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 CHAPTER THE SIXTH

THE ENCOUNTER AT STONEHENGE

 

Section 1

 

Next day in the early afternoon after a farewell walk over

the downs round Avebury they went by way of Devizes and

Netheravon and Amesbury to Stonehenge.

Dr. Martineau had seen this ancient monument before, but now,

with Avebury fresh in his mind, he found it a poorer thing

than he had remembered it to be. Sir Richmond was frankly

disappointed. After the real greatness and mystery of the

older place, it seemed a poor little heap of stones; it did

not even dominate the landscape; it was some way from the

crest of the swelling down on which it stood and it was

further dwarfed by the colossal air-ship hangars and

clustering offices of the air station that the great war had

called into existence upon the slopes to the south-west. “It

looks,” Sir Richmond said, “as though some old giantess had

left a discarded set of teeth on the hillside.” Far more

impressive than Stonehenge itself were the barrows that

capped the neighbouring crests.

The sacred stones were fenced about, and our visitors had to

pay for admission at a little kiosk by the gate. At the side

of the road stood a travelstained middle-class automobile,

with a miscellany of dusty luggage, rugs and luncheon things

therein-a family automobile with father no doubt at the

wheel. Sir Richmond left his own trim coupe at its tail.

They were impeded at the entrance by a difference of opinion

between the keeper of the turnstile and a small but resolute

boy of perhaps five or six who proposed to leave the

enclosure. The custodian thought that it would be better if

his nurse or his mother came out with him.

“She keeps on looking at it, “ said the small boy. “It isunt

anything. I want to go and clean the car.”

“You won’t SEE Stonehenge every day, young man,” said the

custodian, a little piqued.

“It’s only an old beach,” said the small boy, with extreme

conviction. “It’s rocks like the seaside. And there isunt no

sea.”

The man at the turnstile mutely consulted the doctor.

“I don’t see that he can get into any harm here,” the doctor

advised, and the small boy was released from archaeology.

He strolled to the family automobile, produced an EN-TOUT-CAS

pocket-handkerchief and set himself to polish the lamps with

great assiduity. The two gentlemen lingered at the turnstile

for a moment or so to watch his proceedings. “Modern child,”

said Sir Richmond. “Old stones are just old stones to him.

But motor cars are gods.”

“You can hardly expect him to understand-at his age,” said

the custodian, jealous for the honor of Stonehenge. . . .

“Reminds me of Martin’s little girl,” said Sir Richmond, as

he and Dr. Martineau went on towards the circle. “When she

encountered her first dragon-fly she was greatly delighted.

‘0h, dee’ lill’ a’eplane,’ she said.”

As they approached the grey old stones they became aware of a

certain agitation among them. A voice, an authoritative bass

voice, was audible, crying, “Anthony!” A nurse appeared

remotely going in the direction of the aeroplane sheds, and

her cry of “Master Anthony” came faintly on the breeze. An

extremely pretty young woman of five or six and twenty became

visible standing on one of the great prostrate stones in the

centre of the place. She was a black-haired, sun-burnt

individual and she stood with her arms akimbo, quite frankly

amused at the disappearance of Master Anthony, and offering

no sort of help for his recovery. On the greensward before

her stood the paterfamilias of the family automobile, and he

was making a trumpet with his hands in order to repeat the

name of Anthony with greater effect. A short lady in grey

emerged from among the encircling megaliths, and one or two

other feminine personalities produced effects of movement

rather than of individuality as they flitted among the

stones. “Well,” said the lady in grey, with that rising

intonation of humorous conclusion which is so distinctively

American, “those Druids have GOT him.”

“He’s hiding,” said the automobilist, in a voice that

promised chastisement to a hidden hearer. “That’s what he is

doing. He ought not to play tricks like this. A great boy who

is almost six.”

“If you are looking for a small, resolute boy of six,” said

Sir Richmond, addressing himself to the lady on the rock

rather than to the angry parent below, “he’s perfectly safe

and happy. The Druids haven’t got him. Indeed, they’ve failed

altogether to get him. ‘Stonehenge,’ he says, ‘is no good.’

So he’s gone back to clean the lamps of your car.”

“Aa-oo. So THAT’S it! “ said Papa. “Winnie, go and tell Price

he’s gone back to the car. . . . They oughtn’t to have let

him out of the enclosure. . . .”

The excitement about Master Anthony collapsed. The rest of

the people in the circles crystallized out into the central

space as two apparent sisters and an apparent aunt and the

nurse, who was packed off at once to supervise the lamp

cleaning. The head of the family found some difficulty, it

would seem, in readjusting his mind to the comparative

innocence of Anthony, and Sir Richmond and the young lady on

the rock sought as if by common impulse to establish a

general conversation. There were faint traces of excitement

in her manner, as though there had been some controversial

passage between herself and the family gentleman.

“We were discussing the age of this old place,” she said,

smiling in the frankest and friendliest way. “How old do YOU

think it is?”

The father of Anthony intervened, also with a shadow of

controversy in his manner. “I was explaining to the young

lady that it dates from the early bronze age. Before

chronology existed. . . . But she insists on dates.”

“Nothing of bronze has ever been found here,” said Sir

Richmond.

“Well, when was this early bronze age, anyhow?” said the

young lady.

Sir Richmond sought a recognizable datum. “Bronze got to

Britain somewhere between the times of Moses and Solomon.”

“Ah! “ said the young lady, as who should say, ‘This man at

least talks sense.’

“But these stones are all shaped,” said the father of the

family. “It is difficult to see how that could have been done

without something harder than stone.”

“I don’t SEE the place,” said the young lady on the stone. “I

can’t imagine how they did it up-not one bit.”

“Did it up!” exclaimed the father of the family in the tone

of one accustomed to find a gentle sport in the intellectual

frailties of his womenkind.

“It’s just the bones of a place. They hung things round it.

They draped it.”

“But what things?” asked Sir Richmond.

“Oh! they had things all right. Skins perhaps. Mats of

rushes. Bast cloth. Fibre of all sorts. Wadded stuff.”

“Stonehenge draped! It’s really a delightful idea;” said the

father of the family, enjoying it.

“It’s quite a possible one,” said Sir Richmond.

“Or they may have used wicker,” the young lady went on,

undismayed. She seemed to concede a point. “Wicker IS

likelier.”

“But surely,” said the father of the family with the

expostulatory voice and gesture of one who would recall

erring wits to sanity, “it is far more impressive standing

out bare and noble as it does. In lonely splendour.”

“But all this country may have been wooded then,” said Sir

Richmond. “In which case it wouldn’t have stood out. It

doesn’t stand out so very much even now.”

“You came to it through a grove,” said the young lady,

eagerly picking up the idea.

“Probably beech,” said Sir Richmond.

“Which may have pointed to the midsummer sunrise,” said Dr.

Martineau, unheeded.

“These are NOVEL ideas,” said the father of the family in the

reproving tone of one who never allows a novel idea inside

HIS doors if he can prevent it.

“Well,” said the young lady, “I guess there was some sort of

show here anyhow. And no human being ever had a show yet

without trying to shut people out of it in order to make them

come in. I guess this was covered in all right. A dark

hunched old place in a wood. Beech stems, smooth, like

pillars. And they came to it at night, in procession, beating

drums, and scared half out of their wits. They came in THERE

and went round the inner circle with their torches. And so

they were shown. The torches were put out and the priests did

their mysteries. Until dawn broke. That is how they worked

it.”

“But even you can’t tell what the show was, V.V.” said the

lady in grey, who was standing now at Dr. Martineau’s elbow.

“Something horrid,” said Anthony’s younger sister to her

elder in a stage whisper.

“BLUGGY,” agreed Anthony’s elder sister to the younger, in a

noiseless voice that certainly did not reach father.

“SQUEALS! . . . .”

This young lady who was addressed as “V.V.” was perhaps one

or two and twenty, Dr. Martineau thought,-he was not very

good at feminine ages. She had a clear sun-browned

complexion, with dark hair and smiling lips. Her features

were finely modelled, with just that added touch of breadth

in the brow and softness in the cheek bones, that faint

flavour of the Amerindian, one sees at times in American

women. Her voice was a very soft and pleasing voice, and she

spoke persuasively and not assertively as so many American

women do. Her determination to make the dry bones of

Stonehenge live shamed the doctor’s disappointment with the

place. And when she had spoken, Dr. Martineau noted that she

looked at Sir Richmond as if she expected him at least to

confirm her vision. Sir Richmond was evidently prepared to

confirm it.

With a queer little twinge of infringed proprietorship, the

doctor saw Sir Richmond step up on the prostrate megalith and

stand beside her, the better to appreciate her point of view.

He smiled down at her. “Now why do you think they came in

THERE?” he asked.

The young lady was not very clear about her directions. She

did not know of the roadway running to the Avon river, nor of

the alleged race course to the north, nor had she ever heard

that the stones were supposed to be of two different periods

and that some of them might possibly have been brought from a

very great distance.

 

Section 2

 

Neither Dr. Martineau nor the father of the family found the

imaginative reconstruction of the Stonehenge rituals quite so

exciting as the two principals. The father of the family

endured some further particulars with manifest impatience, no

longer able, now that Sir Richmond was encouraging the girl,

to keep her in check with the slightly derisive smile proper

to her sex. Then he proclaimed in a fine loud tenor, “All

this is very imaginative, I’m afraid.” And to his family,

“Time we were pressing on. Turps, we must go-o. Come,

Phoebe!”

As he led his little flock towards the exit his voice came

floating back. “Talking wanton nonsense. . . . Any

professional archaeologist would laugh, simply laugh. . . .”

He passed out of the world.

With a faint intimation of dismay Dr. Martineau realized that

the two talkative ladies were not to be removed in the family

automobile with the rest of the party. Sir Richmond and the

younger lady went on very cheerfully to the population,

agriculture, housing and general scenery of the surrounding

Downland during the later Stone Age. The shorter, less

attractive lady, whose accent was distinctly American, came

now and stood at the doctor’s elbow. She seemed moved to play

the part of chorus to the two upon the stone.

“When V.V. gets going,” she remarked, “she makes things come

alive.”

Dr. Martineau hated to be addressed suddenly by strange

ladies. He started, and his face assumed the distressed

politeness of the moon at its full. “Your friend,” he said,

“interested in archaeology? “

“Interested!” said the stouter lady. “Why! She’s a fiend at

it. Ever since we came on Carnac. “

“You’ve visited Carnac?”

“That’s where the bug bit her.” said the stout lady with a

note of querulous humour. “Directly V.V. set eyes on Carnac,

she just turned against all her up-bringing. ‘Why wasn’t I

told of this before?’ she said. ‘What’s Notre Dame to this?

This is where we came from. This is the real starting point

of the MAYFLOWER. Belinda,’ she said, ‘we’ve got to see all

we can of this sort of thing before we go back to America.

They’ve been keeping this from us.’ And that’s why we’re here

right now instead of being shopping in Paris or London like

decent American women.”

The younger lady looked down on her companion with something

of the calm expert attention that a plumber gives to a tap

that is misbehaving, and like a plumber refrained from

precipitate action. She stood with the backs of her hands

resting on her hips.

“Well,” she said slowly, giving most of the remark to Sir

Richmond and the rest to the doctor. “it is nearer the

beginnings of things than London or Paris.”

“And nearer to us, “ said Sir Richmond.

“I call that just-paradoxical,” said the shorter lady, who

appeared to be called Belinda.

“Not paradoxical,” Dr. Martineau contradicted gently. “Life

is always beginning again. And this is a time of fresh

beginnings.”

“Now that’s after V.V.’s own heart,” cried the stout lady in

grey. “She’ll agree to all that. She’s been saying it right

across Europe. Rome, Paris, London; they’re simply just done.

They don’t signify any more. They’ve got to be cleared away.”

“You let me tell my own opinions, Belinda,” said the young

lady who was called V.V. “I said that if people went on

building with fluted pillars and Corinthian capitals for two

thousand years, it was time they were cleared up and taken

away.”

“Corinthian capitals?” Sir Richmond considered it and laughed

cheerfully. “I suppose Europe does rather overdo that sort of

thing.”

“The way she went on about the Victor Emmanuele Monument! “

said the lady who answered to the name of Belinda. “It gave

me cold shivers to think that those Italian officers might

understand English. “

The lady who was called V.V. smiled as if she smiled at

herself, and explained herself to Sir Richmond. “When one is

travelling about, one gets to think of history and politics

in terms of architecture. I do anyhow. And those columns with

Corinthian capitals have got to be a sort of symbol for me

for everything in Europe that I don’t want and have no sort

of use for. It isn’t a bad sort of capital in its way, florid

and pretty, but not a patch on the Doric;-and that a whole

continent should come up to it and stick at it and never get

past it! . . .”

“It’s the classical tradition.”

“It puzzles me.”

“It’s the Roman Empire. That Corinthian column is a weed

spread by the Romans all over western Europe.”

“And it smothers the history of Europe. You can’t see Europe

because of it. Europe is obsessed by Rome. Everywhere Marble

Arches and ARCS DE TRIOMPHE. You never get away from it. It

is like some old gentleman who has lost his way in a speech

and keeps on repeating the same thing. And can’t sit down.

‘The empire, gentlemen-the Empire. Empire.’ Rome itself is

perfectly frightful. It stares at you with its great round

stupid arches as though it couldn’t imagine that you could

possibly want anything else for ever. Saint Peter’s and that

frightful Monument are just the same stuff as the Baths of

Caracalla and the palaces of the Caesars. Just the same. They

will make just the same sort of ruins. It goes on and goes

on.”

“AVE ROMA IMMORTALIS,” said Dr. Martineau.

“This Roman empire seems to be Europe’s first and last idea.

A fixed idea. And such a poor idea! . . . America never came

out of that. It’s no good-telling me that it did. It escaped

from it. . . . So I said to Belinda here, ‘Let’s burrow, if

we can, under all this marble and find out what sort of

people we were before this Roman empire and its acanthus

weeds got hold of us.’”

“I seem to remember at Washington, something faintly

Corinthian, something called the Capitol,” Sir Richmond

reflected. “And other buildings. A Treasury.”

“That is different,” said the young lady, so conclusively

that it seemed to leave nothing more to be said on that

score.

“A last twinge of Europeanism,” she vouchsafed. “We were

young in those days.”

“You are well beneath the marble here.”

She assented cheerfully.

“A thousand years before it.”

“Happy place! Happy people!”

“But even this place isn’t the beginning of things here.

Carnac was older than this. And older still is Avebury. Have

you heard in America of Avebury? It may have predated this

place, they think, by another thousand years.”

“Avebury?” said the lady who was called Belinda.

“But what is this Avebury?” asked V.V. “I’ve never heard of

the place.”

“I thought it was a lord,” said Belinda.

Sir Richmond, with occasional appeals to Dr. Martineau,

embarked upon an account of the glory and wonder of Avebury.

Possibly he exaggerated Avebury. . . .

It was Dr. Martineau who presently brought this disquisition

upon Avebury to a stop by a very remarkable gesture. He

looked at his watch. He drew it out ostentatiously, a thick,

respectable gold watch, for the doctor was not the sort of

man to wear his watch upon his wrist. He clicked it open and

looked at it. Thereby he would have proclaimed his belief

this encounter was an entirely unnecessary interruption of

his healing duologue with Sir Richmond, which must now be

resumed.

But this action had scarcely the effect he had intended it to

have. It set the young lady who was called Belinda asking

about ways and means of getting to Salisbury; it brought to

light the distressing fact that V.V. had the beginnings of a

chafed heel. Once he had set things going they moved much too

quickly for the doctor to deflect their course. He found

himself called upon to make personal sacrifices to facilitate

the painless transport of the two ladies to Salisbury, where

their luggage awaited them at the Old George Hotel. In some

way too elusive to trace, it became evident that he and Sir

Richmond were to stay at this same Old George Hotel. The

luggage was to be shifted to the top of the coupe, the young

lady called V.V. was to share the interior of the car with

Sir Richmond, while the lady named Belinda, for whom Dr.

Martineau was already developing a very strong dislike, was

to be thrust into an extreme proximity with him and the

balance of the luggage in the dicky seat behind.

Sir Richmond had never met with a young woman with a genuine

historical imagination before, and he was evidently very

greatly excited and resolved to get the utmost that there was

to be got out of this encounter.

 

Section 3

 

Sir Richmond displayed a complete disregard of the sufferings

of Dr. Martineau, shamefully compressed behind him. Of these

he was to hear later. He ran his overcrowded little car,

overcrowded so far as the dicky went, over the crest of the

Down and down into Amesbury and on to Salisbury, stopping to

alight and stretch the legs of the party when they came in

sight of Old Sarum.

“Certainly they can do with a little stretching,” said Dr.

Martineau grimly.

This charming young woman had seized upon the imagination of

Sir Richmond to the temporary exclusion of all other

considerations. The long Downland gradients, quivering very

slightly with the vibration of the road, came swiftly and

easily to meet and pass the throbbing little car as he sat

beside her and talked to her. He fell into that expository

manner which comes so easily to the native entertaining the

visitor from abroad.

“In England, it seems to me there are four main phases of

history. Four. Avebury, which I would love to take you to see

to-morrow. Stonehenge. Old Sarum, which we shall see in a

moment as a great grassy mound on our right as we come over

one of these crests. Each of them represents about a thousand

years. Old Sarum was Keltic; it, saw the Romans and the

Saxons through, and for a time it was a Norman city. Now it

is pasture for sheep. Latest as yet is Salisbury,-English,

real English. It may last a few centuries still. It is little

more than seven hundred years old. But when I think of those

great hangars back there by Stonehenge, I feel that the next

phase is already beginning. Of a world one will fly to the

ends of, in a week or so. Our world still. Our people, your

people and mine, who are going to take wing so soon now, were

made in all these places. We are visiting the old homes. I am

glad I came back to it just when you were doing the same

thing.”

“I’m lucky to have found a sympathetic fellow traveller,”

she said; “with a car.”

“You’re the first American I’ve ever met whose interest in

history didn’t seem-” He sought for an inoffensive word.

“Silly? Oh! I admit it. It’s true of a lot of us. Most of us.

We come over to Europe as if it hadn’t anything to do with us

except to supply us with old pictures and curios generally.

We come sight-seeing. It’s romantic. It’s picturesque. We

stare at the natives-like visitors at a Zoo. We don’t

realize that we belong. . . . I know our style. . . . But we

aren’t all like that. Some of us are learning a bit better

than that. We have one or two teachers over there to lighten

our darkness. There’s Professor Breasted for instance. He

comes sometimes to my father’s house. And there’s James

Harvey Robinson and Professor Hutton Webster. They’ve been

trying to restore our memory.”

“I’ve never heard of any of them,” said Sir Richmond.

“You hear so little of America over here. It’s quite a large

country and all sorts of interesting things happen there

nowadays. And we are waking up to history. Quite fast. We

shan’t always be the most ignorant people in the world. We

are beginning to realize that quite a lot of things happened

between Adam and the Mayflower that we ought to be told

about. I allow it’s a recent revival. The United States has

been like one of those men you read about in the papers who

go away from home and turn up in some distant place with

their memories gone. They’ve forgotten what their names were

or where they lived or what they did for a living; they’ve

forgotten everything that matters. Often they have to begin

again and settle down for a long time before their memories

come back. That’s how it has been with us. Our memory is just

coming back to us.”

“And what do you find you are?”

“Europeans. Who came away from kings and churches-@-and

Corinthian capitals.”

“You feel all this country belongs to you?”

“As much as it does to you.”

Sir Richmond smiled radiantly at her. “But if I say that

America belongs to me as much as it does to you?”

“We are one people,” she said.

“We”

“Europe. These parts of Europe anyhow. And ourselves.”

“You are the most civilized person I’ve met for weeks and

weeks.” “Well, you are the first civilized person I’ve met in

Europe for a long time. If I understand you.”

“There are multitudes of reasonable, civilized people in

Europe.”

“I’ve heard or seen very little of them.

“They’re scattered, I admit.”

“And hard to find.”

“So ours is a lucky meeting. I’ve wanted a serious talk to an

American for some time. I want to know very badly what you

think you are up to with the world,-our world. “

“I’m equally anxious to know what England thinks she is

doing. Her ways recently have been a little difficult to

understand. On any hypothesis-that is honourable to her.”

“H’m,” said Sir Richmond.

“I assure you we don’t like it. This Irish business. We feel

a sort of ownership in England. It’s like finding your

dearest aunt torturing the cat.”

“We must talk of that,” said Sir Richmond.

“I wish you would.”

“It is a cat and a dog-and they have been very naughty

animals. And poor Aunt Britannia almost deliberately lost her

temper. But I admit she hits about in a very nasty fashion.”

“And favours the dog.”

“She does.”

“I want to know all you admit.”

“You shall. And incidentally my friend and I may have the

pleasure of showing you Salisbury and Avebury. If you are

free?”

“We’re travelling together, just we two. We are wandering

about the south of England on our way to Falmouth. Where I

join a father in a few days’ time, and I go on with him to

Paris. And if you and your friend are coming to the Old

George-”

“We are,” said Sir Richmond.

“I see no great scandal in talking right on to bedtime. And

seeing Avebury to-morrow. Why not? Perhaps if we did as the

Germans do and gave our names now, it might mitigate

something of the extreme informality of our behaviour.”

“My name is Hardy. I’ve been a munition manufacturer. I was

slightly wounded by a stray shell near Arras while I was

inspecting some plant I had set up, and also I was hit by a

stray knighthood. So my name is now Sir Richmond Hardy. My

friend is a very distinguished Harley Street physician.

Chiefly nervous and mental cases. His name is Dr. Martineau.

He is quite as civilized as I am. He is also a philosophical

writer. He is really a very wise and learned man indeed. He

is full of ideas. He’s stimulated me tremendously. You must

talk to him.”

Sir Richmond glanced over his shoulder at the subject of

these commendations. Through the oval window glared an

expression of malignity that made no impression whatever on

his preoccupied mind.

“My name,” said the young lady, “is Grammont. The war whirled

me over to Europe on Red Cross work and since the peace I’ve

been settling up things and travelling about Europe. My

father is rather a big business man in New York.”

“The oil Grammont?”

“He is rather deep in oil, I believe. He is coming over to

Europe because he does not like the way your people are

behaving in Mesopotamia. He is on his way to Paris now. Paris

it seems is where everything is to be settled against you.

Belinda is a sort of companion I have acquired for the

purposes of independent travel. She was Red Cross too. I must

have somebody and I cannot bear a maid. Her name is Belinda

Seyffert. From Philadelphia originally. You have that?

Seyffert, Grammont?”

“And Hardy?” “Sir Richmond and Dr. Martineau.”

“And-Ah!-That great green bank there just coming into sight

must be Old Sarum. The little ancient city that faded away

when Salisbury lifted its spire into the world. We will stop

here for a little while. . . . “

Then it was that Dr. Martineau was grim about the stretching

of his legs.

 

Section 4

 

The sudden prospect which now opened out before Sir Richmond

of talking about history and suchlike topics with a charming

companion for perhaps two whole days instead of going on with

this tiresome, shamefaced, egotistical business of selfexamination

was so attractive to him that it took immediate

possession of his mind, to the entire exclusion and disregard

of Dr. Martineau’s possible objections to any such

modification of their original programme. When they arrived

in Salisbury, the doctor did make some slight effort to

suggest a different hotel from that in which the two ladies

had engaged their rooms, but on the spur of the moment and in

their presence he could produce no sufficient reason for

refusing the accommodation the Old George had ready for him.

He was reduced to a vague: “We don’t want to inflict

ourselves-” He could not get Sir Richmond aside for any

adequate expression of his feelings about Miss Seyffert,

before the four of them were seated together at tea amidst

the mediaeval modernity of the Old George smoking-room. And

only then did he begin to realize the depth and extent of the

engagements to which Sir Richmond had committed himself.

“I was suggesting that we run back to Avebury to-morrow,”

said Sir Richmond. “These ladies were nearly missing it.”

The thing took the doctor’s breath away. For the moment he

could say nothing. He stared over his tea-cup dour-faced. An

objection formulated itself very slowly. “But that dicky,” he

whispered.

His whisper went unnoted. Sir Richmond was talking of the

completeness of Salisbury. From the very beginning it had

been a cathedral city; it was essentially and purely that.

The church at its best, in the full tide of its mediaeval

ascendancy, had called it into being. He was making some

extremely loose and inaccurate generalizations about the

buildings and ruins each age had left for posterity, and Miss

Grammont was countering with equally unsatisfactory

qualifications. “Our age will leave the ruins of hotels,”

said Sir Richmond. “Railway arches and hotels.”

“Baths and aqueducts,” Miss Grammont compared. “Rome of the

Empire comes nearest to it . . . . “

As soon as tea was over, Dr. Martineau realized, they meant

to walk round and about Salisbury. He foresaw that walk with

the utmost clearness. In front and keeping just a little

beyond the range of his intervention, Sir Richmond would go

with Miss Grammont; he himself and Miss Seyffert would bring

up the rear. “If I do,” he muttered, “I’ll be damned!” an

unusually strong expression for him.

“You said-?” asked Miss Seyffert.

“That I have some writing to do-before the post goes,” said

the doctor brightly.

“Oh! come and see the cathedral!” cried Sir Richmond with

ill-concealed dismay. He was, if one may put it in such a

fashion, not looking at Miss Seyffert in the directest

fashion when he said this.

“I’m afraid,” said the doctor mulishly. “Impossible.”

(With the unspoken addition of, “You try her for a bit.”)

Miss Grammont stood up. Everybody stood up. “We can go first

to look for shops,” she said. “There’s those things you want

to buy, Belinda; a fountain pen and the little books. We can

all go together as far as that. And while you are shopping,

if you wouldn’t mind getting one or two things

for me. . . .”

It became clear to Dr. Martineau that Sir Richmond was to be

let off Belinda. It seemed abominably unjust. And it was also

clear to him that he must keep closely to his own room or he

might find Miss Seyffert drifting back alone to the hotel and

eager to resume with him. . . .

Well, a quiet time in his room would not be disagreeable. He

could think over his notes. . . .

But in reality he thought over nothing but the little

speeches he would presently make to Sir Richmond about the

unwarrantable, the absolutely unwarrantable, alterations that

were being made without his consent in their common

programme. . . .

For a long time Sir Richmond had met no one so interesting

and amusing as this frank-minded young woman from America.

“Young woman” was how he thought of her; she didn’t

correspond to anything so prim and restrained and extensively

reserved and withheld as a “young lady “; and though he

judged her no older than five and twenty, the word “girl”

with its associations of virginal ignorances, invisible

purdah, and trite ideas newly discovered, seemed even less

appropriate for her than the word “boy.” She had an air of

having in some obscure way graduated in life, as if so far

she had lived each several year of her existence in a

distinctive and conclusive manner with the utmost mental

profit and no particular tarnish or injury. He could talk

with her as if he talked with a man like himself-but with a

zest no man could give him.

It was evident that the good things she had said at first

came as the natural expression of a broad stream of alert

thought; they were no mere display specimens from one of

those jackdaw collections of bright things so many clever

women waste their wits in accumulating. She was not talking

for effect at all, she was talking because she was

tremendously interested in her discovery of the spectacle of

history, and delighted to find another person as possessed as

she was.

Belinda having been conducted to her shops, the two made

their way through the bright evening sunlight to the compact

gracefulness of the cathedral. A glimpse through a wroughtiron

gate of a delightful garden of spring flowers, alyssum,

aubrietia, snow-upon-the-mountains, daffodils, narcissus and

the like, held them for a time, and then they came out upon

the level, grassy space, surrounded by little ripe old

houses, on which the cathedral stands. They stood for some

moments surveying it.

“It’s a perfect little lady of a cathedral,” said Sir

Richmond. “But why, I wonder, did we build it? “

“Your memory ought to be better than mine,” she said, with

her half-closed eyes blinking up at the sunlit spire sharp

against the blue. “I’ve been away for so long-over there-that

I forget altogether. Why DID we build it?”

She had fallen in quite early with this freak of speaking and

thinking as if he and she were all mankind. It was as if her

mind had been prepared for it by her own eager exploration in

Europe. “My friend, the philosopher,” he had said, “will not

have it that we are really the individuals we think we are.

You must talk to him-he is a very curious and subtle

thinker. We are just thoughts in the Mind of the Race, he

says, passing thoughts. We are-what does he call it? -Man

on his Planet, taking control of life.”

“Man and woman,” she had amended.

But just as man on his planet taking control of life had

failed altogether to remember why the ditch at Avebury was on

the inside instead of the outside of the vallum, so now Miss

Grammont and Sir Richmond found very great difficulty in

recalling why they had built Salisbury Cathedral.

“We built temples by habit and tradition,” said Sir Richmond.

“But the impulse was losing its force. “

She looked up at the spire and then at him with a faintly

quizzical expression.

But he had his reply ready.

“We were beginning to feel our power over matter. We were

already very clever engineers. What interested us here wasn’t

the old religion any more. We wanted to exercise and display

our power over stone. We made it into reeds and branches. We

squirted it up in all these spires and pinnacles. The priest

and his altar were just an excuse. Do you think people have

ever feared and worshipped in this-this artist’s lark-as

they did in Stonehenge?”

“I certainly do not remember that I ever worshipped here,”

she said.

Sir Richmond was in love with his idea. “The spirit of the

Gothic cathedrals,” he said, “is the spirit of the skyscrapers.

It is architecture in a mood of flaming ambition.

The Freemasons on the building could hardly refrain from

jeering at the little priest they had left down below there,

performing antiquated puerile mysteries at his altar. He was

just their excuse for doing it all.”

“Sky-scrapers?” she conceded. “An early display of the skyscraper

spirit. . . . You are doing your best to make me feel

thoroughly at home.”

“You are more at home here still than in that new country of

ours over the Atlantic. But it seems to me now that I do

begin to remember building this cathedral and all the other

cathedrals we built in Europe. . . . It was the fun of

building made us do it. . . “

“H’m,” she said. “And my sky-scrapers?”

“Still the fun of building. That is the thing I envy most

about America. It’s still large enough, mentally and

materially, to build all sorts of things. . . . Over here,

the sites are frightfully crowded. . . . “

“And what do you think we are building now? And what do you

think you are building over here?”

“What are we building now? I believe we have almost grown up.

I believe it is time we began to build in earnest. For

good. . . .”

“But are we building anything at all?”

“A new world.”

“Show it me,” she said.

“We’re still only at the foundations,” said Sir Richmond.”

Nothing shows as yet.”

“I wish I could believe they were foundations.”

“But can you doubt we are scrapping the old? . . .”

It was too late in the afternoon to go into the cathedral, so

they strolled to and fro round and about the west end and

along the path under the trees towards the river, exchanging

their ideas very frankly and freely about the things that had

recently happened to the world and what they thought they

ought to be doing in it.

 

Section 5

 

After dinner our four tourists sat late and talked in a

corner of the smoking-room. The two ladies had vanished

hastily at the first dinner gong and reappeared at the

second, mysteriously and pleasantly changed from tweedy

pedestrians to indoor company. They were quietly but

definitely dressed, pretty alterations had happened to their

coiffure, a silver band and deep red stones lit the dusk of

Miss Grammont’s hair and a necklace of the same colourings

kept the peace between her jolly sun-burnt cheek and her soft

untanned neck. It was evident her recent uniform had included

a collar of great severity. Miss Seyffert had revealed a

plump forearm and proclaimed it with a clash of bangles. Dr.

Martineau thought her evening throat much too confidential.

The conversation drifted from topic to topic. It had none of

the steady continuity of Sir Richmond’s duologue with Miss

Grammont. Miss Seyffert’s methods were too discursive and

exclamatory. She broke every thread that appeared. The Old

George at Salisbury is really old; it shows it, and Miss

Seyffert laced the entire evening with her recognition of the

fact. “Just look at that old beam!” she would cry suddenly. “

To think it was exactly where it is before there was a Cabot

in America!”

