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Title: The Princess Priscilla's Fortnight
Author: Arnim, Elizabeth von, 1866-1941
Language: English
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Editorial note: We now know that "Elizabeth and Her German Garden" was
                written by Elizabeth von Arnim (1866-1941). Born Mary
                Annette Beauchamp in Australia, she grew up in England
                and married a German, Count Henning August von
                Arnim-Schlagenthin. After the couple moved to his country
                estate she began writing children's books. Many of her
                early books were published "By the Author of 'Elizabeth
                and Her German Garden'," and later she published as
                simply "Elizabeth."




     "Oft habe ich die Welt durchwandert, und habe immer
   gesehen, wie das Grosse am Kleinlichen scheitert, und das
   Edle von dem ätzenden Gift des Alltäglichen zerfressen wird."
                          FRITZING, "Erlebtes und Erlittenes."


Her Grand Ducal Highness the Princess Priscilla of Lothen-Kunitz was
up to the age of twenty-one a most promising young lady. She was not
only poetic in appearance beyond the habit of princesses but she was
also of graceful and appropriate behaviour. She did what she was told;
or, more valuable, she did what was expected of her without being
told. Her father, in his youth and middle age a fiery man, now an
irritable old gentleman who liked good food and insisted on strictest
etiquette, was proud of her on those occasions when she happened to
cross his mind. Her mother, by birth an English princess of an
originality uncomfortable and unexpected in a royal lady that
continued to the end of her life to crop up at disconcerting moments,
died when Priscilla was sixteen. Her sisters, one older and one
younger than herself, were both far less pleasing to look upon than
she was, and much more difficult to manage; yet each married a
suitable prince and each became a credit to her House, while as for
Priscilla,--well, as for Priscilla, I propose to describe her dreadful

But first her appearance. She was well above the average height of
woman; a desirable thing in a princess, who, before everything, must
impress the public with her dignity. She had a long pointed chin, and
a sweet mouth with full lips that looked most kind. Her nose was not
quite straight, one side of it being the least bit different from the
other,--a slight crookedness that gave her face a charm absolutely
beyond the reach of those whose features are what is known as
chiselled. Her skin was of that fairness that freckles readily in hot
summers or on winter days when the sun shines brightly on the snow, a
delicate soft skin that is seen sometimes with golden eyelashes and
eyebrows, and hair that is more red than gold. Priscilla had these
eyelashes and eyebrows and this hair, and she had besides beautiful
grey-blue eyes--calm pools of thought, the court poet called them,
when her having a birthday compelled him to official raptures; and
because everybody felt sure they were not really anything of the kind
the poet's utterance was received with acclamations. Indeed, a
princess who should possess such pools would be most undesirable--in
Lothen-Kunitz nothing short of a calamity; for had they not had one
already? It was what had been the matter with the deceased Grand
Duchess; she would think, and no one could stop her, and her life in
consequence was a burden to herself and to everybody else at her
court. Priscilla, however, was very silent. She had never expressed an
opinion, and the inference was that she had no opinion to express. She
had not criticized, she had not argued, she had been tractable,
obedient, meek. Yet her sisters, who had often criticized and argued,
and who had rarely been obedient and never meek, became as I have said
the wives of appropriate princes, while Priscilla,--well, he who runs
may read what it was that Priscilla became.

But first as to where she lived. The Grand Duchy of Lothen-Kunitz lies
in the south of Europe; that smiling region of fruitful plains,
forest-clothed hills, and broad rivers. It is one of the first places
Spring stops at on her way up from Italy; and Autumn, coming down from
the north sunburnt, fruit-laden, and blest, goes slowly when she
reaches it, lingering there with her serenity and ripeness, her calm
skies and her windless days long after the Saxons and Prussians have
lit their stoves and got out their furs. There figs can be eaten off
the trees in one's garden, and vineyards glow on the hillsides. There
the people are Catholics, and the Protestant pastor casts no shadow of
a black gown across life. There as you walk along the white roads, you
pass the image of the dead Christ by the wayside; mute reminder to
those who would otherwise forget of the beauty of pitifulness and
love. And there, so near is Kunitz to the soul of things, you may any
morning get into the train after breakfast and in the afternoon find
yourself drinking coffee in the cool colonnades of the Piazza San
Marco at Venice.

Kunitz is the capital of the duchy, and the palace is built on a hill.
It is one of those piled-up buildings of many windows and turrets and
battlements on which the tourist gazes from below as at the
realization of a childhood's dream. A branch of the river Loth winds
round the base of the hill, separating the ducal family from the
red-roofed town along its other bank. Kunitz stretches right round the
hill, lying clasped about its castle like a necklet of ancient stones.
At the foot of the castle walls the ducal orchards and kitchen gardens
begin, continuing down to the water's edge and clothing the base of
the hill in a garment of blossom and fruit. No fairer sight is to be
seen than the glimpse of these grey walls and turrets rising out of a
cloud of blossom to be had by him who shall stand in the market place
of Kunitz and look eastward up the narrow street on a May morning; and
if he who gazes is a dreamer he could easily imagine that where the
setting of life is so lovely its days must of necessity be each like a
jewel, of perfect brightness and beauty.

The Princess Priscilla, however, knew better. To her unfortunately the
life within the walls seemed of a quite blatant vulgarity; pervaded by
lacqueys, by officials of every kind and degree, by too much food, too
many clothes, by waste, by a feverish frittering away of time, by a
hideous want of privacy, by a dreariness unutterable. To her it was a
perpetual behaving according to the ideas officials had formed as to
the conduct to be expected of princesses, a perpetual pretending not
to see that the service offered was sheerest lip-service, a perpetual
shutting of the eyes to hypocrisy and grasping selfishness. Conceive,
you tourist full of illusions standing free down there in the market
place, the frightfulness of never being alone a moment from the time
you get out of bed to the time you get into it again. Conceive the
deadly patience needed to stand passive and be talked to, amused,
taken care of, all day long for years. Conceive the intolerableness,
if you are at all sensitive, of being watched by eyes so sharp and
prying, so eager to note the least change of expression and to use the
conclusions drawn for personal ends that nothing, absolutely nothing,
escapes them. Priscilla's sisters took all these things as a matter of
course, did not care in the least how keenly they were watched and
talked over, never wanted to be alone, liked being fussed over by
their ladies-in-waiting. They, happy girls, had thick skins. But
Priscilla was a dreamer of dreams, a poet who never wrote poems, but
whose soul though inarticulate was none the less saturated with the
desires and loves from which poems are born. She, like her sisters,
had actually known no other states; but then she dreamed of them
continuously, she desired them continuously, she read of them
continuously; and though there was only one person who knew she did
these things I suppose one person is enough in the way of
encouragement if your mind is bent on rebellion. This old person,
cause of all the mischief that followed, for without his help
I do not see what Priscilla could have done, was the ducal
librarian--_Hofbibliothekar_, head, and practically master of the
wonderful collection of books and manuscripts whose mere catalogue
made learned mouths in distant parts of Europe water and learned lungs
sigh in hopeless envy. He too had officials under him, but they were
unlike the others: meek youths, studious and short-sighted, whose
business as far as Priscilla could see was to bow themselves out
silently whenever she and her lady-in-waiting came in. The librarian's
name was Fritzing; plain Herr Fritzing originally, but gradually by
various stages at last arrived at the dignity and sonorousness of Herr
Geheimarchivrath Fritzing. The Grand Duke indeed had proposed to
ennoble him after he had successfully taught Priscilla English
grammar, but Fritzing, whose spirit dwelt among the Greeks, could not
be brought to see any desirability in such a step. Priscilla called
him Fritzi when her lady-in-waiting dozed; dearest Fritzi sometimes
even, in the heat of protest or persuasion. But afterwards, leaving
the room as solemnly as she had come in, followed by her wide-awake
attendant, she would nod a formally gracious "Good afternoon, Herr
Geheimrath," for all the world as though she had been talking that way
the whole time. The Countess (her lady-in-waiting was the Countess
Irmgard von Disthal, an ample slow lady, the unmarried daughter of a
noble house, about fifty at this time, and luckily--or unluckily--for
Priscilla, a great lover of much food and its resultant deep slumbers)
would bow in her turn in as stately a manner as her bulk permitted,
and with a frigidity so pronounced that in any one less skilled in
shades of deportment it would have resembled with a singular
completeness a sniff of scorn. Her frigidity was perfectly justified.
Was she not a _hochgeboren_, a member of an ancient house, of luminous
pedigree as far back as one could possibly see? And was he not the son
of an obscure Westphalian farmer, a person who in his youth had sat
barefoot watching pigs? It is true he had learning, and culture, and a
big head with plenty of brains in it, and the Countess Disthal had a
small head, hardly any brains, no soul to speak of, and no education.
This, I say, is true; but it is also neither here nor there. The
Countess was the Countess, and Fritzing was a nobody, and the
condescension she showed him was far more grand ducal than anything in
that way that Priscilla could or ever did produce.

Fritzing, unusually gifted, and enterprising from the first--which
explains the gulf between pig-watching and _Hofbibliothekar_--had
spent ten years in Paris and twenty in England in various capacities,
but always climbing higher in the world of intellect, and had come
during this climbing to speak English quite as well as most
Englishmen, if in a statelier, Johnsonian manner. At fifty he began
his career in Kunitz, and being a lover of children took over the
English education of the three princesses; and now that they had long
since learned all they cared to know, and in Priscilla's case all of
grammar at least that he had to teach, he invented a talent for
drawing in Priscilla, who could not draw a straight line, much less a
curved one, so that she should still be able to come to the library as
often as she chose on the pretext of taking a drawing-lesson. The
Grand Duke's idea about his daughters was that they should know a
little of everything and nothing too well; and if Priscilla had said
she wanted to study Shakespeare with the librarian he would have
angrily forbidden it. Had she not had ten years for studying
Shakespeare? To go on longer than that would mean that she was eager,
and the Grand Duke loathed an eager woman.

But he had nothing to say against a little drawing; and it was during
the drawing-lessons of the summer Priscilla was twenty-one that the
Countess Disthal slept so peacefully. The summer was hot, and the vast
room cool and quiet. The time was three o'clock--immediately, that is,
after luncheon. Through the narrow open windows sweet airs and scents
came in from the bright world outside. Sometimes a bee would wander up
from the fruit-gardens below, and lazily drone round shady corners.
Sometimes a flock of pigeons rose swiftly in front of the windows,
with a flash of shining wings. Every quarter of an hour the cathedral
clock down in the town sent up its slow chime. Voices of people
boating on the river floated up too, softened to melodiousness. Down
at the foot of the hill the red roofs of the town glistened in the
sun. Beyond them lay the sweltering cornfields. Beyond them forests
and villages. Beyond them a blue line of hills. Beyond them, said
Priscilla to herself, freedom. She sat in her white dress at a table
in one of the deep windows, her head on its long slender neck, where
the little rings of red-gold hair curled so prettily, bent over the
drawing-board, her voice murmuring ceaselessly, for time was short and
she had a great many things to say. At her side sat Fritzing,
listening and answering. Far away in the coolest, shadiest corner of
the room slumbered the Countess. She was lulled by the murmured talk
as sweetly as by the drone of the bee.

"Your Grand Ducal Highness receives many criticisms and much advice on
the subject of drawing from the Herr Geheimrath?" she said one day,
after a lesson during which she had been drowsily aware of much talk.

"The Herr Geheimrath is most conscientious," said Priscilla in the
stately, it-has-nothing-to-do-with-you sort of tone she found most
effectual with the Countess; but she added a request under her breath
that the _lieber Gott_ might forgive her, for she knew she had told a

Indeed, the last thing that Fritzing was at this convulsed period of
his life was what his master would have called conscientious. Was he
not encouraging the strangest, wickedest, wildest ideas in the
Princess? Strange and wicked and wild that is from the grand ducal
point of view, for to Priscilla they seemed all sweetness and light.
Fritzing had a perfect horror of the Grand Duke. He was everything
that Fritzing, lean man of learning, most detested. The pleasantest
fashion of describing the Grand Duke will be simply to say that he was
in all things, both of mind and body, the exact opposite of Fritzing.
Fritzing was a man who spent his time ignoring his body and digging
away at his mind. You know the bony aspect of such men. Hardly ever is
there much flesh on them; and though they are often ugly enough, their
spirit blazes at you out of wonderful eyes. I call him old Fritzing,
for he was sixty. To me he seemed old; to Priscilla at twenty he
seemed coeval with pyramids and kindred hoarinesses; while to all
those persons who were sixty-one he did not seem old at all. Only two
things could have kept this restless soul chained to the service of
the Grand Duke, and those two things were the unique library and
Priscilla. For the rest, his life at Kunitz revolted him. He loathed
the etiquette and the fuss and the intrigues of the castle. He loathed
each separate lady-in-waiting, and every one of the male officials. He
loathed the vulgar abundance and inordinate length and frequency of
the meals, when down in the town he knew there were people a-hungered.
He loathed the lacqueys with a quite peculiar loathing, scowling at
them from under angry eyebrows as he passed from his apartment to the
library; yet such is the power of an independent and scornful spirit
that though they had heard all about Westphalia and the pig-days never
once had they, who made insolence their study, dared be rude to him.

Priscilla wanted to run away. This, I believe, is considered an awful
thing to do even if you are only a housemaid or somebody's wife. If it
were not considered awful, placed by the world high up on its list of
Utter Unforgivablenesses, there is, I suppose, not a woman who would
not at some time or other have run. She might come back, but she would
surely have gone. So bad is it held to be that even a housemaid who
runs is unfailingly pursued by maledictions more or less definite
according to the education of those she has run from; and a wife who
runs is pursued by social ruin, it being taken for granted that she
did not run alone. I know at least two wives who did run alone. Far
from wanting yet another burden added to them by adding to their lives
yet another man, they were anxiously endeavouring to get as far as
might be from the man they had got already. The world, foul hag with
the downcast eyes and lascivious lips, could not believe it possible,
and was quick to draw its dark mantle of disgrace over their shrinking
heads. One of them, unable to bear this, asked her husband's pardon.
She was a weak spirit, and now lives prostrate days, crushed beneath
the unchanging horror of a husband's free forgiveness. The other took
a cottage and laughed at the world. Was she not happy at last, and
happy in the right way? I go to see her sometimes, and we eat the
cabbages she has grown herself. Strange how the disillusioned find
their peace in cabbages.

Priscilla, then, wanted to run away. What is awful in a housemaid and
in anybody's wife became in her case stupendous. The spirit that could
resolve it, decide to do it without being dragged to it by such things
as love or passion, calmly looking the risks and losses in the face,
and daring everything to free itself, was, it must be conceded, at
least worthy of respect. Fritzing thought it worthy of adoration; the
divinest spirit that had ever burned within a woman. He did not
say so. On the contrary, he was frightened, and tried angrily,
passionately, to dissuade. Yet he knew that if she wavered he would
never forgive her; she would drop at once from her high estate into
those depths in his opinion where the dull average of both sexes
sprawled for ever in indiscriminate heaps. Priscilla never dreamed of
wavering. She, most poetic of princesses, made apparently of ivory and
amber, outwardly so cool and serene and gentle, was inwardly on fire.
The fire, I should add, burnt with a very white flame. Nothing in
the shape of a young man had ever had the stoking of it. It was
that whitest of flames that leaps highest at the thought of
abstractions--freedom, beauty of life, simplicity, and the rest. This,
I would remark, is a most rare light to find burning in a woman's
breast. What she was, however, Fritzing had made her. True the
material had been extraordinarily good, and for ten years he had
done as he liked with it. Beginning with the simpler poems of
Wordsworth--he detested them, but they were better than soiling her
soul with Longfellow and Mrs. Hemans--those lessons in English
literature, meant by the authorities to be as innocuous to her as to
her sisters, had opened her eyes in a way nothing else could have done
to the width of the world and the littleness of Kunitz. With that good
teacher, as eager to lead as she to follow, she wandered down the
splendid walks of culture, met there the best people of all ages,
communed with mighty souls, heard how they talked, saw how they lived,
and none, not one, lived and talked as they lived and talked at

Imagine a girl influenced for ten years, ten of her softest most
wax-like years, by a Fritzing, taught to love freedom, to see the
beauty of plain things, of quietness, of the things appertaining to
the spirit, taught to see how ignoble it is, how intensely, hopelessly
vulgar to spend on one's own bodily comforts more than is exactly
necessary, taught to see a vision of happiness possible only to those
who look to their minds for their joys and not to their bodies,
imagine how such a girl, hearing these things every afternoon almost
of her life, would be likely to regard the palace mornings and
evenings, the ceremonies and publicity, all those hours spent as
though she were a celebrated picture, forced everlastingly to stand in
an attitude considered appropriate and smile while she was being
looked at.

"No one," she said one day to Fritzing, "who hasn't himself been a
princess can have the least idea of what it is like."

"Ma'am, it would be more correct to say herself in place of himself."

"Well, they can't," said Priscilla.

"Ma'am, to begin a sentence with the singular and continue it with the
plural is an infraction of all known rules."

"But the sentiments, Fritzi--what do you think of the sentiments?"

"Alas, ma'am, they too are an infraction of rules."

"What is not in this place, I should like to know?" sighed Priscilla,
her chin on her hand, her eyes on that distant line of hills beyond
which, she told herself, lay freedom.

She had long ago left off saying it only to herself. I think she must
have been about eighteen when she took to saying it aloud to Fritzing.
At first, before he realized to what extent she was sick for freedom,
he had painted in glowing colours the delights that lay on the other
side of the hills, or for that matter on this side of them if you were
alone and not a princess. Especially had he dwelt on the glories of
life in England, glories attainable indeed only by the obscure such as
he himself had been, and for ever impossible to those whom Fate
obliges to travel in state carriages and special trains. Then he had
come to scent danger and had grown wary; trying to put her off with
generalities, such as the inability of human beings to fly from their
own selves, and irrelevancies such as the amount of poverty and
wretchedness to be observed in the east of London; refusing to discuss
France, which she was always getting to as the first step towards
England, except in as far as it was a rebellious country that didn't
like kings; pointing out with no little temper that she had already
seen England; and finishing by inquiring very snappily when her Grand
Ducal Highness intended to go on with her drawing.

Now what Priscilla had seen of England had been the insides of
Buckingham Palace and Windsor Castle; of all insides surely the most
august. To and from these she had been conveyed in closed carriages
and royal trains, and there was so close a family likeness between
them and Kunitz that to her extreme discomfort she had felt herself
completely at home. Even the presence of the Countess Disthal had not
been wanting. She therefore regarded this as not seeing England at
all, and said so. Fritzing remarked tartly that it was a way of seeing
it most English people would envy her; and she was so unable to
believe him that she said Nonsense.

But lately her desires had taken definite shape so rapidly that he had
come to dread the very word hill and turn cold at the name of England.
He was being torn in different directions; for he was, you see, still
trying to do what other people had decided was his duty, and till a
man gives up doing that he will certainly be torn. How great would be
the temptation to pause here and consider the mangled state of such a
man, the wounds and weakness he will suffer from, and how his soul
will have to limp through life, if it were not that I must get on with

One day, after many weeks of edging nearer to it, of going all round
it yet never quite touching it, she took a deep breath and told him
she had determined to run away. She added an order that he was to help
her. With her most grand ducal air she merely informed, ordered, and
forbade. What she forbade, of course, was the betrayal of her plans.
"You may choose," she said, "between the Grand Duke and myself. If you
tell him, I have done with you for ever."

Of course he chose Priscilla.

His agonies now were very great. Those last lacerations of conscience
were terrific. Then, after nights spent striding, a sudden calm fell
upon him. At length he could feel what he had always seen, that there
could not be two duties for a man, that no man can serve two masters,
that a man's one clear duty is to be in the possession of his soul and
live the life it approves: in other and shorter words, instead of
leading Priscilla, Priscilla was now leading him.

She did more than lead him; she drove him. The soul he had so
carefully tended and helped to grow was now grown stronger than his
own; for there was added to its natural strength the tremendous daring
of absolute inexperience. What can be more inexperienced than a
carefully guarded young princess? Priscilla's ignorance of the outside
world was pathetic. He groaned over her plans--for it was she who
planned and he who listened--and yet he loved them. She was a divine
woman, he said to himself; the sweetest and noblest, he was certain,
that the world would ever see.

Her plans were these:

First, that having had twenty-one years of life at the top of the
social ladder she was now going to get down and spend the next
twenty-one at the bottom of it. (Here she gave her reasons, and I will
not stop to describe Fritzing's writhings as his own past teachings
grinned at him through every word she said.)

Secondly, that the only way to get to the bottom being to run away
from Kunitz, she was going to run.

Thirdly, that the best and nicest place for living at the bottom would
be England. (Here she explained her conviction that beautiful things
grow quite naturally round the bottom of ladders that cannot easily
reach the top; flowers of self-sacrifice and love, of temperance,
charity, godliness--delicate things, with roots that find their
nourishment in common soil. You could not, said Priscilla, expect soil
at the top of ladders, could you? And as she felt that she too had
roots full of potentialities, she must take them down to where their
natural sustenance lay waiting.)

Fourthly, they were to live somewhere in the country in England, in
the humblest way.

Fifthly, she was to be his daughter.

"Daughter?" cried Fritzing, bounding in his chair. "Your Grand Ducal
Highness forgets I have friends in England, every one of whom is aware
that I never had a wife."

"Niece, then," said Priscilla.

He gazed at her in silence, trying to imagine her his niece. He had
two sisters, and they had stopped exactly at the point they were at
when they helped him, barefoot, to watch Westphalian pigs. I do not
mean that they had not ultimately left the little farm, gone into
stockings, and married. It is their minds I am thinking of, and these
had never budged. They were like their father, a doomed dullard; while
Fritzing's mother, whom he resembled, had been a rather extraordinary
woman in a rough and barbarous way. He found himself wholly unable to
imagine either of his sisters the mother of this exquisite young lady.

These, then, baldly, were Priscilla's plans. The carrying of them out
was left, she informed him, altogether to Fritzing. After having spent
several anxious days, she told him, considering whether she ought to
dye her hair black in order to escape recognition, or stay her own
colour but disguise herself as a man and buy a golden beard, she had
decided that these were questions Fritzing would settle better than
she could. "I'd dye my hair at once," she said, "but what about my
wretched eyelashes? Can one dye eyelashes?"

Fritzing thought not, and anyhow was decidedly of opinion that her
eyelashes should not be tampered with; I think I have said that they
were very lovely. He also entirely discouraged the idea of dressing as
a man. "Your Grand Ducal Highness would only look like an extremely
conspicuous boy," he assured her.

"I could wear a beard," said Priscilla.

But Fritzing was absolutely opposed to the beard.

As for the money part, she never thought of it. Money was a thing she
never did think about. It also, then, was to be Fritzing's business.
Possibly things might have gone on much longer as they were, with a
great deal of planning and talking, and no doing, if an exceedingly
desirable prince had not signified his intention of marrying
Priscilla. This had been done before by quite a number of princes.
They had, that is, not signified, but implored. On their knees would
they have implored if their knees could have helped them. They were
however all poor, and Priscilla and her sisters were rich; and how
foolish, said the Grand Duke, to marry poor men unless you are poor
yourself. The Grand Duke, therefore, took these young men aside and
crushed them, while Priscilla, indifferent, went on with her drawing.
But now came this one who was so eminently desirable that he had no
need to do more than merely signify. There had been much trouble and a
great deal of delay in finding him a wife, for he had insisted on
having a princess who should be both pretty and not his cousin. Europe
did not seem to contain such a thing. Everybody was his cousin, except
two or three young women whom he was rude enough to call ugly. The
Kunitz princesses had been considered in their turn and set aside, for
they too were cousins; and it seemed as if one of the most splendid
thrones in Europe would either have to go queen-less or be sat upon by
somebody plain, when fate brought the Prince to a great public
ceremony in Kunitz, and he saw Priscilla and fell so violently in love
with her that if she had been fifty times his cousin he would still
have married her.

