CHAPTER THE SIXTH
THE ENCOUNTER AT STONEHENGE
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
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
“Well, when was this early bronze age, anyhow?” said the
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
“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.
“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
“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
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.
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,
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
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
“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
“Corinthian capitals?” Sir Richmond considered it and laughed
cheerfully. “I suppose Europe does rather overdo that sort of
“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
“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
“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
“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
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.
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.
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
“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
“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.
“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
“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.”
“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
“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
“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?
“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.
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
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
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
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,”
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.
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
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
“Poor old women carrying loads big enough for mules,” said
“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
“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
“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
“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
“But could you pick out two hundred and fifty million
aristocrats?” began Miss Grammont. “My native instinctive
“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
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
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
“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
“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
“I find Miss Grammont an extremely interesting-and
stimulating human being.
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.
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
“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
“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
“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
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
“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.
“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
“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
“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
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
“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.”
CHAPTER THE SEVENTH
“Well,” said Dr. Martineau, extending his hand to Sir
Richmond on the Salisbury station platform, “I leave you to
His round face betrayed little or no vestiges of his
“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
“What else could I do?” he asked aloud to nobody in
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.
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
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
“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
“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.”
“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
“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
Her reflections travelled fast and broke out now far ahead of
“You have some sort of work cut out for you,” she said
“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
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.”
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
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
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.
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
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
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
“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.
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
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. . . .”
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
“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
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
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
“And as for us-in our time?”
“Measured by the end we serve, we don’t matter. You know we
“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
“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. . . .”
“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
“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.
“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.”
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
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
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
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.”
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
“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
“To go back to wealth and dignity in New York?”
“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
“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
“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.”
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.”
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? “
“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
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
“My dear,” she whispered in the darkness between the high
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
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.
CHAPTER THE EIGHTH
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
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
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
“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.
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
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.
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
“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
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
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?”
“And to-morrow we part?”
He looked her in the eyes. “I have been thinking of that all
night,” he said at last.
“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
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
“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
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
“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,” she whispered. “Am I indeed your heart’s
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
“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
“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.
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
“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
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?”
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
“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
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
“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
“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.”
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
“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
“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 delight. . . . Priestess of life. . . . Divinity.”
She smiled and nodded and suddenly Belinda, up above their
lowered heads, accidentally and irrelevantly, no doubt,
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.
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. . . .
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.
CHAPTER THE NINTH
THE LAST DAYS OF SIR RICHMOND HARDY
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
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
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
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
“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
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.
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
“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
“I’m in your hands, said Sir Richmond. I want to pull
“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
“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-?”
An expression of obstinate calm overspread Sir Richmond’s
face. He seemed to regard the matter as settled. He closed
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
“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
“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
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.”
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
“Ragged them. . . . Put their backs up . . . .Silly....
“Never.... Never done anything-WELL ....
“It’s done. Done. Well or ill....
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.
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
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
“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
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.”
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
“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
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
Dr. Martineau looked his enquiry.
“She wants to come and see him.”
“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
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
“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.
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
“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
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
“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
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
“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
“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
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 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.
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
“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
“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
“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
“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.
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?”
“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
“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
“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.
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
“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
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
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.
“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
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.
“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.’
“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
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.
“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
“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
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?”
“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.
“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
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
“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?”
“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.
“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.
“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
“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.”
“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
“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
“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,
“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?”
“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
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
“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.
“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.”
“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?”
“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
“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
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.