coal. He
drew a long breath of pain ; a sigh came from Marion also.
” Was she beautiful ? ” she asked, her hand covering her eyes.
He paid no heed to her question. Marion lifted her hand and
pushed the poker into the coals ; the flames leaped and lapped
about the discoloured pasteboard.
” There, dear ; see, we are burning our misunderstanding. You
are mine ; you have always been mine,” she cried.
The stiff board slid forward and presented itself for a moment
to Gregory’s gaze. A black streak lay like a cruel tongue across
” Poor girl ! poor girl ! ” said Marion. She wrung her hands.
” She was nobody—what has it to do with you or me ? There
burns a young friend of yours, Frank—a friend only.”
Suddenly, and with an exclamation of horror, Gregory stooped
low and snatched fiercely at the smouldering fragment.
” What are you doing ? Frank ! Frank ! ” cried his wife in
” Leave me alone,” he said sharply, shaking off her hand.
” Do not touch it ! Dare to touch it ! ” cried Marion, gasping.
He turned with the blackened paper in his hand, and his face
was torn with emotion. She appeared to him like a brutal wanton,
a devil that had tempted him to a cruel act. Ah, the pain of that
sad, desolate heart beneath the grass !
” I will
” I will never forgive you all my life,” he broke forth angrily.
” You—you are a devil.”
Why—why—” she stammered, her mind tossing in the drift
of her emotions.
” I loved her,” he said furiously ; ” I loved her, do you hear ?
And you—you who attracted me by a chance resemblance,
His passionate utterance went no further. Her face had fallen
ashen ; she moistened her lips, and then with a little meaningless
motion of her hand, she stroked her hair.
” Let me go,” she murmured, and walked uncertainly to the
The long windows of the dining-room stood open, and the
moonlight was in flood upon the garden. Marion walked forth
without intelligence of her action. Her dress trailed heavily upon
the wet grass, and was snatched and plucked by the briars as she
passed. Her brain was a heavy lump within her head ; her heart,
faint and tremulous, was shot at intervals with ominous pains. The
calamity had fallen at the very moment of her triumph. She
understood now that when she had merely dreaded she had not
really suffered. Now that she realised, her frail world broke about
her. His words had been a pitiless weapon against her, and she
had fled as by instinct to hide the dishonour of her wounds in
private, as some poor hunted creature steals away to die.
Marion stood near the gateway and looked out across the meadow.
It seemed to her now that she had come into this house upon a false
pretence; she had no rights in it. She compared dully her joyous
entrance barely six months before, in the full tide of summer, with
this ruthless and ignoble expulsion. Circumferenced with her
humiliation she contemplated the ruins of her life with staring,
tearless eyes. The dark vault of the night, scattered with stars and
spread with moonlight, shone blue and clear above her. The earth
under the white frost glittered and glowed with a cold radiance.
The moon struck the face of the world to silver ; the illu-
mination of her sorrow lay around her. Marion’s eyes travelled
over the great meadow to the verge of the uplands, and to them
appeared in that far distance Gregory’s slight and elegant figure,
with its quiet loitering gait ; she saw him raise his head ; the pale
face with its odd fleck of colour in either cheek, smiled upon her.
He opened his arms. . . . The meadow waved with wheat, but the
same moonlight visited that opulent field of gold as shone upon this
white and arid stretch before her. She could not discern between
these rival pictures, the cold purview, this pitiless outcast, and
the clanging gates that opened on her Paradise that warm summer
evening. She clung to the palings of the fence, her body taut, her
vision straining to resume that sweet inveterate fancy. A physical
pain dwelt persistently in her side.
The phantasmagoria dissolved into the inhospitable winds of
night. She clapped her hands to her face and cried aloud. The
agony of that irreclaimable remembrance mocked her. She left
the gates and walked wearily through the copse. The bare, dis-
paraged trees crowded upon her like curious, pitiful strangers,
receiving her to a community of desolation.
” But they will awake,” she cried. ” The spring will bring
She sank upon her knees in the vacant summer-house. She
realised now that what she had intended was impossible. She
could not leave him ; she dared not forego the sight of that false
face. Poor, passionate heart !
“I am a coward,” she thought, weeping. His eyes had
encountered other eyes in affection ; other lips had touched his
lips with thrills of happiness. And she inherited but the shadow
of a loyal love ; it was with the rags of that strong passion that
she was invested. It was hard that she should be the victim of
that great fidelity. . . . Suddenly a great pain stung fiercely at
His outbreak left Gregory with a slight feeling of remorse,
instinctive with a gentle nature. That stricken face made him
uneasy, and he turned at once to comfort himself for his
” It was diabolical to make me do that,” he argued, and in an
instant the appeal of that burned and charred fragment diverted
his pity to the dead. But most of all it was himself that he com-
miserated. He had compassion upon himself when he remembered
how Dorothea would have winced under this shame. He had
denied her, and must carry a heavy load of guilt upon his
sacrilegious soul. He offered himself to the enjoyment of sorrow.
The grave had not held its tenant ; the disembodied ghost stole
silently along the familiar corridors with a new face of reproach.
Her features were marked with agony ; he had invoked her from
oblivion to discrown and disown her. The ruins of that picture
made his heart ache. Her radiant flesh was scarred and whealed
with his handiwork ; it was as though he had struck her in her
patience and her resignation. She had asked but a private corner
of his heart, and he had refused her with contumely. He wept
upon that dead despoiled face. The memories of that young love
were bright and persistent. They dissuaded him from his constancy
to the present. Now he thought upon it, every act and issue of
his late life revolted him in his infidelity to Dorothea. Her voice
sounded low and musical in the room ; her hands turned the
pages of her favourite volume. She sat against the fire and
watched him with a sigh, unobtrusive, silent, a voiceless, motion-
less reproach. Gregory rose and thrust aside the curtains. Across
the lawn she seemed to move in her cerements, as she had moved
five years ago, but now with a saddened step and downcast eyes.
She paused by her rose-bush ; she lingered in reluctance on her
way. Opening the window he followed, in the conscious pursuit
of his melancholy fancy.
There, below the hollies, she might now be preceding him, as
she had walked a thousand times in life. He entered the copse, and
could imagine that she stopped and beckoned to him. His eyes
fell upon the arbour. Surely it was thither that she would have him
go, to commune there together as they had done so many summer
evenings long ago. As he approached the summer-house a flash
of wonder turned his heart to stone and then set it beating hard.
From the high regions of his soaring fancy he fell suddenly to fact.
He sprang forward with a cry of bewilderment ; for Dorothea’s
face, white and immobile, peered through the dim and grimy
panes at him. He pushed aside the ivy, trembling, and stood
staring through the entrance. . . . Was it Dorothea’s ? . . .
Upon that new grave he might now rear a second temple to the
dead, and from her quiet place among the shadows she too might
now steal forth to revisit his melancholy dreams.
By Stuart Park
The Quest of Sorrow
By Mrs. Ernest Leverson
IT is rather strange, in a man of my temperament, that I did not
discover the void in my life until I was eighteen years old.
And then I found out that I had missed a beautiful and wonderful
I had never known grief. Sadness had shunned me, pain had
left me untouched ; I could hardly imagine the sensation of being
unhappy. And the desire arose in me to have this experience ;
without which, it seemed to me, that I was not complete. I
wanted to be miserable, despairing : a Pessimist ! I craved to
feel that gnawing fox, Anxiety, at my heart ; I wanted my
friends (most of whom had been, at some time or other, more or
less heartbroken) to press my hand with sympathetic looks, to
avoid the subject of my trouble, from delicacy ; or, better still, to
have long, hopeless talks with me about it, at midnight. I thirsted
for salt tears ; I longed to clasp Sorrow in my arms and press her
pale lips to mine.
Now this wish was not so easily fulfilled as might be supposed,
for I was born with those natural and accidental advantages that
militate most against failure and depression. There was my
appearance. I have a face that rarely passes unnoticed (I suppose
a man may admit, without conceit, that he is not repulsive), and
the exclamation, ” What a beautiful boy ! ” is one that I have
been accustomed to hear from my earliest childhood to the present
I might, indeed, have known the sordid and wearing cares con—
nected with financial matters, for my father was morbidly economical
with regard to me. But, when I was only seventeen, my uncle
died, leaving me all his property, when I instantly left my father’s
house (I am bound to say, in justice to him, that he made not the
smallest objection) and took the rooms I now occupy, which I
was able to arrange in harmony with my temperament. In their
resolute effort to be neither uninterestingly commonplace nor
conventionally bizarre (I detest—do not you ?—the ready-made
exotic) but at once simple and elaborate, severe and florid, they
are an interesting result of my complex aspirations, and the
astonishing patience of a bewildered decorator. (I think every-
thing in a room should not be entirely correct ; and I had some
trouble to get a marble mantel -piece of a sufficiently debased
design.) Here I was able to lead that life of leisure and con-
templation for which I was formed and had those successes—social
and artistic—that now began to pall upon me.
The religious doubts, from which I am told the youth of the
middle classes often suffers, were, again, denied me. I might
have had some mental conflicts, have revelled in the sense of
rebellion, have shed bitter tears when my faiths crumbled to
ashes. But I can never be insensible to incense ; and there
must, I feel, be something organically wrong about the man who
is not impressed by the organ. I love religious rites and cere-
monies, and on the other hand, I was an agnostic at five years old.
Also, I don t think it matters. So here there is no chance for me.
To be miserable one must desire the unattainable. And of
the fair women who, from time to time, have appealed to my
heart, my imagination, etc., every one, without a single exception,
has been kindness itself to me. Many others, indeed, for whom
I have no time, or perhaps no inclination, write me those
letters which are so difficult to answer. How can one sit down
and write, ” My dear lady—I am so sorry, but I am really too
busy ? ”
And with, perhaps, two appointments in one day—a light
comedy one, say, in the Park, and serious sentiment coming to
see one at one s rooms—to say nothing of the thread of a flirtation
to be taken up at dinner and having perhaps to make a jealous
scene of reproaches to some one of whom one has grown tired,
in the evening—you must admit I had a sufficiently occupied
I had heard much of the pangs of disappointed ambition, and
I now turned my thoughts in that direction. A failure in
literature would be excellent. I had no time to write a play
bad enough to be refused by every manager in London, or to be
hissed off the stage ; but I sometimes wrote verses. If I arranged
to have a poem rejected I might get a glimpse of the feelings of
the unsuccessful. So I wrote a poem. It was beautiful, but that
I couldn’t help, and I carefully refrained from sending it to any of
the more literary reviews or magazines, for there it would have
stood no chance of rejection. I therefore sent it to a common-
place, barbarous periodical, that appealed only to the masses ;
feeling sure it would not be understood, and that I should taste
the bitterness of Philistine scorn.
Here is the little poem—if you care to look at it. I called it
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. T
Among the blue of Hyacinth s golden bells
(Sad is the Spring, more sad the new-mown hay),
Thou art most surely less than least divine,
Like a white Poppy, or a Sea-shell grey.
I dream in joy that thou art nearly mine ;
Love’s gift and grace, pale as this golden day,
Outlasting Hollyhocks, and Heliotrope
(Sad is the Spring, bitter the new-mown hay).
The wandering wild west wind, in salt-sweet hope,
With glad red roses, gems the woodland way.