Miss Grammont let her companion pull the talk about as she

chose. After the animation of the afternoon a sort of lazy

contentment had taken possession of the younger lady. She sat

deep in a basket chair and spoke now and then. Miss Seyffert

gave her impressions of France and Italy. She talked of the

cabmen of Naples and the beggars of Amalfi.

Apropos of beggars, Miss Grammont from the depths of her

chair threw out the statement that Italy was frightfully

overpopulated. “In some parts of Italy it is like mites on a

cheese. Nobody seems to be living. Everyone is too busy

keeping alive.”

“Poor old women carrying loads big enough for mules,” said

Miss Seyffert.

“Little children working like slaves,” said Miss Grammont.

“And everybody begging. Even the people at work by the

roadside. Who ought to be getting wages-sufficient. . . .”

“Begging-from foreigners-is just a sport in Italy,” said

Sir Richmond. “It doesn’t imply want. But I agree that a

large part of Italy is frightfully overpopulated. The whole

world is. Don’t you think so, Martineau?”

“Well-yes-for its present social organization. “

“For any social organization,” said Sir Richmond.

“I’ve no doubt of it,” said Miss Seyffert, and added

amazingly: “I’m out for Birth Control all the time.”

A brief but active pause ensued. Dr. Martineau in a state of

sudden distress attempted to drink out of a cold and empty

coffee cup.

“The world swarms with cramped and undeveloped lives,” said

Sir Richmond. “Which amount to nothing. Which do not even

represent happiness. And which help to use up the resources,

the fuel and surplus energy of the world.”

“I suppose they have a sort of liking for their lives,” Miss

Grammont reflected.

“Does that matter? They do nothing to carry life on. They are

just vain repetitions-imperfect dreary, blurred repetitions

of one common life. All that they feel has been felt, all

that they do has been done better before. Because they are

crowded and hurried and underfed and undereducated. And as

for liking their lives, they need never have had the chance.”

“How many people are there in the world?” she asked abruptly.

“I don’t know. Twelve hundred, fifteen hundred millions

perhaps.”

“And in your world?”

“I’d have two hundred and fifty millions, let us say. At

most. It would be quite enough for this little planet, for a

time, at any rate. Don’t you think so, doctor?”

“I don’t know,” said Dr. Martineau. “Oddly enough, I have

never thought about that question before. At least, not from

this angle.”

“But could you pick out two hundred and fifty million

aristocrats?” began Miss Grammont. “My native instinctive

democracy-”

“Need not be outraged,” said Sir Richmond. “Any two hundred

and fifty million would do, They’d be able to develop fully,

all of them. As things are, only a minority can do that. The

rest never get a chance.”

“That’s what I always say,” said Miss Seyffert.

“A New Age,” said Dr. Martineau; “a New World. We may be

coming to such a stage, when population, as much as fuel  will be under a world control. If one thing, why not the

other? I admit that the movement of thought is away from

haphazard towards control-”

“I’m for control all the time,” Miss Seyffert injected,

following up her previous success.

“I admit”, the doctor began his broken sentence again with

marked patience, “that the movement of thought is away from

haphazard towards control-in things generally. But is the

movement of events?”

“The eternal problem of man,” said Sir Richmond. “Can our

wills prevail?”

There came a little pause.

Miss Grammont smiled an enquiry at Miss Seyffert. “If YOU

are,” said Belinda.

“I wish I could imagine your world,” said Miss Grammont,

rising, “of two hundred and fifty millions of fully developed

human beings with room to live and breathe in and no need for

wars. Will they live in palaces? Will they all be healthy? .

. . Machines will wait on them. No! I can’t imagine it.

Perhaps I shall dream of it. My dreaming self may be

cleverer.”

She held out her hand to Sir Richmond. Just for a moment they

stood hand in hand, appreciatively. . . .

“Well!” said Dr. Martineau, as the door closed behind the two

Americans, “This is a curious encounter.”

“That young woman has brains,” said Sir Richmond, standing

before the fireplace. There was no doubt whatever which young

woman he meant. But Dr. Martineau grunted.

“I don’t like the American type,” the doctor pronounced

judicially.

“I do,” Sir Richmond countered.

The doctor thought for a moment or so. “You are committed to

the project of visiting Avebury?” he said.

“They ought to see Avebury, “ said Sir Richmond.

“H’m,” said the doctor, ostentatiously amused by his thoughts

and staring at the fire. “Birth Control! I NEVER did.”

Sir Richmond smiled down on the top of the doctor’s head and

said nothing.

“I think” said the doctor and paused. “I shall leave this

Avebury expedition to you.”

“We can be back in the early afternoon,” said Sir Richmond.

“To give them a chance of seeing the cathedral. The chapter

house here is not one to miss . . . . “

“And then I suppose we shall go on?

“As you please,” said Sir Richmond insincerely.

“I must confess that four people make the car at any rate

seem tremendously overpopulated. And to tell the truth, I do

not find this encounter so amusing as you seem to do. . . . I

shall not be sorry when we have waved good-bye to those young

ladies, and resume our interrupted conversation.”

Sir Richmond considered something mulish in the doctor’s

averted face.

“I find Miss Grammont an extremely interesting-and

stimulating human being.

“Evidently.”

The doctor sighed, stood up and found himself delivering one

of the sentences he had engendered during his solitary

meditations in his room before dinner. He surprised himself

by the plainness of his speech. “Let me be frank,” he said,

regarding Sir Richmond squarely. “Considering the general

situation of things and your position, I do not care very

greatly for the part of an accessory to what may easily

develop, as you know very well, into a very serious

flirtation. An absurd, mischievous, irrelevant flirtation.

You may not like the word. You may pretend it is a

conversation, an ordinary intellectual conversation. That is

not the word. Simply that is not the word. You people eye one

another. . . . Flirtation. I give the affair its proper name.

That is all. Merely that. When I think-But we will not

discuss it now. . . . Good night. . . . Forgive me if I put

before you, rather bluntly, my particular point of view.”

Sir Richmond found himself alone. With his eyebrows raised.

 

Section 6

 

After twenty-four eventful hours our two students of human

motives found themselves together again by the fireplace in

the Old George smoking-room. They had resumed their overnight

conversation, in a state of considerable tension.

“If you find the accommodation of the car insufficient,” said

Sir Richmond in a tone of extreme reasonableness, and I admit

it is, we can easily hire a larger car in a place like this.

I would not care if you hired an omnibus, said Dr. Martineau.

“I am not coming on if these young women are.”

“But if you consider it scandalous-and really, Martineau,

really! as one man to another, it does seem to me to be a bit

pernickety of you, a broad and original thinker as you are-”

“Thought is one matter. Rash, inconsiderate action quite

another. And above all, if I spend another day in or near the

company of Miss Belinda Seyffert I shall-I shall be

extremely rude to her.”

“But,” said Sir Richmond and bit his lower lip and

considered.

“We might drop Belinda,” he suggested turning to his friend

and speaking in low, confidential tones. “She is quite a

manageable person. Quite. She could-for example-be left

behind with the luggage and sent on by train. I do not know

if you realize how the land lies in that quarter. It needs

only a word to Miss Grammont. “

There was no immediate reply. For a moment he had a wild hope

that his companion would agree, and then he perceived that

the doctor’s silence meant only the preparation of an

ultimatum.

“I object to Miss Grammont and that side of the thing, more

than I do to Miss Seyffert.”

Sir Richmond said nothing.

“It may help you to see this affair from a slightly different

angle if I tell you that twice today Miss Seyffert has asked

me if you were a married man.”

“And of course you told her I was.”

“On the second occasion.”

Sir Richmond smiled again.

“Frankly,” said the doctor, “this adventure is altogether

uncongenial to me. It is the sort of thing that has never

happened in my life. This highway coupling-”

“Don’t you think,” said Sir Richmond, “that you are attaching

rather too much-what shall I say-romantic?-flirtatious?-

meaning to this affair? I don’t mind that after my rather

lavish confessions you should consider me a rather oversexed

person, but isn’t your attitude rather unfair,-unjust,

indeed, and almost insulting, to this Miss Grammont? After

all, she’s a young lady of very good social position indeed.

She doesn’t strike you-does she?-as an undignified or

helpless human being. Her manners suggest a person of

considerable self-control. And knowing less of me than you

do, she probably regards me as almost as safe as-a maiden

aunt say. I’m twice her age. We are a party of four. There

are conventions, there are considerations. . . . Aren’t you

really, my dear Martineau, overdoing all this side of this

very pleasant little enlargement of our interests.”

“AM I?” said Dr. Martineau and brought a scrutinizing eye to

bear on Sir Richmond’s face.

“I want to go on talking to Miss Grammont for a day or so,”

Sir Richmond admitted.

“Then I shall prefer to leave your party.”

There were some moments of silence.

“I am really very sorry to find myself in this dilemma,” said

Sir Richmond with a note of genuine regret in his voice.

“It is not a dilemma,” said Dr. Martineau, with a

corresponding loss of asperity. “I grant you we discover we

differ upon a question of taste and convenience. But before I

suggested this trip, I had intended to spend a little time

with my old friend Sir Kenelm Latter at Bournemouth. Nothing

simpler than to go to him now . . . .”

“I shall be sorry all the same.”

“I could have wished,” said the doctor, “that these ladies

had happened a little later. . . .”

The matter was settled. Nothing more of a practical nature

remained to be said. But neither gentleman wished to break

off with a harsh and bare decision.

“When the New Age is here,” said Sir Richmond, “then, surely,

a friendship between a man and a woman will not be subjected

to the-the inconveniences your present code would set about

it? They would travel about together as they chose?”

“The fundamental principle of the new age,” said the doctor,

will be Honi soit qui mal y pense. In these matters. With

perhaps Fay ce que vouldras as its next injunction. So long

as other lives are not affected. In matters of personal

behaviour the world will probably be much more free and

individuals much more open in their conscience and honour

than they have ever been before. In matters of property,

economics and public conduct it will probably be just the

reverse. Then, there will be much more collective control and

much more insistence, legal insistence, upon individual

responsibility. But we are not living in a new age yet; we

are living in the patched-up ruins of a very old one. And

you- if you will forgive me-are living in the patched up

remains of a life that had already had its complications.

This young lady, whose charm and cleverness I admit, behaves

as if the new age were already here. Well, that may be a very

dangerous mistake both for her and for you. . . . This

affair, if it goes on for a few days more, may involve very

serious consequences indeed, with which I, for one, do not

wish to be involved.”

Sir Richmond, upon the hearthrug, had a curious feeling that

he was back in the head master’s study at Caxton.

Dr. Martineau went on with a lucidity that Sir Richmond found

rather trying, to give his impression of Miss Grammont and

her position in life.

“She is,” he said, “manifestly a very expensively educated

girl. And in many ways interesting. I have been watching her.

I have not been favoured with very much of her attention, but

that fact has enabled me to see her in profile. Miss Seyffert

is a fairly crude mixture of frankness, insincerity and selfexplanatory

egotism, and I have been able to disregard a

considerable amount of the conversation she has addressed to

me. Now I guess this Miss Grammont has had no mother since

she was quite little.”

“Your guesses, doctor, are apt to be pretty good,” said Sir

Richmond.

“You know that?”

“She has told me as much.”

“H’m. Well-She impressed me as having the air of a girl who

has had to solve many problems for which the normal mother

provides ready made solutions. That is how I inferred that

there was no mother. I don’t think there has been any

stepmother, either friendly or hostile? There hasn’t been. I

thought not. She has had various governesses and companions,

ladies of birth and education, engaged to look after her and

she has done exactly what she liked with them. Her manner

with Miss Seyffert, an excellent manner for Miss Seyffert, by

the bye, isn’t the sort of manner anyone acquires in a day.

Or for one person only. She is a very sure and commanding

young woman.”

Sir Richmond nodded.

“I suppose her father adores and neglects her, and whenever

she has wanted a companion or governess butchered, the thing

has been done. . . . These business Americans, I am told,

neglect their womenkind, give them money and power, let them

loose on the world. . . . It is a sort of moral laziness

masquerading as affection. . . . Still I suppose custom and

tradition kept this girl in her place and she was petted,

honoured, amused, talked about but not in a harmful way, and

rather bored right up to the time when America came into the

war. Theoretically she had a tremendously good time.”

“I think this must be near the truth of her biography,” said

Sir Richmond.

“I suppose she has lovers.”

“You don’t mean-?” “No, I don’t. Though that is a matter

that ought to have no special interest for you. I mean that

she was surrounded by a retinue of men who wanted to marry

her or who behaved as though they wanted to marry her or who

made her happiness and her gratifications and her

condescensions seem a matter of very great importance to

them. She had the flattery of an extremely uncritical and

unexacting admiration. That is the sort of thing that

gratifies a silly woman extremely. Miss Grammont is not silly

and all this homage and facile approval probably bored her

more than she realized. To anyone too intelligent to be

steadily excited by buying things and wearing things and

dancing and playing games and going to places of

entertainment, and being given flowers, sweets, jewellery,

pet animals, and books bound in a special sort of leather,

the prospect of being a rich man’s only daughter until such

time as it becomes advisable to change into a rich man’s

wealthy wife, is probably not nearly so amusing as envious

people might suppose. I take it Miss Grammont had got all she

could out of that sort of thing some time before the war, and

that she had already read and thought rather more than most

young women in her position. Before she was twenty I guess

she was already looking for something more interesting in the

way of men than a rich admirer with an automobile full of

presents. Those who seek find.”

“What do you think she found?”

“What would a rich girl find out there in America? I don’t

know. I haven’t the material to guess with. In London a girl

might find a considerable variety of active, interesting men,

rising politicians, university men of distinction, artists

and writers even, men of science, men-there are still such

men-active in the creative work of the empire.

“In America I suppose there is at least an equal variety,

made up of rather different types. She would find that life

was worth while to such people in a way that made the

ordinary entertainments and amusements of her life a

monstrous silly waste of time. With the facility of her sex

she would pick up from one of them the idea that made life

worth while for him. I am inclined to think there was someone

in her case who did seem to promise a sort of life that was

worth while. And that somehow the war came to alter the look

of that promise.

“How?”

“I don’t know. Perhaps I am only romancing. But for this

young woman I am convinced this expedition to Europe has

meant experience, harsh educational experience and very

profound mental disturbance. There have been love

experiences; experiences that were something more than the

treats and attentions and proposals that made up her life

when she was sheltered over there. And something more than

that. What it is I don’t know. The war has turned an ugly

face to her. She has seen death and suffering and ruin.

Perhaps she has seen people she knew killed. Perhaps the man

has been killed. Or she has met with cowardice or cruelty or

treachery where she didn’t expect it. She has been shocked

out of the first confidence of youth. She has ceased to take

the world for granted. It hasn’t broken her but it has

matured her. That I think is why history has become real to

her. Which so attracts you in her. History, for her, has

ceased to be a fabric of picturesque incidents; it is the

study of a tragic struggle that still goes on. She sees

history as you see it and I see it. She is a very grown-up

young woman.

“It’s just that,” said Sir Richmond. “It’s just that. If you

see as much in Miss Grammont as all that, why don’t you want

to come on with us? You see the interest of her.”

“I see a lot more than that. You don’t know what an advantage

it is to be as I am, rather cold and unresponsive to women

and unattractive and negligible-negligible, that is the

exact word-to them. YOU can’t look at a woman for five

minutes without losing sight of her in a mist of imaginative

excitement. Because she looks back at you. I have the

privilege of the negligible-which is a cool head. Miss

Grammont has a startled and matured mind, an original mind.

Yes. And there is something more to be said. Her intelligence

is better than her character.”

“I don’t quite see what you are driving at.”

“The intelligence of all intelligent women is better than

their characters. Goodness in a woman, as we understand it,

seems to imply necessarily a certain imaginative fixity. Miss

Grammont has an impulsive and adventurous character. And as I

have been saying she was a spoilt child, with no

discipline. . . . You also are a person of high intelligence

and defective controls. She is very much at loose ends. Youon

account of the illness of that rather forgotten lady, Miss

Martin Leeds-”

“Aren’t you rather abusing the secrets of the confessional?”

“This IS the confessional. It closes to-morrow morning but it

is the confessional still. Look at the thing frankly. You, I

say, are also at loose ends. Can you deny it? My dear sir,

don’t we both know that ever since we left London you have

been ready to fall in love with any pretty thing in

petticoats that seemed to promise you three ha’porth of

kindness. A lost dog looking for a master! You’re a stray man

looking for a mistress. Miss Grammont being a woman is a

little more selective than that. But if she’s at a loose end

as I suppose, she isn’t protected by the sense of having made

her selection. And she has no preconceptions of what she

wants. You are a very interesting man in many ways. You carry

marriage and entanglements lightly. With an air of being

neither married nor entangled. She is quite prepared to fall

in love with you.”

“But you don’t really think that?” said Sir Richmond, with an

ill-concealed eagerness.

Dr. Martineau rolled his face towards Sir Richmond. “These

miracles-grotesquely-happen,” he said. “She knows nothing

of Martin Leeds. . . . You must remember that. . . .

“And then,” he added, “if she and you fall in love, as the

phrase goes, what is to follow?”

There was a pause.

Sir Richmond looked at his toes for a moment or so as if he

took counsel with them and then decided to take offence.

“Really!” he said, “this is preposterous. You talk of falling

in love as though it was impossible for a man and woman to be

deeply interested in each other without that. And the gulf in

our ages-in our quality! From the Psychologist of a New Age

I find this amazing. Are men and women to go on for everseparated

by this possibility into two hardly communicating

and yet interpenetrating worlds? Is there never to be

friendship and companionship between men and women without

passion?”

“You ought to know even better than I do that there is not.

For such people as you two anyhow. And at present the world

is not prepared to tolerate friendship and companionship WITH

that accompaniment. That is the core of this situation.”

A pause fell between the two gentlemen. They had smoothed

over the extreme harshness of their separation and there was

very little more to be said.

“Well,” said Sir Richmond in conclusion, “I am very sorry

indeed, Martineau, that we have to part like this.”

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CHAPTER THE SEVENTH

COMPANIONSHIP

 

Section 1

 

“Well,” said Dr. Martineau, extending his hand to Sir

Richmond on the Salisbury station platform, “I leave you to

it.”

His round face betrayed little or no vestiges of his

overnight irritation.

“Ought you to leave me to it?” smiled Sir Richmond.

“I shall be interested to learn what happens.”

“But if you won’t stay to see!”

“Now Sir, please,” said the guard respectfully but firmly,

and Dr. Martineau got in.

Sir Richmond walked thoughtfully down the platform towards

the exit.

“What else could I do?” he asked aloud to nobody in

particular.

For a little while he thought confusedly of the collapse of

his expedition into the secret places of his own heart with

Dr. Martineau, and then his prepossession with Miss Grammont

resumed possession of his mind. Dr. Martineau was forgotten.

 

Section 2

 

For the better part of forty hours, Sir Richmond had either

been talking to Miss Grammont, or carrying on imaginary

conversations with her in her absence, or sleeping and

dreaming dreams in which she never failed to play a part,

even if at times it was an altogether amazing and incongruous

part. And as they were both very frank and expressive people,

they already knew a very great deal about each other.

For an American Miss Grammont was by no means

autobiographical. She gave no sketches of her idiosyncrasies,

and she repeated no remembered comments and prophets of her

contemporaries about herself. She either concealed or she had

lost any great interest in her own personality. But she was

interested in and curious about the people she had met in

life, and her talk of them reflected a considerable amount of

light upon her own upbringing and experiences. And her liking

for Sir Richmond was pleasingly manifest. She liked his turn

of thought, she watched him with a faint smile on her lips as

he spoke, and she spread her opinions before him carefully in

that soft voice of hers like a shy child showing its

treasures to some suddenly trusted and favoured visitor.

Their ways of thought harmonized. They talked at first

chiefly about the history of the world and the extraordinary

situation of aimlessness in a phase of ruin to which the

Great War had brought all Europe, if not all mankind. The

world excited them both in the same way; as a crisis in which

they were called upon to do something-they did not yet

clearly know what. Into this topic they peered as into some

deep pool, side by side, and in it they saw each other

reflected.

The visit to Avebury had been a great success. It had been a

perfect springtime day, and the little inn had been delighted

at the reappearance of Sir Richmond’s car so soon after its

departure. Its delight was particularly manifest in the cream

and salad it produced for lunch. Both Miss Grammont and Miss

Seyffert displayed an intelligent interest in their food.

After lunch they had all gone out to the stones and the wall.

Half a dozen sunburnt children were putting one of the

partially overturned megaliths to a happy use by clambering

to the top of it and sliding on their little behinds down its

smooth and sloping side amidst much mirthful squealing.

Sir Richmond and Miss Grammont had walked round the old

circumvallation together, but Belinda Seyffert had strayed

away from them, professing an interest in flowers. It was not

so much that she felt they had to be left together that made

her do this as her own consciousness of being possessed by a

devil who interrupted conversations.

When Miss Grammont was keenly interested in a conversation,

then Belinda had learnt from experience that it was wiser to

go off with her devil out of the range of any temptation to

interrupt.

“You really think,” said Miss Grammont, “that it would be

possible to take this confused old world and reshape it, set

it marching towards that new world of yours-of two hundred

and fifty million fully developed, beautiful and happy

people?”

“Why not? Nobody is doing anything with the world except

muddle about. Why not give it a direction? “

“You’d take it in your hands like clay?”

“Obdurate clay with a sort of recalcitrant, unintelligent

life of its own.”

Her imagination glowed in her eyes and warmed her voice. “I

believe what you say is possible. If people dare.”

“I am tired of following little motives that are like flames

that go out when you get to them. I am tired of seeing all

the world doing the same. I am tired of a world in which

there is nothing great but great disasters. Here is something

mankind can attempt, that we can attempt.”

“And will? “

“I believe that as Mankind grows up this is the business Man

has to settle down to and will settle down to.”

She considered that.

“I’ve been getting to believe something like this.

But- . . . it frightens me. I suppose most of us have this

same sort of dread of taking too much upon ourselves.”

“So we just live like pigs. Sensible little piggywiggys. I’ve

got a Committee full of that sort of thing. We live like

little modest pigs. And let the world go hang. And pride

ourselves upon our freedom from the sin of presumption.

“Not quite that!”

“Well! How do you put it?”

“We are afraid,” she said. “It’s too vast. We want bright

little lives of our own. “

“Exactly-sensible little piggy-wiggys.”

“We have a right to life-and happiness.

“First,” said Sir Richmond, “as much right as a pig has to

food. But whether we get life and happiness or fail to get

them we human beings who have imaginations want something

more nowadays. . . . Of course we want bright lives, of

course we want happiness. Just as we want food, just as we

want sleep. But when we have eaten, when we have slept, when

we have jolly things about us-it is nothing. We have been

made an exception of-and got our rations. The big thing

confronts us still. It is vast, I agree, but vast as it is it

is the thing we have to think about. I do not know why it

should be so, but I am compelled by something in my nature to

want to serve this idea of a new age for mankind. I want it

as my culminating want. I want a world in order, a

disciplined mankind going on to greater things. Don’t you?”

“Now you tell me of it,” she said with a smile, “I do.”

“But before-?”

“No. You’ve made it clear. It wasn’t clear before.”

“I’ve been talking of this sort of thing with my friend Dr.

Martineau. And I’ve been thinking as well as talking. That

perhaps is why I’m so clear and positive.”

“I don’t complain that you are clear and positive. I’ve been

coming along the same way. . . . It’s refreshing to meet

you.”

“I found it refreshing to meet Martineau.” A twinge of

conscience about Dr. Martineau turned Sir Richmond into a new

channel. “He’s a most interesting man,” he said. “Rather shy

in some respects. Devoted to his work. And he’s writing a

book which has saturated him in these ideas. Only two nights

ago we stood here and talked about it. The Psychology of a

New Age. The world, he believes, is entering upon a new phase

in its history, the adolescence, so to speak, of mankind. It

is an idea that seizes the imagination. There is a flow of

new ideas abroad, he thinks, widening realizations,

unprecedented hopes and fears. There is a consciousness of

new powers and new responsibilities. We are sharing the

adolescence of our race. It is giving history a new and more

intimate meaning for us. It is bringing us into directer

relation with public affairs,-making them matter as formerly

they didn’t seem to matter. That idea of the bright little

private life has to go by the board.”

“I suppose it has,” she said, meditatively, as though she had

been thinking over some such question before.

“The private life,” she said, “has a way of coming aboard

again.”

Her reflections travelled fast and broke out now far ahead of

him.

“You have some sort of work cut out for you,” she said

abruptly.

“Yes. Yes, I have.”

“I haven’t,” she said.

“So that I go about,” she added, like someone who is looking

for something. I’d like to know if it’s not jabbing too

searching a question at you-what you have found.”

Sir Richmond considered. “Incidentally,” he smiled, “ I want

to get a lasso over the neck of that very forcible and

barbaric person, your father. I am doing my best to help lay

the foundation of a scientific world control of fuel

production and distribution. We have a Fuel Commission in

London with rather wide powers of enquiry into the whole

world problem of fuel. We shall come out to Washington

presently with proposals. “

Miss Grammont surveyed the landscape. “I suppose,” she said,

“poor father IS rather like an unbroken mule in business

affairs. So many of our big business men in America are.

He’ll lash out at you.”

“I don’t mind if only he lashes out openly in the sight of

all men.”

She considered and turned on Sir Richmond gravely.

“Tell me what you want to do to him. You find out so many

things for me that I seem to have been thinking about in a

sort of almost invisible half-conscious way. I’ve been

suspecting for a long time that Civilization wasn’t much good

unless it got people like my father under some sort of

control. But controlling father-as distinguished from

managing him!” She reviewed some private and amusing

memories. “He is a most intractable man.”

 

Section 3

 

They had gone on to talk of her father and of the types of

men who controlled international business. She had had

plentiful opportunities for observation in their homes and

her own. Gunter Lake, the big banker, she knew particularly

well, because, it seemed, she had been engaged or was engaged

to marry him. “All these people,” she said, “are pushing

things about, affecting millions of lives, hurting and

disordering hundreds of thousands of people. They don’t seem

to know what they are doing. They have no plans in

particular. . . . And you are getting something going that

will be a plan and a direction and a conscience and a control

for them? You will find my father extremely difficult, but

some of our younger men would love it.

“And,” she went on; “there are American women who’d love it

too. We’re petted. We’re kept out of things. We aren’t

placed. We don’t get enough to do. We’re spenders and wasters

-not always from choice. While these fathers and brothers

and husbands of ours play about with the fuel and power and

life and hope of the world as though it was a game of poker.

With all the empty unspeakable solemnity of the male. And

treat us as though we ought to be satisfied if they bring

home part of the winnings.

“That can’t go on,” she said.

Her eyes went back to the long, low, undulating skyline of

the downs. She spoke as though she took up the thread of some

controversy that had played a large part in her life. “That

isn’t going on,” she said with an effect of conclusive

decision.

Sir Richmond recalled that little speech now as he returned

from Salisbury station to the Old George after his farewell

to Martineau. He recalled too the soft firmness of her

profile and the delicate line of her lifted chin. He felt

that this time at any rate he was not being deceived by the

outward shows of a charming human being. This young woman had

real firmness of character to back up her free and

independent judgments. He smiled at the idea of any facile

passion in the composition of so sure and gallant a

personality. Martineau was very fine-minded in many respects,

but he was an old maid; and like all old maids he saw man and

woman in every encounter. But passion was a thing men and

women fell back upon when they had nothing else in common.

When they thought in the pleasantest harmony and every remark

seemed to weave a fresh thread of common interest, then it

wasn’t so necessary. It might happen, but it wasn’t so

necessary. . . . If it did it would be a secondary thing to

companionship. That’s what she was,-a companion.

But a very lovely and wonderful companion, the companion one

would not relinquish until the very last moment one could

keep with her.

Her views about America and about her own place in the world

seemed equally fresh and original to Sir Richmond.

“I realize I’ve got to be a responsible American citizen,”

she had said. That didn’t mean that she attached very much

importance to her recently acquired vote. She evidently

classified voters into the irresponsible who just had votes

and the responsible who also had a considerable amount of

property as well. She had no illusions about the power of the

former class. It didn’t exist. They were steered to their

decisions by people employed, directed or stimulated by

“father” and his friends and associates, the owners of

America, the real “responsible citizens.” Or they fell a prey

to the merely adventurous leading of “revolutionaries.” But

anyhow they were steered. She herself, it was clear, was

bound to become a very responsible citizen indeed. She would

some day, she laughed, be swimming in oil and such like

property. Her interest in Sir Richmond’s schemes for a

scientific world management of fuel was therefore, she

realized, a very direct one. But it was remarkable to find a

young woman seeing it like that.

Father it seemed varied very much in his attitude towards

her. He despised and distrusted women generally, and it was

evident he had made it quite clear to her how grave an error

it was on her part to persist in being a daughter and not a

son. At moments it seemed to Sir Richmond that she was

disposed to agree with father upon that. When Mr. Grammont’s

sense of her regrettable femininity was uppermost, then he

gave his intelligence chiefly to schemes for tying her up

against the machinations of adventurers by means of trustees,

partners, lawyers, advisers, agreements and suchlike

complications, or for acquiring a workable son by marriage.

To this last idea it would seem the importance in her life of

the rather heavily named Gunter Lake was to be ascribed. But

another mood of the old man’s was distrust of anything that

could not be spoken of as his “own flesh and blood,” and then

he would direct his attention to a kind of masculinization of

his daughter and to schemes for giving her the completest

control of all he had to leave her provided she never married

nor fell under masculine sway. “After all,” he would reflect

as he hesitated over the practicability of his life’s ideal,

“there was Hetty Green.”

This latter idea had reft her suddenly at the age of

seventeen from the educational care of an English gentlewoman

warranted to fit her for marriage with any prince in Europe,

and thrust her for the mornings and a moiety of the

afternoons of the better part of a year, after a swift but

competent training, into a shirt waist and an office down

town. She had been entrusted at first to a harvester concern

independent of Mr. Grammont, because he feared his own people

wouldn’t train her hard. She had worked for ordinary wages

and ordinary hours, and at the end of the day, she mentioned

casually, a large automobile with two menservants and a

trustworthy secretary used to pick her out from the torrent

of undistinguished workers that poured out of the Synoptical

Building. This masculinization idea had also sent her on a

commission of enquiry into Mexico. There apparently she had

really done responsible work.

But upon the question of labour Mr. Grammont was fierce, even

for an American business man, and one night at a dinner party

he discovered his daughter displaying what he considered an

improper familiarity with socialist ideas. This had produced

a violent revulsion towards the purdah system and the idea of

a matrimonial alliance with Gunter Lake. Gunter Lake, Sir

Richmond gathered, wasn’t half a bad fellow. Generally it

would seem Miss Grammont liked him, and she had a way of

speaking about him that suggested that in some way Mr. Lake

had been rather hardly used and had acquired merit by his

behaviour under bad treatment. There was some story, however,

connected with her war services in Europe upon which Miss

Grammont was evidently indisposed to dwell. About that story

Sir Richmond was left at the end of his Avebury day and after

his last talk with Dr. Martineau, still quite vaguely

guessing.

So much fact about Miss Grammont as we have given had floated

up in fragments and pieced itself together in Sir Richmond’s

mind in the course of a day and a half. The fragments came up

as allusions or by way of illustration. The sustaining topic

was this New Age Sir Richmond fore shadowed, this world under

scientific control, the Utopia of fully developed people

fully developing the resources of the earth. For a number of

trivial reasons Sir Richmond found himself ascribing the

project of this New Age almost wholly to Dr. Martineau, and

presenting it as a much completer scheme than he was

justified in doing. It was true that Dr. Martineau had not

said many of the things Sir Richmond ascribed to him, but

also it was true that they had not crystallized out in Sir

Richmond’s mind before his talks with Dr. Martineau. The idea

of a New Age necessarily carries with it the idea of fresh

rules of conduct and of different relationships between human

beings. And it throws those who talk about it into the

companionship of a common enterprise. To-morrow the New Age

will be here no doubt, but today it is the hope and adventure

of only a few human beings.