That same evening he signified his intention to the delighted Grand
Duke, who immediately fell to an irrelevant praising of God.

"Bosh," said the Prince, in the nearest equivalent his mother-tongue

This was very bad. Not, I mean, that the Prince should have said Bosh,
for he was so great that there was not a Grand Duke in Europe to whom
he might not have said it if he wanted to; but that Priscilla should
have been in imminent danger of marriage. Among Fritzing's many
preachings there had been one, often repeated in the strongest
possible language, that of all existing contemptibilities the very
most contemptible was for a woman to marry any one she did not love;
and the peroration, also extremely forcible, had been an announcement
that the prince did not exist who was fit to tie her shoestrings. This
Priscilla took to be an exaggeration, for she had no very great notion
of her shoestrings; but she did agree with the rest. The subject
however was an indifferent one, her father never yet having asked her
to marry anybody; and so long as he did not do so she need not, she
thought, waste time thinking about it. Now the peril was upon her,
suddenly, most unexpectedly, very menacingly. She knew there was no
hope from the moment she saw her father's face quite distorted by
delight. He took her hand and kissed it. To him she was already a
queen. As usual she gave him the impression of behaving exactly as he
could have wished. She certainly said very little, for she had long
ago learned the art of being silent; but her very silences were
somehow exquisite, and the Grand Duke thought her perfect. She gave
him to understand almost without words that it was a great surprise,
an immense honour, a huge compliment, but so sudden that she would be
grateful to both himself and the Prince if nothing more need be said
about it for a week or two--nothing, at least, till formal
negotiations had been opened. "I saw him yesterday for the first
time," she pleaded, "so naturally I am rather overwhelmed."

Privately she had thought, his eyes, which he had never taken off her,
kind and pleasant; and if she had known of his having said Bosh who
knows but that he might have had a chance? As it was, the moment she
was alone she sent flying for Fritzing. "What," she said, "do you say
to my marrying this man?"

"If you do, ma'am," said Fritzing, and his face seemed one blaze of
white conviction, "you will undoubtedly be eternally lost."


They fled on bicycles in the dusk. The goddess Good Luck, who seems to
have a predilection for sinners, helped them in a hundred ways.
Without her they would certainly not have got far, for both were very
ignorant of the art of running away. Once flight was decided on
Fritzing planned elaborately and feverishly, got things thought out
and arranged as well as he, poor harassed man, possibly could. But
what in this law-bound world can sinners do without the help of Luck?
She, amused and smiling dame, walked into the castle and smote the
Countess Disthal with influenza, crushing her down helpless into her
bed, and holding her there for days by the throat. While one hand was
doing this, with the other she gaily swept the Grand Duke into East
Prussia, a terrific distance, whither, all unaware of how he was being
trifled with, he thought he was being swept by an irresistible desire
to go, before the business of Priscilla's public betrothal should
begin, and shoot the roebucks of a friend.

The Countess was thrust into her bed at noon of a Monday in October.
At three the Grand Duke started for East Prussia, incognito in a
motor--you know the difficulty news has in reaching persons in
motors. At four one of Priscilla's maids, an obscure damsel who had
been at the mercy of the others and was chosen because she hated them,
tripped out of the castle with shining eyes and pockets heavy with
bribes, and caused herself to be whisked away by the afternoon express
to Cologne. At six, just as the castle guard was being relieved, two
persons led their bicycles through the archway and down across the
bridge. It was dark, and nobody recognized them. Fritzing was got up
sportingly, almost waggishly--heaven knows his soul was not feeling
waggish--as differently as possible from his usual sober clothes.
Somehow he reminded Priscilla of a circus, and she found it extremely
hard not to laugh. On his head he had a cap with ear-pieces that hid
his grey hair; round his neck a gaudy handkerchief muffled well about
his face; immense goggles cloaked the familiar overhanging eyebrows
and deep-set eyes, goggles curiously at variance with the dapper
briskness of his gaitered legs. The Princess was in ordinary blue
serge, short and rather shabby, it having been subjected for hours
daily during the past week to rough treatment by the maid now
travelling to Cologne. As for her face and hair, they were completely
hidden in the swathings of a motor-veil.

The sentinels stared rather as these two figures pushed their bicycles
through the gates, and undoubtedly did for some time afterwards wonder
who they could have been. The same thing happened down below on the
bridge; but once over that and in the town all they had to do was to
ride straight ahead. They were going to bicycle fifteen miles to Rühl,
a small town with a railway station on the main line between Kunitz
and Cologne. Express trains do not stop at Rühl, but there was a slow
train at eight which would get them to Gerstein, the capital of the
next duchy, by midnight. Here they would change into the Cologne
express; here they would join the bribed maid; here luggage had been
sent by Fritzing,--a neat bag for himself, and a neat box for his
niece. The neat box was filled with neat garments suggested to him by
the young lady in the shop in Gerstein where he had been two days
before to buy them. She told him of many other articles which, she
said, no lady's wardrobe could be considered complete without; and the
distracted man, fearing the whole shop would presently be put into
trunks and sent to the station to meet them, had ended by flinging
down two notes for a hundred marks each and bidding her keep strictly
within that limit. The young lady became very scornful. She told him
that she had never heard of any one being clothed from head to foot
inside and out, even to brushes, soap, and an umbrella, for two
hundred marks. Fritzing, in dread of conspicuous masses of luggage,
yet staggered by the girl's conviction, pulled out a third hundred
mark note, but added words in his extremity of so strong and final a
nature, that she, quailing, did keep within this limit, and the box
was packed. Thus Priscilla's outfit cost almost exactly fifteen
pounds. It will readily be imagined that it was neat.

Painfully the two fugitives rode through the cobbled streets of
Kunitz. Priscilla was very shaky on a bicycle, and so was Fritzing.
Some years before this, when it had been the fashion, she had bicycled
every day in the grand ducal park on the other side of the town. Then,
tired of it, she had given it up; and now for the last week or two,
ever since Fritzing had told her that if they fled it would have to be
on bicycles, she had pretended a renewed passion for it, riding every
day round and round a circle of which the chilled and astonished
Countess Disthal, whose duty it was to stand and watch, had been the
disgusted central point. But the cobbles of Kunitz are very different
from those smooth places in the park. All who bicycle round Kunitz
know them as trying to the most skilful. Naturally, then, the
fugitives advanced very slowly, Fritzing's heart in his mouth each
time they passed a brightly-lit shop or a person who looked at them.
Conceive how nearly this poor heart must have jumped right out of his
mouth, leaving him dead, when a policeman who had been watching them
strode suddenly into the middle of the street, put up his hand, and
said, "Halt."

Fritzing, unstrung man, received a shock so awful that he obeyed by
falling off. Priscilla, wholly unused to being told to halt and
absorbed by the difficulties of the way, did not grasp that the order
was meant for her and rode painfully on. Seeing this, the policeman
very gallantly removed her from her bicycle by putting his arms round
her and lifting her off. He set her quite gently on her feet, and was
altogether a charming policeman, as unlike those grim and ghastly eyes
of the law that glare up and down the streets of, say, Berlin, as it
is possible to imagine.

But Priscilla was perfectly molten with rage, insulted as she had
never been in her life. "How dare you--how dare you," she stammered,
suffocating; and forgetting everything but an overwhelming desire to
box the giant's ears she had actually raised her hand to do it, which
would of course have been the ruin of her plan and the end of my tale,
when Fritzing, recovering his presence of mind, cried out in tones of
unmistakable agony, "Niece, be calm."

She calmed at once to a calm of frozen horror.

"Now, sir," said Fritzing, assuming an air of brisk bravery and
guiltlessness, "what can we do for you?"

"Light your lamps," said the policeman, laconically.

They did; or rather Fritzing did, while Priscilla stood passive.

"I too have a niece," said the policeman, watching Fritzing at work;
"but I light no lamps for her. One should not wait on one's niece.
One's niece should wait on one."

Fritzing did not answer. He finished lighting the lamps, and then
held Priscilla's bicycle and started her.

"I never did that for my niece," said the policeman.

"Confound your niece, sir," was on the tip of Fritzing's tongue; but
he gulped it down, and remarking instead as pleasantly as he could
that being an uncle did not necessarily prevent your being a
gentleman, picked up his bicycle and followed Priscilla.

The policeman shook his head as they disappeared round the corner.
"One does not light lamps for one's niece," he repeated to himself.
"It's against nature. Consequently, though the peppery Fräulein may
well be somebody's niece she is not his."

"Oh," murmured Priscilla, after they had ridden some way without
speaking, "I'm deteriorating already. For the first time in my life
I've wanted to box people's ears."

"The provocation was great, ma'am," said Fritzing, himself shattered
by the spectacle of his Princess being lifted about by a policeman.

"Do you think--" Priscilla hesitated, and looked at him. Her bicycle
immediately hesitated too, and swerving across the road taught her it
would have nothing looked at except its handles. "Do you think," she
went on, after she had got herself straight again, "that the way I'm
going to live now will make me want to do it often?"

"Heaven forbid, ma'am. You are now going to live a most noble
life--the only fitting life for the thoughtful and the earnest. It
will be, once you are settled, far more sheltered from contact with
that which stirs ignoble impulses than anything your Grand Ducal
Highness has hitherto known."

"If you mean policemen by things that stir ignoble impulses," said
Priscilla, "I was sheltered enough from them before. Why, I never
spoke to one. Much less"--she shuddered--"much less ever touched one."

"Ma'am, you do not repent?"

"Heavens, no," said Priscilla, pressing onward.

Outside Rühl, about a hundred yards before its houses begin, there is
a pond by the wayside. Into this, after waiting a moment peering up
and down the dark road to see whether anybody was looking, Fritzing
hurled the bicycles. He knew the pond was deep, for he had studied it
the day he bought Priscilla's outfit; and the two bicycles one after
the other were hurled remorsely into the middle of it, disappearing
each in its turn with a tremendous splash and gurgle. Then they walked
on quickly towards the railway station, infinitely relieved to be on
their own feet again, and between them, all unsuspected, walked the
radiant One with the smiling eyes, she who was half-minded to see this
game through, giving the players just so many frights as would keep
her amused, the fickle, laughing goddess Good Luck.

They caught the train neatly at Rühl. They only had to wait about the
station for ten minutes before it came in. Hardly any one was there,
and nobody took the least notice of them. Fritzing, after a careful
look round to see if it contained people he knew, put the Princess
into a second-class carriage labelled _Frauen_, and then respectfully
withdrew to another part of the train. He had decided that
second-class was safest. People in that country nearly always travel
second-class, especially women,--at all times in such matters more
economical than men; and a woman by herself in a first-class carriage
would have been an object of surmise and curiosity at every station.
Therefore Priscilla was put into the carriage labelled _Frauen_, and
found herself for the first time in her life alone with what she had
hitherto only heard alluded to vaguely as the public.

She sat down in a corner with an odd feeling of surprise at being
included in the category _Frauen_, and giving a swift timid glance
through her veil at the public confronting her was relieved to find it
consisted only of a comfortable mother and her child.

I know not why the adjective comfortable should so invariably be
descriptive of mothers in Germany. In England and France though you
may be a mother, you yet, I believe, may be so without being
comfortable. In Germany, somehow, you can't. Perhaps it is the
climate; perhaps it is the food; perhaps it is simply want of soul, or
that your soul does not burn with a fire sufficiently consuming.
Anyhow it is so. This mother had all the good-nature that goes with
amplitude. Being engaged in feeding her child with _belegte
Brödchen_--that immensely satisfying form of sandwich--she at once
offered Priscilla one.

"No thank you," said Priscilla, shrinking into her corner.

"Do take one, Fräulein," said the mother, persuasively.

"No thank you," said Priscilla, shrinking.

"On a journey it passes the time. Even if one is not hungry, thank God
one can always eat. Do take one."

"No thank you," said Priscilla.

"Why does she wear that black thing over her face?" inquired the
child. "Is she a witch?"

"Silence, silence, little worthless one," cried the mother,
delightedly stroking his face with half a _Brödchen_. "You see he is
clever, Fräulein. He resembles his dear father as one egg does

"Does he?" said Priscilla, immediately conceiving a prejudice against
the father.

"Why don't she take that black thing off?" said the child.

"Hush, hush, small impudence. The Fräulein will take it off in a
minute. The Fräulein has only just got in."

"Mutti, is she a witch? Mutti, Mutti, is she a witch, Mutti?"

The child, his eyes fixed anxiously on Priscilla's swathed head, began
to whimper.

"That child should be in bed," said Priscilla, with a severity born
of her anxiety lest, to calm him, humanity should force her to put up
her veil. "Persons who are as intelligent as that should never be in
trains at night. Their brains cannot bear it. Would he not be happier
if he lay down and went to sleep?"

"Yes, yes; that is what I have been telling him ever since we left
Kunitz"--Priscilla shivered--"but he will not go. Dost thou hear what
the Fräulein says, Hans-Joachim?"

"Why don't she take that black thing off?" whimpered the child.

But how could the poor Princess, however anxious to be kind, take off
her veil and show her well-known face to this probable inhabitant of

"Do take it off, Fräulein," begged the mother, seeing she made no
preparations to do so. "When he gets ideas into his head there is
never peace till he has what he wants. He does remind me so much of
his father."

"Did you ever," said Priscilla, temporizing, "try him with a
little--just a little slap? Only a little one," she added hastily, for
the mother looked at her oddly, "only as a sort of counter-irritant.
And it needn't be really hard, you know--"

"_Ach_, she's a witch--Mutti, she's a witch!" shrieked the child,
flinging his face, butter and all, at these portentous words, into his
mother's lap.

"There, there, poor tiny one," soothed the mother, with an indignant
side-glance at Priscilla. "Poor tiny man, no one shall slap thee. The
Fräulein does not allude to thee, little son. The Fräulein is thinking
of bad children such as the sons of Schultz and thy cousin Meyer.
Fräulein, if you do not remove your veil I fear he will have

"Oh," said the unhappy Priscilla, getting as far into her corner as
she could, "I'm so sorry--but I--but I really can't."

"She's a witch, Mutti!" roared the child, "I tell it to thee
again--therefore is she so black, and must not show her face!"

"Hush, hush, shut thy little eyes," soothed the mother, putting her
hand over them. To Priscilla she said, with an obvious dawning of
distrust, "But Fräulein, what reason can you have for hiding

"Hiding myself?" echoed Priscilla, now very unhappy indeed, "I'm not
hiding myself. I've got--I've got--I'm afraid I've got a--an affection
of the skin. That's why I wear a veil."

"_Ach_, poor Fräulein," said the mother, brightening at once into
lively interest. "Hans-Joachim, sleep," she added sharply to her son,
who tried to raise his head to interrupt with fresh doubts a
conversation grown thrilling. "That is indeed a misfortune. It is a

"Oh, it's dreadful," said Priscilla, faintly.

"_Ach_, poor Fräulein. When one is married, rashes no longer matter.
One's husband has to love one in spite of rashes. But for a Fräulein
every spot is of importance. There is a young lady of my acquaintance
whose life-happiness was shipwrecked only by spots. She came out in
them at the wrong moment."

"Did she?" murmured Priscilla.

"You are going to a doctor?"

"Yes--that is, no--I've been."

"Ah, you have been to Kunitz to Dr. Kraus?"

"Y--es. I've been there."

"What does he say?"

"That I must always wear a veil."

"Because it looks so bad?"

"I suppose so."

There was a silence. Priscilla lay back in her corner exhausted, and
shut her eyes. The mother stared fixedly at her, one hand mechanically
stroking Hans-Joachim, the other holding him down.

"When I was a girl," said the mother, so suddenly that Priscilla
started, "I had a good deal of trouble with my skin. Therefore my
experience on the subject is great. Show me your face, Fräulein--I
might be able to tell you what to do to cure it."

"Oh, on no account--on no account whatever," cried Priscilla, sitting
up very straight and speaking with extraordinary emphasis. "I couldn't
think of it--I really positively couldn't."

"But my dear Fräulein, why mind a woman seeing it?"

"But what do you want to see it for?"

"I wish to help you."

"I don't want to be helped. I'll show it to nobody--to nobody at all.
It's much too--too dreadful."

"Well, well, do not be agitated. Girls, I know, are vain. If any one
can help you it will be Dr. Kraus. He is an excellent physician, is he

"Yes," said Priscilla, dropping back into her corner.

"The Grand Duke is a great admirer of his. He is going to ennoble


"They say--no doubt it is gossip, but still, you know, he is a very
handsome man--that the Countess von Disthal will marry him."

"Gracious!" cried Priscilla, startled, "what, whether he wants to or

"No doubt he will want to. It would be a brilliant match for him."

"But she's at least a hundred. Why, she looks like his mother. And he
is a person of no birth at all."

"Birth? He is of course not noble yet, but his family is excellent.
And since it is not possible to have as many ailments as she has and
still be alive, some at least must be feigned. Why, then, should she
feign if it is not in order to see the doctor? They were saying in
Kunitz that she sent for him this very day."

"Yes, she did. But she's really ill this time. I'm afraid the poor
thing caught cold watching--dear me, only see how sweetly your little
boy sleeps. You should make Levallier paint him in that position."

"Ah, he looks truly lovely, does he not. Exactly thus does his dear
father look when asleep. Sometimes I cannot sleep myself for joy over
the splendid picture. What is the matter with the Countess Disthal?
Did Dr. Kraus tell you?"

"No, no. I--I heard something--a rumour."

"Ah, something feigned again, no doubt. Well, it will be a great match
for him. You know she is lady-in-waiting to the Princess Priscilla,
the one who is so popular and has such red hair? The Countess has an
easy life. The other two Princesses have given their ladies a world of
trouble, but Priscilla--oh, she is a model. Kunitz is indeed proud of
her. They say in all things she is exactly what a Princess should be,
and may be trusted never to say or do anything not entirely fitting
her station. You have seen her? She often drives through the town, and
then the people all run and look as pleased as if it were a holiday.
We in Gerstein are quite jealous. Our duchy has no such princess to
show. Do you think she is so beautiful? I have often seen her, and I
do not think she is. People exaggerate everything so about a princess.
My husband does not admire her at all. He says it is not what he calls
classic. Her hair, for instance--but that one might get over. And
people who are really beautiful always have dark eyelashes. Then her
nose--my husband often laughs, and says her nose--"

"Oh," said Priscilla, faintly, "I've got a dreadful headache. I think
I'll try to sleep a little if you would not mind not talking."

"Yes, that hot thing round your face must be very trying. Now if you
were not so vain--what does a rash matter when only women are present?
Well, well, I will not tease you. Do you know many of the Kunitzers?
Do you know the Levisohns well?"

"Oh," sighed Priscilla, laying her distracted head against the
cushions and shutting her eyes, "who are they?"

"Who are they? Who are the Levisohns? But dearest Fräulein if you know
Kunitz you must know the Levisohns. Why, the Levisohns _are_ Kunitz.
They are more important far than the Grand Duke. They lend to it, and
they lead it. You must know their magnificent shop at the corner of
the Heiligengeiststrasse? Perhaps," she added, with a glance at the
Princess's shabby serge gown, "you have not met them socially, but you
must know the magnificent shop. We visit."

"Do you?" said Priscilla wearily, as the mother paused.

"And you know her story, of course?"

"Oh, oh," sighed Priscilla, turning her head from side to side on the
cushions, vainly seeking peace.

"It is hardly a story for the ears of Fräuleins."

"Please don't tell it, then."

"No, I will not. It is not for Fräuleins. But one still sees she must
have been a handsome woman. And he, Levisohn, was clever enough to see
his way to Court favour. The Grand Duke--"

"I don't think I care to hear about the Levisohns," said Priscilla,
sitting up suddenly and speaking with great distinctness. "Gossip is a
thing I detest. None shall be talked in my presence."

"Hoity-toity," said the astonished mother; and it will easily be
believed that no one had ever said hoity-toity to Priscilla before.

She turned scarlet under her veil. For a moment she sat with flashing
eyes, and the hand lying in her lap twitched convulsively. Is it
possible she was thinking of giving the comfortable mother that
admonition which the policeman had so narrowly escaped? I know not
what would have happened if the merry goddess, seeing things rushing
to this dreadful climax, had not stopped the train in the nick of time
at a wayside station and caused a breathless lady, pushing parcels
before her, to clamber in. The mother's surprised stare was of
necessity diverted to the new-comer. A parcel thrust into Priscilla's
hands brought her back of necessity to her senses.

"_Danke, Danke_," cried the breathless lady, though no help had been
offered; and hoisting herself in she wished both her fellow-passengers
a boisterous good evening. The lady, evidently an able person,
arranged her parcels swiftly and neatly in the racks, pulled up the
windows, slammed the ventilators, stripped off her cloak, flung back
her veil, and sitting down with a sigh of vast depth and length stared
steadily for five minutes without wavering at the other two. At the
end of that time she and the mother began, as with a common impulse,
to talk. And at the end of five minutes more they had told each other
where they were going, where they had been, what their husbands
were, the number, age, and girth of their children, and all the
adjectives that might most conveniently be used to describe their
servants. The adjectives, very lurid ones, took some time.
Priscilla shut her eyes while they were going on, thankful to be
left quiet, feeling unstrung to the last degree; and she gradually
dropped into an uneasy doze whose chief feature was the distressful
repetition, like hammer-strokes on her brain, of the words, "You're

"_Lieber Gott_," she whispered at last, folding her hands in her lap,
"don't let me deteriorate too much. Please keep me from wanting to box
people's ears. _Lieber Gott_, it's so barbarous of me. I never used to
want to. Please stop me wanting to now."

And after that she dropped off quite, into a placid little slumber.


They crossed from Calais in the turbine. Their quickest route would
have been Cologne-Ostend-Dover, and every moment being infinitely
valuable Fritzing wanted to go that way, but Priscilla was determined
to try whether turbines are really as steady as she had heard they
were. The turbine was so steady that no one could have told it was
doing anything but being quiescent on solid earth; but that was
because, as Fritzing explained, there was a dead calm, and in dead
calms--briefly, he explained the conduct of boats in dead calms with
much patience, and Priscilla remarked when he had done that they might
then, after all, have crossed by Ostend.

"We might, ma'am, and we would be in London now if we had," said

They had, indeed, lost several hours and some money coming by Calais,
and Fritzing had lost his temper as well.

Fritzing, you remember, was sixty, and had not closed his eyes all
night. He had not, so far as that goes, closed his eyes for nights
without number; and what his soul had gone through during those nights
was more than any soul no longer in its first youth should be called
upon to bear. In the train between Cologne and Calais he had even,
writhing in his seat, cursed every single one of his long-cherished
ideals, called them fools, shaken his fist at them; a dreadful state
of mind to get to. He did not reveal anything of this to his dear
Princess, and talking to her on the turbine wore the clear brow of the
philosopher; but he did feel that he was a much-tried man, and he
behaved to the maid Annalise exactly in the way much-tried men do
behave when they have found some one they think defenceless.
Unfortunately Annalise was only apparently defenceless. Fritzing would
have known it if he had been more used to running away. He did, in his
calmer moments, dimly opine it. The plain fact was that Annalise held
both him and Priscilla in the hollow of her hand.