A bird sings, twittering in the dim air’s
Amid the mad Mimosa’s scented spray,
Among the Asphodel, and Eglantine,
” Sad is the Spring, but sweet the new-mown hay.”
I had not heard from the editor, and was anticipating the
return of my poem, accompanied by some expressions of ignorant
contempt that would harrow my feelings, when it happened that
I took up the frivolous periodical. Fancy my surprise when
there, on the front page, was my poem—signed, as my things are
always signed,” Lys de la Valtie” Of course I could not repress
the immediate exhilaration produced by seeing oneself in print ;
and when I went home I found a letter, thanking me for the
amusing parody on a certain modern school of verse—and enclosing
A parody ! And I had written it in all seriousness !
Evidently literary failure was not for me. After all, what I
wanted most was an affair of the heart, a disappointment in love,
an unrequited affection. And these, for some reason or other,
never seemed to come my way.
One morning I was engaged with Collins, my servant, in
putting some slight final touches to my toilette, when my two
friends, Freddy Thompson and Claude de Verney, walked into my
They were at school with me, and I am fond of them both, for
different reasons. Freddy is in the Army ; he is two-and-twenty,
brusque, slangy, tender-hearted, and devoted to me. De Verney
has nothing to do with this story at all, but I may mention that
he was noted for his rosy cheeks, his collection of jewels, his repu-
tation for having formerly taken morphia, his epicurism, his passion
for private theatricals, and his extraordinary touchiness. One
never knew what he would take offence at. He was always being
hurt, and writing letters beginning : ” Dear Mr. Carington ” or
” Dear Sir “—(he usually called me Cecil), ” I believe it is
customary when a gentleman dines at your table,” etc.
I never took the slightest notice, and then he would apologise.
He was always begging my pardon and always thanking me,
though I never did anything at all to deserve either his anger or
” Hallo, old chap,” Freddy exclaimed, ” you look rather down
in the mouth. What s the row ? ”
” I am enamoured of Sorrow,” I said, with a sigh.
” Got the hump eh ?—Poor old boy. Well, I can t help
being cheery, all the same. I’ve got some ripping news to tell
“Collins,” I said, “take away this eau-de-cologne. It’s
corked. Now, Freddy,” as the servant left the room, “your
“I’m engaged to Miss Sinclair. Her governor has given in at
last. What price that ? . . . I’m tremendously pleased, don’t
you know, because it s been going on for some time, and I’m
awfully mashed, and all that.”
Miss Sinclair ! I remembered her—a romantic, fluffy blonde,
improbably pretty, with dreamy eyes and golden hair, all poetry
Such a contrast to Freddy ! One associated her with pink
chiffon, Chopin’s nocturnes, and photographs by Mendelssohn.
” I congratulate you, my dear child,” I was just saying, when
an idea occurred to me. Why shouldn’t I fall in love with Miss
Sinclair ? What could be more tragic than a hopeless attachment
to the woman who was engaged to my dearest friend ? It seemed
the very thing I had been waiting for.
“I have met her. You must take me to see her, to offer my
congratulations,” I said.
Freddy accepted with enthusiasm.
A day or two after, we called. Alice Sinclair was looking
perfectly charming, and it seemed no difficult task that I had set
myself. She was sweet to me as Freddy’s great friend—and we
spoke of him while Freddy talked to her mother.
” How fortunate some men are ! ” I said, with a deep sigh.
” Why do you say that ? ”
” Because you’re so beautiful,” I answered, in a low voice, and
in my earlier manner—that is to say, as though the exclamation
had broken from me involuntarily.
She laughed, blushed, I think, and turned to Freddy. The
rest of the visit I sat silent and as though abstracted, gazing at
her. Her mother tried, with well-meaning platitudes, to rouse
me from what she supposed to be my boyish shyness. . . .
What happened in the next few weeks is rather difficult to
describe. I saw Miss Sinclair again and again, and lost no oppor-
tunity of expressing my admiration ; for I have a theory that if
you make love to a woman long enough, and ardently enough,
you are sure to get rather fond of her at last. I was progressing
splendidly ; I often felt almost sad, and very nearly succeeded
at times in being a little jealous of Freddy.
On one occasion—it was a warm day at the end of the season,
I remember—we had gone to skate at that absurd modern place
where the ice is as artificial as the people, and much more polished.
Freddy, who was an excellent skater, had undertaken to teach
Alice’s little sister, and I was guiding her own graceful move
ments. She had just remarked that I seemed very fond of skating,
and I had answered that I was—on thin ice—when she stumbled
and fell. . . . She hurt her ankle a little— a very little, she said.
” Oh, Miss Sinclair—’Alice’—I am sure you are hurt ! ” I
cried, with tears of anxiety in my voice. ” You ought to rest—I
am sure you ought to go home and rest.”
Freddy came up, there was some discussion, some demur, and
finally it was decided that, as the injury was indeed very slight,
Freddy should remain and finish his lesson. And I was allowed
to take her home.
We were in a little brougham ; delightfully near together.
She leaned her pretty head, I thought, a little on one side—my
side. I was wearing violets in my button-hole. Perhaps she was
tired, or faint.
” How are you feeling now, dear Miss Sinclair ? ”
” Much better—thanks ! “
” I am afraid you are suffering. . . . I shall never forgot what
I felt when you fell !—My heart ceased beating ! ”
” It’s very sweet of you. But, it’s really nothing.”
” How precious these few moments with you are ! I should
like to drive with you for ever ! Through life—to eternity ! ”
” Really ! What a funny boy you are ! ” she said softly.
“Ah, if you only knew, Miss Sinclair, how—how I envy
“Oh, Mr. Carington ! ”
“Don’t call me Mr. Carington. It’s so cold—so ceremonious.
Call me Cecil. Won’t you?”
“Very well, Cecil.”
” Do you think it treacherous to Freddy for me to envy him—
to tell you so ?”
” Yes, I am afraid it is ; a little.”
“Oh no. I don t think it is.—How are you feeling now,
Alice ? ”
“Much better, thanks very much.” . . .
Suddenly, to my own surprise and entirely without pre-medita-
tion, I kissed her—as it were, accidentally. It seemed so shocking,
that we both pretended I hadn’t, and entirely ignored the fact :
continuing to argue as to whether or not it was treacherous to say
I envied Freddy. … I insisted on treating her as an invalid,
and lifted her out of the carriage, while she laughed nervously.
It struck me that I was not unhappy yet. But that would come.
The next evening we met at a dance. She was wearing flowers
that Freddy had sent her ; but among them she had fastened one
or two of the violets I had worn in my button-hole. I smiled,
amused at the coquetry. No doubt she would laugh at me when
she thought she had completely turned my head. She fancied me
a child !
a child ! Perhaps, on her wedding-day, I should be miserable at
. . . “How tragic, how terrible it is to long for the im-
possible ! ”
We were sitting out, on the balcony. Freddy was in the ball-
room, dancing. He was an excellent dancer.
“Impossible ! ” she said ; and I thought she looked at
strangely. ” But you don t really, really—”
” Love you ? ” I exclaimed, lyrically. ” But with all my soul !
My life is blighted for ever, but don t think of me. It doesn’t
matter in the least. It may kill me, of course ; but never mind.
Sometimes, I believe, people do live on with a broken heart,
” My dance, I think,” and a tiresome partner claimed her.
Even that night, I couldn t believe, try as I would, that life
held for me no further possibilities of joy. . . .
About half-past “one the next day, just as I was getting up, I
received a thunderbolt in the form of a letter from Alice.
Would it be believed that this absurd, romantic, literal, beautiful
person wrote to say she had actually broken off her engagement
with Freddy ? She could not bear to blight my young life ; she
returned my affection ; she was waiting to hear from me.
Much agitated, I hid my face in my hands. What ! was I
never to get away from success—never to know the luxury of an
unrequited attachment ? Of course, I realised, now, that I had
been deceiving myself ; that I had only liked her enough to wish
to make her care for me ; that I had striven, unconsciously, to
that end. The instant I knew she loved me all my interest was
gone. My passion had been entirely imaginary. I cared nothing,
absolutely nothing, for her. It was impossible to exceed my
indifference. And Freddy ! Because I yearned for sorrow, was
that a reason that I should plunge others into it ? Because I wished
to weep, were my friends not to rejoice ? How terrible to have
wrecked Freddy s life, by taking away from him something that I
didn’t want myself !
The only course was to tell her the whole truth, and implore
her to make it up with poor Freddy. It was extremely compli-
cated. How was I to make her see that I had been trying for a
broken heart ; that I wanted my life blighted ?
I wrote, endeavouring to explain, and be frank. It was a most
touching letter, but the inevitable, uncontrollable desire for the
beaurôle crept, I fear, into it and I fancy I represented myself, in
my firm resolve not to marry her whatever happened—as rather
generous and self-denying. It was a heart-breaking letter, and
moved me to tears when I read it.
This is how it ended :
. . . . ” You have my fervent prayers for your happiness, and it
may be that some day you and Freddy, walking in the daisied fields
together, under God s beautiful sunlight, may speak not unkindly of
the lonely exile.
” Yes, exile. For to-morrow I leave England. To-morrow I go to
bury myself in some remote spot—perhaps to Trouville—where I can
hide my heart and pray unceasingly for your welfare and that of the
dear, dear friend of my youth and manhood.
” Yours and his, devotedly, till death and after,
” CECIL CARINGTON.”
It was not a bit like my style. But how difficult it is not to
fall into the tone that accords best with the temperament of the
person to whom one is writing !
I was rather dreading an interview with poor Freddy. To be
misunderstood by him would have been really rather tragic. But
even here, good fortune pursued me. Alice s letter breaking off
the engagement had been written in such mysterious terms, that
it was quite impossible for the simple Freddy to make head or tail
of it. So that when he appeared, just after my letter (which had
infuriated her)—Alice threw herself into his arms, begging him
to forgive her ; pretending—women have these subtleties— that it
had been a boutade about some trifle.
But I think Freddy had a suspicion that I had been “mashed,”
as he would say, on his fiancée, and thought vaguely that I had
done something rather splendid in going away.
If he had only stopped to think, he would have realised
that there was nothing very extraordinary in “leaving England” in the
beginning of August ; and he knew I .had arranged to spend the
summer holidays in France with De Verney. Still, he fancies I
acted nobly. Alice doesn’t.
And so I resigned myself, seeing, indeed, that Grief was the one
thing life meant to deny me. And on the golden sands, with the
gay striped bathers of Trouville, I was content to linger with
laughter on my lips, seeking for Sorrow no more.
By E. A. Walton
I. Kenneth Grahame
II. A Child
THE sun aslant the carpet, and the rain
Blown sobbingly against the window glass,
While I sit silent with a wordless pain,
Pressing my heart between its iron hands.
The slow hours pass. . . .
Between the dawn lands and the sunset lands
My soul walks wearily with aching eyes,
The whole world grey about her where she stands !
Sorrow and she are tired of the long noon,
The sullen skies. . . .
My friend at work hums softly an old tune,
And in the grate, new lit, a fluctuant fire
Puts forth pale pointed flame-flowers that full soon
Fret all the rough black coals to fairy gold
Of tower and spire !