So that it was natural for Miss Grammont and Sir Richmond to

ask: “What are we to do with such types as father?” and to

fall into an idiom that assumed a joint enterprise. They had

agreed by a tacit consent to a common conception of the world

they desired as a world scientifically ordered, an immense

organization of mature commonsense, healthy and secure,

gathering knowledge and power for creative adventures as yet

beyond dreaming. They were prepared to think of the makers of

the Avebury dyke as their yesterday selves, of the stone age

savages as a phase, in their late childhood, and of this

great world order Sir Richmond foresaw as a day where dawn

was already at hand. And in such long perspectives, the

states, governments and institutions of to-day became very

temporary-looking and replaceable structures indeed. Both

these two people found themselves thinking in this fashion

with an unwonted courage and freedom because the other one

had been disposed to think in this fashion before. Sir

Richmond was still turning over in his mind the happy mutual

release of the imagination this chance companionship had

brought about when he found himself back again at the

threshold of the Old George.

 

Section 4

 

Sir Richmond Hardy was not the only man who was thinking

intently about Miss Grammont at that particular moment. Two

gentlemen were coming towards her across the Atlantic whose

minds, it chanced, were very busily occupied by her affairs.

One of these was her father, who was lying in his brass bed

in his commodious cabin on the Hollandia, regretting his

diminishing ability to sleep in the early morning now, even

when he was in the strong and soothing air of mid-Atlantic,

and thinking of V.V. because she had a way of coming into his

mind when it was undefended; and the other was Mr. Gunter

Lake on the Megantic, one day out from Sandy Hook, who found

himself equally sleepless and preoccupied. And although Mr.

Lake was a man of vast activities and complicated engagements

he was coming now to Europe for the express purpose of seeing

V.V. and having things out with her fully and completely

because, in spite of all that had happened, she made such an

endless series of delays in coming to America.

Old Grammont as he appeared upon the pillow of his bed by the

light of a rose-shaded bedside lamp, was a small-headed,

grey-haired gentleman with a wrinkled face and sunken brown

eyes. Years of business experience, mitigated only by such

exercise as the game of poker affords, had intensified an

instinctive inexpressiveness. Under the most solitary

circumstances old Grammont was still inexpressive, and the

face that stared at the, ceiling of his cabin and the problem

of his daughter might have been the face of a pickled head in

a museum, for any indication it betrayed of the flow of

thought within. He lay on his back and his bent knees lifted

the bed-clothes into a sharp mountain. He was not even trying

to sleep.

Why, he meditated, had V.V. stayed on in Europe so much

longer than she need have done? And why had Gunter Lake

suddenly got into a state of mind about her? Why didn’t the

girl confide in her father at least about these things? What

was afoot? She had thrown over Lake once and it seemed she

was going to turn him down again. Well, if she was an

ordinary female person that was a silly sort of thing to do.

With her fortune and his-you could buy the world. But

suppose she was not all ordinary female person. . . . Her

mother hadn’t been ordinary anyhow, whatever else you called

her, and no one could call Grammont blood all ordinary fluid.

. . . Old Grammont had never had any delusions about Lake. If

Lake’s father hadn’t been a big man Lake would never have

counted for anything at all. Suppose she did turn him down.

In itself that wasn’t a thing to break her father’s heart.

What did matter was not whether she threw Lake over but what

she threw him over for. If it was because he wasn’t man

enough, well and good. But if it was for some other lover,

some good-looking, worthless impostor, some European title or

suchlike folly-!

At the thought of a lover for V.V. a sudden flood of anger

poured across the old man’s mind, behind the still mask of

his face. It infuriated him even to think of V.V., his little

V.V., his own girl, entertaining a lover, being possiblymost

shameful thought-IN LOVE! Like some ordinary silly

female, sinking to kisses, to the deeds one could buy and pay

for. His V.V.! The idea infuriated and disgusted him. He

fought against it as a possibility. Once some woman in New

York had ventured to hint something to him of some fellow,

some affair with an artist, Caston; she had linked this

Caston with V.V.’s red cross nursing in Europe. . . . Old

Grammont had made that woman sorry she spoke. Afterwards he

had caused enquiries to be made about this Caston, careful

enquiries. It seems that he and V.V. had known each other,

there had been something. But nothing that V.V. need be

ashamed of. When old Grammont’s enquiry man had come back

with his report, old Grammont had been very particular about

that. At first the fellow had not been very clear, rather

muddled indeed as to how things were-no doubt he had wanted

to make out there was something just to seem to earn his

money. Old Grammont had struck the table sharply and the eyes

that looked out of his mask had blazed. “What have you found

out against her?” he had asked in a low even voice.

“Absolutely nothing, Sir,” said the agent, suddenly white to

the lips. . . .

Old Grammont stared at his memory of that moment for a while.

That affair was all right, quite all right. Of course it was

all right. And also, happily, Caston was among the dead. But

it was well her broken engagement with Lake had been resumed

as though it had never been broken off. If there had been any

talk that fact answered it. And now that Lake had served his

purpose old Grammont did not care in the least if he was

shelved. V.V. could stand alone.

Old Grammont had got a phrase in his mind that looked like

dominating the situation. He dreamt of saying to V.V.: “V.V.,

I’m going to make a man of you-if you’re man enough.” That

was a large proposition; it implied-oh! it implied all sorts

of things. It meant that she would care as little for

philandering as an able young business man. Perhaps some day,

a long time ahead, she might marry. There wasn’t much reason

for it, but it might be she would not wish to be called a

spinster. “Take a husband,” thought old Grammont, “when I am

gone, as one takes a butler, to make the household complete.”

In previous meditations on his daughter’s outlook old

Grammont had found much that was very suggestive in the

precedent of Queen Victoria. She had had no husband of the

lord and master type, so to speak, but only a Prince Consort,

well in hand. Why shouldn’t the Grammont heiress dominate her

male belonging, if it came to that, in the same fashion? Why

shouldn’t one tie her up and tie the whole thing up, so far

as any male belonging was concerned, leaving V.V. in all

other respects free? How could one do it?

The speculative calm of the sunken brown eyes deepened.

His thoughts went back to the white face of the private

enquiry agent. “Absolutely nothing, Sir.” What had the fellow

thought of hinting? Nothing of that kind in V.V.’s

composition, never fear. Yet it was a curious anomaly that

while one had a thousand ways of defending one’s daughter and

one’s property against that daughter’s husband, there was no

power on earth by which a father could stretch his dead hand

between that daughter and the undue influence of a lover.

Unless you tied her up for good and all, lover or none. . . .

One was left at the mercy of V.V.’s character. . . .

“I ought to see more of her,” he thought. “She gets away from

me. Just as her mother did.” A man need not suspect his

womenkind but he should know what they are doing. It is duty,

his protective duty to them. These companions, these Seyffert

women and so forth, were all very well in their way; there

wasn’t much they kept from you if you got them cornered and

asked them intently. But a father’s eye is better. He must go

about with the girl for a time, watch her with other men,

give her chances to talk business with him and see if she

took them. “V.V., I’m going to make a man of you,” the phrase

ran through his brain. The deep instinctive jealousy of the

primordial father was still strong in old Grammont’s blood.

It would be pleasant to go about with her on his right hand

in Paris, HIS girl, straight and lovely, desirable and

unapproachable,-above that sort of nonsense, above all other

masculine subjugation.

“V.V., I’m going to make a man of you. . . .”

His mind grew calmer. Whatever she wanted in Paris should be

hers. He’d just let her rip. They’d be like sweethearts

together, he and his girl.

Old Grammont dozed off into dreamland.

 

Section 5

 

The imaginations of Mr. Gunter Lake, two days behind Mr.

Grammont upon the Atlantic, were of a gentler, more romantic

character. In them V.V. was no longer a daughter in the

fierce focus of a father’s jealousy, but the goddess

enshrined in a good man’s heart. Indeed the figure that the

limelight of the reverie fell upon was not V.V. at all but

Mr. Gunter Lake himself, in his favourite role of the perfect

lover.

An interminable speech unfolded itself. “I ask for nothing in

return. I’ve never worried you about that Caston business and

I never will. Married to me you shall be as free as if you

were unmarried. Don’t I know, my dear girl, that you don’t

love me yet. Let that be as you wish. I want nothing you are

not willing to give me, nothing at all. All I ask is the

privilege of making life happy-and it shall be happy-for

you. . . . All I ask. All I ask. Protect, guard,

cherish. . . .”

For to Mr. Gunter Lake it seemed there could be no lovelier

thing in life than a wife “in name only” slowly warmed into a

glow of passion by the steadfast devotion and the strength

and wisdom of a mate at first despised. Until at last a day

would come. . . .

“My darling!” Mr. Gunter Lake whispered to the darkness. “My

little guurl. IT HAS BEEN WORTH THE WAITING. . . .”

 

Section 6

 

Miss Grammont met Sir Richmond in the bureau of the Old

George with a telegram in her hand. “My father reported his

latitude and longitude by wireless last night. The London

people think he will be off Falmouth in four days’ time. He

wants me to join his liner there and go on to Cherbourg and

Paris. He’s arranged that. He is the sort of man who can

arrange things like that. There’ll be someone at Falmouth to

look after us and put us aboard the liner. I must wire them

where I can pick up a telegram to-morrow.”

“Wells in Somerset,” said Sir :Richmond.

His plans were already quite clear. He explained that he

wanted her first to see Shaftesbury, a little old Wessex town

that was three or four hundred years older than Salisbury,

perched on a hill, a Saxon town, where Alfred had gathered

his forces against the Danes and where Canute, who had ruled

over all Scandinavia and Iceland and Greenland, and had come

near ruling a patch of America, had died. It was a little

sleepy place now, looking out dreamily over beautiful views.

They would lunch in Shaftesbury and walk round it. Then they

would go in the afternoon through the pleasant west country

where the Celts had prevailed against the old folk of the

Stonehenge temple and the Romans against the Celts and the

Saxons against the Romanized Britons and the Danes against

the Saxons, a war-scarred landscape, abounding in dykes and

entrenchments and castles, sunken now into the deepest peace,

to Glastonbury to see what there was to see of a marsh

village the Celts had made for themselves three or four

hundred years before the Romans came. And at Glastonbury also

there were the ruins of a great Benedictine church and abbey

that had once rivalled Salisbury. Thence they would go on to

Wells to see yet another great cathedral and to dine and

sleep. Glastonbury Abbey and Wells Cathedral brought the

story of Europe right up to Reformation times.

“That will be a good day for us,” said Sir Richmond. “It will

be like turning over the pages of the history of our family,

to and fro. There will be nothing nearly so old as Avebury in

it, but there will be something from almost every chapter

that comes after Stonehenge. Rome will be poorly represented,

but that may come the day after at Bath. And the next day too

I want to show you something of our old River Severn. We will

come right up to the present if we go through Bristol. There

we shall have a whiff of America, our new find, from which

the tobacco comes, and we shall be reminded of how we set

sail thither-was it yesterday or the day before? You will

understand at Bristol how it is that the energy has gone out

of this dreaming land-to Africa and America and the whole

wide world. It was the good men of Bristol, by the bye, with

their trade from Africa to America, who gave you your colour

problem. Bristol we may go through to-morrow and Gloucester,

mother of I don’t know how many American Gloucesters. Bath

we’ll get in somehow. And then as an Anglo-American showman I

shall be tempted to run you northward a little way past

Tewkesbury, just to go into a church here and there and show

you monuments bearing little shields with the stars and

stripes upon them, a few stars and a few stripes, the

Washington family monuments.”

“It was not only from England that America came,” said Miss

Grammont.

“But England takes an American memory back most easily and

most fully-to Avebury and the Baltic Northmen, past the

emperors and the Corinthian columns that smothered Latin

Europe. . . . For you and me anyhow this is our past, this

was our childhood, and this is our land.” He interrupted

laughing as she was about to reply. “Well, anyhow,” he said,

“it is a beautiful day and a pretty country before us with

the ripest history in every grain of its soil. So we’ll send

a wire to your London people and tell them to send their

instructions to Wells.”

“I’ll tell Belinda,” she said, “to be quick with her

packing.”

 

Section 7

 

As Miss Grammont and Sir Richmond Hardy fulfilled the details

of his excellent programme and revised their impressions of

the past and their ideas about the future in the springtime

sunlight of Wiltshire and Somerset, with Miss Seyffert acting

the part of an almost ostentatiously discreet chorus, it was

inevitable that their conversation should become, by

imperceptible gradations, more personal and intimate. They

kept up the pose, which was supposed to represent Dr.

Martineau’s philosophy, of being Man and Woman on their

Planet considering its Future, but insensibly they developed

the idiosyncrasies of their position. They might profess to

be Man and Woman in the most general terms, but the facts

that she was the daughter not of Everyman but old Grammont

and that Sir Richmond was the angry leader of a minority upon

the Fuel Commission became more and more important. “What

shall we do with this planet of ours? “ gave way by the

easiest transitions to “What are you and I doing and what

have we got to do? How do you feel about it all? What do you

desire and what do you dare?”

It was natural that Sir Richmond should talk of his Fuel

Commission to a young woman whose interests in fuel were even

greater than his own. He found that she was very much better

read than he was in the recent literature of socialism, and

that she had what he considered to be a most unfeminine grasp

of economic ideas. He thought her attitude towards socialism

a very sane one because it was also his own. So far as

socialism involved the idea of a scientific control of

natural resources as a common property administered in the

common interest, she and he were very greatly attracted by

it; but so far as it served as a form of expression for the

merely insubordinate discontent of the many with the few,

under any conditions, so long as it was a formula for class

jealousy and warfare, they were both repelled by it. If she

had had any illusions about the working class possessing as a

class any profounder political wisdom or more generous public

impulses than any other class, those illusions had long since

departed. People were much the same, she thought, in every

class; there was no stratification of either rightness or

righteousness.

He found he could talk to her of his work and aims upon the

Fuel Commission and of the conflict and failure of motives he

found in himself, as freely as he had done to Dr. Martineau

and with a surer confidence of understanding. Perhaps his

talks with the doctor had got his ideas into order and made

them more readily expressible than they would have been

otherwise. He argued against the belief that any class could

be good as a class or bad as a class, and he instanced the

conflict of motives he found in all the members of his

Committee and most so in himself. He repeated the persuasion

he had already confessed to Dr. Martineau that there was not

a single member of the Fuel Commission but had a considerable

drive towards doing the right thing about fuel, and not one

who had a single-minded, unencumbered drive towards the right

thing. “That,” said Sir Richmond, “is what makes life so

interesting and, in spite of a thousand tragic

disappointments, so hopeful. Every man is a bad man, every

man is a feeble man and every man is a good man. My motives

come and go. Yours do the same. We vary in response to the

circumstances about us. Given a proper atmosphere, most men

will be public-spirited, right-living, generous. Given

perplexities and darkness, most of us can be cowardly and

vile. People say you cannot change human nature and perhaps

that is true, but you can change its responses endlessly. The

other day I was in Bohemia, discussing Silesian coal with

Benes, and I went to see the Festival of the Bohemian Sokols.

Opposite to where I sat, far away across the arena, was a

great bank of men of the Sokol organizations, an unbroken

brown mass wrapped in their brown uniform cloaks. Suddenly

the sun came out and at a word the whole body flung back

their cloaks, showed their Garibaldi shirts and became one

solid blaze of red. It was an amazing transformation until

one understood what had happened. Yet nothing material had

changed but the sunshine. And given a change in laws and

prevailing ideas, and the very same people who are greedy

traders, grasping owners and revolting workers to-day will

all throw their cloaks aside and you will find them working

together cheerfully, even generously, for a common end. They

aren’t traders and owners and workers and so forth by any

inner necessity. Those are just the ugly parts they play in

the present drama. Which is nearly at the end of its run.”

“That’s a hopeful view,” said Miss Grammont. “I don’t see the

flaw in it-if there is a flaw.”

“There isn’t one, “ said Sir Richmond. “It is my chief

discovery about life. I began with the question of fuel and

the energy it affords mankind, and I have found that my

generalization applies to all human affairs. Human beings are

fools, weaklings, cowards, passionate idiots,-I grant you.

That is the brown cloak side of them, so to speak. But they

are not such fools and so forth that they can’t do pretty

well materially if once we hammer out a sane collective

method of getting and using fuel. Which people generally will

understand-in the place of our present methods of snatch and

wrangle. Of that I am absolutely convinced. Some work, some

help, some willingness you can get out of everybody. That’s

the red. And the same principle applies to most labour and

property problems, to health, to education, to population,

social relationships and war and peace. We haven’t got the

right system, we have inefficient half-baked systems, or no

system at all, and a wild confusion and war of ideas in all

these respects. But there is a right system possible none the

less. Let us only hammer our way through to the sane and

reasonable organization in this and that and the other human

affairs, and once we have got it, we shall have got it for

good. We may not live to see even the beginnings of success,

but the spirit of order, the spirit that has already produced

organized science, if only there are a few faithful,

persistent people to stick to the job, will in the long run

certainly save mankind and make human life clean and

splendid, happy work in a clear mind. If I could live to see

it!”

“And as for us-in our time?”

“Measured by the end we serve, we don’t matter. You know we

don’t matter.”

“We have to find our fun in the building and in our

confidence that we do really build.”

“So long as our confidence lasts there is no great hardship,”

said Sir Richmond.

“So long as our confidence lasts,” she repeated after him.

“Ah!” cried Sir Richmond. “There it is! So long as our

confidence lasts! So long as one keeps one’s mind steady.

That is what I came away with Dr. Martineau to discuss. I

went to him for advice. I haven’t known him for more than a

month. It’s amusing to find myself preaching forth to you. It

was just faith I had lost. Suddenly I had lost my power of

work. My confidence in the rightness of what I was doing

evaporated. My will failed me. I don’t know if you will

understand what that means. It wasn’t that my reason didn’t

assure me just as certainly as ever that what I was trying to

do was the right thing to try to do. But somehow that seemed

a cold and personally unimportant proposition. The life had

gone out of it. . . . “

He paused as if arrested by a momentary doubt.

“I don’t know why I tell you these things,” he said.

“You tell them me,” she said.

“It’s a little like a patient in a hydropath retailing his

ailments.”

“No. No. Go on.”

“I began to think now that what took the go out of me as my

work went on was the lack of any real fellowship in what I

was doing. It was the pressure of the opposition in the

Committee, day afterday. It was being up against men who

didn’t reason against me but who just showed by everything

they did that the things I wanted to achieve didn’t matter to

them one rap. It was going back to a home, lunching in clubs,

reading papers, going about a world in which all the

organization, all the possibility of the organization I dream

of is tacitly denied. I don’t know if it seems an

extraordinary confession of weakness to you, but that steady

refusal of the majority of my Committee to come into cooperation

with me has beaten me-or at any rate has come very

near to beating me. Most of them you know are such able men.

You can FEEL their knowledge and commonsense. They, and

everybody about me, seemed busy and intent upon more

immediate things, that seemed more real to them than this

remote, theoretical, PRIGGISH end I have set for

myself. . . .”

He paused.

“Go on,” said Miss Grammont. “I think I understand this. “

“And yet I know I am right.”

“I know you are right. I’m certain. Go on.

“If one of those ten thousand members of the Sokol Society

had thrown back his brown cloak and shown red when all the

others still kept them selves cloaked-if he was a normal

sensitive man-he might have felt something of a fool. He

might have felt premature and presumptuous. Red he was and

the others he knew were red also, but why show it? That is

the peculiar distress of people like ourselves, who have some

sense of history and some sense of a larger life within us

than our merely personal life. We don’t want to go on with

the old story merely. We want to live somehow in that larger

life and to live for its greater ends and lose something

unbearable of ourselves, and in wanting to do that we are

only wanting to do what nearly everybody perhaps is ripe to

do and will presently want to do. When the New Age Martineau

talks about begins to come it may come very quickly-as the

red came at Prague. But for the present everyone hesitates

about throwing back the cloak.”

“Until the cloak becomes unbearable,” she said, repeating his

word.

“I came upon this holiday in the queerest state. I thought I

was ill. I thought I was overworked. But the real trouble was

a loneliness that robbed me of all driving force. Nobody

seemed thinking and feeling with me. . . . I have never

realized until now what a gregarious beast man is. It needed

only a day or so with Martineau, in the atmosphere of ideas

and beliefs like my own, to begin my restoration. Now as I

talk to you-That is why I have clutched at your company.

Because here you are, coming from thousands of miles away,

and you talk my ideas, you fall into my ways of thought as

though we had gone to the same school.”

“Perhaps we HAVE gone to the same school,” she said.

“You mean?”

“Disappointment. Disillusionment. Having to find something

better in life than the first things it promised us.”

“But you-? Disappointed? I thought that in America people

might be educating already on different lines-”

“Even in America,” Miss Grammont said, “crops only grow on

the ploughed land.”

 

Section 8

 

Glastonbury in the afternoon was wonderful; they talked of

Avalon and of that vanished legendary world of King Arthur

and his knights, and in the early evening they came to Wells

and a pleasant inn, with a quaint little garden before its

front door that gave directly upon the cathedral. The three

tourists devoted a golden half hour before dinner to the

sculptures on the western face. The great screen of wrought

stone rose up warmly, grey and clear and distinct against a

clear blue sky in which the moon hung, round and already

bright. That western facade with its hundreds of little

figures tells the whole story of God and Man from Adam to the

Last Judgment, as the mediaeval mind conceived it. It is an

even fuller exposition than the carved Bible history that

goes round the chapter house at Salisbury. It presented the

universe, said Sir Richmond, as a complete crystal globe. It

explained everything in life in a simple and natural manner,

hope, heaven, devil and despair. Generations had lived and

died mentally within that crystal globe, convinced that it

was all and complete.

“And now,” said Miss Grammont, “we are in limitless space and

time. The crystal globe is broken.”

“And?” said Belinda amazingly-for she had been silent for

some time, “the goldfish are on the floor, V.V. Free to flop

about. Are they any happier?”

It was one of those sudden rhetorical triumphs that are best

left alone. “I trow not,” said Belinda, giving the last touch

to it.

After dinner Sir Richmond and Miss Grammont walked round the

cathedral and along by the moat of the bishop’s palace, and

Miss Seyffert stayed in the hotel to send off postcards to

her friends, a duty she had neglected for some days. The

evening was warm and still and the moon was approaching its

full and very bright. Insensibly the soft afterglow passed

into moonlight.

At first the two companions talked very little. Sir Richmond

was well content with this tacit friendliness and Miss

Grammont was preoccupied because she was very strongly moved

to tell him things about herself that hitherto she had told

to no one. It was not merely that she wanted to tell him

these things but also that for reasons she did not put as yet

very clearly to herself she thought they were things he ought

to know. She talked of herself at first in general terms.

“Life comes on anyone with a rush, childhood seems lasting

for ever and then suddenly one tears into life,” she said. It

was even more so for women than it was for men. You are shown

life, a crowded vast spectacle full of what seems to be

intensely interesting activities and endless delightful and

frightful and tragic possibilities, and you have hardly had

time to look at it before you are called upon to make

decisions. And there is something in your blood that urges

you to decisive acts. Your mind, your reason resists. “Give

me time,” it says. “They clamour at you with treats, crowds,

shows, theatres, all sorts of things; lovers buzz at you,

each trying to fix you part of his life when you are trying

to get clear to live a little of your own.” Her father had

had one merit at any rate. He had been jealous of her lovers

and very ready to interfere.

“I wanted a lover to love,” she said. “Every girl of course

wants that. I wanted to be tremendously excited. . . . And at

the same time I dreaded the enormous interference. . . .

“I wasn’t temperamentally a cold girl. Men interested and

excited me, but there were a lot of men about and they

clashed with each other. Perhaps way down in some out of the

way place I should have fallen in love quite easily with the

one man who came along. But no man fixed his image. After a

year or so I think I began to lose the power which is natural

to a young girl of falling very easily into love. I became

critical of the youths and men who were attracted to me and I

became analytical about myself. . . .

“I suppose it is because you and I are going to part so soon

that I can speak so freely to you. . . . But there are things

about myself that I have never had out even with myself. I

can talk to myself in you-”

She paused baffled. “I know exactly,” said Sir Richmond.

“In my composition I perceive there have always been two

ruling strains. I was a spoilt child at home, a rather

reserved girl at school, keen on my dignity. I liked respect.

I didn’t give myself away. I suppose one would call that

personal pride. Anyhow it was that streak made me value the

position of being a rich married woman in New York. That was

why I became engaged to Lake. He seemed to be as good a man

as there was about. He said he adored me and wanted me to

crown his life. He wasn’t ill-looking or ill-mannered. The

second main streak in my nature wouldn’t however fit in with

that.”

She stopped short.

“The second streak, “ said Sir Richmond.

“Oh!-Love of beauty, love of romance. I want to give things

their proper names; I don’t want to pretend to you. . . . It

was more or less than that. . . . It was-imaginative

sensuousness. Why should I pretend it wasn’t in me? I believe

that streak is in all women.”

“I believe so too. In all properly constituted women.”

“I tried to devote that streak to Lake,” she said. “I did my

best for him. But Lake was much too much of a gentleman or an

idealist about women, or what you will, to know his business

as a lover. And that side of me fell in love, the rest of me

protesting, with a man named Caston. It was a notorious

affair. Everybody in New York couples my name with Caston.

Except when my father is about. His jealousy has blasted an

area of silence-in that matter-all round him. He will not

know of that story. And they dare not tell him. I should pity

anyone who tried to tell it him.”

“What sort of man was this Caston?”

Miss Grammont seemed to consider. She did not look at Sir

Richmond; she kept her profile to him.

“He was,” she said deliberately, “a very rotten sort of man.”

She spoke like one resolved to be exact and judicial. “I

believe I always knew he wasn’t right. But he was very

handsome. And ten years younger than Lake. And nobody else

seemed to be all right, so I swallowed that. He was an

artist, a painter. Perhaps you know his work.” Sir Richmond

shook his head. “He could make American business men look

like characters out of the Three Musketeers, they said, and

he was beginning to be popular. He made love to me. In

exactly the way Lake didn’t. If I shut my eyes to one or two

things, it was delightful. I liked it. But my father would

have stood a painter as my husband almost as cheerfully as he

would a man of colour. I made a fool of myself, as people

say, about Caston. Well-when the war came, he talked in a

way that irritated me. He talked like an East Side Annunzio,

about art and war. It made me furious to know it was all talk

and that he didn’t mean business. . . . I made him go.”

She paused for a moment. “He hated to go.”

“Then I relented. Or I missed him and I wanted to be made

love to. Or I really wanted to go on my own account. I

forget. I forget my motives altogether now. That early war

time was a queer time for everyone. A kind of wildness got

into the blood. . . . I threw over Lake. All the time things

had been going on in New York I had still been engaged to

Lake. I went to France. I did good work. I did do good work.

And also things were possible that would have seemed

fantastic in America. You know something of the war-time

atmosphere. There was death everywhere and people snatched at

gratifications. Caston made ‘To-morrow we die’ his text. We

contrived three days in Paris together-not very cleverly.

All sorts of people know about it. . . . We went very far.”

She stopped short. “Well?” said Sir Richmond.

“He did die. . . .”

Another long pause. “They told me Caston had been killed. But

someone hinted-or I guessed-that there was more in it than

an ordinary casualty.

“Nobody, I think, realizes that I know. This is the first

time I have ever confessed that I do know. He was-shot. He

was shot for cowardice.”

“That might happen to any man,” said Sir Richmond presently.

“No man is a hero all round the twenty-four hours. Perhaps he

was caught by circumstances, unprepared. He may have been

taken by surprise.”

“It was the most calculated, cold-blooded cowardice

imaginable. He let three other men go on and get killed. . .”

“No. It is no good your inventing excuses for a man you know

nothing about. It was vile, contemptible cowardice and

meanness. It fitted in with a score of ugly little things I

remembered. It explained them all. I know the evidence and

the judgment against him were strictly just and true, because

they were exactly in character. . . . And that, you see, was

my man. That was the lover I had chosen. That was the man to

whom I had given myself with both hands.”

Her soft unhurrying voice halted for a time, and then resumed

in the same even tones of careful statement. “I wasn’t

disgusted, not even with myself. About him I was chiefly

sorry, intensely sorry, because I had made him come out of a

life that suited and protected him, to the war. About myself,

I was stunned and perplexed. I had the clearest realization

that what you and I have been calling the bright little

personal life had broken off short and was spoilt and over

and done with. I felt as though it was my body they had shot.

And there I was, with fifty years of life left in me and

nothing particular to do with them.”

“That was just the prelude to life, said Sir Richmond.

“It didn’t seem so at the time. I felt I had to got hold of

something or go to pieces. I couldn’t turn to religion. I had

no religion. And Duty? What is Duty? I set myself to that. I

had a kind of revelation one night. ‘Either I find out what

all this world is about, I said, or I perish.’ I have lost

myself and I must forget myself by getting hold of something

bigger than myself. And becoming that. That’s why I have been

making a sort of historical pilgrimage. . . . That’s my

story, Sir Richmond. That’s my education. . . . Somehow

though your troubles are different, it seems to me that my

little muddle makes me understand how it is with you. What

you’ve got, this idea of a scientific ordering of the world,

is what I, in my younger, less experienced way, have been

feeling my way towards. I want to join on. I want to got hold

of this idea of a great fuel control in the world and of a

still greater economic and educational control of which it is

a part. I want to make that idea a part of myself. Rather I

want to make myself a part of it. When you talk of it I

believe in it altogether.”

“And I believe in it, when I talk of it to you.”

 

Section 9

 

Sir Richmond was stirred very deeply by Miss Grammont’s

confidences. His dispute with Dr. Martineau was present in

his mind, so that he did not want to make love to her. But he

was extremely anxious to express his vivid sense of the value

of her friendship. And while he hesitated over this difficult

and unfamiliar task she began to talk again of herself, and

in such a way as to give a new turn to Sir Richmond’s

thoughts.

“Perhaps I ought to tell you a little more about myself,” she

said; “now that I have told you so much. I did a thing that

still puzzles me. I was filled with a sense of hopeless

disaster in France and I suppose I had some sort of desperate

idea of saving something out of the situation. . . . I

renewed my correspondence with Gunter Lake. He made the

suggestion I knew he would make, and I renewed our

engagement.”

“To go back to wealth and dignity in New York?”

“Yes.”

“But you don’t love him?”

“That’s always been plain to me. But what I didn’t realize,

until I had given my promise over again, was that I dislike

him acutely.”

“You hadn’t realized that before?”

“I hadn’t thought about him sufficiently. But now I had to

think about him a lot. The other affair had given me an idea

perhaps of what it means to be married to a man. And here I

am drifting back to him. The horrible thing about him is the

steady ENVELOPING way in which he has always come at me.

Without fellowship. Without any community of ideas. Ready to

make the most extraordinary bargains. So long as he can in

any way fix me and get me. What does it mean? What is there

behind those watching, soliciting eyes of his? I don’t in the

least love him, and this desire and service and all the rest

of it he offers me-it’s not love. It’s not even such love as

Caston gave me. It’s a game he plays with his imagination.”

She had released a flood of new ideas in Sir Richmond’s mind.

“This is illuminating,” he said. “You dislike Lake acutely.

You always have disliked him.”

“I suppose I have. But it’s only now I admit it to myself.”

“Yes. And you might, for example, have married him in New

York before the war.”

“It came very near to that.”

“And then probably you wouldn’t have discovered you disliked

him. You wouldn’t have admitted it to yourself.”

“I suppose I shouldn’t. I suppose I should have tried to

believe I loved him.”