At this point she had not realized it. She still was awestruck by her
promotion, and looked so small and black and uncertain among her new
surroundings on the turbine that if not clever of him it was at least
natural that he should address her in a manner familiar to those who
have had to do with men when they are being tried. He behaved, that
is, to Annalise, as he had behaved to his ideals in the night; he
shook his fist at her, and called her fool. It was because she had
broken the Princess's umbrella. This was the new umbrella bought by
him with so much trouble in Gerstein two days before, and therefore
presumably of a sufficient toughness to stand any reasonable treatment
for a time. There was a mist and a drizzle at Calais, and Priscilla,
refusing to go under shelter, had sent Fritzing to fetch her umbrella,
and when he demanded it of Annalise, she offered it him in two pieces.
This alone was enough to upset a wise man, because wise men are easily
upset; but Annalise declared besides that the umbrella had broken
itself. It probably had. What may not one expect of anything so cheap?
Fritzing, however, was maddened by this explanation, and wasted quite
a long time pointing out to her in passionate language that it was an
inanimate object, and that inanimate objects have no initiative and
never therefore break themselves. To which Annalise, with a stoutness
ominous as a revelation of character, replied by repeating her
declaration that the umbrella had certainly broken itself. Then it was
that he shook his fist at her and called her fool. So greatly was he
moved that, after walking away and thinking it over, he went to her a
second time and shook his fist at her and called her knave.

I will not linger over this of the umbrella; it teems with lessons.

While it was going on the Princess was being very happy. She was
sitting unnoticed in a deck-chair and feeling she was really off at
last into the Ideal. Some of us know the fascination of that feeling,
and all of us know the fascination of new things; and to be unnoticed
was for her of a most thrilling newness. Nobody looked at her. People
walked up and down the deck in front of her as though she were not
there. One hurried passenger actually tripped over her feet, and
passed on with the briefest apology. Everywhere she saw indifferent
faces, indifferent, oblivious faces. It was simply glorious. And she
had had no trials since leaving Gerstein. There Fritzing had removed
her beyond the range of the mother's eyes, grown at last extremely
cold and piercing; Annalise, all meek anxiety to please, had put her
to bed in the sleeping-car of the Brussels express; and in the morning
her joy had been childish at having a little tray with bad coffee on
it thrust in by a busy attendant, who slammed it down on the table and
hurried out without so much as glancing at her. How delicious that
was. The Princess laughed with delight and drank the coffee, grits and
all. Oh, the blessed freedom of being insignificant. It was as good,
she thought, as getting rid of your body altogether and going about an
invisible spirit. She sat on the deck of the apparently motionless
turbine and thought gleefully of past journeys, now for ever done
with; of the grand ducal train, of herself drooping inside it as
wearily as the inevitable bouquets drooping on the tables, of the
crowds of starers on every platform, of the bowing officials wherever
your eye chanced to turn. The Countess Disthal, of course, had been
always at her elbow, and when she had to go to the window and do the
gracious her anxiety lest she should bestow one smile too few had only
been surpassed by the Countess's anxiety lest she should bestow one
smile too many. Well, that was done with now; as much done with as a
nightmare, grisly staleness, is done with when you wake to a fair
spring morning and the smell of dew. And she had no fears. She was
sure, knowing him as she did, that when the Grand Duke found out she
had run away he would make no attempt to fetch her back, but would
simply draw a line through his remembrance of her, rub her out of his
mind, (his heart, she knew, would need no rubbing, because she had
never been in it,) and after the first fury was over, fury solely on
account of the scandal, he would be as he had been before, while
she--oh wonderful new life!--she would be born again to all the

Now how can I, weak vessel whose only ballast is a cargo of
interrogations past which life swirls with a thunder of derisively
contradictory replies, pretend to say whether Priscilla ought to have
had conscience-qualms or not? Am I not deafened by the roar of
answers, all seemingly so right yet all so different, that the
simplest question brings? And would not the answering roar to anything
so complicated as a question about conscience-qualms deafen me for
ever? I shall leave the Princess, then, to run away from her home and
her parent if she chooses, and make no effort to whitewash any part of
her conduct that may seem black. I shall chronicle, and not comment. I
shall try to, that is, for comments are very dear to me. Indeed I see
I cannot move on even now till I have pointed out that though
Priscilla was getting as far as she could from the Grand Duke she was
also getting as near as she could to the possession of her soul; and
there are many persons who believe this to be a thing so precious that
it is absolutely the one thing worth living for.

The crossing to Dover, then, was accomplished quite peacefully by
Priscilla. Not so, however, by Fritzing. He, tormented man, chief
target for the goddess's darts, spent his time holding on to the rail
along the turbine's side in order to steady himself; and as there was
a dead calm that day the reader will at once perceive that the tempest
must have been inside Fritzing himself. It was; and it had been raised
to hurricane pitch by some snatches of the talk of two Englishmen he
had heard as they paced up and down past where he was standing.

The first time they passed, one was saying to the other, "I never
heard of anything so infamous."

This ought not to have made Fritzing, a person of stainless life and
noble principles, start, but it did. He started; and he listened
anxiously for more.

"Yes," said the other, who had a newspaper under his arm, "they
deserve about as bad as they'll--"

He was out of ear-shot; but Fritzing mechanically finished the
sentence himself. Who had been infamous? And what were they going to
get? It was at this point that he laid hold of the handrail to steady
himself till the two men should pass again.

"You can tell, of course, what steps our Government will take," was
the next snatch.

"I shall be curious to see the attitude of the foreign papers," was
the next.

"Anything more wanton I never heard of," was the next.

"Of all the harmless, innocent creatures--" was the next.

And the last snatch of all--for though they went on walking Fritzing
heard no more after it--was the brief and singular expression

Devils? _What_ were they talking about? Devils? Was that, then, how
the public stigmatized blameless persons in search of peace? Devils?
What, himself and--no, never Priscilla. She was clearly the harmless
innocent creature, and he must be the other thing. But why plural? He
could only suppose that he and Annalise together formed a sulphurous
plural. He clung very hard to the rail. Who could have dreamed it
would get so quickly into the papers? Who could have dreamed the news
of it would call forth such blazing words? They would be confronted at
Dover by horrified authorities. His Princess was going to be put in a
most impossible position. What had he done? Heavens and earth, what
had he done?

He clung to the rail, staring miserably over the side into the oily
water. Some of the passengers lingered to watch him, at first because
they thought he was going to be seasick with so little provocation
that it amounted to genius, and afterwards because they were sure he
must want to commit suicide. When they found that time passed and he
did neither, he became unpopular, and they went away and left him
altogether and contemptuously alone.

"Fritzi, are you worried about anything?" asked Priscilla, coming to
where he still stood staring, although they had got to Dover.

Worried! When all Europe was going to be about their ears? When he was
in the eyes of the world a criminal--an aider, abettor, lurer-away of
youth and impulsiveness? He loved the Princess so much that he cared
nothing for his own risks, but what about hers? In an agony of haste
he rushed to his ideals and principles for justification and comfort,
tumbling them over, searching feverishly among them. They had forsaken
him. They were so much lifeless rubbish. Nowhere in his mind could he
find a rag of either comfort or justification with which to stop up
his ears against the words of the two Englishmen and his eyes against
the dreadful sight he felt sure awaited them on the quay at Dover--the
sight of incensed authorities ready to pounce on him and drag him away
for ever from his Princess.

Priscilla gazed at him in astonishment. He was taking no notice of
her, and was looking fearfully up and down the row of faces that were
watching the turbine's arrival.

"Fritzi, if you are worried it must be because you've not slept,"
said Priscilla, laying her hand with a stroking little movement on his
sleeve; for what but overwrought nerves could make him look so odd? It
was after all Fritzing who had behaved with the braveness of a lion
the night before in that matter of the policeman; and it was he who
had asked in stern tones of rebuke, when her courage seemed aflicker,
whether she repented. "You do not repent?" she asked, imitating that

"Ma'am--" he began in a low and dreadful voice, his eyes ceaselessly
ranging up and down the figures on the quay.

"Sh--sh--Niece," interrupted Priscilla, smiling.

He turned and looked at her as a man may look for the last time at the
thing in life that has been most dear to him, and said nothing.


But nobody was waiting for them at Dover. Fritzing's agonies might all
have been spared. They passed quite unnoticed through the crowd of
idlers to the train, and putting Priscilla and her maid into it he
rushed at the nearest newspaper-boy, pouncing on him, tearing a
handful of his papers from him, and was devouring their contents
before the astonished boy had well finished his request that he should
hold hard. The boy, who had been brought up in the simple faith that
one should pay one's pennies first and read next, said a few things
under his breath about Germans--crude short things not worth
repeating--and jerking his thumb towards the intent Fritzing, winked
at a detective who was standing near. The detective did not need the
wink. His bland, abstracted eyes were already on Fritzing, and he was
making rapid mental notes of the goggles, the muffler, the cap pulled
down over the ears. Truly it is a great art, that of running away, and
needs incessant practice.

And after all there was not a word about the Princess in the papers.
They were full, as the Englishmen on the turbine had been full, of
something the Russians, who at that time were always doing something,
had just done--something that had struck England from end to end into
a blaze of indignation and that has nothing to do with my story.
Fritzing dropped the papers on the platform, and had so little public
spirit that he groaned aloud with relief.

"Shilling and a penny 'alfpenny, please, sir," said the newspaper-boy
glibly. "_Westminster Gazette_, sir, _Daily Mail_, _Sporting and
Dramatic_, one _Lady_, and two _Standards_." From which it will be
seen that Fritzing had seized his handful very much at random.

He paid the boy without heeding his earnest suggestions that he should
try _Tit-Bits_, the _Saturday Review_, and _Mother_, to complete, said
the boy, in substance if not in words, his bird's-eye view over the
field of representative English journalism, and went back to the
Princess with a lighter heart than he had had for months. The
detective, apparently one of Nature's gentlemen, picked up the
scattered papers, and following Fritzing offered them him in the
politest way imaginable just as Priscilla was saying she wanted to see
what tea-baskets were like.

"Sir," said the detective, taking off his hat, "I believe these are

"Sir," said Fritzing, taking off his cap in his turn and bowing with
all the ceremony of foreigners, "I am much obliged to you."

"Pray don't mention it, sir," said the detective, on whose brain the
three were in that instant photographed--the veiled Priscilla, the
maid sitting on the edge of the seat as though hardly daring to sit
at all, and Fritzing's fine head and mop of grey hair.

Priscilla, as she caught his departing eye, bowed and smiled
graciously. He withdrew to a little distance, and fell into a
reverie: where had he seen just that mechanically gracious bow and
smile? They were very familiar to him.

As the train slowly left the station he saw the lady in the veil once
more. She was alone with her maid, and was looking out of the window
at nothing in particular, and the station-master, who was watching the
train go, chanced to meet her glance. Again there was the same smile
and bow, quite mechanical, quite absent-minded, distinctly gracious.
The station-master stared in astonishment after the receding carriage.
The detective roused himself from his reverie sufficiently to step
forward and neatly swing himself into the guard's van: there being
nothing to do in Dover he thought he would go to London.

I believe I have forgotten, in the heat of narration, to say that the
fugitives were bound for Somersetshire. Fritzing had been a great
walker in the days when he lived in England, and among other places
had walked about Somersetshire. It is a pleasant county; fruitful,
leafy, and mild. Down in the valleys myrtles and rhododendrons have
been known to flower all through the winter. Devonshire junkets and
Devonshire cider are made there with the same skill precisely as in
Devonshire; and the parts of it that lie round Exmoor are esteemed by
those who hunt.

Fritzing quite well remembered certain villages buried among the
hills, miles from the nearest railway, and he also remembered the
farmhouses round about these villages where he had lodged. To one of
these he had caused a friend in London to write engaging rooms for
himself and his niece, and there he proposed to stay till they should
have found the cottage the Princess had set her heart on.

This cottage, as far as he could gather from the descriptions she
gave him from time to time, was going to be rather difficult to
find. He feared also that it would be a very insect-ridden place,
and that their calm pursuits would often be interrupted by things
like earwigs. It was to be ancient, and much thatched and latticed
and rose-overgrown. It was, too, to be very small; the smallest of
labourers' cottages. Yet though so small and so ancient it was to
have several bathrooms--one for each of them, so he understood;
"For," said the Princess, "if Annalise hasn't a bathroom how can
she have a bath? And if she hasn't had a bath how can I let her
touch me?"

"Perhaps," said Fritzing, bold in his ignorance of Annalise's real
nature, "she could wash at the pump. People do, I believe, in the
country. I remember there were always pumps."

"But do pumps make you clean enough?" inquired the Princess,

"We can try her with one. I fancy, ma'am, it will be less difficult
to find a cottage that has only two bathrooms than one that has three.
And I know there are invariably pumps."

Searching his memory he could recollect no bathrooms at all, but he
did not say so, and silently hoped the best.

To the Somerset village of Symford and to the farm about a mile
outside it known as Baker's, no longer, however, belonging to Baker,
but rented by a Mr. Pearce, they journeyed down from Dover without a
break. Nothing alarming happened on the way. They were at Victoria by
five, and the Princess sat joyfully making the acquaintance of a
four-wheeler's inside for twenty minutes during which Fritzing and
Annalise got the luggage through the customs. Fritzing's goggles and
other accessories of flight inspired so much interest in the customs
that they could hardly bear to let him go and it seemed as if they
would never tire of feeling about in the harmless depths of
Priscilla's neat box. They had however ultimately to part from him,
for never was luggage more innocent; and rattling past Buckingham
Palace on the way to Paddington Priscilla blew it a cheerful kiss,
symbolic of a happiness too great to bear ill-will. Later on Windsor
Castle would have got one too, if it had not been so dark that she
could not see it. The detective, who felt himself oddly drawn towards
the trio, went down into Somersetshire by the same train as they did,
but parted from them at Ullerton, the station you get out at when you
go to Symford. He did not consider it necessary to go further; and
taking a bedroom at Ullerton in the same little hotel from which
Fritzing had ordered the conveyance that was to drive them their last
seven miles he went to bed, it being close on midnight, with Mr.
Pearce's address neatly written in his notebook.

This, at present, is the last of the detective. I will leave him
sleeping with a smile on his face, and follow the dog-cart as it drove
along that beautiful road between wooded hills that joins Ullerton to
Symford, on its way to Baker's Farm.

At the risk of exhausting Priscilla Fritzing had urged pushing on
without a stop, and Priscilla made no objection. This is how it came
about that the ostler attached to the Ullerton Arms found himself
driving to Symford in the middle of the night. He could not recollect
ever having done such a thing before, and the memory of it would be
quite unlikely to do anything but remain fixed in his mind till his
dying day. Fritzing was a curiously conspicuous fugitive.

It was a clear and beautiful night, and the stars twinkled brightly
over the black tree-tops. Down in the narrow gorge through which the
road runs they could not feel the keen wind that was blowing up on
Exmoor. The waters of the Sym, whose windings they followed, gurgled
over their stones almost as quietly as in summer. There was a fresh
wet smell, consoling and delicious after the train, the smell of
country puddles and country mud and dank dead leaves that had been
rained upon all day. Fritzing sat with the Princess on the back seat
of the dog-cart, and busied himself keeping the rug well round her,
the while his soul was full of thankfulness that their journey should
after all have been so easy. He was weary in body, but very jubilant
in mind. The Princess was so weary in body that she had no mind at
all, and dozed and nodded and threatened to fall out, and would have
fallen out a dozen times but for Fritzing's watchfulness. As for
Annalise, who can guess what thoughts were hers while she was being
jogged along to Baker's? That they were dark I have not a doubt. No
one had told her this was to be a journey into the Ideal; no one had
told her anything but that she was promoted to travelling with the
Princess and that she would be well paid so long as she held her
tongue. She had never travelled before, yet there were some
circumstances of the journey that could not fail to strike the most
inexperienced. This midnight jogging in the dog-cart, for instance. It
was the second night spent out of bed, and all day long she had
expected every moment would end the journey, and the end, she had
naturally supposed, would be a palace. There would be a palace, and
warmth, and light, and food, and welcome, and honour, and appreciative
lacqueys with beautiful white silk calves--alas, Annalise's ideal, her
one ideal, was to be for ever where there were beautiful white silk
calves. The road between Ullerton and Symford conveyed to her mind no
assurance whatever of the near neighbourhood of such things; and as
for the dog-cart--"_Himmel_," said Annalise to herself, whenever she
thought of the dog-cart.

Their journey ended at two in the morning. Almost exactly at that hour
they stopped at the garden gate of Baker's Farm, and a woman came out
with a lantern and helped them down and lighted them up the path to
the porch. The Princess, who could hardly make her eyes open
themselves, leaned on Fritzing's arm in a sort of confused dream, got
somehow up a little staircase that seemed extraordinarily steep and
curly, and was sound asleep in a knobbly bed before Annalise realized
she had done with her. Priscilla had forgotten all about the Ideal,
all about her eager aspirations. Sleep, dear Mother with the cool
hand, had smoothed them all away, the whole rubbish of those daylight
toys, and for the next twelve hours sat tenderly by her pillow, her
finger on her lips.


No better place than Symford can be imagined for those in search of a
spot, picturesque and with creepers, where they may spend quiet years
guiding their feet along the way of peace. It is one of the prettiest
of English villages. It does and has and is everything the ideal
village ought to. It nestles, for instance, in the folds of hills; it
is very small, and far away from other places; its cottages are old
and thatched; its little inn is the inn of a story-book, with a quaint
signboard and an apparently genial landlord; its church stands
beautifully on rising ground among ancient trees, besides being hoary;
its vicarage is so charming that to see it makes you long to marry a
vicar; its vicar is venerable, with an eye so mild that to catch it is
to receive a blessing; pleasant little children with happy morning
faces pick butter-cups and go a-nutting at the proper seasons and
curtsey to you as you pass; old women with clean caps and suitable
faces read their Bibles behind latticed windows; hearths are scrubbed
and snowy; appropriate kettles simmer on hobs; climbing roses and trim
gardens are abundant; and it has a lady bountiful of so untiring a
kindness that each of its female inhabitants gets a new flannel
petticoat every Christmas and nothing is asked of her in return but
that she shall, during the ensuing year, be warm and happy and good.
The same thing was asked, I believe, of the male inhabitants, who get
comforters, and also that they should drink seltzer-water whenever
their lower natures urged them to drink rum; but comforters are so
much smaller than petticoats that the men of Symford's sense of
justice rebelled, and since the only time they ever felt really warm
and happy and good was when they were drinking rum they decided that
on the whole it would be more in accordance with their benefactress's
wishes to go on doing it.

Lady Shuttleworth, the lady from whom these comforters and petticoats
proceeded, was a just woman who required no more of others than she
required of herself, and who was busy and kind, and, I am sure happy
and good, on cold water. But then she did not like rum; and I suppose
there are few things quite so easy as not to drink rum if you don't
like it. She lived at Symford Hall, two miles away in another fold of
the hills, and managed the estate of her son who was a minor--at this
time on the very verge of ceasing to be one--with great precision and
skill. All the old cottages in Symford were his, and so were the farms
dotted about the hills. Any one, therefore, seeking a cottage would
have to address himself to the Shuttleworth agent, Mr. Dawson, who too
lived in a house so picturesque that merely to see it made you long
either to poison or to marry Mr. Dawson--preferably, I think, to
poison him.

These facts, stripped of the redundances with which I have
garnished them, were told Fritzing on the day after his arrival
at Baker's Farm by Mrs. Pearce the younger, old Mr. Pearce's
daughter-in-law, a dreary woman with a rent in her apron, who
brought in the bacon for Fritzing's solitary breakfast and the chop
for his solitary luncheon. She also brought in a junket so liquid
that the innocent Fritzing told her politely that he always drank
his milk out of a glass when he did drink milk, but that, as he
never did drink milk, she need not trouble to bring him any.

"Sir," said Mrs. Pearce in her slow sad voice, after a glance at his
face in search of sarcasm, "'tisn't milk. 'Tis a junket that hasn't

"Indeed?" said Fritzing, bland because ignorant.

Mrs. Pearce fidgeted a little, wrestling perhaps with her conscience,
before she added defiantly, "It wouldn't."

"Indeed?" said Fritzing once more; and he looked at the junket through
his spectacles with that air of extreme and intelligent interest with
which persons who wish to please look at other people's babies.

He was desirous of being on good terms with Symford, and had been very
pleasant all the morning to Mrs. Pearce. That mood in which, shaken
himself to his foundations by anxiety, he had shaken his fist to
Annalise, was gone as completely as yesterday's wet mist. The golden
sunshine of October lay beautifully among the gentle hills and seemed
to lie as well in Fritzing's heart. He had gone through so much for so
many weeks that merely to be free from worries for the moment filled
him with thankfulness. So may he feel who has lived through days of
bodily torture in that first hour when his pain has gone: beaten,
crushed, and cowed by suffering, he melts with gratitude because he is
being left alone, he gasps with a relief so utter that it is almost
abject praise of the Cruelty that has for a little loosened its hold.
In this abjectly thankful mood was Fritzing when he found his worst
agonies were done. What was to come after he really for the moment did
not care. It was sufficient to exist untormented and to let his soul
stretch itself in the privacy and peace of Baker's. He and his
Princess had made a great and noble effort towards the realization of
dreams that he felt were lofty, and the gods so far had been with
them. All that first morning in Symford he had an oddly restful,
unburdened feeling, as of having been born again and born aged
twenty-five; and those persons who used to be twenty-five themselves
will perhaps agree that this must have been rather nice. He did not
stir from the parlour lest the Princess should come down and want him,
and he spent the waiting hours getting information from Mrs. Pearce
and informing her mind in his turn with just that amount of knowledge
about himself and his niece that he wished Symford to possess. With
impressive earnestness he told her his name was Neumann, repeating it
three times, almost as if in defiance of contradiction; that his niece
was his deceased brother's child; that her Christian name--here he was
swept away by inspiration--was Maria-Theresa; that he had saved enough
as a teacher of German in London to retire into the country; and that
he was looking for a cottage in which to spend his few remaining

It all sounded very innocent. Mrs. Pearce listened with her head on
one side and with something of the air of a sparrow who doesn't feel
well. She complimented him sadly on the fluency of his English, and
told him with a sigh that in no cottage would he ever again find the
comforts with which Baker's was now surrounding him.

Fritzing was surprised to hear her say so, for his impressions had
all been the other way. As far as he, inexperienced man, could
tell, Baker's was a singularly draughty and unscrubbed place. He
smelt that its fires smoked, he heard that its windows rattled, he
knew that its mattresses had lumps in them, and he saw that its
food was inextricably mixed up with objects of a black and gritty
nature. But her calm face and sorrowful assurance shook the
evidence of his senses, and gazing at her in silence over his
spectacles a feeling crept dimly across his brain that if the
future held many dealings with women like Mrs. Pearce he was going
to be very helpless.

Priscilla appeared while he was gazing. She was dressed for going out
and came in buttoning her gloves, and I suppose it was a long time
since Baker's had seen anything quite so radiant in the way of nieces
within its dusty walls. She had on the clothes she had travelled in,
for a search among the garments bought by Fritzing had resulted in
nothing but a sitting on the side of the bed and laughing tears, so it
was clearly not the clothes that made her seem all of a sparkle with
lovely youth and blitheness. Kunitz would not have recognized its
ivory Princess in this bright being. She was the statue come to life,
the cool perfection kissed by expectation into a bewitching living
woman. I doubt whether Fritzing had ever noticed her beauty while at
Kunitz. He had seen her every day from childhood on, and it is
probable that his attention being always riveted on her soul he had
never really known when her body left off being lanky and freckled. He
saw it now, however; he would have been blind if he had not; and it
set him vibrating with the throb of a new responsibility. Mrs. Pearce
saw it too, and stared astonished at this oddly inappropriate niece.
She stared still more when Fritzing, jumping up from his chair, bent
over the hand Priscilla held out and kissed it with a devotion and
respect wholly absent from the manner of Mrs. Pearce's own uncles.
She, therefore, withdrew into her kitchen, and being a person of
little culture crudely expressed her wonder by thinking "Lor." To
which, after an interval of vague meanderings among saucepans, she
added the elucidation, "Foreigners."