Sunlight and firelight, but the world feels cold—
The wet trees toss their weight of tumbled green ;
And shreds of torn cloud banners manifold
Drift up the dome of heaven, while slips the light,
Pearl hued, between. . . .
… I wonder shall I meet you in the night,
In that dear house of Dreams, Sleep s dwelling-place?
O Prince ! O Lord of life ! O heart s delight !
O Lover ! never this side of the stars
Seen face to face ! . . .
In vain my winged songs beat against the bars
Of bitter life ; then, falling mute and tired,
Like leaves that the sharp hoar frost sheds and scars,
Lie dead beneath the heaven they desired.
By James Guthrie
Poet and Historian
By Walter Raleigh
Scene—An Academic Grove
Poet (who has been reading the ” Midsummer Night’s Dream
Ill met by moonlight, proud Historian !
Historian. I admit that in venturing out in the
am poaching on your preserves—which you share, by the way,
with the lover and the lunatic . But I am not of imagination all
compact ; I have lungs, and I came out to take the air. My
History of Israel flags.
Poet. No wonder ; the history of Israel is thoroughly
being written. I believe the first man who learned to scratch on
wax with a bamboo style began to write a history of Israel.
Suppose you were to vary the monotony by writing a Psalm of
David. I do not understand what you are driving at. Do you
hope to supersede the Bible ?
Hist. Your ignorance appals me. As a collection of
and material the Bible cannot be superseded. As a connected and
philosophical history its pretensions are slender indeed. The
nature and meaning of events, the characters of men and women,
are very imperfectly appreciated by contemporaries. I have
rehabilitated Esau, Jezebel, and Mephibosheth, among others, in
the estimation of the world. If I had occasion to go further
back, I could show that the first few chapters of Genesis are
written in a party spirit very favourable to Abel.
Poet. O Buckle, father of History, what a son hast
But I hope you will go further back. ” Universal History,” to
use the pretentious misnomer, is narrow enough at best, you are
” confined and pestered in this pinfold ” of some poor six thousand
years, and nobody grudges you the exercise you take in it, for the
most part upon crutches. The fact is that by the time a people
begins to keep a diary, and to jot down its expenses and the events
of the day, it has become respectable, the period of its experiments
and escapades is over. It has lost its zest in life and in the gifts
of life, and has sunk into office-work—a dull and formal pre
Hist. Were the Greeks dull and formal ?
Poet. They were amazingly like us. The chief
far as I can make out, between them and us lies in this, that they
did the same things better. I forgot—it is true that if you
tickled them they did not laugh, or at any rate they were very
difficult to tickle. But no nation, it seems, can have both pomp
and humour highly developed. They had pomp. What have
we ? Still, if I had my choice at this moment, I would be allowed
to look at yonder moon for five minutes through the eyes of a
cave-man rather than through the eyes of a Socrates.
Hist. And doubtless a monkey-house throws for you more
on society and institutions than, say, the Pan-Hellenic festivals ?
Poet. It does, and for a simple reason. I have been a
have sulked with Achilles in the tents, and with Ajax have taken
my last farewell of the sun. But I have never been a monkey.
Hist. Courage, my friend ! A man who despises human insti-
tutions and scorns the history of their development surely need
Poet. The greatest of human institutions is the human heart.
” Humani generis mores tibi nosse volenti
Sufficit una domus.”
What if Juvenal be right ? The heart remains triangular and
the world spherical—to use the language of the older physiologists.
If these two be constant in differing, what does your parade of
development amount to ? Human affairs run not, says Sir
Thomas Browne, upon an helix that continually enlargeth, but
upon an even circle. You spend you life in travelling laboriously
over a small arc of the circumference ; I strike for the centre,
where Shakespeare and Æschylus sit throned and immovable. And
that, I take it, is the difference between us.
Hist. It is the difference between life and death. You
mind me of the delusions of the early seekers for the North Pole.
When you reach the centre you may learn too late that Shake-
speare was an Elizabethan and that Æschylus fought at Marathon.
There is neither vegetation nor life in the realm of frozen vapour
that you seek. Long ago I noticed with regret that there are no
facts in the books you write.
Poet. Nor are there any fossil plants in my garden.
emotions, thoughts, desires, aspirations, regrets, reflections, lose
their vitality and are petrified in the stream of History they
become facts. I shall be a fact myself one day, and your grand
sons, or, at the furthest, your great-grandsons, will have to learn
me. They will get prizes for knowing all about me, including
the date and place of my birth, which I do not myself remember.
It is not live men you care for ; your histories remind me of the
Morgue, and all you supply is the squirt of cold water.
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. U
Hist. You deceive yourself if you think that you deal
live things. The very feelings that you pickle in your poems
must die first. “Emotion recollected in tranquillity”—if that
be poetry, history is action seen from a distance, in fair per-
spective, by a cool and unmoved observer. And I marvel how
any one can hope to see the thing truly save at a distance. The
sole use of newspapers, to my mind, is to store them in the
British Museum, that they may be used hereafter by historians.
The huddle and clash of near events bewilders. It is only by the
wand of the historian that they are reduced to order, and so the
procession of the ages, moving past in solemn review, becomes the
most imposing of human spectacles.
Poet. I agree with you in finding no present interest
papers—my feeling for ” reviews,” by the way, is hardly warmer.
But who will ever want them ? The age that we inhabit and
inform is erecting for itself a paper monument at the rate of a
vanload per week of filed journals and newspapers, which are
stored and arranged in the British Museum. It was once my
fortune to meet one of these cars of Juggernaut, and I could
barely resist the temptation to fling myself under the wheels,
that so the triumph of History over Literature might be excel-
lently typified. A library is now regarded, not as a treasury of
wisdom and beauty, but as a ” dumping-ground ” for offal, a
repository of human frivolity, inanity and folly. Newspapers,
forsooth—why not collect and store the other things that wise men
throw away, cigar-ends and orange-peelings ? Some future
historian of the gutter might like to see them. No, I would
give to all these offscourings and clippings the same doom—” the
unlamented burial of an ass.” History would profit, for she has
gone after a crowd of strange gods and neglected her best
Hist. Do you know how History is written ? For the
of discrimination to have value it is essential to let the tangle of
wheat and tares grow up together. For the exhibition of the
sequence of cause and effect it is essential to destroy no link in
the chain which, however base its material, no doubt leads some-
whither. Absolute stagnation of mind would reward your well-
meant efforts ; you would fain gaze at your own reflection in a
duck-pond thick with borrowed fancies, because you cannot make
a hand-glass of the sea. But Time unrolls itself, and some day
we shall understand the script, if we are careful to save the
Poet. Time will wear out and drop off in rags, or be
away like a morning mist, and Space will be shrivelled up like
burnt paper before you understand three words of the script-
You try to read the world precisely as Mr. Ignatius Donnelly
tries to read Shakespeare. There is the beauty and wonder of the
thing plain before your eyes, and you insist on a hidden and
portentously trivial meaning. I suppose it is “progress” you are
looking for. Progress is economic, mechanical, a matter of bells
and buttons and hooks, of methods of election and painless execu-
tions ; it has nothing to do with the eternal subject-matter of the
artist, and you, if you are not an artist, are nothing. I believe,
nevertheless, that there are persons who can stand on a mountain-
top and talk of progress. In fact, I have met them. They
understood diet, which made me think that when a man says
” progress,” it is the stomach speaks. Your case, of course, is
Hist. Pray diagnose my case.
Poet. You are tied to Time and you have to explain it.
seems to me a kind of monstrous mastodon who ravages the
jungle devouring all he sees. Now you have constituted yourself
his keeper—a thankless office ! So when people get nervous at
the appalling devastations the beast makes, they come to you for
re-assurance. ” Be easy, dear Sir and dear Madam,” say you, ” he
is rapidly being trained, and will soon be quite tame. His last
meal was seventeen thousand men, twenty-three fewer, you will
observe, than the day before. There is no doubt at all that we
shall soon be able to get him into harness, and make him fetch
and carry to market.” And what you say is grimly true : he
took the Roman Empire to market, and it was cheapened and
squabbled over by every brown-skinned huckster ; he took
the Greek mythology to market, and it was torn up and made
into frills and cuffs for eighteenth-century poets ; he took the
Egyptian dynasties to market, and sold them for a little sand.
He will take you and your History of Israel to market, I fear,
and do you know what you will go for ? Literally for an old song.
As Gautier says :
” The gods die in their fanes
But shall Poetry pass ?
And outlives graven brass.”
Now and again, I admit, the beast shows good taste. It was
only the other day he took the book of Genesis to market. An
enterprising man of Science offered him a rare monkey for it.
He took the monkey, and kept the book—a far-seeing transaction.
The monkey seems healthy at present, but no doubt it will die.
Let us talk of real things—sun, moon, stars, or the plays of
Shakespeare, according to the list of realities drawn up by Keats.
I am cloyed with perishables.
Hist. By all means. Perhaps you will allow me to say
first amongi realities I place History, sometimes it seems to me
the only reality. ” True it is,” says my historian of the world,
” that among many other benefits for which it hath been honoured,
in this one it triumpheth over all human knowledge, that it hath
given us life in our understanding, since the world itself had life
and beginning even to this day ; yea, it hath triumphed over time,
which besides it nothing but eternity hath triumphed over.” You
poets and philosophers are often like alchemists : you seek for the
absolute, and believe that you can get a poem, or a philosophy, or
some other chemic stuff, to hold the immortality about which you
keep such a clutter. But in the end all goes into the crucible of
History, and the residue, after refining, is pure historical value.
A poet is popular to-day ; the popularity is stripped off him to-
morrow, and what is left ? Nothing but his historical value. A
religion perishes, or rather it does not perish, it sheds its followers,
and leads a new and more assured existence in the pages of History.
What a granite-like calm stability it has then compared with its
fume and fret while it believed itself the absolute ! Listen to the
noisy declamations of a latter-day Protestant against the Romish-
ness of Rome and the Papistry of the Pope, and then read the
tremendous history of the Papacy. Which is the greater reality ?
Believe me, there is nothing but History in the world. A know
ledge of History is the panacea for ignorance and prejudice ; it
checks the utterance of a thousand foolishnesses, and paralyses
hundreds of idle tongues. Even our conversation, I venture to
think, might have been some sentences shorter if you had studied
History. But like it or not, to this favour you must come. It is
the history of Poetry that will interest the men of the future.
They will have tunes of their own to tinkle in their idle hours.
Poet. See the avarice of knowledge. No single art ever
another, ” Stand aside, I can do your work.” I do not stop the
brass-beater with an offer to describe the shield he is making.
But the men lof learning are never satisfied till they annex the
world. Still, if you are willing to extend yet further your con-
ception of History, and to give up your besetting sin of politics for
a time, I think we may come to terms, for I agree with something
of what you say. If all other branches of knowledge, all the arts
and all the sciences, all the religions and all the philosophies, are
chiefly important as food for history, do not exclude your own
pursuit. Write a History of History. Then we shall see how
much of your vaunted stability you really can claim. We shall
see whether Herodotus, Josephus, Matthew of Paris, and Gibbon
were really employed at the same work, or whether it would not
be better for History to drop the pretence of being a branch of
exact learning, and to speak frankly of a Livy or a Michelet just
as the picture dealer speaks of a Correggio or a Greuze. As for
the philosophies, I make you a present of them ; and the sciences,
although no doubt they are useful, have not been long enough
admitted within the circle of polite learning to have worn off their
insolence and dulness—they are sadly underbred. I quite agree
with you that books upon the origin of” species ought to be
included in a public library, chiefly that the curious of future
generations may ascertain, if they are so minded, what the nine
teenth century thought upon that question. But what do you
say to my proposal ? Will you write a History of History ?