“Women do this sort of thing. Odd! I never realized it

before. And there are endless wives suppressing an acute

dislike. My wife does. I see now quite clearly that she

detests me. Reasonably enough. From her angle I’m entirely

detestable. But she won’t admit it, won’t know of it. She

never will. To the end of my life, always, she will keep that

detestation unconfessed. She puts a face on the matter. We

both do. And this affair of yours. . . . Have you thought how

unjust it is to Lake?”

“Not nearly so much as I might have done.”

“It is unfair to him. Atrociously unfair. He’s not my sort of

man, perhaps, but it will hurt him cruelly according to the

peculiar laws of his being. He seems to me a crawling sort of

lover with an immense self-conceit at the back of his

crawlingness.”

“He has,” she endorsed.

“He backs himself to crawl-until he crawls triumphantly

right over you . . . . I don’t like to think of the dream he

has . . . . I take it he will lose. Is it fair to go into

this game with him?”

“In the interests of Lake,” she said, smiling softly at Sir

Richmond in the moonlight. “But you are perfectly right.”

“And suppose he doesn’t lose!”

Sir Richmond found himself uttering sentiments.

“There is only one decent way in which a civilized man and a

civilized woman may approach one another. Passionate desire

is not enough. What is called love is not enough. Pledges,

rational considerations, all these things are worthless. All

these things are compatible with hate. The primary essential

is friendship, clear understanding, absolute confidence. Then

within that condition, in that elect relationship, love is

permissible, mating, marriage or no marriage, as you willall

things are permissible. . . .”

Came a long pause between them.

“Dear old cathedral,” said Miss Grammont, a little

irrelevantly. She had an air of having concluded something

that to Sir Richmond seemed scarcely to have begun. She stood

looking at the great dark facade edged with moonlight for

some moments, and then turned towards the hotel, which showed

a pink-lit window.

“I wonder,” she said, “if Belinda is still up, And what she

will think when I tell her of the final extinction of Mr.

Lake. I think she rather looked forward to being the intimate

friend, secrets and everything, of Mrs. Gunter Lake.”

 

Section 10

 

Sir Richmond woke up at dawn and he woke out of an

extraordinary dream. He was saying to Miss Grammont:

“There is no other marriage than the marriage of true minds.

There is no other marriage than the marriage of true minds.”

He saw her as he had seen her the evening before, light and

cool, coming towards him in the moonlight from the hotel. But

also in the inconsistent way of dreams he was very close to

her kind, faintly smiling face, and his eyes were wet with

tears and he was kissing her hand. “My dear wife and mate,”

he was saying, and suddenly he was kissing her cool lips.

He woke up and stared at his dream, which faded out only very

slowly before the fresh sun rise upon the red tiles and tree

boughs outside the open window, and before the first stir and

clamour of the birds.

He felt like a court in which some overwhelmingly

revolutionary piece of evidence had been tendered. All the

elaborate defence had broken down at one blow. He sat up on

the edge of his bed, facing the new fact.

“This is monstrous and ridiculous,” he said, “and Martineau

judged me exactly. I am in love with her. . . . I am head

over heels in love with her. I have never been so much in

love or so truly in love with anyone before.”

 

Section 11

 

That was the dawn of a long day of tension for Sir Richmond

and Miss Grammont. Because each was now vividly aware of

being in love with the other and so neither was able to see

how things were with the other. They were afraid of each

other. A restraint had come upon them both, a restraint that

was greatly enhanced by their sense of Belinda, acutely

observant, ostentatiously tactful and self-effacing, and

prepared at the slightest encouragement to be overwhelmingly

romantic and sympathetic. Their talk waned, and was revived

to an artificial activity and waned again. The historical

interest had evaporated from the west of England and left

only an urgent and embarrassing present.

But the loveliness of the weather did not fail, and the whole

day was set in Severn landscapes. They first saw the great

river like a sea with the Welsh mountains hanging in the sky

behind as they came over the Mendip crest above Shipham. They

saw it again as they crossed the hill before Clifton Bridge,

and so they continued, climbing to hill crests for views at

Alveston and near Dursley, and so to Gloucester and the

lowest bridge and thence back down stream again through fat

meadow lands at first and much apple-blossom and then over

gentle hills through wide, pale Nownham and Lidney and

Alvington and Woolaston to old Chepstow and its brown castle,

always with the widening estuary to the left of them and its

foaming shoals and shining sand banks. From Chepstow they

turned back north along the steep Wye gorge to Tintern, and

there at the snug little Beaufort Arms with its prim lawn and

flower garden they ended the day’s journey.

Tintern Abbey they thought a poor graceless mass of ruin down

beside the river, and it was fenced about jealously and

locked up from their invasion. After dinner Sir Richmond and

Miss Grammont went for a walk in the mingled twilight and

moonlight up the hill towards Chepstow. Both of them were

absurdly and nervously pressing to Belinda to come with them,

but she was far too wise to take this sudden desire for her

company seriously. Her dinner shoes, she said, were too thin.

Perhaps she would change and come out a little later. “Yes,

come later,” said Miss Grammont and led the way to the door.

They passed through the garden. “I think we go up the hill? “

said Sir Richmond.

“Yes,” she agreed, “up the hill.”

Followed a silence.

Sir Richmond made an effort, but after some artificial and

disconnected talk about Tintern Abbey, concerning, which she

had no history ready, and then, still lamer, about whether

Monmouthshire is in England or Wales, silence fell again. The

silence lengthened, assumed a significance, a dignity that no

common words might break.

Then Sir Richmond spoke. “I love, you, he said, “with all my

heart.”

Her soft voice came back after a stillness. “I love you,” she

said, “with all myself.”

“I had long ceased to hope, “ said Sir -Richmond, that I

should ever find a friend . . . a lover . . . perfect

companionship . . . . “

They went on walking side by side, without touching each

other or turning to each other.

“All the things I wanted to think I believe have come alive

in me,” she said. . . .

“Cool and sweet,” said Sir Richmond. “Such happiness as I

could not have imagined.”

The light of a silent bicycle appeared above them up the hill

and swept down upon them, lit their two still faces brightly

and passed.

“My dear,” she whispered in the darkness between the high

hedges.

They stopped short and stood quite still, trembling. He saw

her face, dim and tender, looking up to his.

Then he took her in his arms and kissed her lips as he had

desired in his dream. . . .

When they returned to the inn Belinda Seyffert offered flat

explanations of why she had not followed them, and enlarged

upon the moonlight effect of the Abbey ruins from the inn

lawn. But the scared congratulations in her eyes betrayed her

recognition that momentous things had happened between the

two.

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pauloviana2012
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 IMPORTANT NOTICE

 

         In function of my travel to the Amazon region, in the period of 09 to the 21st of July of 2013, on Monday on 08th of July of 2013 they will be anticipating the referring topics the lessons of grammar, curiosities, challenges and poems and poetries, too many topics will be lifted and retaken from the 22nd of July of 2013.

      Regarding the corrections of the exercises, they can keep on sending, since so what will return I will correct all in the arrival order.

          Good studies to all and use this period to revise the matter and to explore other topics that still have not if risked.

Greetings to all of Brazil.

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pauloviana2012
I speak:
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I learn:
English, Spanish, French
Busuu berries :
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CHAPTER THE EIGHTH

FULL MOON

 

Section 1

 

Sir Richmond had talked in the moonlight and shadows of

having found such happiness as he could not have imagined.

But when he awoke in the night that happiness had evaporated.

He awoke suddenly out of this love dream that had lasted now

for nearly four days and he awoke in a mood of astonishment

and dismay.

He had thought that when he parted from Dr. Martineau he had

parted also from that process of self-exploration that they

had started together, but now he awakened to find it

established and in full activity in his mind. Something or

someone, a sort of etherealized Martineau-Hardy, an

abstracted intellectual conscience, was demanding what he

thought he was doing with Miss Grammont and whither he

thought he was taking her, how he proposed to reconcile the

close relationship with her that he was now embarked upon

with, in the first place, his work upon and engagements with

the Fuel Commission, and, in the second place, Martin Leeds.

Curiously enough Lady Hardy didn’t come into the case at all.

He had done his utmost to keep Martin Leeds out of his head

throughout the development of this affair. Now in an unruly

and determined way that was extremely characteristic of her

she seemed resolute to break in.

She appeared as an advocate, without affection for her client

but without any hostility, of the claims of Miss Grammont to

be let alone. The elaborate pretence that Sir Richmond had

maintained to himself that he had not made love to Miss

Grammont, that their mutual attraction had been irresistible

and had achieved its end in spite of their resolute and

complete detachment, collapsed and vanished from his mind. He

admitted to himself that driven by a kind of instinctive

necessity he had led their conversation step by step to a

realization and declaration of love, and that it did not

exonerate him in the least that Miss Grammont had been quite

ready and willing to help him and meet him half way. She

wanted love as a woman does, more than a man does, and he had

steadily presented himself as a man free to love, able to

love and loving.

“She wanted a man to love, she wanted perfected fellowship,

and you have made her that tremendous promise. That was

implicit in your embrace. And how can you keep that promise?”

It was as if Martin spoke; it was her voice; it was the very

quality of her thought.

“You belong to this work of yours, which must needs be

interrupted or abandoned if you take her. Whatever is not

mortgaged to your work is mortgaged to me. For the strange

thing in all this is that you and I love one another-and

have no power to do otherwise. In spite of all this.

“You have nothing to give her but stolen goods,” said the

shadow of Martin. “You have nothing to give anyone personally

any more. . . .

“Think of the love that she desires and think of this love

that you can give. . . .

“Is there any new thing in you that you can give her that you

haven’t given me? You and I know each other very well;

perhaps I know YOU too well. Haven’t you loved me as much as

you can love anyone? Think of all that there has been between

us that you are ready now, eager now to set aside and forget

as though it had never been. For four days you have kept me

out of your mind in order to worship her. Yet you have known

I was there-for all you would not know. No one else will

ever be so intimate with you as I am. We have quarrelled

together, wept together, jested happily and jested bitterly.

You have spared me not at all. Pitiless and cruel you have

been to me. You have reckoned up all my faults against me as

though they were sins. You have treated me at times

unlovingly-never was lover treated so unlovingly as you have

sometimes treated me. And yet I have your love-as no other

woman can ever have it. Even now when you are wildly in love

with this girl’s freshness and boldness and cleverness I come

into your mind by right and necessity.”

“She is different,” argued Sir Richmond.

“But you are the same,” said the shadow of Martin with

Martin’s unsparing return. “Your love has never been a

steadfast thing. It comes and goes like the wind. You are an

extravagantly imperfect lover. But I have learnt to accept

you, as people accept the English weather. . . . Never in all

your life have you loved, wholly, fully, steadfastly-as

people deserve to be loved-,not your mother nor your father,

not your wife nor your children, nor me, nor our child, nor

any living thing. Pleasant to all of us at times-at times

bitterly disappointing. You do not even love this work of

yours steadfastly, this work to which you sacrifice us all in

turn. You do not love enough. That is why you have these

moods and changes, that is why you have these lassitudes. So

it is you are made. . . .

“And that is why you must not take this brave young life, so

much simpler and braver than your own, and exalt it-as you

can do-and then fail it, as you will do. . . . “

Sir Richmond’s mind and body lay very still for a time.

“Should I fail her? . . .”

For a time Martin Leeds passed from the foreground of his

mind.

He was astonished to think how planless, instinctive and

unforeseeing his treatment of Miss Grammont had been. It had

been just a blind drive to get hold of her and possess

her. . . .

Suddenly his passion for her became active in its defence

again.

“But is there such a thing as a perfect love? Is YOURS a

perfect love, my dear Martin, with its insatiable jealousy,

its ruthless criticism? Has the world ever seen a perfect

lover yet? Isn’t it our imperfection that brings us together

in a common need? Is Miss Grammont, after all, likely to get

a more perfect love in all her life than this poor love of

mine? And isn’t it good for her that she should love?”

“Perfect love cherishes. Perfect love foregoes.”

Sir Richmond found his mind wandering far away from the

immediate question. “Perfect love,” the phrase was his point

of departure. Was it true that he could not love passionately

and completely? Was that fundamentally what was the matter

with him? Was that perhaps what was the matter with the whole

world of mankind? It had not yet come to that power of loving

which makes action full and simple and direct and

unhesitating. Man upon his planet has not grown up to love,

is still an eager, egotistical and fluctuating adolescent. He

lacks the courage to love and the wisdom to love. Love is

here. But it comes and goes, it is mixed with greeds and

jealousies and cowardice and cowardly reservations. One hears

it only in snatches and single notes. It is like something

tuning up before the Music begins. . . . The metaphor

altogether ran away with Sir Richmond’s half dreaming mind.

Some day perhaps all life would go to music.

Love was music and power. If he had loved. enough he need

never have drifted away from his wife. Love would have

created love, would have tolerated and taught and inspired.

Where there is perfect love there is neither greed nor

impatience. He would have done his work calmly. He would have

won his way with his Committee instead of fighting and

quarrelling with it perpetually. . . .

“Flimsy creatures,” he whispered. “Uncertain health.

Uncertain strength. A will that comes and goes. Moods of

baseness. Moods of utter beastliness. . . . Love like April

sunshine. April? . ..”

He dozed and dreamt for a time of spring passing into a high

summer sunshine, into a continuing music, of love. He thought

of a world like some great playhouse in which players and

orchestra and audience all co-operate in a noble production

without dissent or conflict. He thought he was the savage of

thirty thousand years ago dreaming of the great world that is

still perhaps thirty thousand years ahead. His effort to see

more of that coming world than indistinct and cloudy

pinnacles and to hear more than a vague music, dissolved his

dream and left him awake again and wrestling with the problem

of Miss Grammont.

 

Section 2

 

The shadow of Martin stood over him, inexorable. He had to

release Miss Grammont from the adventure into which he had

drawn her. This decision stood out stern-and inevitable in

his mind with no conceivable alternative.

As he looked at the task before him he began to realize its

difficulty. He was profoundly in love with her, he was still

only learning how deeply, and she was not going to play a

merely passive part in this affair. She was perhaps as deeply

in love with him. . . .

He could not bring himself to the idea of confessions and

disavowals. He could not bear to think of her

disillusionment. He felt that he owed it to her not to

disillusion her, to spoil things for her in that fashion. “To

turn into something mean and ugly after she has believed in

me. . . . It would be like playing a practical joke upon her.

It would be like taking her into my arms and suddenly making

a grimace at her. . . . It would scar her with a second

humiliation. . . .”

Should he take her on to Bath or Exeter to-morrow and

contrive by some sudden arrival of telegrams that he had to

go from her suddenly? But a mere sudden parting would not end

things between them now unless he went off abruptly without

explanations or any arrangements for further communications.

At the outset of this escapade there had been a tacit but

evident assumption that it was to end when she joined her

father at Falmouth. It was with an effect of discovery that

Sir Richmond realized that now it could not end in that

fashion, that with the whisper of love and the touching of

lips, something had been started that would go on, that would

develop. To break off now and go away without a word would

leave a raw and torn end, would leave her perplexed and

perhaps even more humiliated with an aching mystery to

distress her. “Why did he go? Was it something I said?-

something he found out or imagined? “

Parting had disappeared as a possible solution of this

problem. She and he had got into each other’s lives to stay:

the real problem was the terms upon which they were to stay

in each other’s lives. Close association had brought them to

the point of being, in the completest sense, lovers; that

could not be; and the real problem was the transmutation of

their relationship to some form compatible with his honour

and her happiness. A word, an idea, from some recent reading

floated into Sir Richmond’s head. “Sublimate,” he whispered.

“We have to sublimate this affair. We have to put this

relationship upon a Higher Plane.

His mind stopped short at that.

Presently his voice sounded out of the depths of his heart.

“God! How I loathe the Higher Plane! . . . .

“God has put me into this Higher Plane business like some

poor little kid who has to wear irons on its legs.

“I WANT her. . . . Do you hear, Martin? I want her. “

As if by a lightning flash he saw his car with himself and

Miss Grammont-Miss Seyffert had probably fallen outtraversing

Europe and Asia in headlong flight. To a sunlit

beach in the South Seas. . . .

His thoughts presently resumed as though these unmannerly and

fantastic interruptions had not occurred.

“We have to carry the whole affair on to a Higher Plane-and

keep it there. We two love one another-that has to be

admitted now. (I ought never to have touched her. I ought

never to have thought of touching her.) But we two are too

high, our aims and work and obligations are too high for any

ordinary love making. That sort of thing would embarrass us,

would spoil everything.

“Spoil everything,” he repeated, rather like a small boy who

learns an unpalatable lesson.

For a time Sir Richmond, exhausted by moral effort, lay

staring at the darkness.

“It has to be done. I believe I can carry her through with it

if I can carry myself. She’s a finer thing than I am. . . .

On the whole I am glad it’s only one more day. Belinda will

be about. . . . Afterwards we can write to each other. . . .

If we can get over the next day it will be all right. Then we

can write about fuel and politics-and there won’t be her

voice and her presence. We shall really SUBLIMATE. . . .

First class idea- sublimate! . . . . And I will go back to

dear old Martin who’s all alone there and miserable; I’ll be

kind to her and play my part and tell her her Carbuncle scar

rather becomes her. . . . And in a little while I shall be

altogether in love with her again.

“Queer what a brute I’ve always been to Martin.”

“Queer that Martin can come in a dream to me and take the

upper hand with me.

“Queer that NOW-I love Martin.”

He thought still more profoundly. “By the time the Committee

meets again I shall have been tremendously refreshed.”

He repeated:-”Put things on the Higher Plane and keep them

there. Then go back to Martin. And so to the work. That’s

it. . . .”

Nothing so pacifies the mind as a clear-cut purpose. Sir

Richmond fell asleep during the fourth recapitulation of this

programme.

 

Section 3

 

When Miss Grammont appeared at breakfast Sir Richmond saw at

once that she too had had a restless night. When she came

into the little long breakfast room of the inn with its brown

screens and its neat white tables it seemed to him that the

Miss Grammont of his nocturnal speculations, the beautiful

young lady who had to be protected and managed and loved

unselfishly, vanished like some exorcised intruder. Instead

was this real dear young woman, who had been completely

forgotten during the reign of her simulacrum and who now

returned completely remembered, familiar, friendly, intimate.

She touched his hand for a moment, she met his eyes with the

shadow of a smile in her own.

“Oranges!” said Belinda from the table by the window.

“Beautiful oranges.”

She had been preparing them, poor Trans-atlantic exile, after

the fashion in which grape fruits are prepared upon liners

and in the civilized world of the west. “He’s getting us tea

spoons,” said Belinda, as they sat down.

“This is realler England than ever,” she said. “I’ve been up

an hour. I found a little path down to the river bank. It’s

the greenest morning world and full of wild flowers. Look at

these.”

“That’s lady’s smock,” said Sir Richmond. “It’s not really a

flower; it’s a quotation from Shakespeare.”

“And there are cowslips!”

“CUCKOO BUDS OF YELLOW HUE. DO PAINT THE MEADOWS WITH

DELIGHT. All the English flowers come out of Shakespeare. I

don’t know what we did before his time.”

The waiter arrived with the tea spoons for the oranges.

Belinda, having distributed these, resumed her discourse of

enthusiasm for England. She asked a score of questions about

Gloucester and Chepstow, the Severn and the Romans and the

Welsh, and did not wait for the answers. She did not want

answers; she talked to keep things going. Her talk masked a

certain constraint that came upon her companions after the

first morning’s greetings were over.

Sir Richmond as he had planned upstairs produced two Michelin

maps. “To-day,” he said,” we will run back to Bath-from

which it will be easy for you to train to Falmouth. We will

go by Monmouth and then turn back through the Forest of Dean,

where you will get glimpses of primitive coal mines still

worked by two men and a boy with a windlass and a pail.

Perhaps we will go through Cirencester. I don’t know. Perhaps

it is better to go straight to Bath. In the very heart of

Bath you will find yourselves in just the same world you

visited at Pompeii. Bath is Pompeii overlaid by Jane Austen’s

England.”

He paused for a moment. “We can wire to your agents from here

before we start and we can pick up their reply at Gloucester

or Nailsworth or even Bath itself. So that if your father is

nearer than we suppose-But I think to-morrow afternoon will

be soon enough for Falmouth, anyhow.”

He stopped interrogatively.

Miss Grammont’s face was white. “That will do very well,” she

said.

 

Section 4

 

They started, but presently they came to high banks that

showed such masses of bluebells, ragged Robin, great

stitchwort and the like that Belinda was not to be

restrained. She clamoured to stop the car and go up the bank

and pick her hands full, and so they drew up by the roadside

and Sir Richmond and Miss Grammont sat down near the car

while Belinda carried her enthusiastic onslaught on the

flowers up the steep bank and presently out of earshot.

The two lovers said unheeded things about the flowers to each

other and then fell silent. Then Miss Grammont turned her

head and seemed deliberately to measure her companion’s

distance. Evidently she judged her out of earshot.

“Well, said Miss Grammont in her soft even voice. “We love

one another. Is that so still?”

“I could not love you more.”

“It wasn’t a dream?”

“No.”

“And to-morrow we part?”

He looked her in the eyes. “I have been thinking of that all

night,” he said at last.

“I too.”

“And you think-?”

“That we must part. Just as we arranged it when was it? Three

days or three ages ago? There is nothing else in the world to

do except for us to go our ways. . . . I love you. That means

for a woman-It means that I want to be with you. But that is

impossible. . . . Don’t doubt whether I love you because I

say-impossible. . . . “

Sir Richmond, faced with his own nocturnal decision, was now

moved to oppose it flatly. “Nothing that one can do is

impossible.”

She glanced again at Belinda and bent down towards him.”

Suppose,” she said, “you got back into that car with me;

suppose that instead of going on as we have planned, you took

me away. How much of us would go?”

“You would go,” said Sir Richmond, “and my heart.”

“And this work of yours? And your honour? For the honour of a

man in this New Age of yours will be first of all in the work

he does for the world. And you will leave your work to be

just a lover. And the work that I might do because of my

father’s wealth; all that would vanish too. We should leave

all of that, all of our usefulness, all that much of

ourselves. But what has made me love you? Just your breadth

of vision, just the sense that you mattered. What has made

you love me? Just that I have understood the dream of your

work. All that we should have to leave behind. We should

specialize, in our own scandal. We should run away just for

one thing. To think, by sharing the oldest, simplest, dearest

indulgences in the world, that we had got each other. When

really we had lost each other, lost all that mattered. . . .”

Her face was flushed with the earnestness of her conviction.

Her eyes were bright with tears. “Don’t think I don’t love

you. It’s so hard to say all this. Somehow it seems like

going back on something-something supreme. Our instincts

have got us. . . . Don’t think I’d hold myself from you,

dear. I’d give myself to you with both hands. I love you-

When a woman loves-I at any rate-she loves altogether. But

this thing-I am convinced-cannot be. I must go my own way,

the way I have to go. My father is the man, obstinate, more

than half a savage. For me-I know it-he has the jealousy of

ten husbands. If you take me-If our secret becomes

manifest-If you are to take me and keep me, then his life

and your life will become wholly this Feud, nothing but this

Feud. You have to fight him anyhow-that is why I of all

people must keep out of the quarrel. For him, it would be an

immense excitement, full of the possibility of fierce

satisfactions; for you, whether you won me or lost me, it

would be utter waste and ruin.”

She paused and then went on:-”And for me too, waste and

ruin. I shall be a woman fought over. I shall be fought over

as dogs fight over a bone. I shall sink back to the level of

Helen of Troy. I shall cease to be a free citizen, a

responsible free person. Whether you win me or lose me it

will be waste and ruin for us both. Your Fuel Commission will

go to pieces, all the wide, enduring work you have set me

dreaming about will go the same way. We shall just be another

romantic story. . . . No!”

Sir Richmond sat still, a little like a sullen child, she

thought. “I hate all this,” he said slowly. “I didn’t think

of your father before, and now I think of him it sets me

bristling for a fight. It makes all this harder to give up.

And yet, do you know, in the night I was thinking, I was

coming to conclusions, very like yours. For quite other

reasons. I thought we ought not to-We have to keep friends

anyhow and hear of each other?”

“That goes without saying.”

“I thought we ought not to go on to be lovers in any way that

Would affect you, touch you too closely. . . . I was sorry-I

had kissed you.”

“Not I. No. Don’t be sorry for that. I am glad we have fallen

in love, more glad than I have been of anything else in my

life, and glad we have spoken plainly. . . . Though we have

to part. And-”

Her whisper came close to him. “For a whole day yet, all

round the clock twice, you and I have one another.”

Miss Seyffert began speaking as soon as she was well within

earshot.

“I don’t know the name of a single one of these flowers” she

cried, “except the bluebells. Look at this great handful I’ve

gotten! Springtime in Italy doesn’t compare with it, not for

a moment.”

 

Section 5

 

Because Belinda Seyffert was in the dicky behind them with

her alert interest in their emotions all too thinly and

obviously veiled, it seemed more convenient to Sir Richmond

and Miss Grammont to talk not of themselves but of Man and

Woman and of that New Age according to the prophet Martineau,

which Sir Richmond had partly described and mainly invented

and ascribed to his departed friend. They talked

anthropologically, philosophically, speculatively, with an

absurd pretence of detachment, they sat side by side in the

little car, scarcely glancing at one another, but side by

side and touching each other, and all the while they were

filled with tenderness and love and hunger for one another.

In the course of a day or so they had touched on nearly every

phase in the growth of Man and Woman from that remote and

brutish past which has left its traces in human bones mingled

with the bones of hyaenas and cave bears beneath the

stalagmites of Wookey Hole near Wells. In those nearly

forgotten days the mind of man and woman had been no more

than an evanescent succession of monstrous and infantile

imaginations. That brief journey in the west country had lit

up phase after phase in the long teaching and discipline of

man as he had developed depth of memory and fixity of purpose

out of these raw beginnings, through the dreaming childhood

of Avebury and Stonehenge and the crude boyhood of ancient

wars and massacres. Sir Richmond recalled those phases now,

and how, as they had followed one another, man’s idea of

woman and woman’s idea of man had changed with them, until

nowadays in the minds of civilized men brute desire and

possession and a limitless jealousy had become almost

completely overlaid by the desire for fellowship and a free

mutual loyalty. “Overlaid,” he said. “The older passions are

still there like the fires in an engine.” He invented a

saying for Dr. Martineau that the Man in us to-day was still

the old man of Palaeolithic times, with his will, his wrath

against the universe increased rather than diminished. If today

he ceases to crack his brother’s bones and rape and bully

his womenkind, it is because he has grown up to a greater

game and means to crack this world and feed upon its marrow

and wrench their secrets from the stars.

And furthermore it would seem that the prophet Martineau had

declared that in this New Age that was presently to dawn for

mankind, jealousy was to be disciplined even as we had

disciplined lust and anger; instead of ruling our law it was

to be ruled by law and custom. No longer were the jealousy of

strange peoples, the jealousy of ownership and the jealousy

of sex to determine the framework of human life. There was to

be one peace and law throughout the world, one economic

scheme and a universal freedom for men and women to possess

and give themselves.

“And how many generations yet must there be before we reach

that Utopia?” Miss Grammont asked.

“I wouldn’t put it at a very great distance.”

“But think of all the confusions of the world!”

“Confusions merely. The world is just a muddle of states and

religions and theories and stupidities. There are great lumps

of disorderly strength in it, but as a whole it is a weak

world. It goes on by habit. There’s no great idea in

possession and the only possible great idea is this one. The

New Age may be nearer than we dare to suppose.”

“If I could believe that!”

“There are many more people think as we do than you suppose.

Are you and I such very strange and wonderful and exceptional

people?”

“No. I don’t think so.”

“And yet the New World is already completely established in

our hearts. What has been done in our minds can be done in

most minds. In a little while the muddled angry mind of Man

upon his Planet will grow clear and it will be this idea that

will have made it clear. And then life will be very different

for everyone. That tyranny of disorder which oppresses every

life on earth now will be lifted. There will be less and less

insecurity, less and less irrational injustice. It will be a

better instructed and a better behaved world. We shall live

at our ease, not perpetually anxious, not resentful and

angry. And that will alter all the rules of love. Then we

shall think more of the loveliness of other people because it

will no longer be necessary to think so much of the dangers

and weaknesses and pitifulliesses of other people. We shall

not have to think of those who depend upon us for happiness

and selfrespect. We shall not have to choose between a

wasteful fight for a personal end or the surrender of our

heart’s desire.”

“Heart’s desire,” she whispered. “Am I indeed your heart’s

desire?”

Sir Richmond sank his head and voice in response.

“You are the best of all things. And I have to let you go.”

Sir Richmond suddenly remembered Miss Seyffert and half

turned his face towards her. Her forehead was just visible

over the hood of the open coupe. She appeared to be

intelligently intent upon the scenery. Then he broke out

suddenly into a tirade against the world. “But I am bored by

this jostling unreasonable world. At the bottom of my heart I

am bitterly resentful to-day. This is a world of fools and

brutes in which we live, a world of idiotic traditions,

imbecile limitations, cowardice, habit, greed and mean

cruelty. It is a slum of a world, a congested district, an

insanitary jumble of souls and bodies. Every good thing,

every sweet desire is thwarted-every one. I have to lead the

life of a slum missionary, a sanitary inspector, an underpaid

teacher. I am bored. Oh God! how I am bored! I am bored by

our laws and customs. I am bored by our rotten empire and its

empty monarchy. I am bored by its parades and its flags and

its sham enthusiasms. I am bored by London and its life, by

its smart life and by its servile life alike. I am bored by

theatres and by books and by every sort of thing that people

call pleasure. I am bored by the brag of people and the

claims of people and the feelings of people. Damn people! I

am bored by profiteers and by the snatching they call

business enterprise. Damn every business man! I am bored by

politics and the universal mismanagement of everything. I am

bored by France, by AngloSaxondom, by German self-pity, by

Bolshevik fanaticism. I am bored by these fools’ squabbles

that devastate the world. I am bored by Ireland, Orange and

Green. Curse the Irish-north and south together! Lord! how I

HATE the Irish from Carson to the last Sinn Feiner! And I am

bored by India and by Egypt. I am bored by Poland and by

Islam. I am bored by anyone who professes to have rights.

Damn their rights! Curse their rights! I am bored to death by

this year and by last year and by the prospect of next year.

I am bored-I am horribly bored-by my work. I am bored by

every sort of renunciation. I want to live with the woman I

love and I want to work within the limits of my capacity.

Curse all Hullo! Damn his eyes!-Steady, ah! The spark! . . .

Good! No skid.”

He had come round a corner at five and twenty miles an hour

and had stopped his spark and pulled up neatly within a yard

of the fore-wheel of a waggon that was turning in the road so

as to block the way completely.

“That almost had me. . . .

“And now you feel better?” said Miss Grammont.

“Ever so much,” said Sir Richmond and chuckled.

The waggoner cleared the road and the car started up again.

For a minute or so neither spoke.

“You ought to be smacked hard for that outbreak,-my dear,”

said Miss Grammont.

“I ought-MY dear. I have no right to be ill-tempered. We two

are among the supremely fortunate ones of our time. We have

no excuse for misbehaviour. Got nothing to grumble at. Always

I am lucky. THAT-with the waggon-was a very near thing. God

spoils us.

“We two,” he went on, after a pause, “are among the most

fortunate people alive. We are both rich and easily rich.

That gives us freedoms few people have. We have a vision of

the whole world in which we live. It’s in a mess-but that is

by the way. The mass of mankind never gets enough education

to have even a glimpse of the world as a whole. They never

get a chance to get the hang of it. It is really possible for

us to do things that will matter in the world. All our time

is our own; all our abilities we are free to use. Most

people, most intelligent and educated people, are caught in

cages of pecuniary necessity; they are tied to tasks they

can’t leave, they are driven and compelled and limited by

circumstances they can never master. But we, if we have

tasks, have tasks of our own choosing. We may not like the

world, but anyhow we are free to do our best to alter it. If

I were a clerk in Hoxton and you were a city typist, then we

MIGHT swear. “

“It was you who swore,” smiled Miss Grammont.