Half an hour later Lady Shuttleworth's agent, Mr. Dawson, was
disturbed at his tea by the announcement that a gentleman wished to
speak to him. Mr. Dawson was a bluff person, and something of a
tyrant, for he reigned supreme in Symford after Lady Shuttleworth, and
to reign supreme over anybody, even over a handful of cottagers, does
bring out what a man may have in him of tyrant. Another circumstance
that brings this out is the possession of a meek wife; and Mr.
Dawson's wife was really so very meek that I fear when the Day of
Reckoning comes much of this tyranny will be forgiven him and laid to
her account. Mr. Dawson, in fact, represented an unending series of
pitfalls set along his wife's path by Fate, into every one of which
she fell; and since we are not supposed, on pain of punishment, to do
anything but keep very upright on our feet as we trudge along the
dusty road of life, no doubt all those amiable stumblings will be
imputed to her in the end for sin. "This man was handed over to you
quite nice and kind," one can imagine Justice saying in an awful
voice; "his intentions to start with were beyond reproach. Do you not
remember, on the eve of your wedding, how he swore with tears he would
be good to you? Look, now, what you have made of him. You have
prevented his being good to you by your own excessive goodness to
him. You have spent your time nourishing his bad qualities. Though he
still swears, he never does it with tears. Do you not know the
enormous, the almost insurmountable difficulty there is in not
bullying meekness, in not responding to the cringer with a kick? Weak
and unteachable woman, away with you."

Certainly it is a great responsibility taking a man into one's life.
It is also an astonishment to me that I write thus in detail of Mrs.
Dawson, for she has nothing whatever to do with the story.

"Who is it?" asked Mr. Dawson; immediately adding, "Say I'm engaged."

"He gave no name, sir. He says he wishes to see you on business."

"Business! I don't do business at tea time. Send him away."

But Fritzing, for he it was, would not be sent away. Priscilla had
seen the cottage of her dreams, seen it almost at once on entering the
village, fallen instantly and very violently in love with it
regardless of what its inside might be, and had sent him to buy it.
She was waiting while he bought it in the adjoining churchyard sitting
on a tombstone, and he could neither let her sit there indefinitely
nor dare, so great was her eagerness to have the thing, go back
without at least a hope of it. Therefore he would not be sent away.
"Your master's in," he retorted, when the maid suggested he should
depart, "and I must see him. Tell him my business is pressing."

"Will you give me your card, sir?" said the maid, wavering before
this determination.

Fritzing, of course, had no card, so he wrote his new name in pencil
on a leaf of his notebook, adding his temporary address.

"Tell Mr. Dawson," he said, tearing it out and giving it to her, "that
if he is so much engaged as to be unable to see me I shall go direct
to Lady Shuttleworth. My business will not wait."

"Show him in, then," growled Mr. Dawson on receiving this message; for
he feared Lady Shuttleworth every bit as much as Mrs. Dawson feared

Fritzing was accordingly shown into the room used as an office, and
was allowed to cool himself there while Mr. Dawson finished his tea.
The thought of his Princess waiting on a tombstone that must be
growing colder every moment, for the sun was setting, made him at last
so impatient that he rang the bell.

"Tell your master," he said when the maid appeared, "that I am now
going to Lady Shuttleworth." And he seized his hat and was making
indignantly for the door when Mr. Dawson appeared.

Mr. Dawson was wiping his mouth. "You seem to be in a great hurry," he
said; and glancing at the slip of paper in his hand added, "Mr.

"Sir," said Fritzing, bowing with a freezing dignity, "I am."

"Well, so am I. Sit down. What can I do for you? Time's money, you
know, and I'm a busy man. You're German, ain't you?"

"I am, sir. My name is Neumann. I am here--"

"Oh, Noyman, is it? I thought it was Newman." And he glanced again at
the paper.

"Sir," said Fritzing, with a wave of his hand, "I am here to buy a
cottage, and the sooner we come to terms the better. I will not waste
valuable moments considering niceties of pronunciation."

Mr. Dawson stared. Then he said, "Buy a cottage?"

"Buy a cottage, sir. I understand that practically the whole of
Symford is the property of the Shuttleworth family, and that you are
that family's accredited agent. I therefore address myself in the
first instance to you. Now, sir, if you are unable, either through
disinclination or disability, to do business with me, kindly state the
fact at once, and I will straightway proceed to Lady Shuttleworth
herself. I have no time to lose."

"I'm blessed if I have either, Mr."--he glanced again at the

"Neumann, sir," corrected Fritzing irritably.

"All right--Noyman. But why don't you write it then? You've written
Newman as plain as a doorpost."

"Sir, I am not here to exercise you in the proper pronunciation of
foreign tongues. These matters, of an immense elementariness I must
add, should be and generally are acquired by all persons of any
education in their childhood at school."

Mr. Dawson stared. "You're a long-winded chap," he said, "but I'm
blessed if I know what you're driving at. Suppose you tell me what
you've come for, Mr."--he referred as if from habit to the

"_Neu_mann, sir," said Fritzing very loud, for he was greatly
irritated by Mr. Dawson's manner and appearance.

"_Noy_mann, then," said Mr. Dawson, equally loudly; indeed it was
almost a shout. And he became possessed at the same instant of what
was known to Fritzing as a red head, which is the graphic German way
of describing the glow that accompanies wrath. "Look here," he said,
"if you don't say what you've got to say and have done with it you'd
better go. I'm not the chap for the fine-worded game, and I'm hanged
if I'll be preached to in my own house. I'll be hanged if I will, do
you hear?" And he brought his fist down on the table in a fashion very
familiar to Mrs. Dawson and the Symford cottagers.

"Sir, your manners--" said Fritzing, rising and taking up his hat.

"Never mind my manners, Mr. Newman."

"_Neu_mann, sir!" roared Fritzing.

"Confound you, sir," was Mr. Dawson's irrelevant reply.

"Sir, confound _you_," said Fritzing, clapping on his hat. "And let me
tell you that I am going at once to Lady Shuttleworth and shall
recommend to her most serious consideration the extreme desirability
of removing you, sir."

"Removing me! Where the deuce to?"

"Sir, I care not whither so long as it is hence," cried Fritzing,
passionately striding to the door.

Mr. Dawson lay back in his chair and gasped. The man was plainly mad;
but still Lady Shuttleworth might--you never know with women--"Look
here--hie, you! Mr. Newman!" he called, for Fritzing had torn open the
door and was through it.

"_Neu_mann, sir," Fritzing hurled back at him over his shoulder.

"Lady Shuttleworth won't see you, Mr. Noyman. She won't on principle."

Fritzing wavered.

"Everything goes through my hands. You'll only have your walk for
nothing. Come back and tell me what it is you want."

"Sir, I will only negotiate with you," said Fritzing down the
passage--and Mrs. Dawson hearing him from the drawing-room folded her
hands in fear and wonder--"if you will undertake at least to imitate
the manners of a gentleman."

"Come, come, you musn't misunderstand me," said Mr. Dawson getting up
and going to the door. "I'm a plain man, you know--"

"Then, sir, all I can say is that I object to plain men."

"I say, who are you? One would think you were a duke or somebody,
you're so peppery. Dressed up"--Mr. Dawson glanced at the suit of
pedagogic black into which Fritzing had once more relapsed--"dressed
up as a street preacher."

"I am not dressed up as anything, sir," said Fritzing coming in rather
hurriedly. "I am a retired teacher of the German tongue, and have come
down from London in search of a cottage in which to spend my remaining
years. That cottage I have now found here in your village, and I have
come to inquire its price. I wish to buy it as quickly as possible."

"That's all very well, Mr.--oh all right, all right, I won't say it.
But why on earth don't you write it properly, then? It's this paper's
set me wrong. I was going to say we've got no cottages here for sale.
And look here, if that's all you are, a retired teacher, I'll trouble
you not to get schoolmastering me again."

"I really think, sir," said Fritzing stretching his hand towards his
hat, "that it is better I should try to obtain an interview with Lady
Shuttleworth, for I fear you are constitutionally incapable of
carrying on a business conversation with the requisite decent

"Pooh--you'll get nothing out of her. She'll send you back to me. Why,
you'd drive her mad in five minutes with that tongue of yours. If you
want anything I'm your man. Only let's get at what you do want,
without all these confounded dictionary words. Which cottage is it?"

"It is the small cottage," said Fritzing mastering his anger,
"adjoining the churchyard. It stands by itself, and is separated from
the road by an extremely miniature garden. It is entirely covered by
creeping plants which I believe to be roses."

"That's a couple."

"So much the better."

"And they're let. One to the shoemaker, and the other to old mother

"Accommodation could no doubt be found for the present tenants in some
other house, and I am prepared to indemnify them handsomely. Might I
inquire the number of rooms the cottages contain?"

"Two apiece, and a kitchen and attic. Coal-hole and pig-stye in the
back yard. Also a pump. But they're not for sale, so what's the use--"

"Sir, do they also contain bathrooms?"

"Bathrooms?" Mr. Dawson stared with so excessively stupid a stare that
Fritzing, who heaver could stand stupidity, got angry again.

"I said bathrooms, sir," he said, raising his voice, "and I believe
with perfect distinctness."

"Oh, I heard you right enough. I was only wondering if you were trying
to be funny."

"Is this a business conversation or is it not?" cried Fritzing, in his
turn bringing his fist down on the table.

"Look here, what do you suppose people who live in such places want?"

"I imagine cleanliness and decency as much as anybody else."

"Well, I've never been asked for one with a bathroom in my life."

"You are being asked now," said Fritzing, glaring at him, "but you
wilfully refuse to reply. From your manner, however, I conclude that
they contain none. If so, no doubt I could quickly have some built."

"Some? Why, how many do you want?"

"I have a niece, sir, and she must have her own."

Mr. Dawson again stared with what seemed to Fritzing so deplorably
foolish a stare. "I never heard of such a thing," he said.

"What did you never hear of, sir?"

"I never heard of one niece and one uncle in a labourer's cottage
wanting a bathroom apiece."

"Apparently you have never heard of very many things," retorted
Fritzing angrily. "My niece desires to have her own bathroom, and it
is no one's business but hers."

"She must be a queer sort of girl."

"Sir," cried Fritzing, "leave my niece out of the conversation."

"Oh all right--all right. I'm sure I don't want to talk about your
niece. But as for the cottages, it's no good wanting those or any
others, for you won't get 'em."

"And pray why not, if I offer a good price?"

"Lady Shuttleworth won't sell. Why should she? She'd only have to
build more to replace them. Her people must live somewhere. And she'll
never turn out old Shaw and the shoemaker to make room for a couple of

Fritzing was silent, for his heart was sinking. "Suppose, sir," he
said after a pause, during which his eyes had been fixed thoughtfully
on the carpet and Mr. Dawson had been staring at him and whistling
softly but very offensively, "suppose I informed Lady Shuttleworth of
my willingness to build two new cottages--excellent new cottages--for
the tenants of these old ones, and pay her a good price as well for
these, do you think she would listen to me?"

"I say, the schoolmastering business must be a rattling good one. I'm
blessed if I know what you want to live in 'em for if money's so
little object with you. They're shabby and uncomfortable, and an old
chap like you--I mean, a man of your age, who's made his little pile,
and wants luxuries like plenty of bathrooms--ought to buy something
tight and snug. Good roof and electric light. Place for horse and
trap. And settle down and be a gentleman."

"My niece," said Fritzing, brushing aside these suggestions with an
angrily contemptuous wave of his hand, "has taken a fancy--I may say
an exceedingly violent fancy--to these two cottages. What is all this
talk of traps and horses? My niece wishes for these cottages. I shall
do my utmost to secure them for her."

"Well, all I can say is she must be a--"

"Silence, sir!" cried Fritzing.

Mr. Dawson got up and opened the door very wide.

"Look here," he said, "there's no use going on talking. I've stood
more from you than I've stood from any one for years. Take my advice
and get back home and keep quiet for a bit. I've got no cottages, and
Lady Shuttleworth would shut the door in your face when you got to the
bathroom part. Where are you staying? At the Cock and Hens?
Oh--ah--yes--at Baker's. Well, ask Mrs. Pearce to take great care of
you. Tell her I said so. And good afternoon to you, Mr. Noyman. You
see I've got the name right now--just as we're going to part."

"Before I go," said Fritzing, glaring down at Mr. Dawson, "let me
tell you that I have seldom met an individual who unites in his
manner so singularly offensive a combination of facetiousness and
hectoring as yourself. I shall certainly describe your conduct to
Lady Shuttleworth, and not, I hope, in unconvincing language. Sir,
good afternoon."

"By-bye," said Mr. Dawson, grinning and waving a pleasant hand.
Several bathrooms indeed! He need have no fears of Lady Shuttleworth.
"Good luck to you with Lady S.!" he called after him cheerily. Then he
went to his wife and bade her see to it that the servant never let
Fritzing in again, explaining that he was not only a foreigner but a
lunatic, and that the mixture was so bad that it hardly bore thinking


While Fritzing was losing his temper in this manner at the agent's,
Priscilla sat up in the churchyard in the sun. The Symford churchyard,
its church, and the pair of coveted cottages, are on a little eminence
rising like an island out of the valley. Sitting under the trees of
this island Priscilla amused herself taking in the quiet scene at her
feet and letting her thoughts wander down happy paths. The valley was
already in shadow, but the tops of the hills on the west side of it
were golden in the late afternoon sunshine. From the cottage chimneys
smoke went up straight and blue into the soft sky, rooks came and
settled over her head in the branches of the elms, and every now and
then a yellow leaf would fall slowly at her feet. Priscilla's heart
was filled with peace. She was going to be so good, she was going to
lead such a clean and beautiful life, so quiet, so helpful to the
poor, so hidden, so cleared of all confusions. Never again would she
need to pose; never again be forced into conflict with her soul. She
had chosen the better part; she had given up everything and followed
after wisdom; and her life would be her justification. Who but knows
the inward peace that descends upon him who makes good resolutions
and abides with him till he suddenly discovers they have all been
broken? And what does the breaking of them matter, since it is their
making that is so wholesome, so bracing to the soul, bringing with it
moments of such extreme blessedness that he misses much who gives it
up for fear he will not keep them? Such blessed moments of lifting up
of the heart were Priscilla's as she sat in the churchyard waiting,
invisibly surrounded by the most beautiful resolutions it is possible
to imagine. The Rev. Edward Morrison, the vicar of whom I have spoken
as venerable, coming slowly up the path leaning on his son's arm with
the intention of going into the church in search of a mislaid
sermon-book, saw Priscilla's thoughtful back under the elm-tree and
perceived at once that it was a back unknown to him. He knew all the
Symford backs, and tourists hardly ever coming there, and never at
that time of the year, it could not, he thought, be the back of a
tourist. Nor could it belong to any one staying with the
Shuttleworths, for he had been there that very afternoon and had found
Lady Shuttleworth rejoicing over the brief period of solitude she and
her son were enjoying before the stream of guests for the coming of
age festivities began.

"Robin, what girl is that?" asked the vicar of his son.

"I'm sure I don't know," said Robin.

"She'll catch cold," said the vicar.

"I dare say," said Robin.

When they came out of the church ten minutes later Priscilla had not

"She'll certainly catch cold," said the vicar, concerned.

"I should think it very likely," said Robin, locking the door.

"She's sitting on a stone."

"Yes, on old Dawson's slab."

"Unwise," said the vicar.

"Profane," said Robin.

The vicar took his boy's arm again--the boy, head and shoulders taller
than his father, was down from Cambridge for the vacation then drawing
to its close--and moved, I fear, by the same impulse of pure curiosity
they walked together down the path that would take them right in front
of the young woman on the slab.

Priscilla was lost in the bright dreams she was weaving, and looked up
with the radiance of them still in her eyes at the two figures between
her and the sunset.

"My dear young lady," said the vicar kindly, "are you not afraid of
catching cold? The evenings are so damp now, and you have chosen a
very cold seat."

"I don't feel cold," said Priscilla, smiling at this vision of

"But I do think you ought not to linger here," said the vicar.

"I am waiting for my uncle. He's gone to buy a cottage, and ought to
be back, really, by now."

"Buy a cottage?" repeated the vicar. "My dear young lady, you say
that in the same voice you might use to tell me your uncle had gone to
buy a bun."

"What is a bun?" asked Priscilla.

"A bun?" repeated the vicar bewildered, for nobody had ever asked him
that before.

"Oh I know--" said Priscilla quickly, faintly flushing, "it's a thing
you eat. Is there a special voice for buns?"

"There is for a thing so--well, so momentous as the buying of a

"Is it momentous? It seems to me so nice and natural."

She looked up at the vicar and his son, calmly scrutinizing first one
and then the other, and they stood looking down at her; and each time
her eyes rested on Robin they found his staring at her with the
frankest expression of surprise and admiration.

"Pardon me," said the vicar, "if I seem inquisitive, but is it one of
the Symford cottages your uncle wishes to buy? I did not know any were
for sale."

"It's that one by the gate," said Priscilla, slightly turning her head
in its direction.

"Is it for sale? Dear me, I never knew Lady Shuttleworth sell a
cottage yet."

"I don't know yet if she wants to," said Priscilla; "but Fr--, my
uncle, will give any price. And I must have it. I shall--I shall be
ill if I don't."

The vicar gazed at her upturned face in perplexity. "Dear me," he
said, after a slight pause.

"We must live somewhere," remarked Priscilla.

"Of course you must," said Robin, suddenly and so heartily that she
examined his eager face in more detail.

"Quite so, quite so," said the vicar. "Are you staying here at

"Never at the Cock and Hens?" broke in Robin.

"We're at Baker's Farm."

"Ah yes--poor Mrs. Pearce will be glad of lodgers. Poor soul, poor

"She's a very dirty soul," said Robin; and Priscilla's eyes flashed
over him with a sudden sparkle.

"Is she the soul with the holes in its apron?" she asked.

"I expect there are some there. There generally are," said Robin.

They both laughed; but the vicar gently shook his head. "Ah well, poor
thing," he said, "she has an uphill life of it. They don't seem
able--they don't seem to understand the art of making both ends meet."

"It's a great art," said Robin.

"Perhaps they could be helped," said Priscilla, already arranging in
her mind to go and do it.

"They do not belong to the class one can help. And Lady Shuttleworth,
I am afraid, disapproves of shiftless people too much to do anything
in the way of reducing the rent."

"Lady Shuttleworth can't stand people who don't look happy and don't
mend their apron," said Robin.

"But it's her own apron," objected Priscilla.

"Exactly," said Robin.

"Well, well, I hope they'll make you comfortable," said the vicar; and
having nothing more that he could well say without having to confess
to himself that he was inquisitive, he began to draw Robin away. "We
shall see you and your uncle on Sunday in church, I hope," he said
benevolently, and took off his hat and showed his snow-white hair.

Priscilla hesitated. She was, it is true, a Protestant, it having been
arranged on her mother's marriage with the Catholic Grand Duke that
every alternate princess born to them was to belong to the Protestant
faith, and Priscilla being the alternate princess it came about that
of the Grand Duke's three children she alone was not a Catholic.
Therefore she could go to church in Symford as often as she chose; but
it was Fritzing's going that made her hesitate, for Fritzing was what
the vicar would have called a godless man, and never went to church.

"You are a member of the Church of England?" inquired the vicar,
seeing her hesitate.

"Why, pater, she's not English," burst out Robin.

"Not English?" echoed the vicar.

"Is my English so bad?" asked Priscilla, smiling.

"It's frightfully good," said Robin; "but the 'r's,' you know--"

"Ah, yes. No, I'm not English. I'm German."

"Indeed?" said the vicar, with all the interest that attaches to any
unusual phenomenon, and a German in Symford was of all phenomena the
most unusual. "My dear young lady, how remarkable. I don't remember
ever having met a German before in these parts. Your English is really
surprising. I should never have noticed--my boy's ears are quicker
than my old ones. Will you think me unpardonably curious if I ask what
made you pitch on Symford as a place to live in?"

"My uncle passed through it years ago and thought it so pretty that he
determined to spend his old age here."

"And you, I suppose, are going to take care of him."

"Yes," said Priscilla, "for we only"--she looked from one to the other
and thought herself extremely clever--"we only have each other in the
whole wide world."

"Ah, poor child--you are an orphan."

"I didn't say so," said Priscilla quickly, turning red; she who had
always been too proud to lie, how was she going to lie now to this
aged saint with the snow-white hair?

"Ah well, well," said the vicar, vaguely soothing. "We shall see you
on Sunday perhaps. There is no reason that I know of why a member of
the German Church should not assist at the services of the Church of
England." And he took off his hat again, and tried to draw Robin away.

But Robin lingered, and Priscilla saw so much bright curiosity in his
eyes that she felt she was giving an impression of mysteriousness; and
this being the last thing she wanted to do she thought she had better
explain a little--always a dangerous course to take--and she said, "My
uncle taught languages for years, and is old now and tired, and we
both long for the country and to be quiet. He taught me
English--that's why it's as good as it is. His name"--She was carried
away by the desire to blow out that questioning light in Robin's
eyes--"his name is Schultz."

The vicar bowed slightly, and Robin asked with an air of great
politeness but still with that light in his eyes if he were to address
her, then, as Miss Schultz.

"I'm afraid so," said Priscilla, regretfully. It really sounded gross.
Miss Schultz? She might just as well have chosen something romantic
while she was about it, for Fritzing in the hurry of many cares had
settled nothing yet with her about a name.

Robin stared at her very hard, her answer seemed to him so odd. He
stared still more when she looked up with the air of one who has a
happy thought and informed him that her Christian name was Ethel.

"Ethel?" echoed Robin.

"It's a very pretty name, I think," said Priscilla, looking pleased.

"Our housemaid's called Ethel, and so is the little girl that wheels
the gardener's baby's perambulator," was Robin's impetuous comment.

"That doesn't make it less pretty," said Priscilla, frowning.

"Surely," interrupted the vicar mildly, "Ethel is not a German name?"

"I was christened after my mother," said Priscilla gently; and this
was strictly true, for the deceased Grand Duchess had also been
Priscilla. Then a feeling came over her that she was getting into
those depths where persons with secrets begin to flounder as a
preliminary to letting them out, and seized with panic she got up off
the slab.

"You are half English, then," said Robin triumphantly, his bright eyes
snapping. He looked very bold and masterful staring straight at her,
his head thrown back, his handsome face twinkling with interest. But a
person of Priscilla's training could not possibly be discomposed by
the stare of any Robin, however masterful; had it not been up to now
her chief function in life to endure being stared at with graceful
indifference? "I did not say so," she said, glancing briefly at him;
and including both father and son in a small smile composed
indescribably of graciousness and chill she added, "It really is damp
here--I don't think I'll wait for my uncle," and slightly bowing
walked away without more ado.

She walked very slowly, her skirts gathered loosely in one hand, every
line of her body speaking of the most absolute self-possession and
unapproachableness. Never had the two men seen any one quite so calm.
They watched her in silence as she went up the path and out at the
gate; then Robin looked down at his father and drew his hand more
firmly through his arm and said with a slight laugh, "Come on, pater,
let's go home. We're dismissed."

"By a most charming young lady," said the vicar, smiling.

"By a very cool one," said Robin, shrugging his shoulders, for he did
not like being dismissed.

"Yes--oddly self-possessed for her age," agreed the vicar.

"I wonder if all German teacher's nieces are like that," said Robin
with another laugh.

"Few can be so blest by nature, I imagine."