Hist. I will do so on one condition only. Will you
history of Metaphor ?
Poet. Certainly not. Why ?
Hist. The object of your proposal seems to be to
compel me to
take the sting out of my own pursuit, or, like the scorpion, to
turn on myself with it and commit suicide. Am I right ?
Poet. More or less. But suicide is the wrong word. I should
be sorry—no one sorrier—to be the death of a species of writing
that has given me so much pleasure. Every man must have
relaxation ; often when wearied by the austerities of my mistress
Poetry I take refuge in the amiable and charming companionship
of my gossip History. No, I would not kill her. What I want
rather is to put an end to the courtship of History by the more
boastful of the Sciences, the hectoring kill-cow Biology, for
instance, or the talkative and muddle-headed pedagogue Sociology.
Let her come back to her father Herodotus and dutifully accept
the mate he gave her—Literature. Love and a palace ; she will
find nothing but bickerings and a hut with any of the Sciences.
But why should I write a history of Metaphor ?
Hist. I will tell you in a minute. First, let me
no sane historian could accept your view. History is, no doubt,
a composite of many things, but the views and renderings of
individual writers are only superimposed on a basis of hard fact.
Fate draws the outlines of the picture, the historian is left to do
the colouring, no more.
Poet. ” Hard fact ! ” And how has fact been hardened
the days of Sir Philip Sidney ? Will you allow him to introduce
you to yourself? “The Historian . . . loden with mouse-eaten
records, authorising himself for the most part upon other histories,
whose greatest authorities are built upon the notable foundation of
hearsay, having much ado to accord differing writers, and to pick
truth out of partiality, better acquainted with a thousand years ago
than with the present age, and yet better knowing how this world
goeth than how his own wit runneth ; curious for antiquities and
inquisitive of novelties, a wonder to young folks, and a tyrant in
table-talk, denieth in a great chafe that any man for teaching of
vertuous actions is comparable to him.”
Hist. We have long ago given up the pretension of
virtue ; so that shaft misses its aim. And no doubt it is hard to
establish fact, and hard to preserve it. Nevertheless, the thing is
done, and ’tis the dearest interest of knowledge.
Poet. Nay, but examine the process. Take the city hard
Yesterday there happened in it many millions of events, great and
small. To-day there appears a sheet recording a few hundred of
these. Who made the selection, and why ? Are the most
important events recorded ? They are generally not even known.
You have spoken of newspapers as ” material,” but, long before
you get a newspaper, Art and Selection have been at work.
Plainly the events selected have not been chosen for their value to
the historian, too often he may wander through wildernesses of
newspapers in search of the particular facts that come to have a
meaning for him. A certain rough principle of selection I
suppose there must be, but it is hard to divine. A shop-window
is broken, or a Mayor lunches, and straightway the world knows
it. Could anything be more wantonly whimsical ? So that my
objection to your newspapers, after all, is not that they are history,
but that they are art, and very bad art—the worst of things. But
if selection and rendering count for so much in the history of a
day and a single town, what must they not count for in the
history of centuries and a whole people ?
Hist. The affair is not so hopeless as you make out.
help, no doubt, and wars, and parliaments. Who is it that says,
” Every beggarly corporation affords the State a mayor or two
bailiffs yearly, a king or a poet is not born every year ? ” And I
am willing to confess that great men often owe more than
a little of their greatness to the laziness of historians, who
are glad to simplify their task or recreate themselves with
rhetoric. But the predilection for politics, which you deride,
furnishes a guiding clue through the facts. Without some
such clue history of course would be vain. That is why a
great many histories must be written—and among them your
History of Metaphor.
Poet. Why ?
Hist. As an antidote to the bad effects of poetry. You
me of pretending to feed people on solid fact, while in reality I
give them husks and chaff. But your deceits are more dangerous.
You pretend to pour out the sparkling water of truth while in
reality you give them the intoxicating heady wine of metaphor.
I have seen men on the streets drunk with a single metaphor.
Poet. Then my history would be a dangerous thing, for
it would contain many metaphors.
Hist. Yes, but deprived of their power to work evil.
comes under the calm light of history without being purified.
You would record the first known occurrence of a metaphor, do
all needful honour to its inventor, criticise its later employments,
and thus diminish the danger of its being taken by the ignorant
for an argument, or, still worse, for a fact. As it is, intoxication
Poet. That is the fault of the victims. Good wine is a
thing, though it be occasionally misused.
Hist. But its misuse is not so disastrous as the
metaphor. Take the metaphor of an army. How many miser-
able beings, suffocating in the atmosphere of party quarrels, derive
a momentary elation from its misuse. ” The Liberals have won
the battle all along the line ; ” or, ” The fighting has been severe,
but the Conservatives have rallied round the ancient standard and
carried the day nobly.” Here, it is plain, the essence of the com
parison is lacking. If opposing armies had been wont to count
heads and announce that the victory lay with the larger, no heroic
associations would have gathered around war. More than that,
you must suppose that the counting of heads is secret, that any
soldier may return himself as on either side, and that it is a crime
for one of his fellows to reveal his decision. That is one way of
settling a dispute, but where is the possibility of heroism ? It is
not heroic to try to make other men think as you do, every one
does that as a measure of self-preservation and self-support. No,
the ass is in the lion’s skin, the wire-puller has stolen the soldier’s
coat, and conceals his theft in a metaphor. I do not know if you
are acquainted with that other misappropriation of the same figure
by a nomad sect of fanatics who make senseless catchwords of the
boldest and most beautiful of New Testament metaphors ?
Poet. Do not nauseate me ; I know.
Hist. They are commonly said to rescue from drunkenness ;
the drunkenness they induce and encourage seems to me infinitely
worse. But the English people have always thought highly of
physical health, and are willing cynically to condone mental
intoxication for the sake of bodily sobriety. That is what I
cannot understand. Robert Burns, now, was not notoriously
abstemious, and yet—but I am digressing, you must surely be
convinced by this time that the world is waiting for your History
Poet. I am not at all sure that you would like it when
For although I agree with you that a metaphor is neither an argu-
ment nor a fact, I do not see how that diminishes its importance
in thought. No doubt the mixing of metaphors, like the mixing
of wines, is a bad thing ; no doubt, when incarnate stupidity gets
hold of the metaphors of incarnate genius it will put them to very
odd uses. I knew a case myself of one who taught biology on
week-days and Calvinism on Sundays. Whether the boastfulness
of biology imposed on him, by impressing on him that it was the
science of living things, and therefore of life, and therefore of
thought, or whether he simply got muddled from inability to cope
with two subjects, I do not know. But he mixed his Calvinism
and his biology, and began talking of shells and crystals and
function and structure and protective mimicry on Sundays, to
the equal horror of sound theologians and sound biologists. Yet,
in spite of these admissions and experiences, you may be surprised
when I tell you that I think metaphor, well and fitly employed,
the nearest approach to absolute truth of which the human mind
is capable. Now do you think I had better write your history ?
Hist. You certainly amaze me. I did not think that a
an artist could be so easily gulled by the mere tools of his craft.
Of course I know that men of science who stray into the realm
of poetic imagination are the dupes of many a fine figure and
specious similitude. But for a poet, who works the marionettes,
to believe that they are alive ! It is incredible—much as if a
painter should expect the fortune of Pygmalion.
Poet. A man of science who wanders into poetry is
looking for arguments or facts, and these, as I have admitted, he
will not find. Sooner a leg of mutton in a gin-shop, as Shelley
remarked. But for the poet himself poetry, and especially metaphor,
is the nearest approach to truth. Have you never heard a painter
maintain that a good portrait is better than the sitter ?
Hist. A passable after-dinner remark. Some one must
the hare ; that hare would soon be run down. This much is
clear to me, Poetry is truth clothed in the vesture of beauty. You
must first find your truth, and then choose the best possible way of
Poet. That is the way in which Hume or Buckle would
write poetry. In something the same way George Eliot actually
did write verse. She was a clever woman, and the imitation
deceived good judges. But poetry has never been written in that
way, and it never will. For to a poet the thought and the figure
in which it is clad—nay, the very words in which it is conveyed
—are really inseparable. Body and soul, form and substance,
thought and expression, sacred and profane, fun and earnest—
these and many others are familiar antitheses, indispensable in
certain connections, but conventional and scholastic with no deep
foundation in reality. Did a painter ever exalt the soul at the
expense of the body, or a poet ever say that thought is everything
and expression nothing, or a saint ever find the necessary business
of life profane, or a great humourist ever assure you that he was
only joking ? A poet proceeds not by argument, but by vision.
He does not clothe a soul with flesh, but informs a body with life.
A body that has thus had a soul breathed into it is sometimes
called a metaphor. Before that, it was probably a mere fact. Or
it may have been a falsehood. It will live on if it find a soul.
Witness our old friends the phoenix and upas-tree.
Hist. If you prove anything, which I am far from
you prove that History and Literature can never join hands.
Poet. History can never be written in metaphor. It is
densely populated with facts, moreover, that it would be the
height of unreason to suppose that they all have, or ever can have,
souls. But whether they have souls or not, they can at least be
attired in wedding garments. They are too often a ragged
regiment, dissipated and lame, impressing only by their multitude
and their idle clamour.
Hist. Truly we are little likely to agree. The
I have made in the History of Israel are pointed in precisely the
opposite direction. I have been anxious that the bare facts should
not be falsified by the impress of style, and that no emotional
excitement should blur the impartiality of my readers.
Poet. A philosophical history, I suppose. But would
have set about it if there had been no Jewish religion ? History
may discard figure, religion never can ; if it does, it is rapidly
becoming philosophy, it will no longer move men. And a very
comic figure it cuts during the transition. One shoe off and one
shoe on, like my son John of the legend. It is as great an offence
in these cases to take off the second shoe as it is not to take off
the first. But in the end you must go one way or the other, you
must either think or see.
Hist. I prefer to think. You will allow me, I hope, a
low place in the rank of writers ?
Poet. Have you read the pseudo-Dionysius on the
Hierarchy ? There are nine orders of angels ; with the highest,
the Seraphim, knowledge springs from love ; with the second
order, the Cherubim, love springs from knowledge. If writers were
arranged in like manner, I am afraid you would have to be content
with being a cherub. But be easy, there are seven orders below you.
Hist. And who is above me ?
Poet. Accept my apologies, I am.
Hist. Because you do not speak without a parable ?
Poet. Because everything I say has a meaning ; I do
logue the non-existent. Nothing in the world is of import save
as it is interpreted and new-created by passion and thought, and
lofty thought and intense feeling will see more in the facts than
the facts themselves. So Plato saw in a shadow on the wall an
explanation of the appearances of life. So Shakespeare saw in the
spring and the autumn the symbols of the beauty and the bounty
of his friend. Astrology, they tell me, is dead, but in the song
of Deborah the stars in their courses still fight against Sisera.