“It’s the thought of that clerk in Hoxton and that city

typist who really keep me at my work. Any smacking ought to

come from them. I couldn’t do less than I do in the face of

their helplessness. Nevertheless a day will come-through

what we do and what we refrain from doing when there will be

no bound and limited clerks in Hoxton and no captive typists

in the city. And nobody at all to consider.”

“According to the prophet Martineau,” said Miss Grammont.

“And then you and I must contrive to be born again. “

“Heighho!” cried Miss Grammont. “A thousand years ahead! When

fathers are civilized. When all these phanton people who

intervene on your side-no! I don’t want to know anything

about them, but I know of them by instinct-when they also

don’t matter.”

“Then you and I can have things out with each other-

THOROUGHLY,” said Sir Richmond, with a surprising ferocity in

his voice, charging the little hill before him as though he

charged at Time.

 

Section 6

 

They had to wait at Nailsworth for a telegram from Mr.

Grammont’s agents; they lunched there and drove on to Bath in

the afternoon. They came into the town through unattractive

and unworthy outskirts, and only realized the charm of the

place after they had garaged their car at the Pulteney Hotel

and walked back over the Pulteney Bridge to see the Avon with

the Pump Room and the Roman Baths. The Pulteney they found

hung with pictures and adorned with sculpture to an

astonishing extent; some former proprietor must have had a

mania for replicas and the place is eventful with white

marble fauns and sylphs and lions and Caesars and Queen

Victorias and packed like an exhibition with memories of

Rome, Florence, Milan, Paris, the National Gallery and the

Royal Academy, amidst which splendours a competent staff

administers modern comforts with an old-fashioned civility.

But round and about the Pulteney one has still the scenery of

Georgian England, the white, faintly classical terraces and

houses of the days of Fielding, Smollett, Fanny Burney and

Jane Austen, the graceful bridge with the bright little shops

full of “presents from Bath”; the Pump Room with its water

drinkers and a fine array of the original Bath chairs.

Down below the Pump Room our travellers explored the memories

of the days when the world was Latin from York to the Tigris,

and the Corinthian capital flourished like a weed from Bath

to Baalbek. And they considered a little doubtfully the

seventeenth century statue of Bladud, who is said to have

been healed by the Bath waters and to have founded the city

in the days when Stonehenge still flourished, eight hundred

years before the Romans came.

In the afternoon Miss Seyffert came with Sir Richmond and

Miss Grammont and was very enthusiastic about everything, but

in the evening after dinner it was clear that her role was to

remain in the hotel. Sir Richmond and Miss Grammont went out

into the moonlit gloaming; they crossed the bridge again and

followed the road beside the river towards the old Abbey

Church, that Lantern of the West. Away in some sunken gardens

ahead of them a band was playing, and a cluster of little

lights about the bandstand showed a crowd of people down

below dancing on the grass. These little lights, these

bobbing black heads and the lilting music, this little

inflamed Centre of throbbing sounds and ruddy illumination,

made the dome of the moonlit world about it seem very vast

and cool and silent. Our visitors began to realize that Bath

could be very beautiful. They went to the parapet above the

river and stood there, leaning over it elbow to elbow and

smoking cigarettes. Miss Grammont was moved to declare the

Pulteney Bridge, with its noble arch, its effect of height

over the swirling river, and the cluster of houses above,

more beautiful than the Ponte Vecchio at Florence. Down below

was a man in waders with a fishing-rod going to and fro along

the foaming weir, and a couple of boys paddled a boat against

the rush of the water lower down the stream.

“Dear England!” said Miss Grammont, surveying this gracious

spectacle. “How full it is of homely and lovely and kindly

things!”

“It is the home we come from.”

“You belong to it still.”

“No more than you do. I belong to a big overworking modern

place called London which stretches its tentacles all over

the world. I am as much a home-coming tourist as you are.

Most of this western country I am seeing for the first time.”

She said nothing for a space. “I’ve not a word to say tonight,”

she said. “I’m just full of a sort of animal

satisfaction in being close to you. . . . And in being with

you among lovely things. . . . Somewhere-Before we part tonight-.

. . . “

“Yes?” he said to her pause, and his face came very near to

hers.

I want you to kiss me. “

“Yes,” he said awkwardly, glancing over his shoulder, acutely

aware of the promenaders passing close to them.

“It’s a promise?”

“Yes.”

Very timidly and guiltily his hand sought hers beside it and

gripped it and pressed it. “My dear!” he whispered, tritest

and most unavoidable of expressions. It was not very like Man

and Woman loving upon their Planet; it was much more like the

shy endearments of the shop boys and work girls who made the

darkling populous about them with their silent interchanges.

“There are a thousand things I want to talk about to you,”

she said. “After we have parted to-morrow I shall begin to

think of them. But now-every rational thing seems dissolved

in this moonlight. . . .”

Presently she made an effort to restore the intellectual

dignity of their relationship.

“I suppose I ought to be more concerned tonight about the

work I have to do in the world and anxious for you to tell me

this and that, but indeed I am not concerned at all about it.

I seem to have it in outline all perfectly clear. I mean to

play a man’s part in the world just as my father wants me to

do. I mean to win his confidence and work with him-like a

partner. Then some day I shall be a power in the world of

fuel. And at the same time I must watch and read and think

and learn how to be the servant of the world. . . . We two

have to live like trusted servants who have been made

guardians of a helpless minor. We have to put things in order

and keep them in order against the time when Man-Man whom we

call in America the Common Man-can take hold of his world-”

“And release his servants,” said Sir Richmond.

“All that is perfectly clear in my mind. That is what I am

going to live for; that is what I have to do.”

She stopped abruptly. “All that is about as interesting tonight-

in comparison with the touch of your dear fingers-as

next month’s railway time-table.”

But later she found a topic that could hold their attention

for a time.

“We have never said a word about religion,” she said.

Sir Richmond paused for a moment. “I am a godless man,” he

said. “The stars and space and time overwhelm my imagination.

I cannot imagine anything above or beyond them.”

She thought that over. “But there are divine things,” she

said.

“YOU are divine. . . . I’m not talking lovers’ nonsense,” he

hastened to add. “I mean that there is something about human

beings-not just the everyday stuff of them, but something

that appears intermittently-as though a light shone through

something translucent. If I believe in any divinity at all it

is a divinity revealed to me by other people- And even by

myself in my own heart.

“I’m never surprised at the badness of human beings,” said

Sir Richmond; “seeing how they have come about and what they

are; but I have been surprised time after time by fine

things . . . . Often in people I disliked or thought little

of . . . . I can understand that I find you full of divine

quality, because I am in love with you and all alive to you.

Necessarily I keep on discovering loveliness in you. But I

have seen divine things in dear old Martineau, for example. A

vain man, fussy, timid-and yet filled with a passion for

truth, ready to make great sacrifices and to toil

tremendously for that. And in those men I am always cursing,

my Committee, it is astonishing at times to discover what

streaks of goodness even the really bad men can show. . . .

But one can’t make use of just anyone’s divinity. I can see

the divinity in Martineau but it leaves me cold. He tired me

and bored me. . . . But I live on you. It’s only through love

that the God can reach over from one human being to another.

All real love is a divine thing, a reassurance, a release of

courage. It is wonderful enough that we should take food and

drink and turn them into imagination, invention and creative

energy; it is still more wonderful that we should take an

animal urging and turn it into a light to discover beauty and

an impulse towards the utmost achievements of which we are

capable. All love is a sacrament and all lovers are priests

to each other. You and I-”

Sir Richmond broke off abruptly. “I spent three days trying

to tell this to Dr. Martineau. But he wasn’t the priest I had

to confess to and the words wouldn’t come. I can confess it

to you readily enough . . . .”

“I cannot tell,” said Miss Grammont, “whether this is the

last wisdom in life or moonshine. I cannot tell whether I am

thinking or feeling; but the noise of the water going over

the weir below is like the stir in my heart. And I am

swimming in love and happiness. Am I awake or am I dreaming

you, and are we dreaming one another? Hold my hand-hold it

hard and tight. I’m trembling with love for you and all the

world. . . . If I say more I shall be weeping.”

For a long time they stood side by side saying not a word to

one another.

Presently the band down below and the dancing ceased and the

little lights were extinguished. The silent moon seemed to

grow brighter and larger and the whisper of the waters

louder. A crowd of young people flowed out of the gardens and

passed by on their way home. Sir Richmond and Miss Grammont

strolled through the dispersing crowd and over the Toll

Bridge and went exploring down a little staircase that went

down from the end of the bridge to the dark river, and then

came back to their old position at the parapet looking upon

the weir and the Pulteney Bridge. The gardens that had been

so gay were already dark and silent as they returned, and the

streets echoed emptily to the few people who were still

abroad.

“It’s the most beautiful bridge in the world,” said Miss

Grammont, and gave him her hand again.

Some deep-toned clock close by proclaimed the hour eleven.

The silence healed again.

“Well?” said Sir Richmond.

“Well?” said Miss Grammont smiling very faintly.

“I suppose we must go out of all this beauty now, back to the

lights of the hotel and the watchful eyes of your dragon. “

“She has not been a very exacting dragon so far, has she?”

“She is a miracle of tact.”

“She does not really watch. But she is curious-and very

sympathetic. “

“She is wonderful.” . . . .

“That man is still fishing,” said Miss Grammont.

For a time she peered down at the dark figure wading in the

foam below as though it was the only thing of interest in the

world. Then she turned to Sir Richmond.

“I would trust Belinda with my life, she said. “And anyhownow-

we need not worry about Belinda.”

 

Section 7

 

At the breakfast table it was Belinda who was the most

nervous of the three, the most moved, the most disposed to

throw a sacramental air over their last meal together. Her

companions had passed beyond the idea of separation; it was

as if they now cherished a secret satisfaction at the high

dignity of their parting. Belinda in some way perceived they

had become different. They were no longer tremulous lovers;

they seemed sure of one another and with a new pride in their

bearing. It would have pleased Belinda better, seeing how

soon they were to be torn apart, if they had not made quite

such excellent breakfasts. She even suspected them of having

slept well. Yet yesterday they had been deeply stirred. They

had stayed out late last night, so late that she had not

heard them come in. Perhaps then they had passed the climax

of their emotions. Sir Richmond, she learnt, was to take the

party to Exeter, where there would be a train for Falmouth a

little after two. If they started from Bath about nine that

would give them an ample margin of time in which to deal with

a puncture or any such misadventure.

They crested the Mendips above Shepton Mallet, ran through

Tilchester and Ilminster into the lovely hill country about

Up-Ottery and so to Honiton and the broad level road to

Exeter. Sir Richmond and Miss Grammont were in a state of

happy gravity; they sat contentedly side by side, talking

very little. They had already made their arrangements for

writing to one another. There was to be no stream of loveletters

or protestations. That might prove a mutual torment.

Their love was to be implicit. They were to write at

intervals about political matters and their common interests,

and to keep each other informed of their movements about the

world.

“We shall be working together,” she said, speaking suddenly

out of a train of thought she had been following, “we shall

be closer together than many a couple who have never spent a

day apart for twenty years.”

Then presently she said: “In the New Age all lovers will have

to be accustomed to meeting and parting. We women will not be

tied very much by domestic needs. Unless we see fit to have

children. We shall be going about our business like men; we

shall have world-wide businesses-many of us-just as men

will. . . .

“It will be a world full of lovers’ meetings.”

Some day-somewhere-we two will certainly meet again.”

“Even you have to force circumstances a little,” said Sir

Richmond.

“We shall meet, she said, “without doing that.”

“But where?” he asked unanswered. . . .

“Meetings and partings,” she said. “Women will be used to

seeing their lovers go away. Even to seeing them go away to

other women who have borne them children and who have a

closer claim on them.”

“No one-” began Sir Richmond, startled.

“But I don’t mind very much. It’s how things are. If I were a

perfectly civilized woman I shouldn’t mind at all. If men and

women are not to be tied to each other there must needs be

such things as this.”

“But you,” said Sir Richmond. I at any rate am not like that.

I cannot bear the thought that YOU-”

“You need not bear it, my dear. I was just trying to imagine

this world that is to be. Women I think are different from

men in their jealousy. Men are jealous of the other man;

women are jealous for their man-and careless about the other

woman. What I love in you I am sure about. My mind was empty

when it came to you and now it is full to overflowing. I

shall feel you moving about in the same world with me. I’m

not likely to think of anyone else for a very long

time. . . . Later on, who knows? I may marry. I make no vows.

But I think until I know certainly that you do not want me

any more it will be impossible for me to marry or to have a

lover. I don’t know, but that is how I believe it will be

with me. And my mind feels beautifully clear now and settled.

I’ve got your idea and made it my own, your idea that we

matter scarcely at all, but that the work we do matters

supremely. I’ll find my rope and tug it, never fear. Half way

round the world perhaps some day you will feel me tugging.”

“I shall feel you’re there,” he said, “whether you tug or

not. . . .”

“Three miles left to Exeter,” he reported presently.

She glanced back at Belinda.

“It is good that we have loved, my dear,” she whispered. “Say

it is good.”

“The best thing in all my life,” he said, and lowered his

head and voice to say: “My dearest dear.”

“Heart’s desire-still-?”

“Heart’s delight. . . . Priestess of life. . . . Divinity.”

She smiled and nodded and suddenly Belinda, up above their

lowered heads, accidentally and irrelevantly, no doubt,

coughed.

At Exeter Station there was not very much time to spare after

all. Hardly had Sir Richmond secured a luncheon basket for

the two travellers before the train came into the station. He

parted from Miss Grammont with a hand clasp. Belinda was

flushed and distressed at the last but her friend was quiet

and still. “Au revoir,” said Belinda without conviction when

Sir Richmond shook her hand.

 

Section 8.

 

Sir Richmond stood quite still on the platform as the train

ran out of the station. He did not move until it had

disappeared round the bend. Then he turned, lost in a brown

study, and walked very slowly towards the station exit.

“The most wonderful thing in my life,” he thought. “And

already-it is unreal.

“She will go on to her father whom she knows ten thousand

times more thoroughly than she knows me; she will go on to

Paris, she will pick up all the threads of her old story, be

reminded of endless things in her life, but never except in

the most casual way of these days: they will be cut off from

everything else that will serve to keep them real; and as for

me-this connects with nothing else in my life at all. . . .

It is as disconnected as a dream. . . . Already it is hardly

more substantial than a dream. . . .

“We shall write letters. Do letters breathe faster or slower

as you read them?

“We may meet.

“Where are we likely to meet again? ... I never realized

before how improbable it is that we shall meet again. And if

we meet? . . .

“Never in all our lives shall we be really TOGETHER again.

It’s over-With a completeness. . . .

“Like death.”

He came opposite the bookstalls and stopped short and stared

with unseeing eyes at the display of popular literature. He

was wondering now whether after all he ought to have let her

go. He experienced something of the blank amazement of a

child who has burst its toy balloon. His golden globe of

satisfaction in an instant had gone. An irrational sense of

loss was flooding every other feeling about V.V. If she had

loved him truly and altogether could she have left him like

this? Neither of them surely had intended so complete a

separation. He wanted to go back and recall that train.

A few seconds more, he realized, and he would give way to

anger. Whatever happened that must not happen. He pulled

himself together. What was it he had to do now? He had not to

be angry, he had not even to be sorry. They had done the

right thing. Outside the station his car was waiting.

He went outside the station and stared at his car. He had to

go somewhere. Of course! down into Cornwall to Martin’s

cottage. He had to go down to her and be kind and comforting

about that carbuncle. To be kind? . . . If this thwarted

feeling broke out into anger he might be tempted to take it

out of Martin. That at any rate he must not do. He had always

for some inexplicable cause treated Martin badly. Nagged her

and blamed her and threatened her. That must stop now. No

shadow of this affair must lie on Martin. . . . And Martin

must never have a suspicion of any of this. . . .

The image of Martin became very vivid in his mind. He thought

of her as he had seen her many times, with the tears close,

fighting with her back to the wall, with all her wit and

vigour gone, because she loved him more steadfastly than he

did her. Whatever happened he must not take it out of Martin.

It was astonishing how real she had become now-as V.V.

became a dream. Yes, Martin was astonishingly real. And if

only he could go now and talk to Martin-and face all the

facts of life with her, even as he had done with that phantom

Martin in his dream. . . .

But things were not like that.

He looked to see if his car was short of water or petrol;

both needed replenishing, and so he would have to go up the

hill into Exeter town again. He got into his car and sat with

his fingers on the electric starter.

Martin! Old Friend! Eight days were still left before the

Committee met again, eight days for golden kindness. He would

distress Martin by no clumsy confession. He would just make

her happy as she loved to be made happy. . . . Nevertheless.

Nevertheless. . . .

Was it Martin who failed him or he who failed Martin?

Incessant and insoluble dispute. Well, the thing now was to

go to Martin. . . . And then the work!

He laughed suddenly.

“I’ll take it out of the damned Commission. I’ll make old

Rumford Brown sit up.”

He was astonished to find himself thinking of the affairs of

the Commission with a lively interest and no trace of

fatigue. He had had his change; he had taken his rest; he was

equal to his task again already. He started his engine and

steered his way past a van and a waiting cab.

“Fuel,” he said.

 

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I speak:
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CHAPTER THE NINTH

THE LAST DAYS OF SIR RICHMOND HARDY

 

Section 1

 

The Majority and Minority Reports of the Fuel Commission were

received on their first publication with much heat and

disputation, but there is already a fairly general agreement

that they are great and significant documents, broadly

conceived and historically important. They do lift the

questions of fuel supply and distribution high above the

level of parochial jealousies and above the petty and

destructive profiteering of private owners and traders, to a

view of a general human welfare. They form an important link

in a series of private and public documents that are slowly

opening out a prospect of new economic methods, methods

conceived in the generous spirit of scientific work, that may

yet arrest the drift of our western civilization towards

financial and commercial squalor and the social collapse that

must ensue inevitably on that. In view of the composition of

the Committee, the Majority Report is in itself an amazing

triumph of Sir Richmond’s views; it is astonishing that he

was able to drive his opponents so far and then leave them

there securely advanced while he carried on the adherents he

had altogether won, including, of course, the labour

representatives, to the further altitudes of the Minority

Report.

After the Summer recess the Majority Report was discussed and

adopted. Sir Richmond had shown signs of flagging energy in

June, but he had come back in September in a state of

exceptional vigour; for a time he completely dominated the

Committee by the passionate force of his convictions and the

illuminating scorn he brought to bear on the various

subterfuges and weakening amendments by which the meaner

interests sought to save themselves in whole or in part from

the common duty of sacrifice. But toward the end he fell ill.

He had worked to the pitch of exhaustion. He neglected a cold

that settled on his chest. He began to cough persistently and

betray an increasingly irritable temper. In the last fights

in the Committee his face was bright with fever and he spoke

in a voiceless whisper, often a vast angry whisper. His place

at table was marked with scattered lozenges and scraps of

paper torn to the minutest shreds. Such good manners as had

hitherto mitigated his behaviour on the Committee departed

from him, He carried his last points, gesticulating and

coughing and wheezing rather than speaking. But he had so

hammered his ideas into the Committee that they took the

effect of what he was trying to say.

He died of pneumonia at his own house three days after the

passing of the Majority Report. The Minority Report, his own

especial creation, he never signed. It was completed by Wast

and Carmichael. . . .

After their parting at Salisbury station Dr. Martineau heard

very little of Sir Richmond for a time except through the

newspapers, which contained frequent allusions to the

Committee. Someone told him that Sir Richmond had been

staying at Ruan in Cornwall where Martin Leeds had a cottage,

and someone else had met him at Bath on his way, he said, in

his car from Cornwall to a conference with Sir Peter Davies

in Glamorganshire.

But in the interim Dr. Martineau had the pleasure of meeting

Lady Hardy at a luncheon party. He was seated next to her and

he found her a very pleasing and sympathetic person indeed.

She talked to him freely and simply of her husband and of the

journey the two men had taken together. Either she knew

nothing of the circumstances of their parting or if she did

she did not betray her knowledge. “That holiday did him a

world of good,” she said. “He came back to his work like a

giant. I feel very grateful to you.”

Dr. Martineau said it was a pleasure to have helped Sir

Richmond’s work in any way. He believed in him thoroughly.

Sir Richmond was inspired by great modern creative ideas.

“Forgive me if I keep you talking about him,” said Lady

Hardy. “I wish I could feel as sure that I had been of use to

him.”

Dr. Martineau insisted. “I know very well that you are.”

“I do what I can to help him carry his enormous burthen of

toil” she said. “I try to smooth his path. But he is a

strange silent creature at times. “

Her eyes scrutinized the doctor’s face.

It was not the doctor’s business to supplement Sir Richmond’s

silences. Yet he wished to meet the requirements of this lady

if he could. “He is one of those men,” he said, “who are

driven by forces they do not fully understand. A man of

genius.”

“Yes,” she said in an undertone of intimacy. Genius. . . . A

great irresponsible genius. . . . Difficult to help. . . . I

wish I could do more for him.”

A very sweet and charming lady. It was with great regret that

the doctor found the time had come to turn to his left-hand

neighbour.

 

Section 2

 

It was with some surprise that Dr. Martineau received a fresh

appeal for aid from Sir Richmond. It was late in October and

Sir Richmond was already seriously ill. But he was still

going about his business as though he was perfectly well. He

had not mistaken his man. Dr. Martineau received him as

though there had never been a shadow of offence between them.

He came straight to the point. “Martineau,” he said, “I must

have those drugs I asked you for when first I came to you

now. I must be bolstered up. I can’t last out unless I am.

I’m at the end of my energy. I come to you because you will

understand. The Commission can’t go on now for more than

another three weeks. Whatever happens afterwards I must keep

going until then.”

The doctor did understand. He made no vain objections. He did

what he could to patch up his friend for his last struggles

with the opposition in the Committee. “Pro forma,” he said,

stethoscope in hand, “I must order you to bed. You won’t go.

But I order you. You must know that what you are doing is

risking your life. Your lungs are congested, the bronchial

tubes already. That may spread at any time. If this open

weather lasts you may go about and still pull through. But at

any time this may pass into pneumonia. And there’s not much

in you just now to stand up against pneumonia. . . .”

“I’ll take all reasonable care.”

“Is your wife at home!”

“She is in Wales with her people. But the household is well

trained. I can manage.”

“Go in a closed car from door to door. Wrap up like a mummy.

I wish the Committee room wasn’t down those abominable House

of Commons corridors. . . .”

They parted with an affectionate handshake.

 

Section 3

 

Death approved of Sir Richmond’s determination to see the

Committee through. Our universal creditor gave this

particular debtor grace to the very last meeting. Then he

brushed a gust of chilly rain across the face of Sir Richmond

as he stood waiting for his car outside the strangers’

entrance to the House. For a couple of days Sir Richmond felt

almost intolerably tired, but scarcely noted the changed

timbre of the wheezy notes in his throat. He rose later each

day and with ebbing vigour, jotted down notes and corrections

upon the proofs of the Minority Report. He found it

increasingly difficult to make decisions; he would correct

and alter back and then repeat the correction, perhaps half a

dozen times. On the evening of the second day his lungs

became painful and his breathing difficult. His head ached

and a sense of some great impending evil came upon him. His

skin was suddenly a detestable garment to wear. He took his

temperature with a little clinical thermometer he kept by him

and found it was a hundred and one. He telephoned hastily for

Dr. Martineau and without waiting for his arrival took a hot

bath and got into bed. He was already thoroughly ill when the

doctor arrived.

“Forgive my sending for you,” he said. “Not your line. I

know. . . . My wife’s G.P.-an exasperating sort of ass.

Can’t stand him. No one else.”

He was lying on a narrow little bed with a hard pillow that

the doctor replaced by one from Lady Hardy’s room. He had

twisted the bed-clothes into a hopeless muddle, the sheet was

on the floor.

Sir Richmond’s bedroom was a large apartment in which sleep

seemed to have been an admitted necessity rather than a

principal purpose. On one hand it opened into a business-like

dressing and bath room, on the other into the day study. It

bore witness to the nocturnal habits of a man who had long

lived a life of irregular impulses to activity and dislocated

hours and habits. There was a desk and reading lamp for night

work near the fireplace, an electric kettle for making tea at

night, a silver biscuit tin; all the apparatus for the lonely

intent industry of the small hours. There was a bookcase of

bluebooks, books of reference and suchlike material, and some

files. Over the mantelpiece was an enlarged photograph of

Lady Hardy and a plain office calendar. The desk was littered

with the galley proofs of the Minority Report upon which Sir

Richmond had been working up to the moment of his hasty

retreat to bed. And lying among the proofs, as though it had

been taken out and looked at quite recently was the

photograph of a girl. For a moment Dr. Martineau’s mind hung

in doubt and then he knew it for the young American of

Stonehenge. How that affair had ended he did not know. And

now it was not his business to know.

These various observations printed themselves on Dr.

Martineau’s mind after his first cursory examination of his

patient and while he cast about for anything that would give

this large industrious apartment a little more of the

restfulness and comfort of a sick room. “I must get in a

night nurse at once,” he said. “We must find a small table

somewhere to put near the bed.

“I am afraid you are very ill,” he said, returning to the

bedside. “This is not, as you say, my sort of work. Will you

let me call in another man, a man we can trust thoroughly, to

consult?”

“I’m in your hands, said Sir Richmond. I want to pull

through.”

“He will know better where to get the right sort of nurse for

the case-and everything.”

The second doctor presently came, with the right sort of

nurse hard on his heels. Sir Richmond submitted almost

silently to his expert handling and was sounded and looked to

and listened at.

“H’m,” said the second doctor, and then encouragingly to Sir

Richmond: “We’ve got to take care of you.

“There’s a lot about this I don’t like,” said the second

doctor and drew Dr. Martineau by the arm towards the study.

For a moment or so Sir Richmond listened to the low murmur of

their voices, but he did not feel very deeply interested in

what they were saying. He began to think what a decent chap

Dr. Martineau was, how helpful and fine and forgiving his

professional training had made him, how completely he had

ignored the smothered incivilities of their parting at

Salisbury. All men ought to have some such training, Not a

bad idea to put every boy and girl through a year or so of

hospital service. . . . Sir Richmond must have dozed, for his

next perception was of Dr. Martineau standing over him and

saying “I am afraid, my dear Hardy, that you are very ill

indeed. Much more so than I thought you were at first.”

Sir Richmond’s raised eyebrows conveyed that he accepted this

fact.

“I think Lady Hardy ought to be sent for.”

Sir Richmond shook his head with unexpected vigour.

“Don’t want her about,” he said, and after a pause, “Don’t

want anybody about.”

“But if anything happens-?”

“Send then.”

An expression of obstinate calm overspread Sir Richmond’s

face. He seemed to regard the matter as settled. He closed

his eyes.

For a time Dr. Martineau desisted. He went to the window and

turned to look again at the impassive figure on the bed. Did

Sir Richmond fully understand? He made a step towards his

patient and hesitated. Then he brought a chair and sat down

at the bedside.

Sir Richmond opened his eyes and regarded him with a slight

frown.

“A case of pneumonia,” said the doctor, “after great exertion

and fatigue, may take very rapid and unexpected turns.”

Sir Richmond, cheek on pillow, seemed to assent.

“I think if you want to be sure that Lady Hardy sees you

again- . . . If you don’t want to take risks about

that-. . . One never knows in these cases. Probably there is

a night train.”

Sir Richmond manifested no surprise at the warning. But he

stuck to his point. His voice was faint but firm. “Couldn’t

make up anything to say to her. Anything she’d like.”

Dr. Martineau rested on that for a little while. Then he

said: “If there is anyone else?”

“Not possible,” said Sir Richmond, with his eyes on the

ceiling.

“But to see?”

Sir Richmond turned his head to Dr. Martineau. His face

puckered like a peevish child’s. “They’d want things said to

them...Things to remember...I CAN’T. I’m tired out.”

“Don’t trouble,” whispered Dr. Martineau, suddenly

remorseful.

But Sir Richmond was also remorseful. “Give them my love,” he

said. “Best love...Old Martin. Love.”

Dr. Martineau was turning away when Sir Richmond spoke again

in a whisper. “Best love...Poor at the best. . . .”

He dozed for a time. Then he made a great effort. “I can’t

see them, Martineau, until I’ve something to say. It’s like

that. Perhaps I shall think of some kind things to say-after

a sleep. But if they came now...I’d say something wrong. Be

cross perhaps. Hurt someone. I’ve hurt so many. People

exaggerate...People exaggerate-importance these occasions.”

“Yes, yes,” whispered Dr. Martineau. “I quite understand.”

 

Section 4

 

For a time Sir Richmond dozed. Then he stirred and muttered.

“Second rate. . . Poor at the best. . . Love. . . Work.

All. . .”

“It had been splendid work,” said Dr. Martineau, and was not

sure that Sir Richmond heard.

“Those last few days. . . lost my grip. . . Always lose my

damned grip.

“Ragged them. . . . Put their backs up . . . .Silly....

“Never.... Never done anything-WELL ....

“It’s done. Done. Well or ill....

“Done.”

His voice sank to the faintest whisper. “Done for ever and

ever ... and ever . . . and ever.”

Again he seemed to doze.

Dr. Martineau stood up softly. Something beyond reason told

him that this was certainly a dying man. He was reluctant to

go and he had an absurd desire that someone, someone for whom

Sir Richmond cared, should come and say good-bye to him, and

for Sir Richmond to say good-bye to someone. He hated this

lonely launching from the shores of life of one who had

sought intimacy so persistently and vainly. It was

extraordinary-he saw it now for the first time-he loved

this man. If it had been in his power, he would at that

moment have anointed him with kindness.

The doctor found himself standing in front of the untidy

writing desk, littered like a recent battlefield. The

photograph of the American girl drew his eyes. What had

happened? Was there not perhaps some word for her? He turned

about as if to enquire of the dying man and found Sir

Richmond’s eyes open and regarding him. In them he saw an

expression he had seen there once or twice before, a faint

but excessively irritating gleam of amusement.

“Oh!-WELL!” said Dr. Martineau and turned away. He went to

the window and stared out as his habit was.

Sir Richmond continued to smile dimly at the doctor’s back

until his eyes closed again.

It was their last exchange. Sir Richmond died that night in

the small hours, so quietly that for some time the night

nurse did not observe what had happened. She was indeed

roused to that realization by the ringing of the telephone

bell in the adjacent study.

 

Section 5

 

For a long time that night Dr. Martineau had lain awake

unable to sleep. He was haunted by the figure of Sir Richmond

lying on his uncomfortable little bed in his big bedroom and

by the curious effect of loneliness produced by the nocturnal

desk and by the evident dread felt by Sir Richmond of any

death-bed partings. He realized how much this man, who had

once sought so feverishly for intimacies, had shrunken back

upon himself, how solitary his motives had become, how rarely

he had taken counsel with anyone in his later years. His mind

now dwelt apart. Even if people came about him he would still

be facing death alone.

And so it seemed he meant to slip out of life, as a man might

slip out of a crowded assembly, unobserved. Even now he might

be going. The doctor recalled how he and Sir Richmond had

talked of the rage of life in a young baby, how we drove into

life in a sort of fury, how that rage impelled us to do this

and that, how we fought and struggled until the rage spent

itself and was gone. That eddy of rage that was Sir Richmond

was now perhaps very near its end. Presently it would fade

and cease, and the stream that had made it and borne it would

know it no more.

Dr. Martineau’s thoughts relaxed and passed into the picture

land of dreams. He saw the figure of Sir Richmond, going as

it were away from him along a narrow path, a path that

followed the crest of a ridge, between great darknesses,

enormous cloudy darknesses, above him and below. He was going

along this path without looking back, without a thought for

those he left behind, without a single word to cheer him on

his way, walking as Dr. Martineau had sometimes watched him

walking, without haste or avidity, walking as a man might

along some great picture gallery with which he was perhaps

even over familiar. His hands would be in his pockets, his

indifferent eyes upon the clouds about him. And as he

strolled along that path, the darkness closed in upon him.