"Oh, I don't mean faces. She is certainly prettier by a good bit than
most girls."

"She is quite unusually lovely, young man. Don't quibble."

"Miss Schultz--Ethel Schultz," murmured Robin; adding under his
breath, "Good Lord."

"She can't help her name. These things are thrust upon one."

"It's a beastly common name. Macgrigor, who was a year in Dresden,
told me everybody in Germany is called Schultz."

"Except those who are not."

"Now, pater, you're being clever again," said Robin, smiling down at
his father.

"Here comes some one in a hurry," said the vicar, his attention
arrested by the rapidly approaching figure of a man; and, looking up,
Robin beheld Fritzing striding through the churchyard, his hat well
down over his eyes as if clapped on with unusual vigour, both hands
thrust deep in his pockets, the umbrella, without which he never, even
on the fairest of days, went out, pressed close to his side under his
arm, and his long legs taking short and profane cuts over graves and
tombstones with the indifference to decency of one immersed in
unpleasant thought. It was not the custom in Symford to leap in this
manner over its tombs; and Fritzing arriving at a point a few yards
from the vicar, and being about to continue his headlong career across
the remaining graves to the tree under which he had left Priscilla,
the vicar raised his voice and exhorted him to keep to the path.

"Quaint-looking person," remarked Robin. "Another stranger. I say, it
can't be--no, it can't possibly be the uncle?" For he saw he was a
foreigner, yet on the other hand never was there an uncle and a niece
who had less of family likeness.

Fritzing was the last man wilfully to break local rules or wound
susceptibilities; and pulled out of his unpleasant abstraction by the
vicar's voice he immediately desisted from continuing his short cut,
and coming onto the path removed his hat and apologized with the
politeness that was always his so long as nobody was annoying him.

"My name is Neumann, sir," he said, introducing himself after the
German fashion, "and I sincerely beg your pardon. I was looking for a
lady, and"--he gave his spectacles a little adjusting shove as though
they were in fault, and gazing across to the elm where he had left
Priscilla sitting added with sudden anxiety--"I fear I do not see

"Do you mean Miss Schultz?" asked the vicar, looking puzzled.

"No, sir, I do not mean Miss Schultz," said Fritzing, peering about
him at all the other trees in evident surprise and distress.

"A lady left about five minutes ago," said Robin.

"A tall young lady in a blue costume?"

"Yes. Miss Schultz."

Fritzing looked at him with some sternness. "Sir, what have I to do
with Miss Schultz?" he inquired.

"Oh come now," said the cheerful Robin, "aren't you looking for her?"

"I am in search of my niece, sir."

"Yes. Miss Schultz."

"No sir," said Fritzing, controlling himself with an effort, "not
Miss Schultz. I neither know Miss Schultz nor do I care a--"

"Sir, sir," interposed the vicar, hastily.

"I do not care a _pfenning_ for any Miss Schultz."

The vicar looked much puzzled. "There was a young lady," he said,
"waiting under that tree over there for her uncle who had gone, she
said, to see Lady Shuttleworth's agent about the cottage by the gate.
She said her uncle's name was Schultz."

"She said she was Miss Ethel Schultz," said Robin.

"She said she was staying at Baker's Farm," said the vicar.

Fritzing stared for a moment from one to the other, then clutching his
hat mechanically half an inch into the air turned on his heel without
another word and went with great haste out of the churchyard and down
the hill and away up the road to the farm.

"Quaint, isn't he," said Robin as they slowly followed this flying
figure to the gate.

"I don't understand it," said the vicar.

"It does seem a bit mixed."

"Did he not say his name was Neumann?"

"He did. And he looked as if he'd fight any one who said it wasn't."

"It is hardly credible that there should be two sets of German uncles
and nieces in Symford at one and the same time," mused the vicar.
"Even one pair is a most unusual occurrence."

"If there are," said Robin very earnestly, "pray let us cultivate the
Schultz set and not the other."

"I don't understand it," repeated the vicar, helplessly.


Symford, innocent village, went to bed very early; but early as it
went long before it had got there on this evening it contained no
family that had not heard of the arrivals at Baker's Farm. From the
vicarage the news had filtered that a pretty young lady called Schultz
was staying there with her uncle; from the agent's house the news that
a lunatic called Neumann was staying there with his niece; and about
supper-time, while it was still wondering at this sudden influx of
related Germans, came the postmistress and said that the boy from
Baker's who fetched the letters knew nothing whatever of any one
called Schultz. He had, said the postmistress, grown quite angry and
forgotten the greater and by far the better part of his manners when
she asked him how he could stand there and say such things after all
the years he had attended Sunday-school and if he were not afraid the
earth would open and swallow him up, and he had stuck to it with an
obstinacy that had at length convinced her that only one uncle and
niece were at Baker's, and their name was Neumann. He added that there
was another young lady there whose name he couldn't catch, but who sat
on the edge of her bed all day crying and refusing sustenance.
Appeased by the postmistress's apologies for her first unbelief he
ended by being anxious to give all the information in his power, and
came back quite a long way to tell her that he had forgotten to say
that his mother had said that the niece's Christian name was

"But what, then," said the vicar's wife to the vicar when this news
had filtered through the vicarage walls to the very sofa where she
sat, "has become of the niece called Ethel?"

"I don't know," said the vicar, helplessly.

"Perhaps she is the one who cried all day."

"My dear, we met her in the churchyard."

"Perhaps they are forgers," suggested the vicar's wife.

"My dear?"

"Or anarchists."


The vicar's wife said no more, but silently made up her mind to go the
very next day and call at Baker's. It would be terrible if a bad
influence got into Symford, her parish that she had kept in such good
order for so long. Besides, she had an official position as the wife
of the vicar and could and ought to call on everybody. Her call would
not bind her, any more than the call of a district visitor would, to
invite the called-upon to her house. Perhaps they were quite decent,
and she could ask the girl up to the Tuesday evenings in the
parish-room; hardly to the vicarage, because of her daughter Netta. On
the other hand, if they looked like what she imagined anarchists or
forgers look like, she would merely leave leaflets and be out when
they returned her call.

Robin, all unaware of his mother's thoughts, was longing to ask her to
go to Baker's and take him with her as a first step towards the
acquaintance after which his soul thirsted, but he refrained for
various discreet reasons based on an intimate knowledge of his
mother's character; and he spent the evening perfecting a plan that
should introduce him into the interior of Baker's without her help.
The plan was of a barbarous simplicity: he was going to choose an
umbrella from the collection that years had brought together in the
stand in the hall, and go boldly and ask the man Neumann if he had
dropped it in the churchyard. The man Neumann would repudiate the
umbrella, perhaps with secret indignation, but he would be forced to
pretend he was grateful, and who knew what luck might not do for him
after that?

While Robin was plotting, and his mother was plotting, that the next
day would certainly see them inside Baker's, a third person was trying
to do exactly the same thing at Symford Hall; and this third person
was no other than Augustus, the hope of all the Shuttleworths.
Augustus--he was known to his friends briefly as Tussie--had been
riding homewards late that afternoon, very slowly, for he was an
anxious young man who spent much of his time dodging things like being
overheated, when he saw a female figure walking towards him along the
lonely road. He was up on the heath above Symford, a solitary place of
heather, and gorse bushes, and winding roads that lead with many
hesitations and delays to different parts of Exmoor, and he himself
with his back to that wild region and the sunset was going, as every
sensible person would be going at that time of the evening, in the
direction of the village and home. But where could the girl be going?
For he now saw it was a girl, and in a minute or two more that it was
a beautiful girl. With the golden glow of the sky the sun had just
left on her face Priscilla came towards him out of the gathering dusk
of approaching evening, and Tussie, who had a poetic soul, gazed at
the vision openmouthed. Seeing him, she quickened her steps, and he
took off his cap eagerly when she asked him to tell her where Symford
was. "I've lost it," she said, looking up at him.

"I'm going through it myself," he answered. "Will you let me show you
the way?"

"Thank you," said Priscilla; and he got off his horse and she turned
and walked beside him with the same unruffled indifference with which
she would have walked beside the Countess Disthal or in front of an
attending lacquey. Nor did she speak, for she was busy thinking of
Fritzing and hoping he was not being too anxious about her, and Tussie
(God defend his innocence) thought she was shy. So sure was he as the
minutes past that her silence was an embarrassed one that he put an
end to it by remarking on the beauty of the evening, and Priscilla who
had entirely forgotten Miss Schultz gave him the iciest look as a
reminder that it was not his place to speak first. It was lost on
Tussie as a reminder, for naturally it did not remind him of anything,
and he put it down at first to the girl's being ill at ease alone up
there with a strange man, and perhaps to her feeling she had better
keep him at arm's length. A glance at her profile however dispelled
this illusion once and for ever, for never was profile of a profounder
calm. She was walking now with her face in shadow, and the glow behind
her played strange and glorious tricks with her hair. He looked at
her, and looked, and not by the quiver of an eyelash did she show she
was aware of anybody's presence. Her eyes were fixed on the ground,
and she was deep in thought tinged with remorsefulness that she should
have come up here instead of going straight home to the farm, and by
losing her way and staying out so long have given Fritzing's careful
heart an unnecessary pang of anxiety. He had had so many, and all
because of her. But then it had been the very first time in her life
that she had ever walked alone, and if words cannot describe the joy
and triumph of it how was it likely that she should have been able to
resist the temptation to stray aside up a lovely little lane that
lured her on and on from one bend to another till it left her at last
high up, breathless and dazzled, on the edge of the heath, with
Exmoor rolling far away in purple waves to the sunset and all the
splendour of the evening sky in her face? She had gone on, fascinated
by the beauty of the place, and when she wanted to turn back found she
had lost herself. Then appeared Sir Augustus to set her right, and
with a brief thought of him as a useful person on a nice horse she
fell into sober meditations as to the probable amount of torture her
poor Fritzi was going through, and Augustus ceased to exist for her as
completely as a sign-post ceases to exist for him who has taken its
advice and passed on.

He looked at her, and looked, and looked again. He had never seen any
one quite so beautiful, and certainly never any one with such an air
of extreme detachment. He was twenty-one and much inclined to poetry,
and he thought as she walked beside him so tall and straight and
aloof, with the nimbus of flaming hair and the noble little head and
slightly stern brow that she looked like nothing less than a young
saint of God.

Tussie was not bold like Robin. He was a gentle youth who loved quiet
things, quiet places, placid people, kind dogs, books, canaries even,
if they did not sing too loud. He was sensitive about himself, being
small and weakly, and took, as I have said, great care of what he had
of health, such care indeed that some of his robust friends called him
Fussie. He hated the idea of coming of age and of having a great deal
of money and a great many active duties and responsibilities. His
dream was to be left in peace to write his verses; to get away into
some sweet impossible wilderness, and sit there singing with as much
of the spirit of Omar Kayyam as could reasonably be expected to
descend on a youth who only drank water. He was not bold, I say; and
after that one quelling glance from the young saint's eyes did not
dare speak again for a long while. But they were getting near Symford;
they were halfway down the hill; he could not let her slip away
perhaps suddenly from his side into the shadows without at least
trying to find out where she was staying. He looked at her soft kind
mouth and opened his own to speak. He looked at her stern level brows
and shut it again. At last, keeping his eyes on her mouth he blurted
out, growing red, "I know every soul in Symford, and every soul for
miles round, but I don't know--" He stopped. He was going to say
"you," but he stopped.

Priscilla's thoughts were so far away that she turned her head and
gazed vaguely at him for a moment while she collected them again. Then
she frowned at him. I do not know why Robin should have had at least
several smiles and poor Tussie only frowns, unless it was that during
this walk the young person Ethel Schultz had completely faded from
Priscilla's mind and the Royal Highness was well to the fore. She
certainly frowned at Tussie and asked herself what could possess the
man to keep on speaking to her. Keep on speaking! Poor Tussie. Aloud
she said freezingly, "Did you say something?"

"Yes," said Tussie, his eyes on her mouth--surely a mouth only made
for kindness and gentle words. "I was wondering whether you were
staying at the vicarage."

"No," said Priscilla, "we're staying at Baker's Farm." And at the
mention of that decayed lodging the friendly Schultz expression crept
back, smiling into her eyes.

Tussie stopped short. "Baker's Farm?" he said. "Why, then this is the
way; down here, to the right. It's only a few yards from here."

"Were you going that way too?"

"I live on the other side of Symford."

"Then good-bye and thank you."

"Please let me go with you as far as the high-road--it's almost dark."

"Oh no--I can't lose myself again if it's only a few yards."

She nodded, and was turning down the lane.

"Are you--are you comfortable there?" he asked hurriedly, blushing.
"The Pearces are tenants of ours. I hope they make you comfortable?"

"Oh, we're only going to be there a few days. My uncle is buying a
cottage, and we shall leave almost directly."

The girl Ethel nodded and smiled and went away quickly into the dusk;
and Tussie rode home thoughtfully, planning elaborate plans for a
descent the next day upon Baker's Farm that should have the necessary
air of inevitableness.

Fritzing was raging up and down the road in front of the gate when
Priscilla emerged, five minutes later, from the shadows of the lane.
She ran up to him and put her arm through his, and looked up at him
with a face of great penitence. "Dear Fritzi," she said, "I'm so
sorry. I've been making you anxious, haven't I? Forgive me--it was the
first taste of liberty, and it got into my feet and set them off
exploring, and then I lost myself. Have you been worrying?"

He was immensely agitated, and administered something very like a
scolding, and he urged the extreme desirability of taking Annalise
with her in future wherever she went--("Oh nonsense, Fritzi,"
interjected Priscilla, drawing away her arm)--and he declared in a
voice that trembled that it was a most intolerable thought for him
that two strange men should have dared address her in the churchyard,
that he would never forgive himself for having left her there
alone--("Oh, Fritzi, how silly," interjected Priscilla)--and he begged
her almost with tears to tell him exactly what she had said to them,
for her Grand Ducal Highness must see that it was of the first
importance they should both say the same things to people.

Priscilla declared she had said nothing at all but what was quite
diplomatic, in fact quite clever; indeed, she had been surprised at
the way ideas had seemed to flow.

"So please," she finished, "don't look at me with such lamentable

"Ma'am, did you not tell them our name is Schultz?"

"But so it is."

"It is not, ma'am. Our name is Neumann."

Priscilla stared astonished. "Neumann?" she said. "Nonsense, Fritzi.
Why should it be Neumann? We're Schultz. I told these people we were.
It's all settled."

"Settled, ma'am? I told the woman here as well as the estate agent
that you are my brother's child and that we are Neumann."

Priscilla was aghast. Then she said severely, "It was your duty to ask
me first. What right have you to christen me?"

"I intended to discuss it during our walk to the village this
afternoon. I admit I forgot it. On the other hand I could not suppose
your Grand Ducal Highness, left for a moment unprotected, would inform
two strange gentlemen that our name was Schultz."

"You should certainly have asked me first," repeated Priscilla with
knitted brows. "Why should I have to be Neumann?"

"I might inquire with equal reason why I should have to be Schultz,"
retorted Fritzing.

"But why Neumann?" persisted Priscilla, greatly upset.

"Ma'am, why not?" said Fritzing, still more upset. Then he added,
"Your Grand Ducal Highness might have known that at the agent's I
would be obliged to give some name."

"I didn't think any more than you did," said Priscilla stopping in
front of the gate as a sign he was to open it for her. He did, and
they walked through the garden and into the house in silence. Then she
went into the parlour and dropped into a horsehair armchair, and
leaning her head against its prickliness she sighed a doleful sigh.

"Shall I send Annalise to you, ma'am?" asked Fritzing, standing in the

"What can we do?" asked Priscilla, her eyes fixed on the tips of her
shoes in earnest thought. "Come in, Fritzi, and shut the door," she
added. "You don't behave a bit like an uncle." Then an idea struck
her, and looking up at him with sudden gaiety she said, "Can't we have
a hyphen?"

"A hyphen?"

"Yes, and be Neumann-Schultz?"

"Certainly we can," said Fritzing, his face clearing; how muddled he
must be getting not to have thought of it himself! "I will cause cards
to be printed at once, and we will be Neumann-Schultz. Ma'am, your
woman's wit--"

"Fritzi, you're deteriorating--you never flattered me at Kunitz. Let
us have tea. I invite you to tea with me. If you'll order it, I'll
pour it out for you and practice being a niece."

So the evening was spent in harmony; a harmony clouded at intervals,
it is true, first by Priscilla's disappointment about the cottage,
then by a certain restiveness she showed before the more blatant
inefficiencies of the Baker housekeeping, then by a marked and ever
recurring incapacity to adapt herself to her new environment, and
lastly and very heavily when Fritzing in the course of conversation
let drop the fact that he had said she was Maria-Theresa. This was a
very black cloud and hung about for a long while; but it too passed
away ultimately in a compromise reached after much discussion that
Ethel should be prefixed to Maria-Theresa; and before Priscilla went
to bed it had been arranged that Fritzing should go next morning
directly after a very early breakfast to Lady Shuttleworth and not
leave that lady's side and house till he had secured the cottage, and
the Princess for her part faithfully promised to remain within the
Baker boundaries during his absence.


Lady Shuttleworth then, busiest and most unsuspecting of women, was
whisking through her breakfast and her correspondence next morning
with her customary celerity and method, when a servant appeared and
offered her one of those leaves from Fritzing's note-book which we
know did duty as his cards.

Tussie was sitting at the other end of the table very limp and sad
after a night of tiresome tossing that was neither wholly sleep nor
wholly wakefulness, and sheltered by various dishes with spirit-lamps
burning beneath them worked gloomily at a sonnet inspired by the girl
he had met the day before while his mother thought he was eating his
patent food. The girl, it seemed, could not inspire much, for beyond
the fourth line his muse refused to go; and he was beginning to be
unable to stop himself from an angry railing at the restrictions the
sonnet form forces upon poets who love to be vague, which would
immediately have concentrated his mother's attention on himself and
resulted in his having to read her what he had written--for she
sturdily kept up the fiction of a lively interest in his poetic
tricklings--when the servant came in with Fritzing's leaf.

"A gentleman wishes to see you on business, my lady," said the

"Mr. Neumann-Schultz?" read out Lady Shuttleworth in an inquiring
voice. "Never heard of him. Where's he from?"

"Baker's Farm, my lady."

At that magic name Tussie's head went up with a jerk.

"Tell him to go to Mr. Dawson," said Lady Shuttleworth.

The servant disappeared.

"Why do you send him away, mother?" asked Tussie.

"Why, you know things must go through Dawson," said Lady Shuttleworth
pouncing on her letters again. "I'd be plagued to death if they

"But apparently this is the stranger within our gates. Isn't he

"His name is. Dawson will be quite kind to him."

"Dawson's rather a brute I fancy, when you're not looking."

"Dearest, I always am looking."

"He must be one of Pearce's lodgers."

"Poor man, I'm sorry for him if he is. Of all the shiftless women--"

"The gentleman says, my lady," said the servant reappearing with
rather an awestruck face, "that he wishes to speak to you most

"James, did I not tell you to send him to Mr. Dawson?"

"I delivered the message, my lady. But the gentleman says he's seen
Mr. Dawson, and that he"--the footman coughed slightly--"he don't want
to see any more of him, my lady."

Lady Shuttleworth put on her glasses and stared at the servant. "Upon
my word he seems to be very cool," she said; and the servant, his gaze
fixed on a respectful point just above his mistress's head, reflected
on the extreme inapplicability of the adjective to anything so warm as
the gentleman at the door.

"Shall I see him for you, mother?" volunteered Tussie briskly.

"You?" said his mother surprised.

"I'm rather a dab at German, you know. Perhaps he can't talk much
English"--the footman started--"evidently he wasn't able to say much
to Dawson. Probably he wants you to protect him from the onslaughts of
old Pearce's cockroaches. Anyhow as he's a foreigner I think it would
be kinder to see him."

Lady Shuttleworth was astonished. Was Tussie going to turn over a new
leaf after all, now that he was coming of age, and interest himself in
more profitable things than verse-making?

"Dearest," she said, quite touched, "he shall be seen if you think it
kinder. I'll see him--you haven't done breakfast yet. Show him into
the library, James." And she gathered up her letters and went out--she
never kept people waiting--and as she passed Tussie she laid her hand
tenderly for a moment on his shoulder. "If I find I can't understand
him I'll send for you," she said.

Tussie folded up his sonnet and put it in his pocket. Then he ate a
few spoonfuls of the stuff warranted to give him pure blood, huge
muscles, and a vast intelligence; then he opened a newspaper and
stared vacantly at its contents; then he went to the fire and warmed
his feet; then he strolled round the table aimlessly for a little; and
then, when half an hour had passed and his mother had not returned, he
could bear it no longer and marched straight into the library.

"I think the cigarettes must be here," said Tussie, going over to the
mantelpiece and throwing a look of eager interest at Fritzing.

Fritzing rose and bowed ceremoniously. Lady Shuttleworth was sitting
in a straight-backed chair, her elbows on its arms, the tips of her
ten fingers nicely fitted together. She looked very angry, and yet
there was a sparkle of something like amusement in her eyes. Having
bowed to Tussie Fritzing sat down again with the elaboration of one
who means to stay a long while. During his walk from the farm he had
made up his mind to be of a most winning amiability and patience,
blended with a determination that nothing should shake. At the door,
it is true, he had been stirred to petulance by the foolish face and
utterances of the footman James, but during the whole of the time he
had been alone with Lady Shuttleworth he had behaved, he considered,
with the utmost restraint and tact.

Tussie offered him a cigarette.

"My dear Tussie," said his mother quickly, "we will not keep Mr.
Neumann-Schultz. I'm sure his time must be quite as valuable as mine

"Oh madam," said Fritzing with a vast politeness, settling himself yet
more firmly in his chair, "nothing of mine can possibly be of the same
value as anything of yours."

Lady Shuttleworth stared--she had stared a good deal during the last
halfhour--then began to laugh, and got up. "If you see its value so
clearly," she said, "I'm sure you won't care to take up any more of

"Nay, madam," said Fritzing, forced to get up too, "I am here, as I
explained, in your own interests--or rather in those of your son, who
I hear is shortly to attain his majority. This young gentleman is, I
take it, your son?"

Tussie assented.

"And therefore the owner of the cottages?"

"What cottages?" asked Tussie, eagerly. He was manifestly so violently
interested in Mr. Neumann-Schultz that his mother could only gaze at
him in wonder. He actually seemed to hang on that odd person's lips.

"My dear Tussie, Mr. Neumann-Schultz has been trying to persuade me to
sell him the pair of cottages up by the church, and I have been trying
to persuade him to believe me when I tell him I won't."

"But why won't you, mother?" asked Tussie.

Lady Shuttleworth stared at him in astonishment. "Why won't I? Do I
ever sell cottages?"

"Your esteemed parent's reasons for refusing," said Fritzing, "reasons
which she has given me with a brevity altogether unusual in one of her
sex and which I cannot sufficiently commend, do more credit, as was to
be expected in a lady, to her heart than to her head. I have offered
to build two new houses for the disturbed inhabitants of these. I have
offered to give her any price--any price at all, within the limits of
reason. Your interests, young gentleman, are what will suffer if this
business is not concluded between us."

"Do you want them for yourself?" asked Tussie.

"Yes, sir, for myself and for my niece."

"Mother, why do you refuse to do a little business?"

"Tussie, are we so poor?"

"As far as I'm concerned," said Tussie airily to Fritzing, "you may
have the things and welcome."


"But they are not worth more than about fifty pounds apiece, and I
advise you not to give more for them than they're worth. Aren't they
very small, though? Isn't there any other place here you'd rather


"Do you mind telling me why you want them?"

"Young man, to live in them."

"And where are the people to live who are in them now?" asked Lady
Shuttleworth, greatly incensed.