Wherever profound truth is to be expressed you must have
recourse to figure. You men of fact assail the truth too bluntly,
she is not to be won so ; when you can say all that you mean
directly, be assured it is perfectly trivial.
Hist. You ought to have been a teacher of heraldry to
noblemen’s sons in a medival university. I do not want to
startle you when I say that the Renaissance came four hundred
years ago and brought in the reign of positive knowledge. Since
that time the very artists have given up symbolism except as a
game. Listen to a contemporary critic upon Michel Angelo :
” Darkness and imperfection are infinite, indeterminate, confused,
unknown, and can never be understood ; light and perfection are
finite, determinate, distinct, easily known and seized upon by the
intelligence of man.” In your anxiety to avoid the clearness of
the perfect you would plunge back into a morass of superstition
and mysticism ; you care for no picture but a hieroglyph, and
value a bunch of spring flowers only as a lexicon whence you may
compose your vague messages of sentimental inanity. Queen
Anne, they say, is dead. Everything in due time, I have the
happiness to inform you that she was born.
Poet. Your choice of queens betrays you. The
century is gone, and has taken its historians and encyclopaedists
along with it. It has left a few poets—William Blake for one,
who questioned not his corporeal eye any more than he would
have questioned a window concerning a sight. He looked
through it and not with it. It is this looking through the eye
that constitutes metaphor. But it does not draw vagueness in its
train. The same Blake remarks that only an idiot has a general
knowledge, the knowledge of wise men is of particulars—and so
Hist. It is late ; and I must lose the ten tribes by
My publisher will not wait. The moonbeams are playing on
your head— which statement I reach by inference, not by vision.
Next time we meet let us talk about something we can agree
Poet. By all means. The uselessness of useful
Let there not be wrath between us, let us talk about technical
Hist. And you will write your history ? It is better
twisting the kaleidoscope of the vocabulary to get new patterns
of verbiage. Moreover, you might disarm the hostility with
which wise men have often regarded your calling. Plato, you
know, would have hunted you out of his Republic.
Poet. If Plato were alive, I would banish him out of
commonwealth of England, or rather it would have been done
by the mob the day after he published his Republic. The crowd
worships great poets (of whom Plato himself is one), not chiefly
because they are poets but because they are dead. When there is
no Byron-bait or Shelley-hunt on hand, they wile away the time
by professing to admire Milton. He died a believer in polygamy,
but at least he died. As for your History of Metaphor, you may
write it yourself. But beware how you handle your dangerous
material ; I never knew any one who could not be trapped by the
right metaphor. “The Stream of History,” or anything else
equally cold and slow, will be quite enough to take you off your
feet. But never mind, you will reach the sea. And there all of
you that is susceptible of promotion will become vapour, and,
who knows, you may drop upon Mount Helicon. I am going
there on foot. So, for the present, good-bye.
By John Lavery
I. A Barb
II. Portrait of Miss Mary Burrell
By Frances Nicholson
DEEP is the crimson in the west,
And broader, deeper, fuller still
The amber shafts and amethyst
That fret the twilight of the hill.
And wondrously in silver space
The shadowy lake-world glimmers fair,
A magic sunset and the grace
Of fairy woodland, all are here.
About my feet the blue-bells press,
An azure sea of smiling bloom,
And primroses’ pale loveliness
Thick clustered in the mossy gloom.
The placid ripples come and go,
No murmur stirs the leaves on high,
The bracken shakes, but who may know
What trembling wild thing flashes by ?
Unsolaced in this green repose
My labouring soul ? and doubt-distressed ?
Oh ! gates of the west roll back, disclose,
Answer with splendour manifest.
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. x
Answer, and end the long unrest,
The strain to see, and touch, and know,
The sad desire, the fevered quest,
The hopes that die, the tears that flow.
The green leaves listen and are dumb,
The wild-fowl in the rushes sleeps,
The placid ripples go and come,
And the long shadow onward creeps.
A silence, half mysterious,
Half tender, wraps the dusk, and far
In fading crimson, luminous,
Shines cold and chaste the evening star.
Nature is Heaven’s Prophet, vast
Her wisdom and her strength, and great
Her teaching could we learn at last,
Obey in silence—work—hope—wait.
II. The Window Seat
By Alexander Roche
WHEN Owen suddenly made up his mind again to tempt
Fortune, and invest the remnants of his capital in the
purchase of Carrel’s house and practice at Jacques-le-Port, he
brought with him to the Island a letter of introduction to Mrs.
Le Messurier, of Mon Désir.
But with the business of settling down upon his hands—and
another distraction also—nearly six weeks went by before he
remembered to call. Then, having inquired his way, he walked
up there one mild, blue afternoon.
He found a spruce semi-detached villa, standing back from the
road, with a finely sanded path running from the gate, right and
left, up to the hall door. From the centre of the large oval
flower-bed which the path thus enclosed, rose a tall and flourishing
monkey-tree, with the comically ugly appearance to which Owen’s
eyes had grown familiarised since his coming to the Island. In
front of nearly every villa is planted an auraucania tree.
The house was of two storeys, painted white, and had green
wooden shutters turned back against the walls. Dazzingly clean
and very stiff lace curtains hung before the windows. Owen was
favourably impressed, and, actuated by an unusual sentiment of
diffidence, wondered who were the persons he should find within,
and what sort of reception awaited him.
The outer door of the house stood open, and the plate-glass
panel of an inner door permitted him to see along a cool dark
hall, tiled in black and white, into a sunny garden beyond, And
while he waited there, looking into the garden, a girl and boy
passed across his range of vision from one side to the other.
The girl was tall and slight, swung a gardening basket in one
hand, and had the other arm laid round the shoulders of the boy,
who was a whole head shorter than she. Although dowdily
dressed in a frock of some dark material, although wearing a
hideous brown mushroom hat, although she and her companion
had scarcely come into sight before they had passed out of it
again, nevertheless, Owen received in that fleeting moment the
impression that she was pretty. And it left him absolutely
Then a maid appeared from behind the staircase, received his
card and letter, and showed him into a small sitting-room on the
left of the hall, a room so full of furniture, and at the same time
so dark, that for a moment or two he was unable to find a seat.
The light was not only sufficiently obscured by the lace curtains
he had noticed from the outside, but there were voluminous
stuff curtains as well, and a green Venetian blind had been
let more than half-way down. Probably, earlier in the day the
February sunshine had fallen upon the window, and consideration
for their best parlour furniture is almost a religious cult among
certain classes in the Island ; stray sunbeams are fought against
with the same assiduity as stray moths. In all the neat villas
which border the roads leading out from Jacques-le-Port, the best
parlour is invariably a room of gloom, never used but on cere-
monious occasions, or for the incarceration of such chance and
uninvited guests as was Owen to-day.
As his eyes accustomed themselves to the darkness he began to
distinguish a multiplicity of Berlin wool cushions, and bead-
worked foot-stools, of rosewood étagères loaded with knick-
knacks, of rosewood tables covered with photograph albums and
gilt-bound books. He took up one or two of these and read the
titles : ” Law’s Serious Call,” ” The Day and the Hour, or Notes
on Prophecy,” ” Lectures on the Doctrine of the Holy Spirit.”
They said nothing to him, and he put them down again unopened.
He began to study on the opposite wall a large coloured photo
graph of the Riviera ; the improbably blue sea, the incurving
coast-line, the verdure-clothed shore, dotted with innumerable
white villas. But it interested him little more than the books
had done, his acquaintance with foreign parts extending no farther
Then the door opened and two persons entered—a very old
lady and the young girl he had caught a glimpse of in the garden.
Seen now, without her hat, she was decidedly pretty, but Owen
merely glanced past her to devote all his attention to Mrs. Le
Giving him her hand, she had said ” How do you do ? ” waiting
until he had satisfied her as to the state of his health. Then she
invited him to be seated again, and introduced the young girl as
” Agnes Allez, my granddaughter,” only she pronounced the name
” Orlay,” which is the custom of the Island.
Miss Allez had said ” How do you do ? ” too, with a little air of
prim gentility, which was the exact youthful counterpart of her
grandmother’s. After which she sat silent, with her hands lightly
folded in her lap, and listened to the conversation.
The old lady began with a few inquiries after the mutual
acquaintance in England who had sent him to call upon her, and
Owen replied suitably, while taking stock of her personality. She
was dressed entirely in black, a black silk apron over a black stu
ff gown, a black knitted shawl, a monumental cap of black lace and
flowers and trembling bugles. The dress was fastened at the
throat by a large gold brooch, framing a medallion of hair ingeni-
ously tormented into the representation of a tombstone and a
weeping willow-tree. An old-fashioned watch-chain of pale gold
hung in two long festoons below her waist, and on her poor hand
—a hand with time-stained, corrugated nails, with swollen, purple
veins, with enlarged finger joints—a worn wedding-ring turned
Owen noted the signs of her age, of her infirmity, with half-
conscious satisfaction ; they promised him a patient before very
long. And in the pleasant evidences of means all about him, he
foresaw how satisfactorily he might adjust his sliding scale of
She was speaking to him of his prospects in the Island, saying,
with a melancholy motion of the head : ” Ah, there, but for sure,
you will have some trouble to work up Carrel’s practice again.
He have let it go all to pieces. An such a good practice as it was
in old Doctor Bragé’s time. But you know the reason ? ”
He knew the reason well. His predecessor had been steadily
drinking himself to death for the last ten years, and his practice
was as dilapidated as were his house, his dog-cart, his reputation.
It was just on account of their dilapidations that Owen had bought
the former articles cheap ; and Carrel’s reputation was of as little
account to him as it was to Carrel himself, though it seemed
likely, in spite of everything, to last longer than its owner would
have any use for it.
” Well, I must try to work up Bragé’s business again,” said
Owen self-confidently. With nervous, tobacco-stained fingers he
twisted and pointed one end of his black moustache, and became
aware that the young girl was watching him covertly.
” There don’t seem to be too many of us doctors here,” he went
on, ” and from all accounts Lelever is very much behind the times.
There ought to be a good opening, I should think, for a little new
life, eh ? A little new blood ? ”
His voice touched an anxious note. The necessity of beginning
to earn something pressed upon him. But Mrs. Le Messurier’s
reply was not reassuring.
” Ah, my good ! Doctor Lelever is, maybe, old-fashioned—I
don’t know nothing about that—but he is very much thought of.
He is very safe, and he has attended us all. My poor boy John,
who died of the consumption in ’67 ; and my daughter Agnes’s
mother, whom we lost when Freddy was born ; and my dear
husband “—her knotted fingers went up to fondle mechanically
the glazed tomb and willow-tree—” and poor Thomas Allez, my
son-in-law, who went in ’87.”
Her dates came with all the readiness of constant reference. She
entered into details of the various complaints, the various remedies,
the reasons they had failed.
Owen’s face wore that smooth mask of sympathetic attention
with which the profession equips every medical man, but he was
embittered by the praises of Le Lièvre, and drawing the two ends
of his moustache into his mouth he chewed them vexedly.
His discontented glance fell upon the young girl. A sudden
pink overflowed her cheeks. He pointed his moustache again,
smiled a little, and let his dark eyes fix hers with an amused
complacency. He saw he had made an impression. She blushed
a warmer rose, and looked away.
He wondered whether she talked the same broken English her
grandmother did. He hoped not ; but the four words she had as
yet uttered left him in doubt.