His figure became dim and dimmer.

Whither did that figure go? Did that enveloping darkness hide

the beginnings of some strange long journey or would it just

dissolve that figure into itself?

Was that indeed the end?

Dr. Martineau was one of that large class of people who can

neither imagine nor disbelieve in immortality. Dimmer and

dimmer grew the figure but still it remained visible. As one

can continue to see a star at dawn until one turns away. Or

one blinks or nods and it is gone.

Vanished now are the beliefs that held our race for countless

generations. Where now was that Path of the Dead, mapped so

clearly, faced with such certainty, in which the heliolithic

peoples believed from Avebury to Polynesia? Not always have

we had to go alone and unprepared into uncharted darknesses.

For a time the dream artist used a palette of the doctor’s

vague memories of things Egyptian, he painted a new roll of

the Book of the Dead, at a copy of which the doctor had been

looking a day or so before. Sir Richmond became a brown naked

figure, crossing a bridge of danger, passing between terrific

monsters, ferrying a dark and dreadful stream. He came to the

scales of judgment before the very throne of Osiris and stood

waiting while dogheaded Anubis weighed his conscience and

that evil monster, the Devourer of the Dead, crouched ready

if the judgment went against him. The doctor’s attention

concentrated upon the scales. A memory of Swedengorg’s Heaven

and Hell mingled with the Egyptian fantasy. Now at last it

was possible to know something real about this man’s soul,

now at last one could look into the Secret Places of his

Heart. Anubis and Thoth, the god with the ibis head, were

reading the heart as if it were a book, reading aloud from it

to the supreme judge.

Suddenly the doctor found himself in his own dreams. His

anxiety to plead for his friend had brought him in. He too

had become a little painted figure and he was bearing a book

in his hand. He wanted to show that the laws of the new world

could not be the same as those of the old, and the book he

was bringing as evidence was his own Psychology of a New Age.

The clear thought of that book broke up his dream by

releasing a train of waking troubles. . . . You have been six

months on Chapter Ten; will it ever be ready for

Osiris? . . . will it ever be ready for print? . . .

Dream and waking thoughts were mingled like sky and cloud

upon a windy day in April. Suddenly he saw again that lonely

figure on the narrow way with darknesses above and darknesses

below and darknesses on every hand. But this time it was not

Sir Richmond. . . . Who was it? Surely it was Everyman.

Everyman had to travel at last along that selfsame road,

leaving love, leaving every task and every desire. But was it

Everyman? . . . A great fear and horror came upon the doctor.

That little figure was himself! And the book which was his

particular task in life was still undone. He himself stood in

his turn upon that lonely path with the engulfing darknesses

about him. . . .

He seemed to wrench himself awake.

He lay very still for some moments and then he sat up in bed.

An overwhelming conviction had arisen-in his mind that Sir

Richmond was dead. He felt he must know for certain. He

switched on his electric light, mutely interrogated his round

face reflected in the looking glass, got out of bed, shuffled

on his slippers and went along the passage to the telephone.

He hesitated for some seconds and then lifted the receiver.

It was his call which aroused the nurse to the fact of Sir

Richmond’s death.

 

Section 6

 

Lady Hardy arrived home in response to Dr. Martineau’s

telegram late on the following evening. He was with her next

morning, comforting and sympathetic. Her big blue eyes,

bright with tears, met his very wistfully; her little body

seemed very small and pathetic in its simple black dress. And

yet there was a sort of bravery about her. When he came into

the drawing-room she was in one of the window recesses

talking to a serious-looking woman of the dressmaker type.

She left her business at once to come to him. “Why did I not

know in time?” she cried.

“No one, dear lady, had any idea until late last night,” he

said, taking both her hands in his for a long friendly

sympathetic pressure.

“I might have known that if it had been possible you would

have told me,” she said.

“You know,” she added, “I don’t believe it yet. I don’t

realize it. I go about these formalities-”

“I think I can understand that.”

“He was always, you know, not quite here . . . . It is as if

he were a little more not quite here . . . . I can’t believe

it is over. . . . “

She asked a number of questions and took the doctor’s advice

upon various details of the arrangements. “My daughter Helen

comes home to-morrow afternoon,” she explained. “She is in

Paris. But our son is far, far away in the Punjab. I have

sent him a telegram. . . . It is so kind of you to come in to

me.”

Dr. Martineau went more than half way to meet Lady Hardy’s

disposition to treat him as a friend of the family. He had

conceived a curious, half maternal affection for Sir Richmond

that had survived even the trying incident of the Salisbury

parting and revived very rapidly during the last few weeks.

This affection extended itself now to Lady Hardy. Hers was a

type that had always appealed to him. He could understand so

well the perplexed loyalty with which she was now setting

herself to gather together some preservative and reassuring

evidences of this man who had always been; as she put it,

“never quite here.” It was as if she felt that now it was at

last possible to make a definite reality of him. He could be

fixed. And as he was fixed he would stay. Never more would he

be able to come in and with an almost expressionless glance

wither the interpretation she had imposed upon him. She was

finding much comfort in this task of reconstruction. She had

gathered together in the drawingroom every presentable

portrait she had been able to find of him. He had never, she

said, sat to a painter, but there was an early pencil sketch

done within a couple of years of their marriage; there was a

number of photographs, several of which-she wanted the

doctor’s advice upon this point-she thought might be

enlarged; there was a statuette done by some woman artist who

had once beguiled him into a sitting. There was also a

painting she had had worked up from a photograph and some

notes. She flitted among these memorials, going from one to

the other, undecided which to make the standard portrait. “

That painting, I think, is most like,” she said: “as he was

before the war. But the war and the Commission changed him,-

worried him and aged him. . . . I grudged him to that

Commission. He let it worry him frightfully.”

“It meant very much to him,” said Dr. Martineau.

“It meant too much to him. But of course his ideas were

splendid. You know it is one of my hopes to get some sort of

book done, explaining his ideas. He would never write. He

despised it-unreasonably. A real thing done, he said, was

better than a thousand books. Nobody read books, he said, but

women, parsons and idle people. But there must be books. And

I want one. Something a little more real than the ordinary

official biography. . . . I have thought of young Leighton,

the secretary of the Commission. He seems thoroughly

intelligent and sympathetic and really anxious to reconcile

Richmond’s views with those of the big business men on the

Committee. He might do. . . . Or perhaps I might be able to

persuade two or three people to write down their impressions

of him. A sort of memorial volume. . . . But he was shy of

friends. There was no man he talked to very intimately about

his ideas unless it was to you . . . I wish I had the

writer’s gift, doctor.”

 

Section 7

 

It was on the second afternoon that Lady Hardy summoned Dr.

Martineau by telephone. “Something rather disagreeable,” she

said. “If you could spare the time. If you could come round.

“It is frightfully distressing,” she said when he got round

to her, and for a time she could tell him nothing more. She

was having tea and she gave him some. She fussed about with

cream and cakes and biscuits. He noted a crumpled letter

thrust under the edge of the silver tray.

“He talked, I know, very intimately with you,” she said,

coming to it at last. “He probably went into things with you

that he never talked about with anyone else. Usually he was

very reserved, Even with me there were things about which he

said nothing.”

“We did,” said Dr. Martineau with discretion, “deal a little

with his private life.

“There was someone-”

Dr. Martineau nodded and then, not to be too portentous, took

and bit a biscuit.

“Did he by any chance ever mention someone called Martin

Leeds?”

Dr. Martineau seemed to reflect. Then realizing that this was

a mistake, he said: “He told me the essential facts.”

The poor lady breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m glad,” she said

simply. She repeated, “Yes, I’m glad. It makes things easier

now.”

Dr. Martineau looked his enquiry.

“She wants to come and see him.”

“Here?”

“Here! And Helen here! And the servants noticing everything!

I’ve never met her. Never set eyes on her. For all I know she

may want to make a scene.” There was infinite dismay in her

voice.

Dr. Martineau was grave. “You would rather not receive her?”

“I don’t want to refuse her. I don’t want even to seem

heartless. I understand, of course, she has a sort of claim.

“ She sobbed her reluctant admission. “I know it. I

know. . . . There was much between them.”

Dr. Martineau pressed the limp hand upon the little tea

table. “I understand, dear lady,” he said. “I understand. Now

. . . suppose _I_ were to write to her and arrange-I do not

see that you need be put to the pain of meeting her. Suppose

I were to meet her here myself?

“If you COULD!”

The doctor was quite prepared to save the lady any further

distresses, no matter at what trouble to himself. “You are so

good to me,” she said, letting the tears have their way with

her.

“I am silly to cry,” she said, dabbing her eyes.

“We will get it over to-morrow,” he reassured her. “You need

not think of it again.”

He took over Martin’s brief note to Lady Hardy and set to

work by telegram to arrange for her visit. She was in London

at her Chelsea flat and easily accessible. She was to come to

the house at mid-day on the morrow, and to ask not for Lady

Hardy but for him. He would stay by her while she was in the

house, and it would be quite easy for Lady Hardy to keep

herself and her daughter out of the way. They could, for

example, go out quietly to the dressmakers in the closed car,

for many little things about the mourning still remained to

be seen to.

 

Section 8

 

Miss Martin Leeds arrived punctually, but the doctor was well

ahead of his time and ready to receive her. She was ushered

into the drawing room where he awaited her. As she came

forward the doctor first perceived that she had a very sad

and handsome face, the face of a sensitive youth rather than

the face of a woman. She had fine grey eyes under very fine

brows; they were eyes that at other times might have laughed

very agreeably, but which were now full of an unrestrained

sadness. Her brown hair was very untidy and parted at the

side like a man’s. Then he noted that she seemed to be very

untidily dressed as if she was that rare and, to him, very

offensive thing, a woman careless of her beauty. She was

short in proportion to her broad figure and her broad

forehead.

“You are Dr. Martineau?” she said. “He talked of you.” As she

spoke her glance went from him to the pictures that stood

about the room. She walked up to the painting and stood in

front of it with her distressed gaze wandering about her.

“Horrible!” she said. “Absolutely horrible! . . . Did SHE do

this?”

Her question disconcerted the doctor very much. “You mean

Lady Hardy?” he asked. “She doesn’t paint.”

“No, no. I mean, did she get all these things together? “

“Naturally,” said Dr. Martineau.

“None of them are a bit like him. They are like blows aimed

at his memory. Not one has his life in it. How could she do

it? Look at that idiot statuette! . . . He was

extraordinarily difficult to get. I have burnt every

photograph I had of him. For fear that this would happen;

that he would go stiff and formal-just as you have got him

here. I have been trying to sketch him almost all the time

since he died. But I can’t get him back. He’s gone.”

She turned to the doctor again. She spoke to him, not as if

she expected him to understand her, but because she had to

say these things which burthened her mind to someone. “I have

done hundreds of sketches. My room is littered with them.

When you turn them over he seems to be lurking among them.

But not one of them is like him.”

She was trying to express something beyond her power. “It is

as if someone had suddenly turned out the light.”

She followed the doctor upstairs. “This was his study,” the

doctor explained.

“I know it. I came here once,” she said.

They entered the big bedroom in which the coffined body lay.

Dr. Martineau, struck by a sudden memory, glanced nervously

at the desk, but someone had made it quite tidy and the

portrait of Aliss Grammont had disappeared. Miss Leeds walked

straight across to the coffin and stood looking down on the

waxen inexpressive dignity of the dead. Sir Richmond’s brows

and nose had become sharper and more clear-cut than they had

ever been in life and his lips had set into a faint inane

smile. She stood quite still for a long time. At length she

sighed deeply.

She spoke, a little as though she thought aloud, a little as

though she talked at that silent presence in the coffin. “I

think he loved,” she said. “Sometimes I think he loved me.

But it is hard to tell. He was kind. He could be intensely

kind and yet he didn’t seem to care for you. He could be

intensely selfish and yet he certainly did not care for

himself. . . . Anyhow, I loved HIM. . . . There is nothing

left in me now to love anyone else-for ever. . . .”

She put her hands behind her back and looked at the dead man

with her head a little on one side. “Too kind,” she said very

softly.

“There was a sort of dishonesty in his kindness. He would not

let you have the bitter truth. He would not say he did not

love you. . . .

“He was too kind to life ever to call it the foolish thing it

is. He took it seriously because it takes itself seriously.

He worked for it and killed himself with work for

it . . . . “

She turned to Dr. Martineau and her face was streaming with

tears. “And life, you know, isn’t to be taken seriously. It

is a joke-a bad joke-made by some cruel little god who has

caught a neglected planet. . . . Like torturing a stray

cat. . . . But he took it seriously and he gave up his life

for it.

“There was much happiness he might have had. He was very

capable of happiness. But he never seemed happy. This work of

his came before it. He overworked and fretted our happiness

away. He sacrificed his happiness and mine.”

She held out her hands towards the doctor. “What am I to do

now with the rest of my life? Who is there to laugh with me

now and jest?

“I don’t complain of him. I don’t blame him. He did his

best-to be kind.

“But all my days now I shall mourn for him and long for

him. . . . “

She turned back to the coffin. Suddenly she lost every

vestige of self-control. She sank down on her knees beside

the trestle. “Why have you left me!” she cried.

“Oh! Speak to me, my darling! Speak to me, I TELL YOU! Speak

to me!”

It was a storm of passion, monstrously childish and dreadful.

She beat her hands upon the coffin. She wept loudly and

fiercely as a child does....

Dr. Martineau drifted feebly to the window.

He wished he had locked the door. The servants might hear and

wonder what it was all about. Always he had feared love for

the cruel thing it was, but now it seemed to him for the

first time that he realized its monstrous cruelty.

 

THE END

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   THE LOST WORLD

I have wrought my simple plan

If I give one hour of joy

To the boy who’s half a man,

Or the man who’s half a boy.

Foreword

Mr. E. D. Malone desires to state that

both the injunction for restraint and the

libel action have been withdrawn unreservedly

by Professor G. E. Challenger, who, being

satisfied that no criticism or comment in

this book is meant in an offensive spirit,

has guaranteed that he will place no

impediment to its publication and circulation.

 

THE LOST WORLD

 

CHAPTER I

 

“There Are Heroisms All Round Us”

Mr. Hungerton, her father, really was the most tactless person

upon earth,-a fluffy, feathery, untidy cockatoo of a man,

perfectly good-natured, but absolutely centered upon his own

silly self. If anything could have driven me from Gladys, it

would have been the thought of such a father-in-law. I am

convinced that he really believed in his heart that I came round

to the Chestnuts three days a week for the pleasure of his

company, and very especially to hear his views upon bimetallism,

a subject upon which he was by way of being an authority.

For an hour or more that evening I listened to his monotonous

chirrup about bad money driving out good, the token value of

silver, the depreciation of the rupee, and the true standards

of exchange.

“Suppose,” he cried with feeble violence, “that all the debts in

the world were called up simultaneously, and immediate payment

insisted upon,-what under our present conditions would happen then?”

I gave the self-evident answer that I should be a ruined man,

upon which he jumped from his chair, reproved me for my habitual

levity, which made it impossible for him to discuss any

reasonable subject in my presence, and bounced off out of the

room to dress for a Masonic meeting.

At last I was alone with Gladys, and the moment of Fate had come!

All that evening I had felt like the soldier who awaits the

signal which will send him on a forlorn hope; hope of victory and

fear of repulse alternating in his mind.

She sat with that proud, delicate profile of hers outlined

against the red curtain. How beautiful she was! And yet how

aloof! We had been friends, quite good friends; but never could I

get beyond the same comradeship which I might have established

with one of my fellow-reporters upon the Gazette,-perfectly

frank, perfectly kindly, and perfectly unsexual. My instincts

are all against a woman being too frank and at her ease with me.

It is no compliment to a man. Where the real sex feeling begins,

timidity and distrust are its companions, heritage from old wicked

days when love and violence went often hand in hand. The bent

head, the averted eye, the faltering voice, the wincing figurethese,

and not the unshrinking gaze and frank reply, are the true

signals of passion. Even in my short life I had learned as much as

that-or had inherited it in that race memory which we call instinct.

Gladys was full of every womanly quality. Some judged her to be

cold and hard; but such a thought was treason. That delicately

bronzed skin, almost oriental in its coloring, that raven hair,

the large liquid eyes, the full but exquisite lips,-all the

stigmata of passion were there. But I was sadly conscious that

up to now I had never found the secret of drawing it forth.

However, come what might, I should have done with suspense and

bring matters to a head to-night. She could but refuse me, and

better be a repulsed lover than an accepted brother.

So far my thoughts had carried me, and I was about to break the

long and uneasy silence, when two critical, dark eyes looked

round at me, and the proud head was shaken in smiling reproof.

“I have a presentiment that you are going to propose, Ned. I do

wish you wouldn’t; for things are so much nicer as they are.”

I drew my chair a little nearer. “Now, how did you know that I

was going to propose?” I asked in genuine wonder.

“Don’t women always know? Do you suppose any woman in the world

was ever taken unawares? But-oh, Ned, our friendship has been so

good and so pleasant! What a pity to spoil it! Don’t you feel how

splendid it is that a young man and a young woman should be able

to talk face to face as we have talked?”

“I don’t know, Gladys. You see, I can talk face to face withwith

the station-master.” I can’t imagine how that official came

into the matter; but in he trotted, and set us both laughing.

“That does not satisfy me in the least. I want my arms round you,

and your head on my breast, and-oh, Gladys, I want-”

She had sprung from her chair, as she saw signs that I proposed

to demonstrate some of my wants. “You’ve spoiled everything,

Ned,” she said. “It’s all so beautiful and natural until this

kind of thing comes in! It is such a pity! Why can’t you

control yourself?”

“I didn’t invent it,” I pleaded. “It’s nature. It’s love.”

“Well, perhaps if both love, it may be different. I have never

felt it.”

“But you must-you, with your beauty, with your soul! Oh, Gladys,

you were made for love! You must love!”

“One must wait till it comes.”

“But why can’t you love me, Gladys? Is it my appearance, or what?”

She did unbend a little. She put forward a hand-such a gracious,

stooping attitude it was-and she pressed back my head. Then she

looked into my upturned face with a very wistful smile.

“No it isn’t that,” she said at last. “You’re not a conceited

boy by nature, and so I can safely tell you it is not that.

It’s deeper.”

“My character?”

She nodded severely.

“What can I do to mend it? Do sit down and talk it over.

No, really, I won’t if you’ll only sit down!”

She looked at me with a wondering distrust which was much more to

my mind than her whole-hearted confidence. How primitive and

bestial it looks when you put it down in black and white!-and

perhaps after all it is only a feeling peculiar to myself.

Anyhow, she sat down.

“Now tell me what’s amiss with me?”

“I’m in love with somebody else,” said she.

It was my turn to jump out of my chair.

“It’s nobody in particular,” she explained, laughing at the

expression of my face: “only an ideal. I’ve never met the kind

of man I mean.”

“Tell me about him. What does he look like?”

“Oh, he might look very much like you.”

“How dear of you to say that! Well, what is it that he does that

I don’t do? Just say the word,-teetotal, vegetarian, aeronaut,

theosophist, superman. I’ll have a try at it, Gladys, if you

will only give me an idea what would please you.”

She laughed at the elasticity of my character. “Well, in the

first place, I don’t think my ideal would speak like that,”

said she. “He would be a harder, sterner man, not so ready to adapt

himself to a silly girl’s whim. But, above all, he must be a man

who could do, who could act, who could look Death in the face and

have no fear of him, a man of great deeds and strange experiences.

It is never a man that I should love, but always the glories he had

won; for they would be reflected upon me. Think of Richard Burton!

When I read his wife’s life of him I could so understand her love!

And Lady Stanley! Did you ever read the wonderful last chapter

of that book about her husband? These are the sort of men that

a woman could worship with all her soul, and yet be the greater,

not the less, on account of her love, honored by all the world

as the inspirer of noble deeds.”

She looked so beautiful in her enthusiasm that I nearly brought

down the whole level of the interview. I gripped myself hard,

and went on with the argument.

“We can’t all be Stanleys and Burtons,” said I; “besides, we

don’t get the chance,-at least, I never had the chance. If I

did, I should try to take it.”

“But chances are all around you. It is the mark of the kind of

man I mean that he makes his own chances. You can’t hold him back.

I’ve never met him, and yet I seem to know him so well. There are

heroisms all round us waiting to be done. It’s for men to do them,

and for women to reserve their love as a reward for such men.

Look at that young Frenchman who went up last week in a balloon.

It was blowing a gale of wind; but because he was announced to go

he insisted on starting. The wind blew him fifteen hundred miles

in twenty-four hours, and he fell in the middle of Russia. That was

the kind of man I mean. Think of the woman he loved, and how other

women must have envied her! That’s what I should like to be,-envied

for my man.”

“I’d have done it to please you.”

“But you shouldn’t do it merely to please me. You should do it

because you can’t help yourself, because it’s natural to you,

because the man in you is crying out for heroic expression.

Now, when you described the Wigan coal explosion last month,

could you not have gone down and helped those people, in spite

of the choke-damp?”

“I did.”

“You never said so.”

“There was nothing worth bucking about.”

“I didn’t know.” She looked at me with rather more interest.

“That was brave of you.”

“I had to. If you want to write good copy, you must be where the

things are.”

“What a prosaic motive! It seems to take all the romance out

of it. But, still, whatever your motive, I am glad that you went

down that mine.” She gave me her hand; but with such sweetness

and dignity that I could only stoop and kiss it. “I dare say I

am merely a foolish woman with a young girl’s fancies. And yet

it is so real with me, so entirely part of my very self, that I

cannot help acting upon it. If I marry, I do want to marry a

famous man!”

“Why should you not?” I cried. “It is women like you who brace

men up. Give me a chance, and see if I will take it! Besides, as

you say, men ought to MAKE their own chances, and not wait until

they are given. Look at Clive-just a clerk, and he conquered

India! By George! I’ll do something in the world yet!”

She laughed at my sudden Irish effervescence. “Why not?” she said.

“You have everything a man could have,-youth, health, strength,

education, energy. I was sorry you spoke. And now I am glad-so

glad-if it wakens these thoughts in you!”

“And if I do-”

Her dear hand rested like warm velvet upon my lips. “Not another

word, Sir! You should have been at the office for evening duty

half an hour ago; only I hadn’t the heart to remind you. Some day,

perhaps, when you have won your place in the world, we shall talk

it over again.”

And so it was that I found myself that foggy November evening

pursuing the Camberwell tram with my heart glowing within me, and

with the eager determination that not another day should elapse

before I should find some deed which was worthy of my lady.

But who-who in all this wide world could ever have imagined the

incredible shape which that deed was to take, or the strange

steps by which I was led to the doing of it?

And, after all, this opening chapter will seem to the reader to

have nothing to do with my narrative; and yet there would have

been no narrative without it, for it is only when a man goes out

into the world with the thought that there are heroisms all round

him, and with the desire all alive in his heart to follow any

which may come within sight of him, that he breaks away as I did

from the life he knows, and ventures forth into the wonderful mystic

twilight land where lie the great adventures and the great rewards.

Behold me, then, at the office of the Daily Gazette, on the staff

of which I was a most insignificant unit, with the settled

determination that very night, if possible, to find the quest

which should be worthy of my Gladys! Was it hardness, was it

selfishness, that she should ask me to risk my life for her

own glorification? Such thoughts may come to middle age; but

never to ardent three-and-twenty in the fever of his first love.

pauloviana2012

pauloviana2012 (50)

pauloviana2012
I speak:
Portuguese
I learn:
English, Spanish, French
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 2. THE MAGIC SHOP

I had seen the Magic Shop from afar several times; I had passed

it once or twice, a shop window of alluring little objects, magic

balls, magic hens, wonderful cones, ventriloquist dolls, the material

of the basket trick, packs of cards that LOOKED all right, and all

that sort of thing, but never had I thought of going in until one day,

almost without warning, Gip hauled me by my finger right up to

the window, and so conducted himself that there was nothing for it

but to take him in. I had not thought the place was there, to tell

the truth—a modest-sized frontage in Regent Street, between

the picture shop and the place where the chicks run about just

out of patent incubators, but there it was sure enough. I had fancied

it was down nearer the Circus, or round the corner in Oxford Street,

or even in Holborn; always over the way and a little inaccessible

it had been, with something of the mirage in its position; but here

it was now quite indisputably, and the fat end of Gip’s pointing

finger made a noise upon the glass.

“If I was rich,” said Gip, dabbing a finger at the Disappearing Egg,

“I’d buy myself that. And that”—which was The Crying Baby, Very Human

—and that,” which was a mystery, and called, so a neat card asserted,

“Buy One and Astonish Your Friends.”

“Anything,” said Gip, “will disappear under one of those cones.

I have read about it in a book.

“And there, dadda, is the Vanishing Halfpenny—, only they’ve put it

this way up so’s we can’t see how it’s done.”

Gip, dear boy, inherits his mother’s breeding, and he did not propose

to enter the shop or worry in any way; only, you know, quite unconsciously

he lugged my finger doorward, and he made his interest clear.

“That,” he said, and pointed to the Magic Bottle.

“If you had that?” I said; at which promising inquiry he looked up

with a sudden radiance.

“I could show it to Jessie,” he said, thoughtful as ever of others.

“It’s less than a hundred days to your birthday, Gibbles,” I said,

and laid my hand on the door-handle.

Gip made no answer, but his grip tightened on my finger, and so

we came into the shop.

It was no common shop this; it was a magic shop, and all the prancing

precedence Gip would have taken in the matter of mere toys was wanting.

He left the burthen of the conversation to me.

It was a little, narrow shop, not very well lit, and the door-bell

pinged again with a plaintive note as we closed it behind us.

For a moment or so we were alone and could glance about us.

There was a tiger in papier-mache on the glass case that covered

the low counter—a grave, kind-eyed tiger that waggled his head

in a methodical manner; there were several crystal spheres, a china

hand holding magic cards, a stock of magic fish-bowls in various

sizes, and an immodest magic hat that shamelessly displayed its springs.

On the floor were magic mirrors; one to draw you out long and thin,

one to swell your head and vanish your legs, and one to make you short

and fat like a draught; and while we were laughing at these the shopman,

as I suppose, came in.

At any rate, there he was behind the counter—a curious, sallow,

dark man, with one ear larger than the other and a chin like

the toe-cap of a boot.

“What can we have the pleasure?” he said, spreading his long,

magic fingers on the glass case; and so with a start we were aware

of him.

“I want,” I said, “to buy my little boy a few simple tricks.”

“Legerdemain?” he asked. “Mechanical? Domestic?”

“Anything amusing?” said I.

“Um!” said the shopman, and scratched his head for a moment as if

thinking. Then, quite distinctly, he drew from his head a glass ball.

“Something in this way?” he said, and held it out.

The action was unexpected. I had seen the trick done at entertainments

endless times before—it’s part of the common stock of conjurers—

but I had not expected it here.

“That’s good,” I said, with a laugh.

“Isn’t it?” said the shopman.

Gip stretched out his disengaged hand to take this object and found

merely a blank palm.

“It’s in your pocket,” said the shopman, and there it was!

“How much will that be?” I asked.

“We make no charge for glass balls,” said the shopman politely.

“We get them,”—he picked one out of his elbow as he spoke—”free.”

He produced another from the back of his neck, and laid it beside

its predecessor on the counter. Gip regarded his glass ball sagely,

then directed a look of inquiry at the two on the counter, and finally

brought his round-eyed scrutiny to the shopman, who smiled.

“You may have those too,” said the shopman, “and, if you DON’T mind,

one from my mouth. SO!”

Gip counselled me mutely for a moment, and then in a profound silence

put away the four balls, resumed my reassuring finger, and nerved

himself for the next event.

“We get all our smaller tricks in that way,” the shopman remarked.

I laughed in the manner of one who subscribes to a jest. “Instead

of going to the wholesale shop,” I said. “Of course, it’s cheaper.”

“In a way,” the shopman said. “Though we pay in the end. But not

so heavily—as people suppose. . . . Our larger tricks, and our daily

provisions and all the other things we want, we get out of that hat. . .

And you know, sir, if you’ll excuse my saying it, there ISN’T

a wholesale shop, not for Genuine Magic goods, sir. I don’t know

if you noticed our inscription—the Genuine Magic shop.” He drew

a business-card from his cheek and handed it to me. “Genuine,”

he said, with his finger on the word, and added, “There is absolutely

no deception, sir.”

He seemed to be carrying out the joke pretty thoroughly, I thought.

He turned to Gip with a smile of remarkable affability. “You, you know,

are the Right Sort of Boy.”

I was surprised at his knowing that, because, in the interests

of discipline, we keep it rather a secret even at home; but Gip

received it in unflinching silence, keeping a steadfast eye on him.

“It’s only the Right Sort of Boy gets through that doorway.”

And, as if by way of illustration, there came a rattling at the door,

and a squeaking little voice could be faintly heard. “Nyar! I WARN ‘a

go in there, dadda, I WARN ‘a go in there. Ny-a-a-ah!” and then

the accents of a down-trodden parent, urging consolations and

propitiations. “It’s locked, Edward,” he said.

“But it isn’t,” said I.

“It is, sir,” said the shopman, “always—for that sort of child,”

and as he spoke we had a glimpse of the other youngster, a little,

white face, pallid from sweet-eating and over-sapid food, and

distorted by evil passions, a ruthless little egotist, pawing

at the enchanted pane. “It’s no good, sir,” said the shopman,

as I moved, with my natural helpfulness, doorward, and presently

the spoilt child was carried off howling.

“How do you manage that?” I said, breathing a little more freely.

“Magic!” said the shopman, with a careless wave of the hand, and behold!

sparks of coloured fire flew out of his fingers and vanished into

the shadows of the shop.

“You were saying,” he said, addressing himself to Gip, “before

you came in, that you would like one of our ‘Buy One and Astonish

your Friends’ boxes?”

Gip, after a gallant effort, said “Yes.”

“It’s in your pocket.”

And leaning over the counter—he really had an extraordinarily

long body—this amazing person produced the article in the customary

conjurer’s manner. “Paper,” he said, and took a sheet out of

the empty hat with the springs; “string,” and behold his mouth was

a string-box, from which he drew an unending thread, which when

he had tied his parcel he bit off—and, it seemed to me, swallowed

the ball of string. And then he lit a candle at the nose of one

of the ventriloquist’s dummies, stuck one of his fingers (which

had become sealing-wax red) into the flame, and so sealed the parcel.

“Then there was the Disappearing Egg,” he remarked, and produced

one from within my coat-breast and packed it, and also The Crying

Baby, Very Human. I handed each parcel to Gip as it was ready,

and he clasped them to his chest.

He said very little, but his eyes were eloquent; the clutch of

his arms was eloquent. He was the playground of unspeakable emotions.

These, you know, were REAL Magics. Then, with a start, I discovered

something moving about in my hat—something soft and jumpy. I whipped

it off, and a ruffled pigeon—no doubt a confederate—dropped out

and ran on the counter, and went, I fancy, into a cardboard box

behind the papier-mache tiger.

“Tut, tut!” said the shopman, dexterously relieving me of my headdress;

“careless bird, and—as I live—nesting!”

He shook my hat, and shook out into his extended hand two or three

eggs, a large marble, a watch, about half-a-dozen of the inevitable

glass balls, and then crumpled, crinkled paper, more and more and more,

talking all the time of the way in which people neglect to brush

their hats INSIDE as well as out, politely, of course, but with

a certain personal application. “All sorts of things accumulate,

sir. . . . Not YOU, of course, in particular. . . . Nearly every

customer. . . . Astonishing what they carry about with them. . . .”

The crumpled paper rose and billowed on the counter more and more

and more, until he was nearly hidden from us, until he was altogether

hidden, and still his voice went on and on. “We none of us know

what the fair semblance of a human being may conceal, sir. Are we

all then no better than brushed exteriors, whited sepulchres—”

His voice stopped—exactly like when you hit a neighbour’s gramophone

with a well-aimed brick, the same instant silence, and the rustle

of the paper stopped, and everything was still. . . .