"Madam, I promised you to build."

"Oh nonsense. I won't have new red-brick horrors about the place.
There's that nice good old Mrs. Shaw in one, so clean and tidy always,
and the shoemaker, a very good man except for his enormous family, in
the other. I will not turn them out."

"Put 'em in the empty lodge at the north gate," suggested Tussie.
"They'd be delighted."

Lady Shuttleworth turned angrily on Fritzing--she was indeed greatly
irritated by Tussie's unaccountable behaviour. "Why don't you build
for yourself?" she asked.

"My niece has set her heart on these cottages in such a manner that I
actually fear the consequences to her health if she does not get

"Now, mother, you really can't make Mr. Neumann-Schultz's niece ill."

"Dearest boy, have you suddenly lost your senses?"

"Not unless it's losing them to be ready to do a kindness."

"Well said, well said, young man," said Fritzing approvingly.

"Tussie, have I ever shirked doing a kindness?" asked Lady
Shuttleworth, touched on her tenderest point.

"Never. And that's why I can't let you begin now," said Tussie,
smiling at her.

"Well said, well said, young man," approved Fritzing. "The woman up to
a certain age should lead the youth, and he should in all things
follow her counsels with respect and obedience. But she for her part
should know at what moment to lay down her authority, and begin, with
a fitting modesty, to follow him whom she has hitherto led."

"Is that what your niece does?" asked Lady Shuttleworth quickly.


"Is she following you into these cottages, or are you following her?"

"You must pardon me, madam, if I decline to discuss my niece."

"Do have a cigarette," said Tussie, delighted.

"I never smoke, young man."

"Something to drink, then?"

"I never drink, young man."

"If I decide to let you have these cottages--_if_ I do," said Lady
Shuttleworth, divided between astonishment at everything about
Fritzing and blankest amazement at her son's behaviour, "you will
understand that I only do it because my son seems to wish it."

"Madam, provided I get the cottages I will understand anything you

"First that. Then I'd want some information about yourself. I
couldn't let a stranger come and live in the very middle of my son's
estate unless I knew all about him."

"Why, mother--" began Tussie.

"Is not the willingness to give you your own price sufficient?"
inquired Fritzing anxiously.

"Not in the least sufficient," snapped Lady Shuttleworth.

"What do you wish to know, madam?" said Fritzing stiffly.

"I assure you a great deal."

"Come, mother," said Tussie, to whom this was painful, for was not the
man, apart from his strange clothes and speeches, of a distinctly
refined and intellectual appearance? And even if he wasn't, was he not
still the uncle of that divine niece?--"these are things for Dawson to

Fritzing started at the hated name, and began to frown dreadfully. His
frown was always very impressive because of his bushy eyebrows and
deep-set eyes. "Dawson, as you call him," he said, "and he certainly
has no claim to any prefix of politeness, is not a person with whom I
will consent to arrange anything. Dawson is the most offensive
creature who ever walked this earth clad in the outer semblance of one
of God's creatures."

This was too much for Lady Shuttleworth. "Really--" she said,
stretching out her hand to the bell.

"Didn't I tell you so, mother?" cried Tussie triumphantly; and that
Tussie, her own dear boy, should in all things second this madman
completely overwhelmed her. "I knew he was a brute behind your back.
Let's sack him."

"James, show this gentleman out."

"Pardon me, madam, we have not yet arranged--"

"Oh," interrupted Tussie, "the business part can be arranged between
you and me without bothering my mother. I'll come part of the way with
you and we'll talk it over. You're absolutely right about Dawson. He's
an outrageous mixture of bully and brute." And he hurried into the
hall to fetch his cap, humming _O dear unknown One with the stern
sweet face_, which was the first line of his sonnet in praise of
Priscilla, to a cheerful little tune of his own.

"Tussie, it's so damp," cried his anxious mother after him--"you're
not really going out in this nasty Scotch mist? Stay in, and I'll
leave you to settle anything you like."

"Oh, it's a jolly morning for a walk," called back Tussie gaily,
searching about for his cap--"_And eyes all beautiful with strenuous
thought_--Come on, sir."

But Fritzing would not skimp any part of his farewell ceremonies.

"Permit me, madam," he said, deeply bowing, "to thank you for your
extremely kind reception."

"Kind?" echoed Lady Shuttleworth, unable to stop herself from

"Yes, madam, kind, and before all things patient."

"Yes, I do think I've been rather patient," agreed Lady Shuttleworth,
smiling again.

"And let me," proceeded Fritzing, "join to my thanks my
congratulations on your possession of so unusually amiable and
promising a son."

"Come on, sir--you'll make me vain," said Tussie, in the
doorway--"'_Hair like a web divine wherein is caught_,'"--he hummed,
getting more and more shrill and happy.

Lady Shuttleworth put out her hand impulsively. Fritzing took it, bent
over it, and kissed it with much respect.

"A most unusually promising young man," he repeated; "and, madam, I
can tell you it is not my habit to say a thing I do not mean."

"'_The last reflection of God's daily grace_'"--chirped Tussie,
looking on much amused.

"No, that I'm quite certain you don't," said Lady Shuttleworth with

"Don't say too many nice things about me," advised Tussie. "My mother
will swallow positively anything."

But nevertheless he was delighted; for here were his mother and the
uncle--the valuable and highly to be cherished uncle--looking as
pleased as possible with each other, and apparently in the fairest way
to becoming fast friends.


The cheerful goddess who had brought Fritzing and his Princess safely
over from Kunitz was certainly standing by them well. She it was who
had driven Priscilla up on to the heath and into the acquaintance of
Augustus Shuttleworth, without whom a cottage in Symford would have
been for ever unattainable. She it was who had sent the Morrisons,
father and son, to drive Priscilla from the churchyard before Fritzing
had joined her, without which driving she would never have met
Augustus. She it was who had used the trifling circumstance of a
mislaid sermon-book to take the vicar and Robin into the church at an
unaccustomed time, without which sermon-book they would never have met
Priscilla in the churchyard and driven her out of it. Thus are all our
doings ruled by Chance; and it is a pleasant pastime for an idle hour
to trace back big events to their original and sometimes absurd
beginnings. For myself I know that the larger lines of my life were
laid down once for all by--but what has this to do with Priscilla?
Thus, I say, are all our doings ruled by Chance, who loves to use
small means for the working of great wonders. And as for the gay
goddess's ugly sister, the lady of the shifty eye and lowering brow
called variously Misfortune and Ill Luck, she uses the same tools
exactly in her hammering out of lives, meanly taking little follies
and little weaknesses, so little and so amiable at first as hardly to
be distinguished from little virtues, and with them building up a
mighty mass that shall at last come down and crush our souls. Of the
crushing of souls, however, my story does not yet treat, and I will
not linger round subjects so awful. We who are nestling for the moment
like Priscilla beneath the warm wing of Good Fortune can dare to make
what the children call a face at her grey sister as she limps scowling
past. Shall we not too one day in our turn feel her claws? Let us when
we do at least not wince; and he who feeling them can still make a
face and laugh, shall be as the prince of the fairy tales,
transforming the sour hag by his courage into a bright reward,
striking his very griefs into a shining shower of blessing.

From this brief excursion into the realm of barren musings, whither I
love above all things to wander and whence I have continually to fetch
myself back again by force, I will return to the story.

At Tussie's suggestion when the business part of their talk was
over--and it took exactly five minutes for Tussie to sell and Fritzing
to buy the cottages, five minutes of the frothiest business talk ever
talked, so profound was the ignorance of both parties as to what most
people demand of cottages--Fritzing drove to Minehead in the
postmistress's son's two-wheeled cart in order to purchase suitable
furniture and bring back persons who would paper and paint. Minehead
lies about twenty miles to the north of Symford, so Fritzing could not
be back before evening. By the time he was back, promised Tussie, the
shoemaker and Mrs. Shaw should be cleared out and put into a place so
much better according to their views that they would probably make it
vocal with their praises.

Fritzing quite loved Tussie. Here was a young man full of the noblest
spirit of helpfulness, and who had besides the invaluable gift of
seeing no difficulties anywhere. Even Fritzing, airy optimist, saw
more than Tussie, and whenever he expressed a doubt it was at once
brushed aside by the cheerfullest "Oh, that'll be all right." He was
the most practical, businesslike, unaffected, energetic young man,
thought Fritzing, that he had even seen. Tussie was surprised himself
at his own briskness, and putting the wonderful girl on the heath as
much as possible out of his thoughts, told himself that it was the
patent food beginning at last to keep its promises.

He took Fritzing to the post-office and ordered the trap for him,
cautioned the postmistress's son, who was going to drive, against
going too fast down the many hills, for the bare idea of the priceless
uncle being brought back in bits or in any state but absolutely whole
and happy turned him cold, told Fritzing which shops to go to and
where to lunch, begged him to be careful what he ate, since hotel
luncheons were good for neither body nor soul, ordered rugs and a
mackintosh covering to be put in, and behaved generally with the
forethought of a mother. "I'd go with you myself," he said,--and the
postmistress, listening with both her ears, recognized that the
Baker's Farm lodgers were no longer persons to be criticised--"but I
can be of more use to you here. I must see Dawson about clearing out
the cottages. Of course it is very important you shouldn't stay a
moment longer than can be helped in uncomfortable lodgings."

Here was a young man! Sensible, practical, overflowing with kindness.
Fritzing had not met any one he esteemed so much for years. They went
down the village street together, for Tussie was bound for Mr. Dawson
who was to be set to work at once, and Fritzing for the farm whither
the trap was to follow him as soon as ready, and all Symford,
curtseying to Tussie, recognized, as the postmistress had recognized,
that Fritzing was now raised far above their questionings, seated
firmly on the Shuttleworth rock.

They parted at Mr. Dawson's gate, Mrs. Dawson mildly watching their
warmth over a wire blind. "When we are settled, young man," said
Fritzing, after eloquent words of thanks and appreciation, "you must
come in the evenings, and together we will roam across the splendid
fields of English literature."

"Oh _thanks_" exclaimed Tussie, flushing with pleasure. He longed to
ask if the divine niece would roam too, but even if she did not, to
roam at all would be a delight, and he would besides be doing it under
the very roof that sheltered that bright and beautiful head. "Oh
_thanks_," cried Tussie, then, flushing.

His extreme joy surprised Fritzing. "Are you so great a friend of
literature?" he inquired.

"I believe," said Tussie, "that without it I'd have drowned myself
long ago. And as for the poets--"

He stopped. No one knew what poetry had been to him in his sickly
existence--the one supreme interest, the one thing he really cared to
live for.

Fritzing now loved him with all his heart. "_Ach Gott, ja_," he
ejaculated, clapping him on the shoulder, "the poets--_ja,
ja_--'Blessings be with them and eternal praise,' what? Young man," he
added enthusiastically, "I could wish that you had been my son. I
could indeed." And as he said it Robin Morrison coming down the street
and seeing the two together and the expression on Tussie's face
instantly knew that Tussie had met the niece.

"Hullo, Tuss," he called across, hurrying past, for it would rather
upset his umbrella plan to be stopped and have to talk to the man
Neumann thus prematurely. But Tussie neither saw nor heard him, and
"By Jove, hasn't he just seen the niece though," said Robin to
himself, his eyes dancing as he strode nimbly along on long and
bird-like legs. The conviction seized him that when he and his
umbrella should descend upon Baker's that afternoon Tussie would
either be there already or would come in immediately afterwards. "Who
would have thought old Fuss would be so enterprising?" he wondered,
thinking of the extreme cordiality of Fritzing's face. "He's given
them those cottages, I'll swear."

So Fritzing went to Minehead. I will not follow his painful footsteps
as they ranged about that dreary place, nor will I dwell upon his
purchases, which resolved themselves at last, after an infinite and
soul-killing amount of walking and bewilderment, into a sofa, a
revolving bookstand, and two beds. He forgot a bed for Annalise
because he forgot Annalise; and he didn't buy things like sheets
because he forgot that beds want them. On the other hand he spent
quite two hours in a delightful second-hand bookshop on his way to the
place where you buy crockery, and then forgot the crockery. He did,
reminded and directed by Mr. Vickerton, the postmistress's son, get to
a paperhanger's and order him and his men to come out in shoals to
Symford the next morning at daybreak, making the paperhanger vow, who
had never seen them, that the cottages should be done by nightfall.
Then, happening to come to the seashore, he stood for a moment
refreshing his nostrils with saltness, for he was desperately worn
out, and what he did after that heaven knows. Anyhow young Vickerton
found him hours afterwards walking up and down the shingle in the
dark, waving his arms about and crying--

                "O, qui me gelidis convallibus Haemi
     Sistat et ingenti ramorum protegat umbra!"

"Talking German out loud to himself," said young Vickerton to his
mother that night; and it is possible that he had been doing it all
the time.

And while he was doing these things Priscilla was having calls paid
her. Nothing could exceed her astonishment when about four o'clock, as
she was sitting deep in thought and bored on the arm of a horsehair
chair, Mrs. Pearce opened the door and without the least warning let
in Mrs. Morrison. Priscilla had promised Fritzing for that one day to
stay quietly at the farm, and for the last two hours, finding the farm
of an intolerable dulness, she had been engaged in reflections of an
extremely complex nature on subjects such as Duty, Will, and
Personality. Her morning in the Baker fields and by the banks of that
part of the Sym that meanders through them had tuned her mind to
meditation. The food at one o'clock and the manner of its bringing in
by Annalise--Priscilla had relieved Mrs. Pearce of that office--tuned
it still more. The blended slipperiness and prickliness of all the
things she tried to sit on helped surprisingly; and if I knew how far
it is allowable to write of linen I could explain much of her state of
mind by a description of the garments in which she was clothed that
day. They were new garments taken straight from the Gerstein box.
They were not even linen,--how could they be for Fritzing's three
hundred marks? And their newness had not yet been exposed to the
softening influence of any wash-tub. Straight did they come, in all
their crackling stiffness, out of the shop and on to the Princess.
Annalise had been supposed to wash them or cause them to be washed the
day before, but Annalise had been far too busy crying to do anything
of the sort; and by four o'clock Priscilla was goaded by them into a
condition of mind so unworthy that she was thinking quite hard about
the Kunitz fine linen and other flesh-pots and actually finding the
recollection sweet. It was a place, Priscilla mused, where her body
had been exquisitely cared for. Those delicate meals, served in
spotlessness, surely they had been rather of the nature of poems?
Those web-like garments, soft as a kiss, how beautiful they had been
to touch and wear. True her soul had starved; yes, it had cruelly
starved. But was it then--she started at her own thought--was it then
being fed at Baker's?

And into the middle of this question, a tremendous one to be asked on
the very threshold of the new life, walked Mrs. Morrison.

"How d'y do," said Mrs. Morrison. "The vicar asked me to come and see
you. I hope the Pearces make you comfortable."

"Well I never," thought Mrs. Pearce, lingering as was her custom on
the door-mat, and shaking her head in sorrow rather than in anger.

Priscilla sat for a moment staring at her visitor.

"You are Miss Schultz, are you not?" asked Mrs. Morrison rather

Priscilla said she was,--her name, that is, was Neumann-Schultz--and
got up. She had the vaguest notion as to how Miss Schultz would behave
under these trying circumstances, but imagined she would begin by
getting up. So she got up, and the sofa being a low one and her
movements leisurely, Mrs. Morrison told her husband afterwards there
seemed to be no end to the girl. The girl certainly was long, and when
at last unfolded and quite straightened out she towered over Mrs.
Morrison, who looked up uneasily at the grave young face. Why, Mrs.
Morrison asked herself, didn't the girl smile? It was the duty of a
Miss Schultz called upon by the vicar's wife to smile; so profound a
gravity on such an occasion was surely almost rude. Priscilla offered
her hand and hoped it was all right to do so, but still she did not
smile. "Are you Mrs. Morrison?" she asked.

"Yes," said Mrs. Morrison with an immense reserve in her voice.

Then Priscilla suggested she should sit down. Mrs. Morrison was
already doing it; and Priscilla sank on to her sofa again and wondered
what she had better say next. She wondered so much that she became
lost in mazes of wonder, and there was so long a silence that Mrs.
Pearce outside the door deplored an inconsiderateness that could keep
her there for nothing.

"I didn't know you had a double name," said Mrs. Morrison, staring at
Priscilla and trying to decide whether this was not a case for the
application of leaflets and instant departure. The girl was really
quite offensively pretty. She herself had been pretty--she thanked
heaven that she still was so--but never, never pretty--she thanked
heaven again--in this glaringly conspicuous fashion.

"My name is Ethel Maria-Theresa Neumann-Schultz," said Priscilla, very
clearly and slowly; and though she was, as we know, absolutely
impervious to the steadiest staring, she did wonder whether this good
lady could have seen her photograph anywhere in some paper, her stare
was so very round and bright and piercing.

"What a long name," said Mrs. Morrison.

"Yes," said Priscilla; and as another silence seemed imminent she
added, "I have two hyphens."

"Two what?" said Mrs. Morrison, startled; and so full was her head of
doubt and distrust that for one dreadful moment she thought the girl
had said two husbands. "Oh, hyphens. Yes. Germans have them a good
deal, I believe."

"That sounds as if we were talking about diseases," said Priscilla, a
faint smile dawning far away somewhere in the depths of her eyes.

"Yes," said Mrs. Morrison, fidgeting.

Odd that Robin should have said nothing about the girl's face. Anyhow
she should be kept off Netta. Better keep her off the parish-room
Tuesdays as well. What in the world was she doing in Symford? She was
quite the sort of girl to turn the heads of silly boys. And so
unfortunate, just as Augustus Shuttleworth had taken to giving Netta
little volumes of Browning.

"Is your uncle out?" she asked, some of the sharpness of her thoughts
getting into her voice.

"He's gone to Minehead, to see about things for my cottage."

"Your cottage? Have you got Mrs. Shaw's, then?"

"Yes. She is being moved out to-day."

"Dear me," said Mrs. Morrison, greatly struck.

"Is it surprising?"

"Most. So unlike Lady Shuttleworth."

"She has been very kind."

"Do you know her?"

"No; but my uncle was there this morning."

"And managed to persuade her?"

"He is very eloquent," said Priscilla, with a demure downward sweep of
her eyelashes.

"Just a little more," thought Mrs. Morrison, watching their dusky
golden curve, "and the girl would have had scarlet hair and
white-eyebrows and masses of freckles and been frightful." And she
sighed an impatient sigh, which, if translated into verse, would
undoubtedly have come out--

     "Oh the little more and how much it is,
      And the little less and what worlds away!"

"And poor old Mrs. Shaw--how does she like being turned out?"

"I believe she is being put into something that will seem to her a

"Dear me, your uncle must really be very eloquent."

"I assure you that he is," said Priscilla earnestly.

There was a short pause, during which Mrs. Morrison staring straight
into those unfathomable pools, Priscilla's eyes, was very angry with
them for being so evidently lovely. "You are very young," she said,
"so you will not mind my questions--"

"Don't the young mind questions?" asked Priscilla, for a moment
supposing it to be a characteristic of the young of England.

"Not, surely, from experienced and--and married ladies," said Mrs.
Morrison tartly.

"Please go on then."

"Oh, I haven't anything particular to go on about," said Mrs.
Morrison, offended. "I assure you curiosity is not one of my faults."

"No?" said Priscilla, whose attention had begun to wander.

"Being human I have no doubt many failings, but I'm thankful to say
curiosity isn't one of them."

"My uncle says that's just the difference between men and women. He
says women might achieve just as much as men if only they were curious
about things. But they're not. A man will ask a thousand questions,
and never rest till he's found out as much as he can about anything he
sees, and a woman is content hardly even to see it."

"I hope your uncle is a Churchman," was Mrs. Morrison's unexpected

Priscilla's mind could not leap like this, and she hesitated a moment
and smiled. ("It's the first time she's looked pleasant," thought Mrs.
Morrison, "and now it's in the wrong place.")

"He was born, of course, in the Lutheran faith," said Priscilla.

"Oh, a horrid faith. Excuse me, but it really is. I hope he isn't
going to upset Symford?"

"Upset Symford?"

"New people holding wrong tenets coming to such a small place do
sometimes, you know, and you say he is eloquent. And we are such a
simple and God-fearing little community. A few years ago we had a
great bother with a Dissenting family that came here. The cottagers
quite lost their heads."

"I think I can promise that my uncle will not try to convert anybody,"
said Priscilla.

"Of course you mean pervert. It would be a pity if he did. It wouldn't
last, but it would give us a lot of trouble. We are very good
Churchmen here. The vicar, and my son too when he's at home, set
beautiful examples. My son is going into the Church himself. It has
been his dearest wish from a child. He thinks of nothing else--of
nothing else at all," she repeated, fixing her eyes on Priscilla with
a look of defiance.

"Really?" said Priscilla, very willing to believe it.

"I assure you it's wonderful how absorbed he is in his studies for it.
He reads Church history every spare moment, and he's got it so
completely on his mind that I've noticed even when he whistles it's
'The Church's One Foundation.'"

"What is that?" inquired Priscilla.

"Mr. Robin Morrison," announced Mrs. Pearce.

The sitting-room at Baker's was a small, straightforward place, with
no screens, no big furniture, no plants in pots, nothing that could
for a moment conceal the persons already in it from the persons coming
in, and Robin entering jauntily with the umbrella under his arm fell
straight as it were into his mother's angry gaze. "Hullo mater, you
here?" he exclaimed genially, his face broadening with apparent

"Yes, Robin, I am here," she said, drawing herself up.

"How do you do, Miss Schultz. I seem to have got shown into the wrong
room. It's a Mr. Neumann I've come to see; doesn't he live here?"

Priscilla looked at him from her sofa seat and wondered what she had
done that she should be scourged in this manner by Morrisons.

"You know my son, I believe?" said Mrs. Morrison in the stiffest
voice; for the girl's face showed neither recognition nor pleasure,
and though she would have been angry if she had looked unduly pleased
she was still angrier that she should look indifferent.

"Yes. I met him yesterday. Did you want my uncle? His name is Neumann.
Neumann-Schultz. He's out."

"I only wanted to give him this umbrella," said Robin, with a swift
glance at his mother as he drew it from under his arm. Would she
recognize it? He had chosen one of the most ancient; the one most
appropriate, as he thought, to the general appearance of the man

"What umbrella is that, Robin?" asked his mother suspiciously. Really,
it was more than odd that Robin, whom she had left immersed in study,
should have got into Baker's Farm so quickly. Could he have been
expected? And had Providence, in its care for the righteous cause of
mothers, brought her here just in time to save him from this girl's
toils? The girl's indifference could not be real; and if it was not,
her good acting only betrayed the depths of her experience and
balefulness. "What umbrella is that?" asked Mrs. Morrison.

"It's his," said Robin, throwing his head back and looking at his
mother as he laid it with elaborate care on the table.

"My uncle's?" said Priscilla. "Had he lost it? Oh thank you--he would
have been dreadfully unhappy. Sit down." And she indicated with her
head the chair she would allow him to sit on.

"The way she tells us to sit down!" thought Mrs. Morrison indignantly.
"As though she were a queen." Aloud she said, "You could have sent
Joyce round with it"--Joyce being that gardener whose baby's
perambulator was wheeled by another Ethel--"and need not have
interrupted your work."

"So I could," said Robin, as though much struck by the suggestion.
"But it was a pleasure," he added to Priscilla, "to be able to return
it myself. It's a frightful bore losing one's umbrella--especially if
it's an old friend."

"Uncle Fritzi's looks as if it were a very old friend," said
Priscilla, smiling at it.