Mrs. Le Messurier could not pronounce the ” th.” She had
said just now, speaking of Le Lièvre, “I don’t know noddin’ ’bout
dat, but he is very much tought of.” And she laid stress on the
unimportant words ; she accented the wrong syllables. Owen felt
it would be a pity if so kissable a mouth as Agnes Allez’s were to
maltreat the words it let slip in the same fashion.
He undertook to make her speak. The old lady had reached
the catalogue of ” Freddy’s ” infantile disorders, and as she coupled
his name with no prefatory adjective of affection or commisera-
tion Owen concluded that he, at least, was still among the living,
was probably the boy he had seen.
He turned to the young girl : “Then that was your brother
you were with just now in the garden, I suppose ? ”
She told him “Yes,” and in reply to a further question, “Yes,
he is only fifteen, and I shall be eighteen in May.”
She spoke always with that little primness he had noticed in
her reception of him, but her pronunciation was correct, was
It occurred to him that the sunny February garden, and the
companionship of the girl, would be an agreeable exchange for
the starched and darkened atmosphere of the parlour and
Mrs. Le Messurier’s lugubrious reminiscences. He drew the
conversation once, and once again, gardenwards, but without
To be guilty of anything so informal as to invite a stranger to
step into the garden on his first visit was not to be thought of.
The unconventional, the unexpected, are errors which the Islanders
carefully eschew. Mrs. Le Messurier merely said : ” Yes, you
must come up and drink tea with us one day next week, will you
not ? and the children will be very pleased to show you the garden
then. What day shall it be ? ”
The evening meal was at that moment ready laid out in the
next room, and Owen, who had a long walk before him, would
have been only too glad of an invitation to share it, but it is not
customary in the Islands to ask even a friend to take a cup of tea,
unless the day and the hour have been settled at least a week in
When Owen got back to his house in Contrée Mansel, he
found Carrel sitting over the fire in the dining-room, in a more
than usually shaky condition. He was always cold, and pleaded
for the boon of a fire upon the warmest days. He paid Owen a
pound a week for the privilege of boarding in the house where he
had once been master, and spent the remainder of a small annuity
on spirits. Owen made no effort to check him, not considering
it worth his while. He foresaw that before long his room would
be preferable to his company. However, for the present, he had
his uses, he knew the Islands well, and when Owen chose to ask
information from him, he could always give it.
He mentioned therefore where he had been, and inquired
carelessly whether the old woman was worth money. Carrel,
though very fuddled, was still instructive. Oh yes, she had money
sure enough ; was a regular old Island woman, with her head
screwed on the right way about. But Carrel doubted whether
Owen would ever see the colour of it. ” Lelever’s got the key
of the situation there, my boy, and if he don’t go off the hooks
before she does, he’ll hold it till her death. Unless, indeed, you
can get round the soft side of the granddaughter, little Agnes,
hey ? Little Agnes Allez, Good Lord, what a smashing fine
girl her mother was five-and-twenty years ago, before she
married that fool Tom Allez. He was her cousin, too, and they
were both the children of first cousins. No wonder the boy’s a
natural. Did ye see him, also ? ”
Owen meditated ; then, referring to the grandmother, asked
what she was worth. Carrel thought she would cut up for ten
” Which, laid out in good sound rentes, would bring in
a year, and you would have the house, and a nice little wife into
the bargain. And a family doctor is bound to marry, my boy,
hey ? Which reminds me to tell you,” concluded Carrel, with
a spirituous laugh, ” that your scarlet devil of a Margot was here
while you were out, inquiring after you. I wonder what she’ll
do when she hears you are making eyes at the little Allez girl,
hey ? ”
” She may do as she damn pleases,” said Owen, equably ; ” do
you imagine I’m in any way bound to a trull like that ?”
But all the same he was sorry to hear that the red-haired witch
had been round and he had missed her. He had not seen her n ow
for over a week.
An Island tea is a square, sit-down meal eaten in the living-
room with much solemnity. It is taken at half-past five, and is
the last meal of the day ; you are offered nothing after it but a
glass of home-made wine and a biscuit. It consists entirely of
sweets ; jams, cakes, and various gôches—gôches à pommes, gôches à
groseilles, gôches à beurre. Sugar and milk are put liberally into every
cup ; and such hyper-inquisitiveness as a desire to know whether
you take one or neither never occurs to the well-regulated Island
mind. When you have eaten all you are able, you are urgently
pressed to take a little more. It is considered good manners to
When on the appointed day Owen found himself again at Mon
Désir, he looked at Agnes Allez for the first time with a genuine
interest. The ten thousand pounds mentioned by Carrel had
stuck fast in the younger man’s mind.
The girl sat at the tea-tray, and her grandmother faced her.
The guest was at one side of the table, and the boy Frederic
Allez on the other. Owen observed in him the same soft eyes,
the same regular, well-proportioned features as his sister’s. But
his mouth would not stay shut, his fingers were never at rest, he
laughed foolishly when he encountered Owen’s gaze.
“I love dogs, they are so faithful,” he told the visitor suddenly,
apropos of nothing.
His grandmother and sister did not pay him much attention,
but a maid waited on him as though he were a child of six, passed
him his tea, and placed wedges of cake and gôche upon his plate.
Mrs. Le Messurier ate little, folded her decrepit hand on the
edge of the table, and looked on.
“I sometimes can’t remember,” she said, “that a whole
generation has been taken away from me. When I look at
Agnes and Freddy I could think it was the other Agnes and my
boy John, who used to sit just so with me forty years ago. But
we lived down in town then. Ah, but it is a pitée, a pitée, that
they should have been taken and a poor, useless, old woman like
me left behind ! ”
Owen was infinitely bored by her regrets. He had no natural
sympathy or patience with the old. He gave an audible sigh of
relief when, tea over, it was proposed that Agnes should show him
the garden. Small and well-kept, its paths were soon explored ;
but at the end was a little observatory reached by a dozen wooden
steps. A red-cushioned bench ran round the interior, and the
front of the construction, of glass and three-sided, gave an admir-
able view over immense skies and an island-strewn sea.
” It’s beautiful, is it not ? ” said Agnes, with a gentle pride in
its beauty. “To me it seems quite as beautiful as the Riviera.
Not that I’ve ever been there, of course, but gran’ma took poor
Uncle John there the last year of his life, and we have a picture of
it hanging in the drawing-room.”
She named to Owen the different islands. “That one there is
St. Maclou, and further on is the Ile des Marchants. Over there
to the left is the Petite Ste. Marguerite. We can’t often see the
Grande Ste. Marguerite without the glasses, but Freddy will go
and get them.”
The boy who had given them his company the whole time,
punctuating their phrases with his foolish laughs, blundered off” on
this errand with an expression of consequential glee. Owen and
the girl were left alone.
The vast expanse of sea below them still glittered in the light
of the afterglow, but the cloud-curtain of evening was drawing
over the eastern sky—a dreamy, delicious cloud-curtain of a soft
lilac colour, opaque and yet transparent, permitting scintillating
hints of the blue day behind to pierce through. And across its
surface floated filmy wreathes of a fading rose-colour, while high
above the observatory trembled the first faintly-shining star.
But Owen looked only at the young girl, and she grew em-
barrassed beneath his gaze. He knew it was on his account that
she wore that elaborate, but hopelessly provincial, Sunday frock ;
on his account, that before coming out she had gone upstairs to
fetch her Sunday hat, instead of putting on the every-day one
which hung in the hall. He knew it was on his account that she
was blushing so warmly ; that it was to give herself a countenance
she fingered her sleeve so nervously, unhooking it at the wrist,
trying to hook it again, not succeeding and persisting in the
attempt, while every instant tinged her cheeks with a livelier
Owen watched her in silence, smiling behind his moustache.
Then he leaned over, took hold of her hand, and fastened it for
her. He was pleasantly stimulated by the tremor he felt running
through her when his fingers touched her skin.
Then the boy burst open the door, handed his sister the glasses,
and flung himself down with his wearying laugh, on the cushion
“I love dogs,” he said to Owen, just as he had done before,
” don’t you ? They are so faithful.” It appeared to be a stock
phrase of his, beyond which he could not get.
During the next six weeks Owen was often at Mon Désir, and
his visits to Agnes and his assignations with Margot afforded him
agreeable alternative recreation from his work.
He had known for long, however, that Agnes was in love with
him—he had for long made up his mind that she and her ten
thousand pounds were desirable possessions—before he said any
word to the girl herself. And then, as generally happens, the
crisis came fortuitously, unpremeditatedly. They were out on
the cliffs together. She had been showing him Berceau Bay,
which lies below Mon Désir. They had stepped from a door in
the garden into a green lane, and followed it down, down through
veils and mazes of April greenness, until it suddenly stopped with
them on a grassy plateau overlooking the winged bay. At their
feet the shadow of the hill behind them lay upon the water, but
out farther it sparkled in the sunshine with jewel-like colour and
brilliancy. When they had climbed the steep cliff path on the
other side, they had stopped a moment to notice the gulls and
cormorants perched on the rock ledges beneath them, and all at
once the decisive words had passed his lips, and the girl was look-
ing up at him with soft brown eyes that overflowed with love,
with tears, before he quite knew how it had come about. But
after all he was glad to have it settled, and to have the engagement
sealed and confirmed that same night by Mrs. Le Messurier’s
tremulous, hesitating, not over-cordial sanction.
No, she was not over-cordial, the old skin-flint, he told himself
as he went away, not so grateful as she should have been, but all
the same, this disconcerting element in her attitude did not
prevent him from boasting complacently of his good fortune to
Carrel was comparatively sober, and his mood then was invari-
ably a fleeting one. And his heart fed on a furious hatred
and envy of Owen. He envied him his twenty-eight years, his
sobriety, his strength of character. He hated his ill-breeding, his
cock-sureness, his low ambitions. And though he had been glad
enough when Owen had purchased the house and practice, he
chose now to consider him an interloper who had ousted him
from his proper place. He therefore at once planted a knife in
Owen’s vanity, and gave him some information he had previously
” So you are going to marry little Agnes Allez ? Well, you
might do worse. The old lady is bound to leave her a nice little
nest egg, but I expect she’ll tie it up pretty tightly too. She and
the old man didn’t spend forty years of their lives in the drapery
business, saving ha’pence, for the first vagrant Englishman who
comes along to have the squandering of.”
” What’s that ? ” said Owen sharply, unable to conceal his
Carrel turned the knife round with dexterous ringers. ” You
didn t suppose she was one of the Le Messuriers of Rozaine, did
you ? Pooh ! She kept the shop in the High Street which
Roget has now, and that s where the money comes from.”
Owen, the son of a third-rate London attorney, naturally
recoiled from the prospect of an alliance with retail trade. But
perhaps Allez, the father, had been a gentleman ?
Carrel quenched this hope at once.
” Tom Allez was son of a man who kept a fruit-stall in the
Arcade. He couldn t afford to stock himself, but sold for the
growers on commission. However, towards the end of his life,
he began to grow tomatoes himself out Cottu way, and was doing
very well when he died, and Tom, who was always an ass, brought
everything to rack and ruin. But he was already married to
Agnes Le Messurier, so the old people took the pair of em home
to live with them. And Tom never did anything for the rest of
his life but develop Bright s disease, which carried him off when
he was forty-one. The boy is an imbecile, as you see. And, by
the bye, in counting your eggs, he must be reckoned with. Half
the money will go to him, you may be sure. I doubt whether
little Agnes will get more than two hundred a year after all.”