“Have you done with my hat?” I said, after an interval.

There was no answer.

I stared at Gip, and Gip stared at me, and there were our distortions

in the magic mirrors, looking very rum, and grave, and quiet. . . .

“I think we’ll go now,” I said. “Will you tell me how much all this

comes to? . . . .

“I say,” I said, on a rather louder note, “I want the bill; and

my hat, please.”

It might have been a sniff from behind the paper pile. . . .

“Let’s look behind the counter, Gip,” I said. “He’s making fun of us.”

I led Gip round the head-wagging tiger, and what do you think

there was behind the counter? No one at all! Only my hat on the floor,

and a common conjurer’s lop-eared white rabbit lost in meditation,

and looking as stupid and crumpled as only a conjurer’s rabbit

can do. I resumed my hat, and the rabbit lolloped a lollop or so

out of my way.

“Dadda!” said Gip, in a guilty whisper.

“What is it, Gip?” said I.

“I DO like this shop, dadda.”

“So should I,” I said to myself, “if the counter wouldn’t suddenly

extend itself to shut one off from the door.” But I didn’t call

Gip’s attention to that. “Pussy!” he said, with a hand out to

the rabbit as it came lolloping past us; “Pussy, do Gip a magic!”

and his eyes followed it as it squeezed through a door I had

certainly not remarked a moment before. Then this door opened wider,

and the man with one ear larger than the other appeared again.

He was smiling still, but his eye met mine with something between

amusement and defiance. “You’d like to see our show-room, sir,” he

said, with an innocent suavity. Gip tugged my finger forward. I

glanced at the counter and met the shopman’s eye again. I was

beginning to think the magic just a little too genuine. “We haven’t

VERY much time,” I said. But somehow we were inside the show-room

before I could finish that.

“All goods of the same quality,” said the shopman, rubbing his

flexible hands together, “and that is the Best. Nothing in the place

that isn’t genuine Magic, and warranted thoroughly rum. Excuse me, sir!”

I felt him pull at something that clung to my coat-sleeve, and then

I saw he held a little, wriggling red demon by the tail—the little

creature bit and fought and tried to get at his hand—and in a moment

he tossed it carelessly behind a counter. No doubt the thing was

only an image of twisted indiarubber, but for the moment—! And his

gesture was exactly that of a man who handles some petty biting bit

of vermin. I glanced at Gip, but Gip was looking at a magic rockinghorse.

I was glad he hadn’t seen the thing. “I say,” I said, in an

undertone, and indicating Gip and the red demon with my eyes, “you

haven’t many things like THAT about, have you?”

“None of ours! Probably brought it with you,” said the shopman—

also in an undertone, and with a more dazzling smile than ever.

“Astonishing what people WILL carry about with them unawares!”

And then to Gip, “Do you see anything you fancy here?”

There were many things that Gip fancied there.

He turned to this astonishing tradesman with mingled confidence

and respect. “Is that a Magic Sword?” he said.

“A Magic Toy Sword. It neither bends, breaks, nor cuts the fingers.

It renders the bearer invincible in battle against any one under

eighteen. Half-a-crown to seven and sixpence, according to size. These

panoplies on cards are for juvenile knights-errant and very useful—

shield of safety, sandals of swiftness, helmet of invisibility.”

“Oh, daddy!” gasped Gip.

I tried to find out what they cost, but the shopman did not heed me.

He had got Gip now; he had got him away from my finger; he had

embarked upon the exposition of all his confounded stock, and nothing

was going to stop him. Presently I saw with a qualm of distrust

and something very like jealousy that Gip had hold of this person’s

finger as usually he has hold of mine. No doubt the fellow was

interesting, I thought, and had an interestingly faked lot of stuff,

really GOOD faked stuff, still—

I wandered after them, saying very little, but keeping an eye

on this prestidigital fellow. After all, Gip was enjoying it.

And no doubt when the time came to go we should be able to go

quite easily.

It was a long, rambling place, that show-room, a gallery broken up

by stands and stalls and pillars, with archways leading off to other

departments, in which the queerest-looking assistants loafed and

stared at one, and with perplexing mirrors and curtains. So perplexing,

indeed, were these that I was presently unable to make out the door

by which we had come.

The shopman showed Gip magic trains that ran without steam or clockwork,

just as you set the signals, and then some very, very valuable boxes

of soldiers that all came alive directly you took off the lid

and said—. I myself haven’t a very quick ear and it was a tonguetwisting

sound, but Gip—he has his mother’s ear—got it in no time.

“Bravo!” said the shopman, putting the men back into the box

unceremoniously and handing it to Gip. “Now,” said the shopman, and in

a moment Gip had made them all alive again.

“You’ll take that box?” asked the shopman.

“We’ll take that box,” said I, “unless you charge its full value.

In which case it would need a Trust Magnate—”

“Dear heart! NO!” and the shopman swept the little men back again,

shut the lid, waved the box in the air, and there it was, in brown

paper, tied up and—WITH GIP’S FULL NAME AND ADDRESS ON THE PAPER!

The shopman laughed at my amazement.

“This is the genuine magic,” he said. “The real thing.”

“It’s a little too genuine for my taste,” I said again.

After that he fell to showing Gip tricks, odd tricks, and still

odder the way they were done. He explained them, he turned them

inside out, and there was the dear little chap nodding his busy bit

of a head in the sagest manner.

I did not attend as well as I might. “Hey, presto!” said the Magic

Shopman, and then would come the clear, small “Hey, presto!”

of the boy. But I was distracted by other things. It was being

borne in upon me just how tremendously rum this place was; it was,

so to speak, inundated by a sense of rumness. There was something

a little rum about the fixtures even, about the ceiling, about the

floor, about the casually distributed chairs. I had a queer feeling

that whenever I wasn’t looking at them straight they went askew, and

moved about, and played a noiseless puss-in-the-corner behind my back.

And the cornice had a serpentine design with masks—masks altogether

too expressive for proper plaster.

Then abruptly my attention was caught by one of the odd-looking

assistants. He was some way off and evidently unaware of my presence—

I saw a sort of three-quarter length of him over a pile of toys

and through an arch—and, you know, he was leaning against a pillar

in an idle sort of way doing the most horrid things with his features!

The particular horrid thing he did was with his nose. He did it

just as though he was idle and wanted to amuse himself. First of all

it was a short, blobby nose, and then suddenly he shot it out

like a telescope, and then out it flew and became thinner and thinner

until it was like a long, red, flexible whip. Like a thing in

a nightmare it was! He flourished it about and flung it forth

as a fly-fisher flings his line.

My instant thought was that Gip mustn’t see him. I turned about,

and there was Gip quite preoccupied with the shopman, and thinking

no evil. They were whispering together and looking at me. Gip was

standing on a little stool, and the shopman was holding a sort of

big drum in his hand.

“Hide and seek, dadda!” cried Gip. “You’re He!”

And before I could do anything to prevent it, the shopman had clapped

the big drum over him. I saw what was up directly. “Take that off,”

I cried, “this instant! You’ll frighten the boy. Take it off!”

The shopman with the unequal ears did so without a word, and held

the big cylinder towards me to show its emptiness. And the little

stool was vacant! In that instant my boy had utterly disappeared? . . .

You know, perhaps, that sinister something that comes like a hand

out of the unseen and grips your heart about. You know it takes

your common self away and leaves you tense and deliberate, neither

slow nor hasty, neither angry nor afraid. So it was with me.

I came up to this grinning shopman and kicked his stool aside.

“Stop this folly!” I said. “Where is my boy?”

“You see,” he said, still displaying the drum’s interior, “there is

no deception—”

I put out my hand to grip him, and he eluded me by a dexterous

movement. I snatched again, and he turned from me and pushed open

a door to escape. “Stop!” I said, and he laughed, receding. I leapt

after him—into utter darkness.

THUD!

“Lor’ bless my ‘eart! I didn’t see you coming, sir!”

I was in Regent Street, and I had collided with a decent-looking

working man; and a yard away, perhaps, and looking a little

perplexed with himself, was Gip. There was some sort of apology,

and then Gip had turned and come to me with a bright little smile,

as though for a moment he had missed me.

And he was carrying four parcels in his arm!

He secured immediate possession of my finger.

For the second I was rather at a loss. I stared round to see

the door of the magic shop, and, behold, it was not there!

There was no door, no shop, nothing, only the common pilaster

between the shop where they sell pictures and the window with

the chicks! . . .

I did the only thing possible in that mental tumult; I walked straight

to the kerbstone and held up my umbrella for a cab.

“‘Ansoms,” said Gip, in a note of culminating exultation.

I helped him in, recalled my address with an effort, and got in also.

Something unusual proclaimed itself in my tail-coat pocket, and

I felt and discovered a glass ball. With a petulant expression

I flung it into the street.

Gip said nothing.

For a space neither of us spoke.

“Dada!” said Gip, at last, “that WAS a proper shop!”

I came round with that to the problem of just how the whole thing

had seemed to him. He looked completely undamaged—so far, good;

he was neither scared nor unhinged, he was simply tremendously

satisfied with the afternoon’s entertainment, and there in his arms

were the four parcels.

Confound it! what could be in them?

“Um!” I said. “Little boys can’t go to shops like that every day.”

He received this with his usual stoicism, and for a moment I was sorry

I was his father and not his mother, and so couldn’t suddenly there,

coram publico, in our hansom, kiss him. After all, I thought,

the thing wasn’t so very bad.

But it was only when we opened the parcels that I really began to be

reassured. Three of them contained boxes of soldiers, quite ordinary

lead soldiers, but of so good a quality as to make Gip altogether

forget that originally these parcels had been Magic Tricks of the only

genuine sort, and the fourth contained a kitten, a little living

white kitten, in excellent health and appetite and temper.

I saw this unpacking with a sort of provisional relief. I hung about

in the nursery for quite an unconscionable time. . . .

That happened six months ago. And now I am beginning to believe

it is all right. The kitten had only the magic natural to all kittens,

and the soldiers seem as steady a company as any colonel could

desire. And Gip—?

The intelligent parent will understand that I have to go cautiously

with Gip.

But I went so far as this one day. I said, “How would you like

your soldiers to come alive, Gip, and march about by themselves?”

“Mine do,” said Gip. “I just have to say a word I know before

I open the lid.”

“Then they march about alone?”

“Oh, QUITE, dadda. I shouldn’t like them if they didn’t do that.”

I displayed no unbecoming surprise, and since then I have taken

occasion to drop in upon him once or twice, unannounced, when

the soldiers were about, but so far I have never discovered them

performing in anything like a magical manner.

It’s so difficult to tell.

There’s also a question of finance. I have an incurable habit of

paying bills. I have been up and down Regent Street several times,

looking for that shop. I am inclined to think, indeed, that in that

matter honour is satisfied, and that, since Gip’s name and address

are known to them, I may very well leave it to these people,

whoever they may be, to send in their bill in their own time.

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pauloviana2012
I speak:
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I learn:
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 CHAPTER III

“He is a Perfectly Impossible Person”

My friend’s fear or hope was not destined to be realized. When I

called on Wednesday there was a letter with the West Kensington

postmark upon it, and my name scrawled across the envelope in a

handwriting which looked like a barbed-wire railing. The contents

were as follows:-

“ENMORE PARK, W.

“SIR,-I have duly received your note, in which you claim to

endorse my views, although I am not aware that they are dependent

upon endorsement either from you or anyone else. You have

ventured to use the word ‘speculation’ with regard to my

statement upon the subject of Darwinism, and I would call your

attention to the fact that such a word in such a connection is

offensive to a degree. The context convinces me, however, that

you have sinned rather through ignorance and tactlessness than

through malice, so I am content to pass the matter by. You quote

an isolated sentence from my lecture, and appear to have some

difficulty in understanding it. I should have thought that only

a sub-human intelligence could have failed to grasp the point,

but if it really needs amplification I shall consent to see you

at the hour named, though visits and visitors of every sort are

exceeding distasteful to me. As to your suggestion that I may

modify my opinion, I would have you know that it is not my habit to

do so after a deliberate expression of my mature views. You will

kindly show the envelope of this letter to my man, Austin, when

you call, as he has to take every precaution to shield me from

the intrusive rascals who call themselves ‘journalists.’

“Yours faithfully,

“GEORGE EDWARD CHALLENGER.”

This was the letter that I read aloud to Tarp Henry, who had come

down early to hear the result of my venture. His only remark

was, “There’s some new stuff, cuticura or something, which is

better than arnica.” Some people have such extraordinary notions

of humor.

It was nearly half-past ten before I had received my message, but

a taxicab took me round in good time for my appointment. It was

an imposing porticoed house at which we stopped, and the

heavily-curtained windows gave every indication of wealth upon

the part of this formidable Professor. The door was opened by an

odd, swarthy, dried-up person of uncertain age, with a dark pilot

jacket and brown leather gaiters. I found afterwards that he was

the chauffeur, who filled the gaps left by a succession of

fugitive butlers. He looked me up and down with a searching

light blue eye.

“Expected?” he asked.

“An appointment.”

“Got your letter?”

I produced the envelope.

“Right!” He seemed to be a person of few words. Following him

down the passage I was suddenly interrupted by a small woman, who

stepped out from what proved to be the dining-room door. She was

a bright, vivacious, dark-eyed lady, more French than English in

her type.

“One moment,” she said. “You can wait, Austin. Step in here, sir.

May I ask if you have met my husband before?”

“No, madam, I have not had the honor.”

“Then I apologize to you in advance. I must tell you that he is

a perfectly impossible person-absolutely impossible. If you

are forewarned you will be the more ready to make allowances.”

“It is most considerate of you, madam.”

“Get quickly out of the room if he seems inclined to be violent.

Don’t wait to argue with him. Several people have been injured

through doing that. Afterwards there is a public scandal and it

reflects upon me and all of us. I suppose it wasn’t about South

America you wanted to see him?”

I could not lie to a lady.

“Dear me! That is his most dangerous subject. You won’t believe

a word he says-I’m sure I don’t wonder. But don’t tell him so,

for it makes him very violent. Pretend to believe him, and you

may get through all right. Remember he believes it himself.

Of that you may be assured. A more honest man never lived.

Don’t wait any longer or he may suspect. If you find him

dangerous-really dangerous-ring the bell and hold him off until

I come. Even at his worst I can usually control him.”

With these encouraging words the lady handed me over to the

taciturn Austin, who had waited like a bronze statue of

discretion during our short interview, and I was conducted to the

end of the passage. There was a tap at a door, a bull’s bellow

from within, and I was face to face with the Professor.

He sat in a rotating chair behind a broad table, which was

covered with books, maps, and diagrams. As I entered, his seat

spun round to face me. His appearance made me gasp. I was

prepared for something strange, but not for so overpowering a

personality as this. It was his size which took one’s breath

away-his size and his imposing presence. His head was enormous,

the largest I have ever seen upon a human being. I am sure that

his top-hat, had I ever ventured to don it, would have slipped

over me entirely and rested on my shoulders. He had the face and

beard which I associate with an Assyrian bull; the former florid,

the latter so black as almost to have a suspicion of blue,

spade-shaped and rippling down over his chest. The hair was

peculiar, plastered down in front in a long, curving wisp over

his massive forehead. The eyes were blue-gray under great black

tufts, very clear, very critical, and very masterful. A huge

spread of shoulders and a chest like a barrel were the other

parts of him which appeared above the table, save for two

enormous hands covered with long black hair. This and a

bellowing, roaring, rumbling voice made up my first impression

of the notorious Professor Challenger.

“Well?” said he, with a most insolent stare. “What now?”

I must keep up my deception for at least a little time longer,

otherwise here was evidently an end of the interview.

“You were good enough to give me an appointment, sir,” said I,

humbly, producing his envelope.

He took my letter from his desk and laid it out before him.

“Oh, you are the young person who cannot understand plain

English, are you? My general conclusions you are good enough

to approve, as I understand?”

“Entirely, sir-entirely!” I was very emphatic.

“Dear me! That strengthens my position very much, does it not?

Your age and appearance make your support doubly valuable. Well, at

least you are better than that herd of swine in Vienna, whose

gregarious grunt is, however, not more offensive than the isolated

effort of the British hog.” He glared at me as the present

representative of the beast.

“They seem to have behaved abominably,” said I.

“I assure you that I can fight my own battles, and that I have no

possible need of your sympathy. Put me alone, sir, and with my

back to the wall. G. E. C. is happiest then. Well, sir, let us

do what we can to curtail this visit, which can hardly be

agreeable to you, and is inexpressibly irksome to me. You had,

as I have been led to believe, some comments to make upon the

proposition which I advanced in my thesis.”

There was a brutal directness about his methods which made

evasion difficult. I must still make play and wait for a

better opening. It had seemed simple enough at a distance.

Oh, my Irish wits, could they not help me now, when I needed

help so sorely? He transfixed me with two sharp, steely eyes.

“Come, come!” he rumbled.

“I am, of course, a mere student,” said I, with a fatuous smile,

“hardly more, I might say, than an earnest inquirer. At the same

time, it seemed to me that you were a little severe upon

Weissmann in this matter. Has not the general evidence since

that date tended to-well, to strengthen his position?”

“What evidence?” He spoke with a menacing calm.

“Well, of course, I am aware that there is not any what you might

call DEFINITE evidence. I alluded merely to the trend of modern

thought and the general scientific point of view, if I might so

express it.”

He leaned forward with great earnestness.

“I suppose you are aware,” said he, checking off points upon his

fingers, “that the cranial index is a constant factor?”

“Naturally,” said I.

“And that telegony is still sub judice?”

“Undoubtedly.”

“And that the germ plasm is different from the parthenogenetic egg?”

“Why, surely!” I cried, and gloried in my own audacity.

“But what does that prove?” he asked, in a gentle, persuasive voice.

“Ah, what indeed?” I murmured. “What does it prove?”

“Shall I tell you?” he cooed.

“Pray do.”

“It proves,” he roared, with a sudden blast of fury, “that

you are the damnedest imposter in London-a vile, crawling

journalist, who has no more science than he has decency in

his composition!”

He had sprung to his feet with a mad rage in his eyes. Even at

that moment of tension I found time for amazement at the

discovery that he was quite a short man, his head not higher than

my shoulder-a stunted Hercules whose tremendous vitality had all

run to depth, breadth, and brain.

“Gibberish!” he cried, leaning forward, with his fingers on the

table and his face projecting. “That’s what I have been talking

to you, sir-scientific gibberish! Did you think you could match

cunning with me-you with your walnut of a brain? You think you

are omnipotent, you infernal scribblers, don’t you? That your

praise can make a man and your blame can break him? We must all

bow to you, and try to get a favorable word, must we? This man

shall have a leg up, and this man shall have a dressing down!

Creeping vermin, I know you! You’ve got out of your station.

Time was when your ears were clipped. You’ve lost your sense of

proportion. Swollen gas-bags! I’ll keep you in your proper place.

Yes, sir, you haven’t got over G. E. C. There’s one man who is

still your master. He warned you off, but if you WILL come, by

the Lord you do it at your own risk. Forfeit, my good Mr. Malone,

I claim forfeit! You have played a rather dangerous game, and it

strikes me that you have lost it.”

“Look here, sir,” said I, backing to the door and opening it;

“you can be as abusive as you like. But there is a limit.

You shall not assault me.”

“Shall I not?” He was slowly advancing in a peculiarly menacing

way, but he stopped now and put his big hands into the

side-pockets of a rather boyish short jacket which he wore.

“I have thrown several of you out of the house. You will be the

fourth or fifth. Three pound fifteen each-that is how it averaged.

Expensive, but very necessary. Now, sir, why should you not

follow your brethren? I rather think you must.” He resumed his

unpleasant and stealthy advance, pointing his toes as he walked,

like a dancing master.

I could have bolted for the hall door, but it would have been

too ignominious. Besides, a little glow of righteous anger was

springing up within me. I had been hopelessly in the wrong

before, but this man’s menaces were putting me in the right.

“I’ll trouble you to keep your hands off, sir. I’ll not stand it.”

“Dear me!” His black moustache lifted and a white fang twinkled

in a sneer. “You won’t stand it, eh?”

“Don’t be such a fool, Professor!” I cried. “What can you hope for?

I’m fifteen stone, as hard as nails, and play center three-quarter

every Saturday for the London Irish. I’m not the man-”

It was at that moment that he rushed me. It was lucky that I had

opened the door, or we should have gone through it. We did a

Catharine-wheel together down the passage. Somehow we gathered

up a chair upon our way, and bounded on with it towards the street.

My mouth was full of his beard, our arms were locked, our bodies

intertwined, and that infernal chair radiated its legs all round us.

The watchful Austin had thrown open the hall door. We went with

a back somersault down the front steps. I have seen the two Macs

attempt something of the kind at the halls, but it appears to take

some practise to do it without hurting oneself. The chair went

to matchwood at the bottom, and we rolled apart into the gutter.

He sprang to his feet, waving his fists and wheezing like an asthmatic.

“Had enough?” he panted.

“You infernal bully!” I cried, as I gathered myself together.

Then and there we should have tried the thing out, for he was

effervescing with fight, but fortunately I was rescued from an

odious situation. A policeman was beside us, his notebook in

his hand.

“What’s all this? You ought to be ashamed” said the policeman.

It was the most rational remark which I had heard in Enmore Park.

“Well,” he insisted, turning to me, “what is it, then?”

“This man attacked me,” said I.

“Did you attack him?” asked the policeman.

The Professor breathed hard and said nothing.

“It’s not the first time, either,” said the policeman, severely,

shaking his head. “You were in trouble last month for the same thing.

You’ve blackened this young man’s eye. Do you give him in charge, sir?”

I relented.

“No,” said I, “I do not.”

“What’s that?” said the policeman.

“I was to blame myself. I intruded upon him. He gave me fair warning.”

The policeman snapped up his notebook.

“Don’t let us have any more such goings-on,” said he. “Now, then!

Move on, there, move on!” This to a butcher’s boy, a maid, and

one or two loafers who had collected. He clumped heavily down

the street, driving this little flock before him. The Professor

looked at me, and there was something humorous at the back of his eyes.

“Come in!” said he. “I’ve not done with you yet.”

The speech had a sinister sound, but I followed him none the less

into the house. The man-servant, Austin, like a wooden image,

closed the door behind us.

 

pauloviana2012

pauloviana2012 (50)

pauloviana2012
I speak:
Portuguese
I learn:
English, Spanish, French
Busuu berries :
36756

 CHAPTER IV

“It’s Just the very Biggest Thing in the World”

Hardly was it shut when Mrs. Challenger darted out from

the dining-room. The small woman was in a furious temper.

She barred her husband’s way like an enraged chicken in front of

a bulldog. It was evident that she had seen my exit, but had not

observed my return.

“You brute, George!” she screamed. “You’ve hurt that nice young man.”

He jerked backwards with his thumb.

“Here he is, safe and sound behind me.”

She was confused, but not unduly so.

“I am so sorry, I didn’t see you.”

“I assure you, madam, that it is all right.”

“He has marked your poor face! Oh, George, what a brute you are!

Nothing but scandals from one end of the week to the other.

Everyone hating and making fun of you. You’ve finished my patience.

This ends it.”

“Dirty linen,” he rumbled.

“It’s not a secret,” she cried. “Do you suppose that the whole

street-the whole of London, for that matter- Get away, Austin,

we don’t want you here. Do you suppose they don’t all talk about you?

Where is your dignity? You, a man who should have been Regius

Professor at a great University with a thousand students all

revering you. Where is your dignity, George?”

“How about yours, my dear?”

“You try me too much. A ruffian-a common brawling ruffianthat’s

what you have become.”

“Be good, Jessie.”

“A roaring, raging bully!”

“That’s done it! Stool of penance!” said he.

To my amazement he stooped, picked her up, and placed her sitting

upon a high pedestal of black marble in the angle of the hall.

It was at least seven feet high, and so thin that she could hardly

balance upon it. A more absurd object than she presented cocked

up there with her face convulsed with anger, her feet dangling,

and her body rigid for fear of an upset, I could not imagine.

“Let me down!” she wailed.

“Say `please.’”

“You brute, George! Let me down this instant!”

“Come into the study, Mr. Malone.”

“Really, sir-!” said I, looking at the lady.

“Here’s Mr. Malone pleading for you, Jessie.

Say ‘please,’ and down you come.”

“Oh, you brute! Please! please!”

“You must behave yourself, dear. Mr. Malone is a Pressman.

He will have it all in his rag to-morrow, and sell an extra

dozen among our neighbors. ‘Strange story of high life’-you

felt fairly high on that pedestal, did you not? Then a sub-title,

‘Glimpse of a singular menage.’ He’s a foul feeder, is Mr. Malone,

a carrion eater, like all of his kind-porcus ex grege diabolia

swine from the devil’s herd. That’s it, Malone-what?”

“You are really intolerable!” said I, hotly.

He bellowed with laughter.

“We shall have a coalition presently,” he boomed, looking from

his wife to me and puffing out his enormous chest. Then, suddenly

altering his tone, “Excuse this frivolous family badinage, Mr. Malone.

I called you back for some more serious purpose than to mix you

up with our little domestic pleasantries. Run away, little woman,

and don’t fret.” He placed a huge hand upon each of her shoulders.

“All that you say is perfectly true. I should be a better man if

I did what you advise, but I shouldn’t be quite George

Edward Challenger. There are plenty of better men, my dear, but

only one G. E. C. So make the best of him.” He suddenly gave her

a resounding kiss, which embarrassed me even more than his violence

had done. “Now, Mr. Malone,” he continued, with a great accession

of dignity, “this way, if YOU please.”

We re-entered the room which we had left so tumultuously ten

minutes before. The Professor closed the door carefully behind

us, motioned me into an arm-chair, and pushed a cigar-box under

my nose.

“Real San Juan Colorado,” he said. “Excitable people like you

are the better for narcotics. Heavens! don’t bite it! Cut-and

cut with reverence! Now lean back, and listen attentively to

whatever I may care to say to you. If any remark should occur to

you, you can reserve it for some more opportune time.

“First of all, as to your return to my house after your most

justifiable expulsion”-he protruded his beard, and stared at me

as one who challenges and invites contradiction-”after, as I

say, your well-merited expulsion. The reason lay in your answer

to that most officious policeman, in which I seemed to discern

some glimmering of good feeling upon your part-more, at any

rate, than I am accustomed to associate with your profession.

In admitting that the fault of the incident lay with you, you gave

some evidence of a certain mental detachment and breadth of view

which attracted my favorable notice. The sub-species of the

human race to which you unfortunately belong has always been

below my mental horizon. Your words brought you suddenly above it.

You swam up into my serious notice. For this reason I asked you

to return with me, as I was minded to make your further acquaintance.

You will kindly deposit your ash in the small Japanese tray on the

bamboo table which stands at your left elbow.”

All this he boomed forth like a professor addressing his class.

He had swung round his revolving chair so as to face me, and he

sat all puffed out like an enormous bull-frog, his head laid back

and his eyes half-covered by supercilious lids. Now he suddenly

turned himself sideways, and all I could see of him was tangled

hair with a red, protruding ear. He was scratching about among

the litter of papers upon his desk. He faced me presently with

what looked like a very tattered sketch-book in his hand.

“I am going to talk to you about South America,” said he.

“No comments if you please. First of all, I wish you to understand

that nothing I tell you now is to be repeated in any public way

unless you have my express permission. That permission will, in

all human probability, never be given. Is that clear?”

“It is very hard,” said I. “Surely a judicious account-”

He replaced the notebook upon the table.

“That ends it,” said he. “I wish you a very good morning.”

“No, no!” I cried. “I submit to any conditions. So far as I can

see, I have no choice.”

“None in the world,” said he.

“Well, then, I promise.”

“Word of honor?”

“Word of honor.”

He looked at me with doubt in his insolent eyes.

“After all, what do I know about your honor?” said he.

“Upon my word, sir,” I cried, angrily, “you take very great liberties!

I have never been so insulted in my life.”

He seemed more interested than annoyed at my outbreak.

“Round-headed,” he muttered. “Brachycephalic, gray-eyed,

black-haired, with suggestion of the negroid. Celtic, I presume?”

“I am an Irishman, sir.”

“Irish Irish?”

“Yes, sir.”

“That, of course, explains it. Let me see; you have given me

your promise that my confidence will be respected? That confidence,

I may say, will be far from complete. But I am prepared to give

you a few indications which will be of interest. In the first

place, you are probably aware that two years ago I made a journey

to South America-one which will be classical in the scientific

history of the world? The object of my journey was to verify some

conclusions of Wallace and of Bates, which could only be done by

observing their reported facts under the same conditions in which

they had themselves noted them. If my expedition had no other

results it would still have been noteworthy, but a curious incident

occurred to me while there which opened up an entirely fresh line

of inquiry.

“You are aware-or probably, in this half-educated age, you are

not aware-that the country round some parts of the Amazon is

still only partially explored, and that a great number of

tributaries, some of them entirely uncharted, run into the

main river. It was my business to visit this little-known

back-country and to examine its fauna, which furnished me with

the materials for several chapters for that great and monumental

work upon zoology which will be my life’s justification. I was

returning, my work accomplished, when I had occasion to spend a

night at a small Indian village at a point where a certain

tributary-the name and position of which I withhold-opens

into the main river. The natives were Cucama Indians, an amiable

but degraded race, with mental powers hardly superior to the

average Londoner. I had effected some cures among them upon my

way up the river, and had impressed them considerably with my

personality, so that I was not surprised to find myself eagerly

awaited upon my return. I gathered from their signs that someone

had urgent need of my medical services, and I followed the chief

to one of his huts. When I entered I found that the sufferer to

whose aid I had been summoned had that instant expired. He was,

to my surprise, no Indian, but a white man; indeed, I may say a

very white man, for he was flaxen-haired and had some

characteristics of an albino. He was clad in rags, was very

emaciated, and bore every trace of prolonged hardship. So far as

I could understand the account of the natives, he was a complete

stranger to them, and had come upon their village through the

woods alone and in the last stage of exhaustion.

“The man’s knapsack lay beside the couch, and I examined the contents.

His name was written upon a tab within it-Maple White, Lake

Avenue, Detroit, Michigan. It is a name to which I am prepared

always to lift my hat. It is not too much to say that it will

rank level with my own when the final credit of this business

comes to be apportioned.

“From the contents of the knapsack it was evident that this man

had been an artist and poet in search of effects. There were

scraps of verse. I do not profess to be a judge of such things,

but they appeared to me to be singularly wanting in merit.

There were also some rather commonplace pictures of river scenery,

a paint-box, a box of colored chalks, some brushes, that curved

bone which lies upon my inkstand, a volume of Baxter’s ‘Moths and

Butterflies,’ a cheap revolver, and a few cartridges. Of personal

equipment he either had none or he had lost it in his journey.

Such were the total effects of this strange American Bohemian.

“I was turning away from him when I observed that something

projected from the front of his ragged jacket. It was this

sketch-book, which was as dilapidated then as you see it now.

Indeed, I can assure you that a first folio of Shakespeare could

not be treated with greater reverence than this relic has been

since it came into my possession. I hand it to you now, and I

ask you to take it page by page and to examine the contents.”

He helped himself to a cigar and leaned back with a fiercely

critical pair of eyes, taking note of the effect which this

document would produce.

I had opened the volume with some expectation of a revelation,

though of what nature I could not imagine. The first page was

disappointing, however, as it contained nothing but the picture

of a very fat man in a pea-jacket, with the legend, “Jimmy Colver

on the Mail-boat,” written beneath it. There followed several pages

which were filled with small sketches of Indians and their ways.