Mrs. Morrison glanced at it too, and then glanced again. When she
glanced a third time and her glance turned into a look that lingered
Robin jumped up and inquired if he should not put it in the passage.
"It's in the way here," he explained; though in whose way it could be
was not apparent, the table being perfectly empty.

Priscilla made no objection, and he at once removed it beyond the
reach of his mother's eye, propping it up in a dark corner of the
passage and telling Mrs. Pearce, whom he found there that it was Mr.
Neumann's umbrella.

"No it ain't," said Mrs. Pearce.

"Yes it is," said Robin.

"No it ain't. He's took his to Minehead," said Mrs. Pearce.

"It is, and he has not," said Robin.

"I see him take it," said Mrs. Pearce.

"You did not," said Robin.

This would have been the moment, Mrs. Morrison felt, for her to go and
to carry off Robin with her, but she was held in her seat by the
certainty that Robin would not let himself be carried off; and sooner
than say good-bye and then find he was staying on alone she would sit
there all night. Thus do mothers sacrifice themselves for their
children, thought Mrs. Morrison, for their all too frequently
thankless children. But though she would do it to any extent in order
to guard her boy she need not, she said to herself, be pleasant
besides,--she need not, so to speak, be the primroses on his path of
dalliance. Accordingly she behaved as little like a primrose as
possible, sitting in stony silence while he skirmished in the passage
with Mrs. Pearce, and the instant he came in again asked him where he
had found the umbrella.

"I found it--not far from the church," said Robin, desiring to be
truthful as long as he could. "But mater, bother the umbrella. It
isn't so very noble to bring a man back his own. Did you get your
cottages?" he asked, turning quickly to Priscilla.

"Robin, are you sure it is his own?" said his mother.

"My dear mother, I'm never sure of anything. Nor are you. Nor is Miss
Schultz. Nor is anybody who is really intelligent. But I found the
thing, and Mr. Neumann--"

"The name to-day is Neumann-Schultz," said Mrs. Morrison, in a voice
heavy with implications.

"Mr. Neumann-Schultz, then, had been that way just before, and so I
felt somehow it must be his."

"Your Uncle Cox had one just like it when he stayed with us last
time," remarked Mrs. Morrison.

"Had he? I say, mater, what an eye you must have for an umbrella. That
must be five years ago."

"Oh, he left it behind, and I see it in the stand every time I go
through the hall."

"No! Do you?" said Robin, who was hurled by this statement into the
corner where his wits ended and where he probably would have stayed
ignominiously, for Miss Schultz seemed hardly to be listening and
really almost looked--he couldn't believe it, no girl had ever done it
in his presence yet, but she did undoubtedly almost look--bored, if
Mrs. Pearce had not flung open the door, and holding the torn portions
of her apron bunched together in her hands, nervously announced Lady

"Oh," thought Priscilla, "what a day I'm having." But she got up and
was gracious, for Fritzing had praised this lady as kind and
sensible; and the moment Lady Shuttleworth set her eyes on her the
mystery of her son's behaviour flashed into clearness. "Tussie's seen
her!" she exclaimed inwardly; instantly adding "Upon my word I can't
blame the boy."

"My dear," she said, holding Priscilla's hand, "I've come to make
friends with you. See what a wise old woman I am. Frankly, I didn't
want you in those cottages, but now that my son has sold them I lose
no time in making friends. Isn't that true wisdom?"

"It's true niceness," said Priscilla, smiling down at the little old
lady whose eyes were twinkling all over her. "I don't think you'll
find us in any way a nuisance. All we want is to be quiet."

Mrs. Morrison sniffed.

"Do you really?" said Lady Shuttleworth. "Then we shall get on
capitally. It's what I like best myself. And you've come too," she
went on, turning to Mrs. Morrison, "to make friends with your new
parishioner? Why, Robin, and you too?"

"Oh, I'm only accidental," said Robin quickly. "Only a restorer of
lost property. And I'm just going," he added, beginning to make hasty
adieux; for Lady Shuttleworth invariably produced a conviction in him
that his clothes didn't fit and wanted brushing badly, and no young
man so attentive to his appearance as Robin could be expected to enjoy
that. He fled therefore, feeling that even Miss Schultz's loveliness
would not make up for Lady Shuttleworth's eyes; and in the passage,
from whence Mrs. Pearce had retreated, removing herself as far as
might be from the awful lady to whom her father-in-law owed rent and
who saw every hole, Robin pounced on his Uncle Cox's umbrella, tucked
is once more beneath his arm, and bore it swiftly back to the stand
where it had spent five peaceful years. "Really old women are rather
terrible things," he thought as he dropped it in again. "I wonder what
they're here for."

"Ah, it's there, I see," remarked his mother that night as she passed
through the hall on her way to dinner.

"What is?" inquired Robin who was just behind her.

"Your Uncle Cox's umbrella."

"Dear mater, why this extreme interest in my Uncle Cox's umbrella?"

"I'm glad to see it back again, that's all. One gets so used to

Lady Shuttleworth and his mother--I shudder to think that it is
possible Robin included his mother in the reflection about old women,
but on the other hand one never can tell--had stayed on at the farm
for another twenty minutes after he left. They would have stayed
longer, for Lady Shuttleworth was more interested in Priscilla than
she had ever been in any girl before, and Mrs. Morrison, who saw this
interest and heard the kind speeches, had changed altogether from ice
to amiability, crushing her leaflets in her hand and more than once
expressing hopes that Miss Neumann-Schultz would soon come up to tea
and learn to know and like Netta--I repeat, they would have stayed
much longer, but that an extremely odd thing happened.

Priscilla had been charming; chatting with what seemed absolute
frankness about her future life in the cottages, answering little
questionings of Lady Shuttleworth's with a discretion and plausibility
that would have warmed Fritzing's anxious heart, dwelling most, for
here the ground was safest, on her uncle, his work, his gifts and
character, and Lady Shuttleworth, completely fascinated, had offered
her help of every sort, help in the arranging of her little home, in
the planting of its garden, even in the building of those bathrooms
about which Tussie had been told by Mr. Dawson. She thought the desire
for many bathrooms entirely praiseworthy, and only a sign of lunacy in
persons of small means. Fritzing had assured Tussie that he had money
enough for the bathrooms; and if his poetic niece liked everybody
about her to be nicely washed was not that a taste to be applauded?
Perhaps Lady Shuttleworth expatiated on plans and probable
building-costs longer than Priscilla was able to be interested;
perhaps she was over-explanatory of practical details; anyhow
Priscilla's attention began to wander, and she gradually became very
tired of her callers. She answered in monosyllables, and her smile
grew vague. Then suddenly, at the first full stop Lady Shuttleworth
reached in a sentence about sanitation--the entire paragraph was never
finished--she got up with her usual deliberate grace, and held out her

"It has been very kind of you to come and see me," she said to the
astounded lady, with a little gracious smile. "I hope you will both
come again another time."

For an instant Lady Shuttleworth thought she was mad. Then to her own
amazement she found her body rising obediently and letting its hand be

Mrs. Morrison did the same. Both had their hands slightly pressed,
both were smiled upon, and both went out at once and speechless.
Priscilla stood calmly while they walked to the door, with the little
smile fixed on her face.

"Is it possible we've been insulted?" burst out Mrs. Morrison when
they got outside.

"I don't know," said Lady Shuttleworth, who looked extremely

"Do you think it can possibly be the barbarous German custom?"

"I don't know," said Lady Shuttleworth again.

And all the way to the vicarage, whither she drove Mrs. Morrison, she
was very silent, and no exclamations and conjectures of that indignant
lady's could get a word out of her.


Kunitz meanwhile was keeping strangely quiet. Not a breath, not a
whisper, had reached the newspapers from that afflicted little town of
the dreadful thing that had happened to it. It will be remembered that
the Princess ran away on a Monday, arrived at Baker's in the small
hours of Wednesday morning, and had now spent both Wednesday and
Thursday in Symford. There had, then, been ample time for Europe to
receive in its startled ears the news of her flight; yet Europe,
judging from its silence, knew nothing at all about it. In Minehead on
the Thursday evening Fritzing bought papers, no longer it is true with
the frenzy he had displayed at Dover when every moment seemed packed
with peril, but still with eagerness; and not a paper mentioned
Kunitz. On the Saturday he did find the laconic information in the
London paper he had ordered to be sent him every day that the Grand
Duke of Lothen-Kunitz who was shooting in East Prussia had been joined
there by that Prince--I will not reveal his august name--who had so
badly wanted to marry Priscilla. And on the Sunday--it was of course
the paper published in London on Saturday--he read that the Princess
Priscilla of Lothen-Kunitz, the second and only unmarried daughter of
the Grand Duke, was confined to her bed by a sharp attack of
influenza. After that there was utter silence. Fritzing showed
Priscilla the paragraph about her influenza, and she was at first very
merry over it. The ease with which a princess can shake off her
fetters the moment she seriously tries to surprised her, and amused
her too, for a little. It surprised Fritzing, but without amusing him,
for he was a man who was never amused. Indeed, I am unable to recall
any single occasion on which I saw him smile. Other emotions shook him
vigorously as we know, but laughter never visited him with its
pleasant ticklings under the ribs; it slunk away abashed before a task
so awful, and left him at his happiest to a mood of mild contentment.
"Your Royal Parent," he remarked to Priscilla, "has chosen that which
is ever the better part of valour, and is hushing the incident up."

"He never loved me," said Priscilla, wistfully. On thinking it over
she was not quite sure that she liked being allowed to run away so
easily. Did nobody care, then, what became of her? Was she of
positively no value at all? Running away is all very well, but your
pride demands that those runned from shall at least show some sign of
not liking it, make some effort, however humble, to fetch you back. If
they do not, if they remain perfectly quiescent and resigned, not even
sending forth a wail that shall be audible, you are naturally
extremely crushed. "My father," said Priscilla bitterly, "doesn't
care a bit. He'll give out I'm dangerously ill, and then you'll see,
Fritzi--I shall either die, or be sent away for an interminable
yachting cruise with the Countess. And so dust will be thrown in
people's eyes. My father is very good at that, and the Countess is a
perfect genius. You'll see."

But Fritzing never saw, for there was no more mention at all either of
Kunitz or of influenza. And just then he was so much taken up by his
efforts to get into the cottages as quickly as possible that after a
passing feeling of thankfulness that the Grand Duke should be of such
a convenient indifference to his daughter's fate it dropped from his
mind in the easy fashion in which matters of importance always did
drop from it. What was the use, briefly reflected this philosopher, of
worrying about what they were or were not thinking at Kunitz? There
would be time enough for that when they actually began to do
something. He felt very safe from Kunitz in the folds of the Somerset
hills, and as the days passed calmly by he felt still safer. But
though no dangers seemed to threaten from without there were certain
dangers within that made it most desirable for them to get away from
Baker's and into their own little home without a moment's unnecessary
delay. He could not always be watching his tongue, and he found for
instance that it positively refused to call the Princess Ethel. It had
an almost equal objection to addressing her as niece; and it had a
most fatal habit of slipping out Grand Ducal Highnesses. True, at
first they mostly talked German together, but the tendency to talk
English grew more marked every day; it was in the air they breathed,
and they both could talk it so fatally well. Up at the cottages among
the workmen, or when they were joined by Mr. Dawson, grown zealous to
help, or by either of the young men Robin and Tussie, who seemed
constantly to be passing, the danger too was great. Fritzing was so
conscious of it that he used to break out into perspirations whenever
Priscilla was with him in public, and his very perspirations were
conspicuous. The strain made his manner oddly nervous when speaking to
or of his niece, and he became the subject of much conjecture to the
observant Robin. Robin thought that in spite of her caressing ways
with her uncle the girl must be privately a dreadful tyrant. It seemed
difficult to believe, but Robin prided himself on being ready to
believe anything at a moment's notice, especially if it was the worst,
and he called it having an open mind. The girl was obviously the most
spoilt of girls. No one could help seeing that. Her least wish seemed
to be for the uncle a command that was not even to be talked about.
Yet the uncle was never openly affectionate to her. It almost seemed
as though she must have some secret hold over him, be in possession,
perhaps, of some fact connected with a guilty past. But then this girl
and guilty pasts! Why, from the look in her eyes she could never even
have heard of such things. Robin thought himself fairly experienced
in knowledge of human nature, but he had to admit that he had never
yet met so incomprehensible a pair. He wanted to talk to Tussie
Shuttleworth about them, but Tussie would not talk. To Tussie it
seemed impossible to talk about Priscilla because she was sacred to
him, and she was sacred to him because he adored her so. He adored her
to an extent that amazes me to think of, worshipping her beauty with
all the headlong self-abasement of a very young man who is also a
poet. His soul was as wax within him, softest wax punched all over
with little pictures of Priscilla. No mother is happy while her
child's soul is in this state, and though he was extremely decent, and
hid it and smothered it and choked it with all the energy he
possessed, Lady Shuttleworth knew very well what was going on inside
him and spent her spare time trying to decide whether to laugh or to
cry over her poor Tussie. "When does Robin go back to Cambridge?" she
asked Mrs. Morrison the next time she met her, which was in the front
garden of a sick old woman's cottage.

Mrs. Morrison was going in with a leaflet; Lady Shuttleworth was going
in with a pound of tea. From this place they could see Priscilla's
cottage, and Robin was nailing up its creepers in the sight of all

"Ah--I know what you mean," said Mrs. Morrison quickly.

"It is always such a pity to see emotions wasted," said Lady
Shuttleworth slowly, as if weighing each word.

"Wasted? You do think she's an adventuress, then?" said Mrs. Morrison

"Sh-sh. My dear, how could I think anything so unkind? But we who are
old"--Mrs. Morrison jerked up her chin--"and can look on calmly, do
see the pity of it when beautiful emotions are lavished and wasted. So
much force, so much time frittered away in dreams. And all so useless,
so barren. Nothing I think is so sad as waste, and nothing is so
wasteful as a one-sided love."

Mrs. Morrison gave the pink tulle bow she liked to wear in the
afternoons at her throat an agitated pat, and tried to conceal her
misery that Augustus Shuttleworth should also have succumbed to Miss
Neumann-Schultz. That he had done so was very clear from Lady
Shuttleworth's portentous remarks, for it was not in human nature for
a woman to be thus solemn about the wasted emotions of other people's
sons. His doing so might save Robin's future, but it would ruin
Netta's. We all have our little plans for the future--dear rosy things
that we dote on and hug to our bosoms with more tenderness even than
we hug the babies of our bodies, and the very rosiest and best
developed of Mrs. Morrison's darling plans was the marriage of her
daughter Netta with the rich young man Augustus. It was receiving a
rude knock on its hopeful little head at this moment in old Mrs.
Jones's front garden, and naturally the author of its being winced.
Augustus, she feared, must be extremely far gone in love, and it was
not likely that the girl would let such a chance go. It was a
consolation that the marriage would be a scandal,--this person from
nowhere, this niece of a German teacher, carrying off the wealthiest
young man in the county. The ways of so-called Providence were quite
criminally inscrutable, she thought, in stark defiance of what a
vicar's wife should think; but then she was greatly goaded.

Priscilla herself came out of Mrs. Jones's door at that moment with a
very happy face. She had succeeded in comforting the sick woman to an
extent that surprised her. The sick woman had cheered up so suddenly
and so much that Priscilla, delighted, had at once concluded that work
among the sick poor was her true vocation. And how easy it had been! A
few smiles, a few kind words, a five-pound note put gently into the
withered old hands, and behold the thing was done. Never was sick
woman so much comforted as Mrs. Jones. She who had been disinclined to
speak above a whisper when Priscilla went in was able at the end of
the visit to pour forth conversation in streams, and quite loud
conversation, and even interspersed with chuckles. All Friday
Priscilla had tried to help in the arranging of her cottage, and had
made herself and Fritzing so tired over it that on Saturday she let
him go up alone and decided that she would, for her part, now begin to
do good to the people in the village. It was what she intended to do
in future. It was to be the chief work of her new life. She was going
to live like the poor and among them, smooth away their sorrows and
increase their joys, give them, as it were, a cheery arm along the
rough path of poverty, and in doing it get down herself out of the
clouds to the very soil, to the very beginnings and solid elementary
facts of life. And she would do it at once, and not sit idle at the
farm. It was on such idle days as the day Fritzing went to Minehead
that sillinesses assailed her soul--shrinkings of the flesh from
honest calico, disgust at the cooking, impatience at Annalise's
swollen eyes. Priscilla could have cried that night when she went to
bed, if she had not held tears in scorn, at the sickliness of her
spirit, her spirit that she had thought more than able to keep her
body in subjection, that she had hoped was unalterably firm and brave.
But see the uses of foolishness,--the reaction from it is so great
that it sends us with a bound twice as far again along the right road
as we were while we were wise and picking our way with clean shoes
slowly among the puddles. Who does not know that fresh impulse, so
strong and gracious, towards good that surges up in us after a period
of sitting still in mud? What an experience it is, that vigorous shake
and eager turning of our soiled face once more towards the blessed
light. "I will arise and go to my Father"--of all the experiences of
the spirit surely this is the most glorious; and behold the prudent,
the virtuous, the steadfast--dogged workers in the vineyard in the
heat of the day--are shut out from it for ever.

Priscilla had not backslided much; but short as her tarrying had been
among the puddles she too sprang forward after it with renewed
strength along the path she had chosen as the best, and having
completed the second of her good works--the first had been performed
just previously, and had been a warm invitation made personally from
door to door to all the Symford mothers to send their children to tea
and games at Baker's Farm the next day, which was Sunday--she came
away very happy from the comforted Mrs. Jones, and met the two
arriving comforters in the front garden.

Now Priscilla's and Mrs. Jones's last words together had been these:

"Is there anything else I can do for you?" Priscilla had asked,
leaning over the old lady and patting her arm in farewell.

"No, deary--you've done enough already, God bless your pretty face,"
said Mrs. Jones, squeezing the five-pound note ecstatically in her

"But isn't there anything you'd like? Can't I get you anything? See, I
can run about and you are here in bed. Tell me what I can do."

Mrs. Jones blinked and worked her mouth and blinked again and wheezed
and cleared her throat. "Well, I do know of something would comfort
me," she said at last, amid much embarrassed coughing.

"Tell me," said Priscilla.

"I don't like," coughed Mrs. Jones.

"Tell me," said Priscilla.

"I'll whisper it, deary."

Priscilla bent down her head, and the old lady put her twitching mouth
to her ear.

"Why, of course," said Priscilla smiling, "I'll go and get you some at

"Now God for ever bless your beautiful face, darlin'!" shrilled Mrs.
Jones, quite beside herself with delight. "The Cock and 'Ens,
deary--that's the place. And the quart bottles are the best; one gets
more comfort out of them, and they're the cheapest in the end."

And Priscilla issuing forth on this errand met the arriving visitors
in the garden.

"How do you do," she said in a happy voice, smiling gaily at both of
them. She had seen neither since she had dismissed them, but naturally
she had never given that strange proceeding a thought.

"Oh--how do you do," said Lady Shuttleworth, surprised to see her
there, and with a slight and very unusual confusion of manner.

Mrs. Morrison said nothing but stood stiffly in the background,
answering Priscilla's smile with a stern, reluctant nod.

"I've been talking to poor old Mrs. Jones. Your son"--she looked at
Mrs. Morrison--"told me how ill she was."

"Did he?" said Mrs. Morrison, hardly raising her eyes a moment from
the ground. This girl was her double enemy: bound, whatever she did,
to make either a fool of her son or of her daughter.

"So I went in and tried to cheer her up. And I really believe I did."

"Well that was very kind of you," said Lady Shuttleworth, smiling in
spite of herself, unable to withstand the charm of Priscilla's
personality. How supremely ridiculous of Mrs. Morrison to think that
this girl was an adventuress. Such are the depths of ignorance one can
descend to if one is buried long enough in the country.

"Now," said Priscilla cheerfully, "she wants rum, and I'm just going
to buy her some."

"Rum?" cried Lady Shuttleworth in a voice of horror; and Mrs. Morrison
started violently.

"Is it bad for her?" said Priscilla, surprised.

"Bad!" cried Lady Shuttleworth.

"It is," said Mrs. Morrison with her eyes on the ground, "poison for
both body and soul."

"Dear me," said Priscilla, her face falling. "Why, she said it would
comfort her."

"It will poison both her body and her soul," repeated Mrs. Morrison

"My dear," said Lady Shuttleworth, "our efforts are all directed
towards training our people to keep from drinking."

"But she doesn't want to drink," said Priscilla. "She only wants to
taste it now and then. I'm afraid she's dying. Mustn't she die

"It is our duty," said Mrs. Morrison, "to see that our parishioners
die sober."

"But I've promised," said Priscilla.

"Did she--did she ask for it herself?" asked Lady Shuttleworth, a
great anxiety in her voice.

"Yes, and I promised."

Both the women looked very grave. Mrs. Jones, who was extremely old
and certainly dying--not from any special disease but from mere
inability to go on living--had been up to this a shining example to
Symford of the manner in which Christian old ladies ought to die. As
such she was continually quoted by the vicar's wife, and Lady
Shuttleworth had felt an honest pride in this ordered and seemly
death-bed. The vicar went every day and sat with her and said that he
came away refreshed. Mrs. Morrison read her all those of her leaflets
that described the enthusiasm with which other good persons behave in
a like case. Lady Shuttleworth never drove through the village without
taking her some pleasant gift--tea, or fruit, or eggs, or even little
pots of jam, to be eaten discreetly and in spoonfuls. She also paid a
woman to look in at short intervals during the day and shake up her
pillow. Kindness and attention and even affection could not, it will
be admitted, go further; all three had been heaped on Mrs. Jones with
generous hands; and in return she had expressed no sentiments that
were not appropriate, and never, never had breathed the faintest
suggestion to any of her benefactors that what she really wanted most
was rum. It shocked both the women inexpressibly, and positively
pained Lady Shuttleworth. Mrs. Morrison privately believed Priscilla
had put the idea into the old lady's head, and began to regard her in
something of the light of a fiend.

"Suppose," said Priscilla, "we look upon it as medicine."

"But my dear, it is not medicine," said Lady Shuttleworth.

"It is poison," repeated Mrs. Morrison.

"How can it be if it does her so much good? I must keep my promise. I
wouldn't disappoint her for the world. If only you'd seen her
delight"--they quivered--"you'd agree that she mustn't be
disappointed, poor old dying thing. Why, it might kill her. But
suppose we treat it as a medicine, and I lock up the bottle and go
round and give her a little myself three or four times a day--wouldn't
that be a good plan? Surely it couldn't hurt?"

"There is no law to stop you," said Mrs. Morrison; and Lady
Shuttleworth stared at the girl in silent dismay.

"I can try it at least," said Priscilla; "and if I find it's really
doing her harm I'll leave off. But I promised, and she's expecting it
now every minute. I can't break my promise. Do tell me--is the Cock
and Hens that inn round the corner? She told me it was best there."

"But you cannot go yourself to the Cock and Hens and buy rum,"
exclaimed Lady Shuttleworth, roused to energy; and her voice was full
of so determined a protest that the vicar's wife, who thought it
didn't matter at all where such a young woman went, received a fresh

"Why not?" inquired Priscilla.

"My dear, sooner than you should do that I'll--I'll go and buy it
myself," cried Lady Shuttleworth.

"Gracious heavens," thought Mrs. Morrison, perfectly staggered by this
speech. Had Lady Shuttleworth suddenly lost her reason? Or was she
already accepting the girl as her son's wife? Priscilla looked at her
a moment with grave eyes. "Is it because I'm a girl that I mustn't?"
she asked.

"Yes. For one thing. But--" Lady Shuttleworth shut her mouth.

"But what?" asked Priscilla.

"Oh, nothing."

"If it's not the custom of the country for a girl to go I'll send Mr.
Morrison," said Priscilla.