For twenty-four hours Owen meditated on this news, weighing
in the balance his social ambitions against a possible five thousand
Then he came to Carrel again. “Look here,” he said, “you
understand these damned little Islands better than I do. Would
it really make any difference in my career to contract such a
marriage ? ”
“It would only keep you out of the society of the precious
Sixties you are so anxious to cultivate, for the rest of your life,”
chuckled Carrel ; ” it would only be remembered against you to
The Yellow Book—Vol. VIII. Y
the sixth generation. At present, as an outsider, a stranger,
you are in neither camp, but once you marry a Le Messurier
with two s’s, you place yourself among the Forties for ever.”
From this date onwards, Owen’s speculations were given to the
problem of how he could easiest get loose from his engagement.
Agnes Allez stood in her bedroom, tortured by apprehension
and suspense. She asked herself what could be going on in the
best parlour below her, where Owen was closeted with her grand-
mother, and she forbidden to join them. Her grandmother had
written to Owen, asking him to call upon her, and had said to
the girl, before he came, ” Now, perhaps I shall send for you, but
until then remain in your room.”
But already half an hour, three-quarters of an hour, had gone by,
and the longed-for summons did not reach her ; her keen ears
still detected the murmurous rumble of voices coming up from
below. Then, of a sudden, they ceased ; she heard the glass-door
of the hall shut to, and, from outside, firm steps grind down the
gravel. She ran to the open window, and through the slots of
the shutters saw her lover’s tall figure pass down the path and
out of the gate. He never once turned his head, but taking the
road to Jacques-le-Port, was lost to view behind its trees. Then
came her grandmother calling to her from the hall, and she went
Mrs. Le Messurier told her, with kindness indeed, but also with
the melancholy satisfaction which the very old find in evil tidings,
that her engagement with Dr. Owen must be considered at an
end. She had never completely approved of him, but lately she
had heard stories, which, if true, could only merit the severest
condemnation. She had given him the opportunity of demon-
strating their falsehood. He had failed to do so to her satisfaction,
and thereupon she had told him, as she now told Agnes, that the
engagement between them was at an end.
The girl’s first feeling was one of burning indignation against
the persons who had dared to slander her lover. She knew little
of what had been said, she understood less, but she was sure, she
was convinced, before hearing anything, that it was all untrue.
” Pedvinn talks of bringing an action against Thoumes and
his wife,” Mrs. Le Messurier told her, ” for misappropriating poor
Louis Renouf’s property.”
“But not against Jack, I suppose, because he could not keep
the poor old man alive ! ” Agnes cried, with flaming cheeks.
Renouf was a patient of Owen’s, who had died about three weeks
” The girl Margot has been seen going in and out of the
surgery ever since your engagement, child.”
” And suppose she has,” cried Agnes, astonished, ” what
harm is there in that ? ”
But when her first anger had cooled down she awoke to a
sense of her own misery, the cruelty of her fate. She had not
been engaged three months, and already the beautiful dream which
had come into her life was shattered at a touch. Until the un-
forgettable moment when Owen had first called at Mon Désir,
she had led such dull, such monotonous days ; not unhappy ones,
simply because she had known no happier ones to gauge them by.
She had often smiled since to remember that she had been used to
find excitement in a summer picnic with the De Souchy girls at
Rocquaine, in a winter lecture with magic-lantern illustrations
at the Town Library.
In those days she had known of love in much the same vague
unrealising way that she had known of the Desert of Sahara ; but
she had touched the fringe of courtship when young Mallienne,
the builder’s son, had offered her peppermints during evening
chapel one Sunday last December. When she met him after that
she used to smile and blush.
She, of course, had always supposed that she should some day
marry. Everybody did. Last summer her friend Caroline de
Souchy had married Mr. Geraud, pharmacien at St. Héliers ; but
he was bald, forty years of age, and not at all handsome, and
although Agnes had been one of the bridesmaids, the affair had
left her cold and unmoved.
But with Owen’s first visit she had suddenly awoke to the
knowledge of love, and this wonderful fact, this stupendous miracle
rather, had changed for her the whole world. It was as though
she were endowed with a new sense ; she saw meaning and beauty
everywhere ; her perceptions acquired clearness at the same time
that her eyes grew clearer, more intense, that her cheek took
on a lovelier colour, her mouth a sweeter, a more engaging
Every hour, every moment, that she had spent in Owen’s com-
pany was indelibly engraved on her memory. She could call up each
particular occasion at will. She had learned his portrait off by
heart at that first visit, she had done nothing but add graces to it
ever since. She thought him the most handsome, the most
distinguished-looking man she had ever seen. She admired his
black hair, his dark eyes, his sallow skin. She admired the way he
held himself, the way he dressed, although she had observed on
that first visit that the stiff edges of his cuffs were frayed, although
she had seen, as she watched him away from the door, that his
boot-heels were trodden down on the outside. But in spite of his
shabby clothes, he looked a thousand times the superior of young
Maliienne, of any of the young men she knew, in their best Sunday
And this was before she had formulated, even to herself, her
feelings for him ; long before that ecstatic, that magical moment,
when he had taken her into his arms, had kissed her, had kissed
her mouth, had said, ” Well, little one, do you know I am very
fond of you, and I fancy you don’t altogether dislike me, eh ? ”
That had happened on a Sunday afternoon, April 28th ; a date
she could never forget. They were out upon the cote; Freddy
was nominally with them, but kept wandering away to gather the
wild hyacinths which just then carpeted the ground with blue.
He kept bringing her bunches of them to take care of; she could
feel again the thick, pale-green, shiny stems grasped in her hand.
And they were climbing the steep path which winds up from the
bay to the brow of the cliff, and her dress brushed against the
encroaching gorse and bracken, and her eyes followed a couple of
white butterflies gyrating on ahead ; or, looking down from the
height on which she stood, she saw the smooth sea below her,
paving, as with a green translucent marble, every inlet, every
crevice of the bay.
Then the path had bent outwards to skirt a great boulder of
granite, and there, right under the shelter of the rock, was a
circular clearing, a resting-place, spread with the sweet, short
cliff-grass, where a broad ledge of the stone offered a natural
It was here that he had kissed her, and the flowers had fallen in
a blue confusion at her feet, and, “Oh, I love you so,” she had
whispered, and he had laughed, and said, ” Yes, child, I could see
that from the very first.”
Then they had sat down, he with his arm round her waist.
” Well, I must call you Agnes now, I suppose,” he had said ; and
she had timidly asked him his name, and he had told her, John
Ashford Owen, but that his friends commonly called him Jack.
” Then I may call you Jack, too, because I am going to be your
best friend of all,” she had answered, and then Freddy had come
up and broken into loud lamentation over the scattered flowers.
To appease him they had both knelt down in the grass and helped
him gather them up.
Jack had kissed her many times since, but never perhaps in quite
the same way. At least, she had never experienced since quite the
same sweet tremulous emotion. And yet she loved him more
devotedly every day. Every day her affection sent out fresh
delicate tendrils which rooted themselves inextricably in him.
And now they were to be rudely torn up ; at a word all her joy,
all her heaven was to come to an end. It was too cruel. And for
what reason ? Because wicked, envious people invented calumnies
concerning him. It was too monstrous.
She passed a miserable night, but with the morning plucked up
faint heart again. It was impossible her engagement should really
for ever be at an end. With a little time, a little patience, things
must come right. Her sufferings were now all for Jack. How
wounded, how outraged he must have felt, never even to have
looked back when on Saturday he had left the house.
Oh, she must write to him, must tell him to have courage, not
to give her up, and all would yet be well.
In the warm, silent solitude of her shuttered bedroom she
wrote her first love-letter, an adorable, naïve, rambling letter ;
and waited in fluttering expectation during three interminable
days for his reply. When it came, she had to read it twice over
before she understood it. Correctly expressed, formal, in his
rather illegible hand sprawling over two sides of the paper, Owen
wrote that he had too much self-respect to wish to force himself
on a family where he was not appreciated, and too high a sense of
honour to accept her well-meant proposal for a clandestine
When understanding came, she broke into floods of weeping ;
then dried her tears, and sought excuses for his seeming coldness.
She found them in his pride ; it was naturally up in arms, after
the rebuff it had received. If he had addressed her merely as
” My dear Agnes,” it was because he thought it probable Mrs. Le
Messurier would see the letter ; but he had signed himself
” Yours, nevertheless.” This was intended to show her he loved
her still. Before evening, the very cause of her morning’s
anguish was converted into another proof of the nobility of her
By the end of twenty-four hours she had persuaded herself she
ought to write to him again, to reproach him gently, tenderly for
his attitude towards her, to assure him of her unalterable con-
stancy, to implore him too, to be true. It was written on a
Sunday, and she carried the letter to evening chapel with her,
inside the bosom of her frock, both to sanctify it as it were, and
to have the pleasure of feeling it against her heart as long as
possible. Happy letter ! by to-morrow morning it was to have
the joy, the glory, of lying in his hand. Her grandmother never
went to chapel a second time, and Freddy made no objection to
passing round by the letter-box on the way home.
There was a day of long suspense, but when Agnes came
down to breakfast on Tuesday morning, purposely earlier t
han the others, she found his answer lying on her plate.
With her heart beating violently, she took it up, studied every
line, every dot of the superscription, noticed that the stamp had
been put on crookedly, that the flap of the envelope went down
into a long point. She turned it over and over in her hand, filled
with a sort of sweet terror as she speculated on its contents. But
the fear that in a few moments she would no longer be alone
came to determine her. She pulled it hastily open, tearing the
envelope into great jags, and unfolded a sheet of note-paper
which contained five lines. They began, ” Dear Miss Allez,”
expressed the polite regret that Mrs. Le Messurier’s decided
action in the matter made it impossible the writer should permit
himself any longer the pleasure of corresponding with her, and
were signed “Very truly yours, J. Ashford Owen.”
The girl turned red, then white. Her hands trembled, her
blood ran cold. She heard her grandmother and Freddy in the
hall. To hide her emotion, she got up and walked over to the
window. The August flowers in the garden seemed to look at
her with jeering, fleering eyes.
Jack had written her a horrible letter ; she repeated this to
herself over and over again. He had no heart. She thought of
all that had passed between them ; she called up, line by line,
every word of her letter to him. Her cheeks burned with shame.
She hated him, hated him. She would renounce him entirely,
never think of him again. And even as she said it, she burst into
tears, flung herself upon her bed, and kissed and passionately kissed
the letter which had pierced her heart.
Therewith began again the eternal rehabilitative process, in
which every woman shows herself such an adept in relation to the
man she loves.
Jack had not meant to be cruel, but he was quick-tempered ;
he resented the treatment he had received. Still smarting from a
sense of injury, he would naturally be unjust towards every one,
angry even with her. But, of course, he loved her all the same.