Then came a picture of a cheerful and corpulent ecclesiastic in

a shovel hat, sitting opposite a very thin European, and the

inscription: “Lunch with Fra Cristofero at Rosario.” Studies of

women and babies accounted for several more pages, and then there

was an unbroken series of animal drawings with such explanations

as “Manatee upon Sandbank,” “Turtles and Their Eggs,” “Black Ajouti

under a Miriti Palm”-the matter disclosing some sort of pig-like

animal; and finally came a double page of studies of long-snouted

and very unpleasant saurians. I could make nothing of it, and said

so to the Professor.

“Surely these are only crocodiles?”

“Alligators! Alligators! There is hardly such a thing as a true

crocodile in South America. The distinction between them-”

“I meant that I could see nothing unusual-nothing to justify

what you have said.”

He smiled serenely.

“Try the next page,” said he.

I was still unable to sympathize. It was a full-page sketch of a

landscape roughly tinted in color-the kind of painting which an

open-air artist takes as a guide to a future more elaborate effort.

There was a pale-green foreground of feathery vegetation, which

sloped upwards and ended in a line of cliffs dark red in color, and

curiously ribbed like some basaltic formations which I have seen.

They extended in an unbroken wall right across the background.

At one point was an isolated pyramidal rock, crowned by a great

tree, which appeared to be separated by a cleft from the main crag.

Behind it all, a blue tropical sky. A thin green line of vegetation

fringed the summit of the ruddy cliff.

“Well?” he asked.

“It is no doubt a curious formation,” said I “but I am not

geologist enough to say that it is wonderful.”

“Wonderful!” he repeated. “It is unique. It is incredible. No one

on earth has ever dreamed of such a possibility. Now the next.”

I turned it over, and gave an exclamation of surprise. There was

a full-page picture of the most extraordinary creature that I had

ever seen. It was the wild dream of an opium smoker, a vision

of delirium. The head was like that of a fowl, the body that of

a bloated lizard, the trailing tail was furnished with upwardturned

spikes, and the curved back was edged with a high serrated

fringe, which looked like a dozen cocks’ wattles placed behind

each other. In front of this creature was an absurd mannikin,

or dwarf, in human form, who stood staring at it.

“Well, what do you think of that?” cried the Professor, rubbing

his hands with an air of triumph.

“It is monstrous-grotesque.”

“But what made him draw such an animal?”

“Trade gin, I should think.”

“Oh, that’s the best explanation you can give, is it?”

“Well, sir, what is yours?”

“The obvious one that the creature exists. That is actually

sketched from the life.”

I should have laughed only that I had a vision of our doing

another Catharine-wheel down the passage.

“No doubt,” said I, “no doubt,” as one humors an imbecile.

“I confess, however,” I added, “that this tiny human figure

puzzles me. If it were an Indian we could set it down as

evidence of some pigmy race in America, but it appears to be

a European in a sun-hat.”

The Professor snorted like an angry buffalo. “You really touch

the limit,” said he. “You enlarge my view of the possible.

Cerebral paresis! Mental inertia! Wonderful!”

He was too absurd to make me angry. Indeed, it was a waste of

energy, for if you were going to be angry with this man you would

be angry all the time. I contented myself with smiling wearily.

“It struck me that the man was small,” said I.

“Look here!” he cried, leaning forward and dabbing a great hairy

sausage of a finger on to the picture. “You see that plant

behind the animal; I suppose you thought it was a dandelion or a

Brussels sprout-what? Well, it is a vegetable ivory palm, and

they run to about fifty or sixty feet. Don’t you see that the man

is put in for a purpose? He couldn’t really have stood in front of

that brute and lived to draw it. He sketched himself in to give a

scale of heights. He was, we will say, over five feet high.

The tree is ten times bigger, which is what one would expect.”

“Good heavens!” I cried. “Then you think the beast was- Why,

Charing Cross station would hardly make a kennel for such a brute!”

“Apart from exaggeration, he is certainly a well-grown specimen,”

said the Professor, complacently.

“But,” I cried, “surely the whole experience of the human race is

not to be set aside on account of a single sketch”-I had turned

over the leaves and ascertained that there was nothing more in

the book-”a single sketch by a wandering American artist who may

have done it under hashish, or in the delirium of fever, or

simply in order to gratify a freakish imagination. You can’t, as

a man of science, defend such a position as that.”

For answer the Professor took a book down from a shelf.

“This is an excellent monograph by my gifted friend, Ray Lankester!”

said he. “There is an illustration here which would interest you.

Ah, yes, here it is! The inscription beneath it runs: ‘Probable

appearance in life of the Jurassic Dinosaur Stegosaurus. The hind

leg alone is twice as tall as a full-grown man.’ Well, what do you

make of that?”

He handed me the open book. I started as I looked at the picture.

In this reconstructed animal of a dead world there was certainly

a very great resemblance to the sketch of the unknown artist.

“That is certainly remarkable,” said I.

“But you won’t admit that it is final?”

“Surely it might be a coincidence, or this American may have seen

a picture of the kind and carried it in his memory. It would be

likely to recur to a man in a delirium.”

“Very good,” said the Professor, indulgently; “we leave it at that.

I will now ask you to look at this bone.” He handed over the one

which he had already described as part of the dead man’s possessions.

It was about six inches long, and thicker than my thumb, with some

indications of dried cartilage at one end of it.

“To what known creature does that bone belong?” asked the Professor.

I examined it with care and tried to recall some halfforgotten

knowledge.

“It might be a very thick human collar-bone,” I said.

My companion waved his hand in contemptuous deprecation.

“The human collar-bone is curved. This is straight. There is a

groove upon its surface showing that a great tendon played across

it, which could not be the case with a clavicle.”

“Then I must confess that I don’t know what it is.”

“You need not be ashamed to expose your ignorance, for I don’t

suppose the whole South Kensington staff could give a name to it.”

He took a little bone the size of a bean out of a pill-box.

“So far as I am a judge this human bone is the analogue of the

one which you hold in your hand. That will give you some idea of

the size of the creature. You will observe from the cartilage that

this is no fossil specimen, but recent. What do you say to that?”

“Surely in an elephant-”

He winced as if in pain.

“Don’t! Don’t talk of elephants in South America. Even in these

days of Board schools-”

“Well, I interrupted, “any large South American animal-a tapir,

for example.”

“You may take it, young man, that I am versed in the elements of

my business. This is not a conceivable bone either of a tapir or

of any other creature known to zoology. It belongs to a very

large, a very strong, and, by all analogy, a very fierce animal

which exists upon the face of the earth, but has not yet come

under the notice of science. You are still unconvinced?”

“I am at least deeply interested.”

“Then your case is not hopeless. I feel that there is reason

lurking in you somewhere, so we will patiently grope round for it.

We will now leave the dead American and proceed with my narrative.

You can imagine that I could hardly come away from the Amazon

without probing deeper into the matter. There were indications

as to the direction from which the dead traveler had come.

Indian legends would alone have been my guide, for I found that

rumors of a strange land were common among all the riverine tribes.

You have heard, no doubt, of Curupuri?”

“Never.”

“Curupuri is the spirit of the woods, something terrible,

something malevolent, something to be avoided. None can describe

its shape or nature, but it is a word of terror along the Amazon.

Now all tribes agree as to the direction in which Curupuri lives.

It was the same direction from which the American had come.

Something terrible lay that way. It was my business to find out

what it was.”

“What did you do?” My flippancy was all gone. This massive man

compelled one’s attention and respect.

“I overcame the extreme reluctance of the natives-a reluctance

which extends even to talk upon the subject-and by judicious

persuasion and gifts, aided, I will admit, by some threats of

coercion, I got two of them to act as guides. After many

adventures which I need not describe, and after traveling a

distance which I will not mention, in a direction which I

withhold, we came at last to a tract of country which has

never been described, nor, indeed, visited save by my

unfortunate predecessor. Would you kindly look at this?”

He handed me a photograph-half-plate size.

“The unsatisfactory appearance of it is due to the fact,” said he,

“that on descending the river the boat was upset and the case which

contained the undeveloped films was broken, with disastrous results.

Nearly all of them were totally ruined-an irreparable loss.

This is one of the few which partially escaped. This explanation

of deficiencies or abnormalities you will kindly accept. There was

talk of faking. I am not in a mood to argue such a point.”

The photograph was certainly very off-colored. An unkind critic

might easily have misinterpreted that dim surface. It was a dull

gray landscape, and as I gradually deciphered the details of it I

realized that it represented a long and enormously high line of

cliffs exactly like an immense cataract seen in the distance,

with a sloping, tree-clad plain in the foreground.

“I believe it is the same place as the painted picture,” said I.

“It is the same place,” the Professor answered. “I found traces

of the fellow’s camp. Now look at this.”

It was a nearer view of the same scene, though the photograph was

extremely defective. I could distinctly see the isolated,

tree-crowned pinnacle of rock which was detached from the crag.

“I have no doubt of it at all,” said I.

“Well, that is something gained,” said he. “We progress, do we not?

Now, will you please look at the top of that rocky pinnacle?

Do you observe something there?”

“An enormous tree.”

“But on the tree?”

“A large bird,” said I.

He handed me a lens.

“Yes,” I said, peering through it, “a large bird stands on the tree.

It appears to have a considerable beak. I should say it was a pelican.”

“I cannot congratulate you upon your eyesight,” said the Professor.

“It is not a pelican, nor, indeed, is it a bird. It may interest

you to know that I succeeded in shooting that particular specimen.

It was the only absolute proof of my experiences which I was able

to bring away with me.”

“You have it, then?” Here at last was tangible corroboration.

“I had it. It was unfortunately lost with so much else in the

same boat accident which ruined my photographs. I clutched at it

as it disappeared in the swirl of the rapids, and part of its

wing was left in my hand. I was insensible when washed ashore,

but the miserable remnant of my superb specimen was still intact;

I now lay it before you.”

From a drawer he produced what seemed to me to be the upper

portion of the wing of a large bat. It was at least two feet in

length, a curved bone, with a membranous veil beneath it.

“A monstrous bat!” I suggested.

“Nothing of the sort,” said the Professor, severely. “Living, as

I do, in an educated and scientific atmosphere, I could not have

conceived that the first principles of zoology were so little known.

Is it possible that you do not know the elementary fact in

comparative anatomy, that the wing of a bird is really the

forearm, while the wing of a bat consists of three elongated

fingers with membranes between? Now, in this case, the bone is

certainly not the forearm, and you can see for yourself that this

is a single membrane hanging upon a single bone, and therefore

that it cannot belong to a bat. But if it is neither bird nor

bat, what is it?”

My small stock of knowledge was exhausted.

“I really do not know,” said I.

He opened the standard work to which he had already referred me.

“Here,” said he, pointing to the picture of an extraordinary

flying monster, “is an excellent reproduction of the dimorphodon,

or pterodactyl, a flying reptile of the Jurassic period. On the

next page is a diagram of the mechanism of its wing. Kindly compare

it with the specimen in your hand.”

A wave of amazement passed over me as I looked. I was convinced.

There could be no getting away from it. The cumulative proof

was overwhelming. The sketch, the photographs, the narrative, and

now the actual specimen-the evidence was complete. I said so-I

said so warmly, for I felt that the Professor was an ill-used man.

He leaned back in his chair with drooping eyelids and a tolerant

smile, basking in this sudden gleam of sunshine.

“It’s just the very biggest thing that I ever heard of!” said I,

though it was my journalistic rather than my scientific

enthusiasm that was roused. “It is colossal. You are a Columbus

of science who has discovered a lost world. I’m awfully sorry if

I seemed to doubt you. It was all so unthinkable. But I

understand evidence when I see it, and this should be good enough

for anyone.”

The Professor purred with satisfaction.

“And then, sir, what did you do next?”

“It was the wet season, Mr. Malone, and my stores were exhausted.

I explored some portion of this huge cliff, but I was unable to

find any way to scale it. The pyramidal rock upon which I saw

and shot the pterodactyl was more accessible. Being something of

a cragsman, I did manage to get half way to the top of that.

From that height I had a better idea of the plateau upon the top

of the crags. It appeared to be very large; neither to east nor

to west could I see any end to the vista of green-capped cliffs.

Below, it is a swampy, jungly region, full of snakes, insects,

and fever. It is a natural protection to this singular country.”

“Did you see any other trace of life?”

“No, sir, I did not; but during the week that we lay encamped at

the base of the cliff we heard some very strange noises from above.”

“But the creature that the American drew? How do you account

for that?”

“We can only suppose that he must have made his way to the summit

and seen it there. We know, therefore, that there is a way up.

We know equally that it must be a very difficult one, otherwise the

creatures would have come down and overrun the surrounding country.

Surely that is clear?”

“But how did they come to be there?”

“I do not think that the problem is a very obscure one,” said the

Professor; “there can only be one explanation. South America is,

as you may have heard, a granite continent. At this single point

in the interior there has been, in some far distant age, a great,

sudden volcanic upheaval. These cliffs, I may remark, are

basaltic, and therefore plutonic. An area, as large perhaps as

Sussex, has been lifted up en bloc with all its living contents,

and cut off by perpendicular precipices of a hardness which

defies erosion from all the rest of the continent. What is

the result? Why, the ordinary laws of Nature are suspended.

The various checks which influence the struggle for existence in

the world at large are all neutralized or altered. Creatures survive

which would otherwise disappear. You will observe that both the

pterodactyl and the stegosaurus are Jurassic, and therefore of a

great age in the order of life. They have been artificially

conserved by those strange accidental conditions.”

“But surely your evidence is conclusive. You have only to lay it

before the proper authorities.”

“So in my simplicity, I had imagined,” said the Professor, bitterly.

“I can only tell you that it was not so, that I was met at every

turn by incredulity, born partly of stupidity and partly of jealousy.

It is not my nature, sir, to cringe to any man, or to seek to prove

a fact if my word has been doubted. After the first I have not

condescended to show such corroborative proofs as I possess.

The subject became hateful to me-I would not speak of it.

When men like yourself, who represent the foolish curiosity

of the public, came to disturb my privacy I was unable to meet

them with dignified reserve. By nature I am, I admit, somewhat

fiery, and under provocation I am inclined to be violent. I fear

you may have remarked it.”

I nursed my eye and was silent.

“My wife has frequently remonstrated with me upon the subject,

and yet I fancy that any man of honor would feel the same.

To-night, however, I propose to give an extreme example of the

control of the will over the emotions. I invite you to be

present at the exhibition.” He handed me a card from his desk.

“You will perceive that Mr. Percival Waldron, a naturalist of

some popular repute, is announced to lecture at eight-thirty at

the Zoological Institute’s Hall upon ‘The Record of the Ages.’

I have been specially invited to be present upon the platform, and

to move a vote of thanks to the lecturer. While doing so, I

shall make it my business, with infinite tact and delicacy, to

throw out a few remarks which may arouse the interest of the

audience and cause some of them to desire to go more deeply into

the matter. Nothing contentious, you understand, but only an

indication that there are greater deeps beyond. I shall hold

myself strongly in leash, and see whether by this self-restraint

I attain a more favorable result.”

“And I may come?” I asked eagerly.

“Why, surely,” he answered, cordially. He had an enormously

massive genial manner, which was almost as overpowering as

his violence. His smile of benevolence was a wonderful thing,

when his cheeks would suddenly bunch into two red apples, between

his half-closed eyes and his great black beard. “By all means, come.

It will be a comfort to me to know that I have one ally in the

hall, however inefficient and ignorant of the subject he may be.

I fancy there will be a large audience, for Waldron, though an

absolute charlatan, has a considerable popular following. Now, Mr.

Malone, I have given you rather more of my time than I had intended.

The individual must not monopolize what is meant for the world.

I shall be pleased to see you at the lecture to-night. In the

meantime, you will understand that no public use is to be made

of any of the material that I have given you.”

“But Mr. McArdle-my news editor, you know-will want to know

what I have done.”

“Tell him what you like. You can say, among other things, that

if he sends anyone else to intrude upon me I shall call upon him

with a riding-whip. But I leave it to you that nothing of all

this appears in print. Very good. Then the Zoological

Institute’s Hall at eight-thirty to-night.” I had a last

impression of red cheeks, blue rippling beard, and intolerant

eyes, as he waved me out of the room.

pauloviana2012

pauloviana2012 (50)

pauloviana2012
I speak:
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I learn:
English, Spanish, French
Busuu berries :
36756

 CHAPTER VI

“I was the Flail of the Lord”

Lord John Roxton and I turned down Vigo Street together and

through the dingy portals of the famous aristocratic rookery.

At the end of a long drab passage my new acquaintance pushed open

a door and turned on an electric switch. A number of lamps shining

through tinted shades bathed the whole great room before us in a

ruddy radiance. Standing in the doorway and glancing round me, I

had a general impression of extraordinary comfort and elegance

combined with an atmosphere of masculine virility. Everywhere there

were mingled the luxury of the wealthy man of taste and the

careless untidiness of the bachelor. Rich furs and strange

iridescent mats from some Oriental bazaar were scattered upon

the floor. Pictures and prints which even my unpractised eyes

could recognize as being of great price and rarity hung thick upon

the walls. Sketches of boxers, of ballet-girls, and of racehorses

alternated with a sensuous Fragonard, a martial Girardet, and a

dreamy Turner. But amid these varied ornaments there were

scattered the trophies which brought back strongly to my

recollection the fact that Lord John Roxton was one of the great

all-round sportsmen and athletes of his day. A dark-blue oar

crossed with a cherry-pink one above his mantel-piece spoke of

the old Oxonian and Leander man, while the foils and

boxing-gloves above and below them were the tools of a man who

had won supremacy with each. Like a dado round the room was the

jutting line of splendid heavy game-heads, the best of their sort

from every quarter of the world, with the rare white rhinoceros

of the Lado Enclave drooping its supercilious lip above them all.

In the center of the rich red carpet was a black and gold Louis

Quinze table, a lovely antique, now sacrilegiously desecrated

with marks of glasses and the scars of cigar-stumps. On it stood

a silver tray of smokables and a burnished spirit-stand, from

which and an adjacent siphon my silent host proceeded to charge

two high glasses. Having indicated an arm-chair to me and placed

my refreshment near it, he handed me a long, smooth Havana.

Then, seating himself opposite to me, he looked at me long and

fixedly with his strange, twinkling, reckless eyes-eyes of a

cold light blue, the color of a glacier lake.

Through the thin haze of my cigar-smoke I noted the details of a

face which was already familiar to me from many photographs-the

strongly-curved nose, the hollow, worn cheeks, the dark, ruddy

hair, thin at the top, the crisp, virile moustaches, the small,

aggressive tuft upon his projecting chin. Something there was of

Napoleon III., something of Don Quixote, and yet again something

which was the essence of the English country gentleman, the keen,

alert, open-air lover of dogs and of horses. His skin was of a

rich flower-pot red from sun and wind. His eyebrows were tufted

and overhanging, which gave those naturally cold eyes an almost

ferocious aspect, an impression which was increased by his strong

and furrowed brow. In figure he was spare, but very strongly

built-indeed, he had often proved that there were few men in

England capable of such sustained exertions. His height was a

little over six feet, but he seemed shorter on account of a

peculiar rounding of the shoulders. Such was the famous Lord

John Roxton as he sat opposite to me, biting hard upon his cigar

and watching me steadily in a long and embarrassing silence.

“Well,” said he, at last, “we’ve gone and done it, young fellah

my lad.” (This curious phrase he pronounced as if it were all one

word-”young-fellah-me-lad.”) “Yes, we’ve taken a jump, you an’ me.

I suppose, now, when you went into that room there was no such

notion in your head-what?”

“No thought of it.”

“The same here. No thought of it. And here we are, up to our

necks in the tureen. Why, I’ve only been back three weeks from

Uganda, and taken a place in Scotland, and signed the lease and all.

Pretty goin’s on-what? How does it hit you?”

“Well, it is all in the main line of my business. I am a

journalist on the Gazette.”

“Of course-you said so when you took it on. By the way, I’ve

got a small job for you, if you’ll help me.”

“With pleasure.”

“Don’t mind takin’ a risk, do you?”

“What is the risk?”

“Well, it’s Ballinger-he’s the risk. You’ve heard of him?”

“No.”

“Why, young fellah, where HAVE you lived? Sir John Ballinger

is the best gentleman jock in the north country. I could hold

him on the flat at my best, but over jumps he’s my master.

Well, it’s an open secret that when he’s out of trainin’ he drinks

hard-strikin’ an average, he calls it. He got delirium on

Toosday, and has been ragin’ like a devil ever since. His room

is above this. The doctors say that it is all up with the old

dear unless some food is got into him, but as he lies in bed with

a revolver on his coverlet, and swears he will put six of the

best through anyone that comes near him, there’s been a bit of a

strike among the serving-men. He’s a hard nail, is Jack, and a

dead shot, too, but you can’t leave a Grand National winner to

die like that-what?”

“What do you mean to do, then?” I asked.

“Well, my idea was that you and I could rush him. He may be

dozin’, and at the worst he can only wing one of us, and the

other should have him. If we can get his bolster-cover round his

arms and then ‘phone up a stomach-pump, we’ll give the old dear

the supper of his life.”

It was a rather desperate business to come suddenly into one’s

day’s work. I don’t think that I am a particularly brave man.

I have an Irish imagination which makes the unknown and the untried

more terrible than they are. On the other hand, I was brought up

with a horror of cowardice and with a terror of such a stigma.

I dare say that I could throw myself over a precipice, like the Hun

in the history books, if my courage to do it were questioned, and

yet it would surely be pride and fear, rather than courage, which

would be my inspiration. Therefore, although every nerve in my

body shrank from the whisky-maddened figure which I pictured in

the room above, I still answered, in as careless a voice as I

could command, that I was ready to go. Some further remark of

Lord Roxton’s about the danger only made me irritable.

“Talking won’t make it any better,” said I. “Come on.”

I rose from my chair and he from his. Then with a little

confidential chuckle of laughter, he patted me two or three times

on the chest, finally pushing me back into my chair.

“All right, sonny my lad-you’ll do,” said he. I looked up

in surprise.

“I saw after Jack Ballinger myself this mornin’. He blew a hole

in the skirt of my kimono, bless his shaky old hand, but we got a

jacket on him, and he’s to be all right in a week. I say, young

fellah, I hope you don’t mind-what? You see, between you an’ me

close-tiled, I look on this South American business as a mighty

serious thing, and if I have a pal with me I want a man I can

bank on. So I sized you down, and I’m bound to say that you came

well out of it. You see, it’s all up to you and me, for this old

Summerlee man will want dry-nursin’ from the first. By the way,

are you by any chance the Malone who is expected to get his Rugby

cap for Ireland?”

“A reserve, perhaps.”

“I thought I remembered your face. Why, I was there when you got

that try against Richmond-as fine a swervin’ run as I saw the

whole season. I never miss a Rugby match if I can help it, for

it is the manliest game we have left. Well, I didn’t ask you in

here just to talk sport. We’ve got to fix our business. Here are

the sailin’s, on the first page of the Times. There’s a Booth boat

for Para next Wednesday week, and if the Professor and you can work

it, I think we should take it-what? Very good, I’ll fix it with him.

What about your outfit?”

“My paper will see to that.”

“Can you shoot?”

“About average Territorial standard.”

“Good Lord! as bad as that? It’s the last thing you young fellahs

think of learnin’. You’re all bees without stings, so far as

lookin’ after the hive goes. You’ll look silly, some o’ these

days, when someone comes along an’ sneaks the honey. But you’ll

need to hold your gun straight in South America, for, unless our

friend the Professor is a madman or a liar, we may see some queer

things before we get back. What gun have you?”

He crossed to an oaken cupboard, and as he threw it open I caught

a glimpse of glistening rows of parallel barrels, like the pipes

of an organ.

“I’ll see what I can spare you out of my own battery,” said he.

One by one he took out a succession of beautiful rifles, opening

and shutting them with a snap and a clang, and then patting them

as he put them back into the rack as tenderly as a mother would

fondle her children.

“This is a Bland’s .577 axite express,” said he. “I got that big

fellow with it.” He glanced up at the white rhinoceros. “Ten more

yards, and he’d would have added me to HIS collection.

‘On that conical bullet his one chance hangs,

’Tis the weak one’s advantage fair.’

Hope you know your Gordon, for he’s the poet of the horse and

the gun and the man that handles both. Now, here’s a useful

tool-.470, telescopic sight, double ejector, point-blank up to

three-fifty. That’s the rifle I used against the Peruvian

slave-drivers three years ago. I was the flail of the Lord up in

those parts, I may tell you, though you won’t find it in any

Blue-book. There are times, young fellah, when every one of us

must make a stand for human right and justice, or you never feel

clean again. That’s why I made a little war on my own. Declared it

myself, waged it myself, ended it myself. Each of those nicks

is for a slave murderer-a good row of them-what? That big one

is for Pedro Lopez, the king of them all, that I killed in a

backwater of the Putomayo River. Now, here’s something that

would do for you.” He took out a beautiful brown-and-silver rifle.

“Well rubbered at the stock, sharply sighted, five cartridges to

the clip. You can trust your life to that.” He handed it to me

and closed the door of his oak cabinet.

“By the way,” he continued, coming back to his chair, “what do

you know of this Professor Challenger?”

“I never saw him till to-day.”

“Well, neither did I. It’s funny we should both sail under sealed

orders from a man we don’t know. He seemed an uppish old bird.

His brothers of science don’t seem too fond of him, either.

How came you to take an interest in the affair?”

I told him shortly my experiences of the morning, and he

listened intently. Then he drew out a map of South America

and laid it on the table.

“I believe every single word he said to you was the truth,” said

he, earnestly, “and, mind you, I have something to go on when I

speak like that. South America is a place I love, and I think,

if you take it right through from Darien to Fuego, it’s the

grandest, richest, most wonderful bit of earth upon this planet.

People don’t know it yet, and don’t realize what it may become.

I’ve been up an’ down it from end to end, and had two dry

seasons in those very parts, as I told you when I spoke of the

war I made on the slave-dealers. Well, when I was up there I

heard some yarns of the same kind-traditions of Indians and the

like, but with somethin’ behind them, no doubt. The more you

knew of that country, young fellah, the more you would understand

that anythin’ was possible-ANYTHIN’1. There are just some narrow

water-lanes along which folk travel, and outside that it is

all darkness. Now, down here in the Matto Grande”-he swept his

cigar over a part of the map-”or up in this corner where three

countries meet, nothin’ would surprise me. As that chap said

to-night, there are fifty-thousand miles of water-way runnin’

through a forest that is very near the size of Europe. You and

I could be as far away from each other as Scotland is from

Constantinople, and yet each of us be in the same great Brazilian forest.

Man has just made a track here and a scrape there in the maze.

Why, the river rises and falls the best part of forty feet,

and half the country is a morass that you can’t pass over.

Why shouldn’t somethin’ new and wonderful lie in such a country?

And why shouldn’t we be the men to find it out? Besides,” he

added, his queer, gaunt face shining with delight, “there’s a

sportin’ risk in every mile of it. I’m like an old golf-ball-

I’ve had all the white paint knocked off me long ago.

Life can whack me about now, and it can’t leave a mark. But a

sportin’ risk, young fellah, that’s the salt of existence.

Then it’s worth livin’ again. We’re all gettin’ a deal too soft

and dull and comfy. Give me the great waste lands and the wide

spaces, with a gun in my fist and somethin’ to look for that’s

worth findin’. I’ve tried war and steeplechasin’ and aeroplanes,

but this huntin’ of beasts that look like a lobster-supper dream

is a brand-new sensation.” He chuckled with glee at the prospect.

Perhaps I have dwelt too long upon this new acquaintance, but he

is to be my comrade for many a day, and so I have tried to set

him down as I first saw him, with his quaint personality and his

queer little tricks of speech and of thought. It was only the

need of getting in the account of my meeting which drew me at

last from his company. I left him seated amid his pink radiance,

oiling the lock of his favorite rifle, while he still chuckled to

himself at the thought of the adventures which awaited us. It was

very clear to me that if dangers lay before us I could not in all

England have found a cooler head or a braver spirit with which to

share them.

That night, wearied as I was after the wonderful happenings of

the day, I sat late with McArdle, the news editor, explaining to

him the whole situation, which he thought important enough to

bring next morning before the notice of Sir George Beaumont,

the chief. It was agreed that I should write home full accounts

of my adventures in the shape of successive letters to McArdle,

and that these should either be edited for the Gazette as they

arrived, or held back to be published later, according to the

wishes of Professor Challenger, since we could not yet know what

conditions he might attach to those directions which should guide

us to the unknown land. In response to a telephone inquiry, we

received nothing more definite than a fulmination against the

Press, ending up with the remark that if we would notify our boat

he would hand us any directions which he might think it proper to

give us at the moment of starting. A second question from us

failed to elicit any answer at all, save a plaintive bleat from

his wife to the effect that her husband was in a very violent

temper already, and that she hoped we would do nothing to make

it worse. A third attempt, later in the day, provoked a terrific

crash, and a subsequent message from the Central Exchange that

Professor Challenger’s receiver had been shattered. After that

we abandoned all attempt at communication.

And now my patient readers, I can address you directly no longer.

From now onwards (if, indeed, any continuation of this narrative

should ever reach you) it can only be through the paper which

I represent. In the hands of the editor I leave this account

of the events which have led up to one of the most remarkable

expeditions of all time, so that if I never return to England

there shall be some record as to how the affair came about. I am

writing these last lines in the saloon of the Booth liner

Francisca, and they will go back by the pilot to the keeping of

Mr. McArdle. Let me draw one last picture before I close the

notebook-a picture which is the last memory of the old country

which I bear away with me. It is a wet, foggy morning in the late

spring; a thin, cold rain is falling. Three shining mackintoshed

figures are walking down the quay, making for the gang-plank of

the great liner from which the blue-peter is flying. In front of

them a porter pushes a trolley piled high with trunks, wraps,

and gun-cases. Professor Summerlee, a long, melancholy figure,

walks with dragging steps and drooping head, as one who is already

profoundly sorry for himself. Lord John Roxton steps briskly,

and his thin, eager face beams forth between his hunting-cap and

his muffler. As for myself, I am glad to have got the bustling

days of preparation and the pangs of leave-taking behind me, and

I have no doubt that I show it in my bearing. Suddenly, just as

we reach the vessel, there is a shout behind us. It is Professor

Challenger, who had promised to see us off. He runs after us, a

puffing, red-faced, irascible figure.

“No thank you,” says he; “I should much prefer not to go aboard.

I have only a few words to say to you, and they can very well be

said where we are. I beg you not to imagine that I am in any way

indebted to you for making this journey. I would have you to

understand that it is a matter of perfect indifference to me, and

I refuse to entertain the most remote sense of personal obligation.

Truth is truth, and nothing which you can report can affect it in

any way, though it may excite the emotions and allay the curiosity

of a number of very ineffectual people. My directions for your

instruction and guidance are in this sealed envelope. You will

open it when you reach a town upon the Amazon which is called

Manaos, but not until the date and hour which is marked upon

the outside. Have I made myself clear? I leave the strict

observance of my conditions entirely to your honor. No, Mr. Malone,

I will place no restriction upon your correspondence, since

the ventilation of the facts is the object of your journey; but

I demand that you shall give no particulars as to your exact

destination, and that nothing be actually published until your return.

Good-bye, sir. You have done something to mitigate my feelings

for the loathsome profession to which you unhappily belong.

Good-bye, Lord John. Science is, as I understand, a sealed book

to you; but you may congratulate yourself upon the hunting-field

which awaits you. You will, no doubt, have the opportunity of

describing in the Field how you brought down the rocketing dimorphodon.

And good-bye to you also, Professor Summerlee. If you are still

capable of self-improvement, of which I am frankly unconvinced,

you will surely return to London a wiser man.”

So he turned upon his heel, and a minute later from the deck I

could see his short, squat figure bobbing about in the distance

as he made his way back to his train. Well, we are well down

Channel now. There’s the last bell for letters, and it’s

good-bye to the pilot. We’ll be “down, hull-down, on the old

trail” from now on. God bless all we leave behind us, and send

us safely back.