He had loved her only a few weeks ago. One could not change
so absolutely in so short a time. One could not love and not
love as one puts on and off a coat. It was she who was wicked
to doubt him, who was unreasonable not to make allowances, who
was stupid not to read his real feelings beneath the disguising
But no sooner was her idol again set upon his altar, than doubt,
suspicion, assailed her anew. And so the struggle continued
between her longing to believe her lover perfect and the revolt of
her reason, her dignity, against his conduct towards her. Yet
with every victory love flowed stronger, resentment ebbed
The last traces of resentment vanished when one Saturday in
town she met him suddenly face to face. She was passing the
Town Library, and exactly as she passed, Owen came out,
standing still, as he saw her, on the step.
Her pulses beat tumultuously, the colour ran to her cheeks.
“Oh, Jack,” she cried, taking his hand, “how could you
write to me so coldly, so cruelly ? If you knew what I have
suffered ! And it was not my fault . . .”
From the first moment of seeing her, Owen had stood trans-
fixed, silent. Now he pushed back the swing door, and held it
” At least come in here,” he said slowly ; ” don’t let us have a
scene in the street.”
They stood together in a corner of the great, granite-flagged
hall, in cool, quiet contrast with the sunshine and turmoil out-
” You don’t care for me any more ? ” she asked, keen for the
denial, which came indeed, but which to her supersensitiveness
seemed to lack emphasis.
But his excuses were emphatic enough.
” It’s no more my fault than it’s yours,” he told her ; ” it’s your
grandmother who won’t have anything to say to me, the Lord
knows why ? ”
He spoke interrogatively, and she flamed a deprecating
“I can’t very well force my way into the house against her
wishes, can I ? ” he went on.
” No ; but, dearest Jack, you needn’t be angry with me, and we
can wait a little, and I know everything will come right. If
only you will go on loving me ? You do love me still ? ” she
asked again. “I shall die if you don’t ! ”
He smiled down upon her, twisting his moustache-end ; a
softer look came into his eyes.
” So the poor little girlie can’t live without me ? ” he said, and
gently squeezed her arm. Her heart welled up with adoration
A stranger coming down the polished wooden staircase cast a
sympathetic glance at this little Island love idyll.
But Owen looked at his watch.
” Oh, confound it ! Half-past twelve, already, and I ought to
be up at Rohais by now. I’ve an appointment there. I don’t
like to leave you, but—”
” Is it very important ? ” she asked wistfully.
“It’s a new patient.”
” Oh, then in that case, of course you must go,” she said,
with ready abnegation of her pleasure where it clashed with his
interests. “But when shall I see you again ? Ah, do let me
” Oh, . . . well, … all right ! I’ll stroll up to-morrow in
the course of the afternoon, to Berceau Bay, . . . but if I’m,
prevented, you’ll be down again to market, next Saturday, I
suppose, eh ? ”
And he was gone.
Agnes sat down for a few moments to recover her composure.
Her eyes rested on the red goldfish swimming futilely round and
round the glass bowl in the centre of the hall ; but at her ear was
the joy-killing whisper that the appointment had been a fictitious
Nevertheless, she persuaded herself he would come next day.
She spent three hours, hidden in the bracken, at a point whence
she could overlook the whole bay. When he did not come, she
deferred her hopes to the following Saturday, to be again disap-
pointed. He was not to be seen. Neither in the Market Place,
nor at the Library, nor yet in Contrée Mansel ; for she could not
refrain from the poor pleasure of passing along the street in which
he lived, of glancing shamefacedly at his house, of envying wildly
the servant she saw for an instant at an upper window. She
would have thought it a privilege to be allowed to clean his
But when she found herself at home that evening she was
seized by an excess of silent despair. There seemed nothing on
earth to do : nothing to live for.
Yet the buoyancy of youth is hard to suppress. It takes re-
peated blows to beat it down, just as the tears shed at eighteen
may be bitter indeed, but do not furrow the cheeks.
As the year brought round another spring, Agnes found that
her spirits were growing brighter with the days. She loved Jack
more than ever. It was impossible to be absolutely unhappy with
such a love in her heart ; with the knowledge that she lived in
the same Island with him ; that once a week at least she could
walk through the streets he daily trod ; that any day she ran the
chance of meeting him again, of speaking at least with some one
who had just spoken with him.
Against dates on which she heard his name thus mentioned
she put a cross of red ink in the little calendar she carried in her
purse. When she was having her new summer frock fitted, the
dressmaker’s three-year-old son ran into the room. Agnes, who
was fond of children, spoke kindly to him ; but the mother,
kneeling on the floor with upstretched arms and a mouthful of
pins, shook her head menacingly.
” Ah, Johnnie’s a bad boy. He won’t take his medicine. I’ll
have to tell Dr. Owen bout him.”
” Does Dr. Owen attend him ? ” Agnes asked, flutteringly ;
and the woman explained he was doctor of the club to which her
” He’s a very clever doctor,” ventured Agnes, all covered with
blushes. ” Don’t you think so ? ”
” Ah, my good ! ” said the other, as who should say doctors
are necessary evils, and there’s not much to choose between them.
” But he give Johnnie a fine new double piece last time he come,
didn’t he, Johnnie ? ‘Tisn’t the value I ever looks at,” she ex-
plained to Agnes, ” but the kind thought.”
Agnes felt a glow of pride at the generosity, the good-hearted-
ness of her lover, and on going away pressed a whole British
shilling into Johnnie’s treacly little paw. Against this day she
placed two crosses in her calendar, and the episode filled her
thoughts for a week, to be succeeded by a more precious one.
The annual picnic came round, provided by the chapel for its
Sunday-school. Agnes, as one of the teachers, went with the
rest. They drove in waggonettes to Rocquaine, and the one
point of the day to which she looked forward with excitement,
with a thrill, was the passing Owen’s house on the way back late
at night. They went by a longer way, but they always came
down Contrée Mansel on the way home. She distinguished from
quite a distance his illuminated parlour window ; but
blind was drawn down ; she was just going to be bitterly disap-
pointed, when a shadow, his shadow, passed across it. She
glowed with pleasure, with gratitude, for her great good luck, and
answered young Mallienne, who sat beside her, with strange irrele-
For in spite of everything she could not realise to herself that
Owen did not love her ; her heart refused to envisage it.
Although he made no effort to see her, although he gave no sign,
she still believed that all would yet be well. She leaned on Fate ;
something would be sure to happen . . . some day, when she
was her own mistress. . . . She thought of him constantly, loved
him as tenderly as before.
The summer was extraordinarily fine. The heat which had
begun in March, lasted right through to September ; in the
middle of the day from July onwards, it was almost unbearable.
One Saturday, when Agnes had been into town as usual, and the
omnibus filling up almost the moment it reached the Market
Place, had been obliged to walk back, she found, on her return,
Frederic in one of those states of nervous excitement from which
he periodically suffered. Mrs. Le Messurier had given him a
soothing draught, the last in the house. It was essential to have
more in case it were required in the night or the next day.
Agnes, pleased at the chance of a second journey into town,
since it gave her a second chance of meeting Owen, volunteered
to go and get it. Mrs. Le Messurier told her she looked done up
with the heat already, but that she might go when she had had her
dinner, and must take the omnibus both ways.
It was half-past two when she reached town, crossed over to
Mauger’s, and waited while the prescription was made up, and
then had ten minutes on her hands before the three o’clock omni-
bus left for St. Gilles.
Mr. de Souchy stood in his shirt-sleeves on the threshold of
his shop. Agnes stopped to speak to him, and inquire after the
girls. They were all away from home now, but doing well.
Their mother received cheerful letters every week. Agnes
charged the old man with kind messages for them, and turned to
go. He shook her hand heartily. “Well, good-bye, my dear,”
he said, in his comfortable, resonant voice, ” my love to your
grand’ma, and ask her when she’s going to spend another day with
us, eh ? ”
Coming down the street were a lady and two gentlemen. The
men were in tennis flannels, carried rackets and balls. The girl
wore a lilac and white frock, the chic of which spoke of St. Hé1iers
at least, if not of Paris.
Agnes recognised the youngest Miss d’Aldernois, her brother
the Captain, just back from India, and between the two Jack Owen.
He was looking straight towards her.
The delighted blood sprang to her cheek, her eyes sparkled, her
mouth smiled. She took a step forward, she half extended her
hand . . . and he looked her full in the face without a sign of
recognition, and passed on.
Miss d’Aldernois’ silk-lined skirt brushed with a light frou-frou
against hers, as, with her pretty head held high, she chattered
volubly with her pretty lisp. The Captain walked in the road-
Agnes stood and watched the three figures with their short,
slanting shadows retire further and further down the sunny
” Come in and take something,” she heard De Souchy saying
at her elbow, “a little drop of raspberry vinegar now, it will do
you good. Or go up and have a chat with mother, eh ? You
will find her in the drawing-room. She would like to read you
Lucy’s last letter, I know. It’s downright clever.”
Agnes shook her head, stammered excuses in a voice that sounded
strange in her own ears, and left him.
He had cut her dead ; Jack, the man she worshipped. The
only man who had ever taken her in his arms and kissed her ; the
only man by whom she ever wished to be kissed and held. In
broad daylight, openly, before witnesses, he had cut her.
Mr. de Souchy had seen what had happened ; he had understood ;
he had pitied her.
An illumination came ; Jack was ashamed of her. Because she
had shaken hands with the old man, he was ashamed to recognise
her before his new friends. She was connected with trade ; a child
of trade ; and he was now received among the Sixties.
A profound humiliation overpowered her, sapped the rest of
her strength. The glare of the sun was so intolerable . . . how
she longed to be at home, to be in darkness.
She discovered that in her preoccupation she had taken the
wrong turning. She hurried back, but the market clock showed
seven minutes past three. The omnibus must be half-way up
Constitution Hill by now.
There was nothing to do but to walk, as she had walked in the
morning. She set out with automatic endurance.
When you get out of the last bit of shadow of the town, and,
steeply climbing, reach the level top of the hill, you have before
you a long unsheltered stretch of road before you come to the
trees of St. Gilles. It is white and dusty underfoot ; sun-parched
fields lie on either hand ; and in July there is a blazing sky above,
to the left a blazing sea.
It seemed to Agnes that the sun was darting his rays straight
into her brain, that the ground was scorching up the soles of her
feet. But it did not occur to her to open her umbrella.
The passing scarlet jacket of a soldier made her close her eyes
with pain ; the whistle of a boy behind her set all her nerves
Should she ever get home ? . . . She dragged on with leaden feet
and prayed persistently for darkness.
But when at last she lay upon her own bed in such darkness as
closed shutters and drawn curtains can give, all she could say was,
” Oh, the sun, the sun ! ” and lift her hand indeterminately towards
her head. And when, a few hours before the end, she lost the
power of speech, still her hand wandered up every now and again
automatically towards her head.
Mrs. Le Messurier sits alone with her grandson in the living-
room of Mon Désir. He cuts out pictures from the illustrated
papers, and she gazes tirelessly through dim and tearless eyes into
the past. Bright crowds of long-dead men and women pass before
her, and among them the two Agneses are never absent long.
Then, all at once, as the boy looks up to claim her attention,
with his mirthless laugh, the vision is scattered into thin wreaths
The Yellow Book, vol. 8, January 1896. Yellow Book Digital Edition, edited by Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra, 2010-2014. Yellow Nineties 2.0, Ryerson University Centre for Digital Humanities, 2021. https://1890s.ca/YBV8_all