"Send Mr. Morrison?" gasped the vicar's wife.

"What, the vicar?" exclaimed Lady Shuttleworth.

"No, no," said Priscilla smiling, "young Mr. Morrison. I see him over
there tying up my creepers. He's so kind. He'll go. I'll ask him."

And nodding good-bye she hurried out of the garden and over to her
cottage, almost running in her desire not to keep Mrs. Jones any
longer in suspense.

The two women, rooted to the ground, watched her as if fascinated, saw
her speak to Robin on his ladder, saw how he started and dropped his
nails, saw how nimbly he clambered down, and how after the shortest
parley the infatuated youth rushed away at once in the direction of
the Cock and Hens. The only thing they did not see from where they
stood was the twinkle in his eye.

"I don't think," murmured Lady Shuttleworth, "I don't think, my dear,
that I quite care to go in to Mrs. Jones to-day. I--I think I'll go

"So shall I," said Mrs. Morrison, biting her lips to keep them steady.
"I shall go and speak to the vicar."


What she meant by speaking to the vicar was a vigorous stirring of him
up to wrath; but you cannot stir up vicars if they are truly good. The
vicar was a pious and patient old man, practiced in forgiveness, in
overlooking, in waiting, in trying again. Always slow to anger, as the
years drew him more and more apart into the shadows of old age and he
watched from their clear coolness with an ever larger comprehension
the younger generations striving together in the heat, he grew at last
unable to be angered at all. The scriptural injunction not to let the
sun go down upon your wrath had no uses for him, for he possessed no
wrath for the sun to go down upon. He had that lovable nature that
sees the best in everything first, and then prefers to look no
further. He took for granted that people were at bottom good and
noble, and the assumption went a long way towards making them so.
Robin, for instance, was probably saved by his father's unclouded
faith in him. Mrs. Morrison, a woman who had much trouble with
herself, having come into the world with the wings of the angel in her
well glued down and prevented from spreading by a multitude of little
defects, had been helped without her knowing it by his example out of
many a pit of peevishness and passion. Who shall measure the influence
of one kind and blameless life? His wife, in her gustier moments,
thought it sheer weakness, this persistent turning away from evil,
this refusal to investigate and dissect, to take sides, to wrestle.
The evil was there, and it was making an ostrich or a vegetable of
one's self to go on being calm in the face of it. With the blindness
of wives, who are prevented from seeing clearly by the very closeness
of the object--the same remark exactly applies to husbands--she did
not see that the vicar was the candle shining in a naughty world, that
he was the leaven that leaveneth the whole lump. And just as leaven
leavens by its mere presence in the lump, by merely passively being
there, and will go on doing it so long as there is a lump to leaven,
so had the vicar, more than his hardworking wife, more than the
untiring Lady Shuttleworth, more than any district visitor, parish
nurse, or other holy person, influenced Symford by simply living in it
in a way that would have surprised him had he known. There is a great
virtue in sweeping out one's own house and trimming its lamps before
starting on the house and lamps of a neighbour; and since new dust
settles every day, and lamps, I believe, need constant trimming, I
know not when the truly tidy soul will have attained so perfect a
spotlessness as to justify its issuing forth to attack the private
dust of other people. And if it ever did, lo, it would find the
necessity no longer there. Its bright untiringness would
unconsciously have done its work, and every dimmer soul within sight
of that cheerful shining been strengthened and inspired to go and do

But Mrs. Morrison, who saw things differently, was constantly trying
to stir up storms in the calm waters of the vicar's mind; and after
the episode in Mrs. Jones's front garden she made a very determined
effort to get him to rebuke Priscilla. Her own indignation was poured
out passionately. The vicar was surprised at her heat, he who was so
beautifully cool himself, and though he shook his head over Mrs.
Jones's rum he also smiled as he shook it. Nor was he more reasonable
about Robin. On the contrary, he declared that he would think mightily
little of a young man who did not immediately fall head over ears in
love with such a pretty girl.

"You don't mind our boy's heart being broken, then?" questioned his
wife bitterly; of her plans for Netta she had never cared to speak.

"My dear, if it is to be broken there is no young lady I would sooner
entrust with the job."

"You don't mind his marrying an adventuress, then?"

"My dear, I know of no adventuress."

"You rather like our old people to be tempted to drink, to have it
thrust upon them on their very dying beds?"

"Kate, are you not bitter?"

"Psha," said his wife, drumming her foot.

"Psha, Kate?" inquired the vicar mildly; and it is not always that
the saintly produce a soothing effect on their wives.

It really seemed as if the girl were to have her own way in Symford,
unchecked even by Lady Shuttleworth, whose attitude was entirely
incomprehensible. She was to be allowed to corrupt the little hamlet
that had always been so good, to lead it astray, to lure it down paths
of forbidden indulgence, to turn it topsy turvy to an extent not even
reached by the Dissenting family that had given so much trouble a few
years before. It was on the Sunday morning as the church bells were
ringing, that Mrs. Morrison, prayer-book in hand, looked in at Mrs.
Jones's on her way to service and discovered the five-pound note.

The old lady was propped up in bed with her open Bible on her lap and
her spectacles lying in it, and as usual presented to her visitor the
perfect realization of her ideal as to the looks and manners most
appropriate to ailing Christians. There was nowhere a trace of rum,
and the only glass in the room was innocently filled with the china
roses that flowered so profusely in the garden at Baker's Farm. But
Mrs. Morrison could not for all that dissemble the disappointment and
sternness of her heart, and the old lady glanced up at her as she came
in with a kind of quavering fearfulness, like that of a little child
who is afraid it may be going to be whipped, or of a conscientious dog
who has lapsed unaccountably from rectitude.

"I have come to read the gospel for the day to you," said Mrs.
Morrison, sitting down firmly beside her.

"Thank you mum," said Mrs. Jones with meekness.

"My prayer-book has such small print--give me your Bible."

A look of great anxiety came into Mrs. Jones's eyes, but the Bible was
drawn from between her trembling old hands, and Mrs. Morrison began to
turn its pages. She had not turned many before she came to the
five-pound note. "What is this?" she asked, in extreme surprise.

Mrs. Jones gave a little gasp, and twisted her fingers about.

"A five-pound note?" exclaimed Mrs. Morrison, holding it up. "How did
it come here?"

"It's mine, mum," quavered Mrs. Jones.

"Yours? Do you mean to say you have money hidden away and yet allow
Lady Shuttleworth to pay everything for you?"

"It's the first I ever 'ad, mum," faintly murmured the old lady, her
eyes following every movement of Mrs. Morrison's hands with a look of
almost animal anxiety.

"Where did it come from?"

"The young lady give it me yesterday, mum."

"The young lady?" Mrs. Morrison's voice grew very loud. "Do you mean
the person staying at the Pearces'?"

Mrs. Jones gulped, and feebly nodded.

"Most improper. Most wrong. Most dangerous. You cannot tell how she
came by it, and I must say I'm surprised at you, Mrs. Jones. It
probably is not a real one. It is unlikely a chit like that should be
able to give so large a sum away--" And Mrs. Morrison held up the note
to the light and turned it round and round, scrutinizing it from every
point of view, upside down, back to front, sideways, with one eye
shut; but it refused to look like anything but a good five-pound note,
and she could only repeat grimly "Most dangerous."

The old lady watched her, a terrible anxiety in her eyes. Her worst
fears were fulfilled when the vicar's wife folded it up and said
decidedly, "For the present I shall take care of it for you. You
cannot lie here with so much money loose about the place. Why, if it
got round the village you might have some one in who'd murder you.
People have been murdered before now for less than this. I shall speak
to the vicar about it." And she put it in her purse, shut it with a
snap, and took up the Bible again.

Mrs. Jones made a little sound between a gasp and a sob. Her head
rolled back on the pillow, and two tears dropped helplessly down the
furrows of her face. In that moment she felt the whole crushing misery
of being weak, and sick, and old,--so old that you have outlived your
claims to everything but the despotic care of charitable ladies, so
old that you are a mere hurdy-gurdy, expected each time any one in
search of edification chooses to turn your handle to quaver out tunes
of immortality. It is a bad thing to be very old. Of all the bad
things life forces upon us as we pass along it is the last and
worst--the bitterness at the bottom of the cup, the dregs of what for
many was after all always only medicine. Mrs. Jones had just enough of
the strength of fear left to keep quite still while the vicar's wife
read the Gospel in a voice that anger made harsh; but when she had
gone, after a parting admonition and a dreadful assurance that she
would come again soon, the tears rolled unchecked and piteous, and it
was a mercy that Priscilla also took it into her head to look in on
her way to church, for if she had not I don't know who would have
dried them for this poor baby of eighty-five. And I regret to say that
Priscilla's ideas of doing good were in such a state of crudeness that
she had no sooner mastered the facts brokenly sobbed out than she ran
to the cupboard and gave Mrs. Jones a tablespoonful of rum for the
strengthening of her body and then took out her purse and gave her
another five-pound note for the comforting of her soul. And then she
wiped her eyes, and patted her, and begged her not to mind. Such
conduct was, I suppose, what is called indiscriminate charity and
therefore blameworthy, but its effect was great. Priscilla went to
church with the reflection of the old lady's wonder and joy shining in
her own face. "Hide it," had been her last words at the door, her
finger on her lips, her head nodding expressively in the direction of
the vicarage; and by this advice she ranged herself once and for all
on the opposite side to Mrs. Morrison and the followers of obedience
and order. Mrs. Jones would certainly have taken her for an angel
working miracles with five-pound notes and an inexhaustible pocket if
it had not been for the rum; even in her rapture she did feel that a
genuine angel would be incapable of any really harmonious combination
with rum. But so far had she fallen from the kind of thinking that the
vicar's wife thought proper in a person so near her end that she
boldly told herself she preferred Priscilla.

Now this was the day of Priscilla's children's party, and though all
Symford had been talking of it for twenty-four hours the news of it
had not yet reached Mrs. Morrison's ears. The reason was that Symford
talked in whispers, only too sure that the authorities would consider
it wrong for it to send its children a-merrymaking on a Sunday, and
desperately afraid lest the forbidden cup should be snatched from its
longing lips. But the news did get to Mrs. Morrison's ears, and it got
to them in the porch of the church as she was passing in to prayer.
She had it from an overgrown girl who was waiting outside for her
father, and who was really much too big for children's parties but had
got an invitation by looking wistful at the right moment.

"Emma," said Mrs. Morrison in passing, "you have not returned the
book I lent you. Bring it up this afternoon."

"Please mum, I'll bring it to-morrow, mum," said the girl, curtseying
and turning red.

"No, Emma, you will do as I direct. One can never be too particular
about returning books. You have kept it an unconscionable time. You
will bring it to the vicarage at four o'clock."

"Please mum, I--I can't at four o'clock."

"And pray, Emma, what is to prevent you?"

"I--I'm going to Baker's, mum."

"Going to Baker's? Why are you going to Baker's, Emma?"

So it all came out.

The bells were just stopping, and Mrs. Morrison, who played the organ,
was forced to hurry in without having told Emma her whole opinion of
those who gave and those who attended Sunday parties, but the prelude
she played that day expressed the tumult of her mind very well, and
struck Tussie Shuttleworth, who had sensitive ears, quite cold. He was
the only person in the church acutely sensitive to sound, and it was
very afflicting to him, this plunging among the pedals, this angry
shrieking of stops no man ever yet had heard together. The very blower
seemed frightened, and blew in gasps; and the startled Tussie,
comparing the sounds to the clamourings of a fiend in pain, could not
possibly guess they were merely the musical expression of the state of
a just woman's soul.

Mrs. Morrison's anger was perfectly proper. It had been the
conscientious endeavour of twenty-five solid years of her life to make
of Symford a model parish, and working under Lady Shuttleworth, whose
power was great since all the cottages were her son's and were lived
in by his own labourers, it had been kept in a state of order so
nearly perfect as to raise it to the position of an example to the
adjoining parishes. The church was full, the Sunday-school well
attended, the Sabbath was kept holy, the women were one and all sober
and thrifty, the men were fairly satisfactory except on Saturday
nights, there was no want, little sickness, and very seldom downright
sin. The expression downright sin is Mrs. Morrison's own,--heaven
forbid that I should have anything to do with such an expression--and
I suppose she meant by it thieving, murder, and other grossnesses that
would bring the sinner, as she often told her awe-struck Dorcas class,
to infallible gallows, and the sinner's parents' grey hairs to
sorrowful graves. "Please mum, will the parents go too?" asked a girl
one day who had listened breathlessly, an inquiring-minded girl who
liked to get to the root of things.

"Go where, Bessie?"

"With the grey hairs, mum."

Mrs. Morrison paused a moment and fixed a searching gaze on Bessie's
face. Then she said with much dignity, "The parents, Bessie, will
naturally follow the hairs." And to a girl bred in the near
neighbourhood of Exmoor it sounded very sporting.

Into this innocent, frugal, well-managed hamlet Priscilla dropped
suddenly from nowhere, trailing with her thunder-clouds of impulsive
and childish ideas about doing good, and holding in her hands the
dangerous weapon of wealth. It is hard to stand by and see one's
life-work broken up before one's eyes by an irresponsible stranger, a
foreigner, a girl, a young girl, a pretty girl; especially hard if one
was born with an unbending character, tough and determined, ambitious
and vain. These are not reproaches being piled up on the vicar's wife;
who shall dare reproach another? And how could she help being born so?
We would all if we could be born good and amiable and beautiful, and
remain so perpetually during our lives; and she too was one of God's
children, and inside her soul, behind the crust of failings that
hindered it during these years from coming out, sat her bright angel,
waiting. Meanwhile she was not a person to watch the destruction of
her hopes without making violent efforts to stop it; and immediately
she had played the vicar into the vestry after service that Sunday she
left the congregation organless and hurried away into the churchyard.
There she stood and waited for the villagers to question them about
this unheard of thing; and it was bad to see how they melted away in
other directions,--out at unused gates, making detours over the grass,
visiting the long-neglected graves of relatives, anywhere rather than
along the ordinary way, which was the path where the vicar's wife
stood. At last came Mrs. Vickerton the postmistress. She was deep in
conversation with the innkeeper's wife, and did not see the figure on
the path in time to melt away herself. If she had she certainly would
have melted, for though she had no children but her grown-up son she
felt very guilty; for it was her son who had been sent the afternoon
before to Minehead by Priscilla with a list as long as his arm of the
cakes and things to be ordered for the party. "Oh Mrs. Morrison, I
didn't see you," she exclaimed, starting and smiling and turning red.
She was a genteel woman who called no one mum.

The innkeeper's wife slipped deftly away among graves.

"Is it true that the children are going to Baker's Farm this
afternoon?" asked Mrs. Morrison, turning and walking grimly by Mrs.

"I did hear something about it, Mrs. Morrison," said Mrs. Vickerton,
hiding her agitation behind a series of smiles with sudden endings.


"I did hear they pretty well all thought of it," said Mrs. Vickerton,
coughing. "Beautiful weather, isn't it, Mrs. Morrison."

"They are to have tea there?"

Mrs. Vickerton gazed pleasantly at the clouds and the tree-tops. "I
should think there might be tea, Mrs. Morrison," she said; and the
vision of that mighty list of cakes rising before her eyes made her
put up her hand and cough again.

"Have the parents lost their senses?"

"I couldn't say--I really couldn't say, Mrs. Morrison."

"Have they forgotten the commandments?"

"Oh I 'ope not, Mrs. Morrison."

"And the vicar's teaching? And the good habits of years?"

"Oh, Mrs. Morrison."

"I never heard of anything more disgraceful. Disgraceful to the giver
and to those who accept. Wicked, scandalous, and unscriptural."

"We all 'oped you'd see no harm in it, Mrs. Morrison. It's a fine day,
and they'll just have tea, and perhaps--sing a little, and they don't
get treats often this time of year."

"Why, it's disgraceful--disgraceful anywhere to have a treat on a
Sunday; but in a parish like this it is scandalous. When Lady
Shuttleworth hears of it I quite expect she'll give everybody notice
to quit."

"Notice to quit? Oh I hope not, Mrs. Morrison. And she do know about
it. She heard it last night. And Sir Augustus himself has promised the
young lady to go and help."

"Sir Augustus?"

"And we all think it so kind of him, and so kind of the young lady
too," said Mrs. Vickerton, gathering courage.

"Sir Augustus?" repeated Mrs. Morrison. Then a horrid presentiment
laid cold fingers on her heart. "Is any one else going to help?" she
asked quickly.

"Only the young lady's uncle, and--"

Mrs. Vickerton hesitated, and looked at the vicar's wife with a
slightly puzzled air.

"And who?"

"Of course Mr. Robin."


It is the practice of Providence often to ignore the claims of poetic
justice. Properly, the Symford children ought to have been choked by
Priscilla's cakes; and if they had been, the parents who had sent them
merrymaking on a Sunday would have been well punished by the
undeniable awfulness of possessing choked children. But nobody was
choked; and when in the early days of the following week there were in
nearly every cottage pangs being assuaged, they were so naturally the
consequence of the strange things that had been eaten that only Mrs.
Morrison was able to see in them weapons being wielded by Providence
in the cause of eternal right. She, however, saw it so plainly that
each time during the next few days that a worried mother came and
asked advice, she left her work or her meals without a murmur, and
went to the castor-oil cupboard with an alacrity that was almost
cheerful; and seldom, I suppose, have such big doses been supplied and
administered as the ones she prescribed for suffering Symford.

But on this dark side of the picture I do not care to look; the
party, anyhow, had been a great success, and Priscilla became at
one stroke as popular among the poor of Symford as she had been in
Lothen-Kunitz. Its success it is true was chiefly owing to the
immense variety of things to eat she had provided; for the
conjuror, merry-go-round, and cocoa-nuts to be shied at that she
had told young Vickerton to bring with him from Minehead, had all
been abandoned on Tussie's earnest advice, who instructed her
innocent German mind that these amusements, undoubtedly admirable
in themselves and on week days, were looked upon askance in England
on Sundays.

"Why?" asked Priscilla, in great surprise.

"It's not keeping the day holy," said Tussie, blushing.

"How funny," said Priscilla.

"Oh, I don't know."

"Why," said Priscilla, "in Kun--" but she pulled herself up just as
she was about to give him a description of the varied nature of Sunday
afternoons in Kunitz.

"You must have noticed," said Tussie, "as you have lived so long in
London, that everything's shut on Sundays. There are no theatres and
things--certainly no cocoa-nuts."

"No, I don't remember any cocoa-nuts," mused Priscilla, her memory
going over those past Sundays she had spent in England.

Tussie tried to make amends for having obstructed her plans by
exerting himself to the utmost to entertain the children as far as
decorum allowed. He encouraged them to sing, he who felt every
ugliness in sound like a blow; he urged them to recite for prizes of
sixpences, he on whose soul Casabianca and Excelsior had much the
effect of scourges on a tender skin; he led them out into a field
between tea and supper and made them run races, himself setting the
example, he who caught cold so easily that he knew it probably meant a
week in bed. Robin helped too, but his exertions were confined to the
near neighbourhood of Priscilla. His mother had been very angry with
him, and he had been very angry with his mother for being angry, and
he had come away from the vicarage with a bad taste in his mouth and a
great defiance in his heart. It was the first time he had said hard
things to her, and it had been a shocking moment,--a moment sometimes
inevitable in the lives of parents and children of strong character
and opposed desires. He had found himself quite unable in his anger to
clothe his hard sayings in forms of speech that would have hidden
their brutal force, and he had turned his back at last on her
answering bitterness and fled to Baker's, thankful to find when he got
there that Priscilla's beauty and the interest of the mystery that
hung about her wiped out every other remembrance.

Priscilla was in the big farm kitchen, looking on at the children
having tea. That was all she did at her party, except go round every
now and then saying pleasant little things to each child; but this
going round was done in so accomplished a manner, she seemed so used
to it, was so well provided with an apparently endless supply of
appropriate remarks, was so kind, and yet so--what was the word?
could it be mechanical?--that Robin for the hundredth time found
himself pondering over something odd, half-remembered, elusive about
the girl. Then there was the uncle; manifestly a man who had never
before been required to assist at a school-treat, manifestly on this
occasion an unhappy man, yet look how he worked while she sat idly
watching, look how he laboured round with cakes and bread-and-butter,
clumsily, strenuously, with all the heat and anxiety of one eager to
please and obey. Yes, that was what he did; Robin had hit on it at
last. This extraordinary uncle obeyed his niece; and Robin knew very
well that Germany was the last country in the world to produce men who
did that. Had he not a cousin who had married a German officer? A
whilom gay and sprightly cousin, who spent her time, as she dolefully
wrote, having her mind weeded of its green growth of little opinions
and gravelled and rolled and stamped with the opinions of her male
relations-in-law. "And I'd rather have weeds than gravel," she wrote
at the beginning of this process when she was still restive under the
roller, "for they at least are green." But long ago she had left off
complaining, long ago she too had entered into the rest that remaineth
for him who has given up, who has become what men praise as reasonable
and gods deplore as dull, who is tired of bothering, tired of trying,
tired of everything but sleep. Then there was the girl's maid. This
was the first time Robin had seen her; and while she was helping Mrs.
Pearce pour out cups of chocolate and put a heaped spoonful of whipped
cream on the top of each cup in the fashion familiar to Germans and
altogether lovely in the eyes of the children of Symford, Robin went
to her and offered help.

Annalise looked at him with heavy eyes, and shook her head.

"She don't speak no English, sir," explained Mrs. Pearce. "This one's
pure heathen."

"No English," echoed Annalise drearily, who had at least learned that
much, "no English, no English."

Robin gathered up his crumbs of German and presented them to her with
a smile. Immediately on hearing her own tongue she flared into life,
and whipping out a little pocket-book and pencil asked him eagerly
where she was.

"Where you are?" repeated Robin, astonished.

"_Ja, Ja_. The address. This address. What is it? Where am I?"

"What, don't you know?"

"Tell me--quick," begged Annalise.

"But why--I don't understand. You must know you are in England?"

"England! Naturally I know it is England. But this--where is it? What
is its address? For letters to reach me? Quick--tell me quick!"

Robin, however, would not be quick. "Why has no one told you?" he
asked, with an immense curiosity.

"_Ach_, I have not been told. I know nothing. I am kept in the dark
like--like a prisoner." And Annalise dragged her handkerchief out of
her pocket, and put it to her eyes just in time to stop her ready
tears from falling into the whipped cream and spoiling it.

"There she goes again," sniffed Mrs. Pearce. "It's cry, cry, from
morning till night, and nothing good enough for her. It's a mercy she
goes out of this to-morrow. I never see such an image."

"Tell me," implored Annalise, "tell me quick, before my mistress--"

"I'll write it for you," said Robin, taking the note-book from her.
"You know you go into a cottage next week, so I'll put your new
address." And he wrote it in a large round hand and gave it to her
quickly, for Mrs. Pearce was listening to all this German and watching
him write with a look that made him feel cheap. So cheap did it make
him feel that he resisted for the present his desire to go on
questioning Annalise, and putting his hands in his pockets sauntered
away to the other end of the kitchen where Priscilla sat looking on.
"I'm afraid that really was cheap of me," he thought ruefully, when he
came once more into Priscilla's sweet presence; but he comforted
himself with the reflection that no girl ought to be mysterious,
and if this one chose to be so it was fair to cross her plans
occasionally. Yet he went on feeling cheap; and when Tussie who was
hurrying along with a cup of chocolate in each hand ran into him and
spilt some on his sleeve the sudden rage with which he said "Confound
you, Tussie," had little to do with the hot stuff soaking through to
his skin and a great deal with the conviction that Tussie, despised
from their common childhood for his weakness, smallness and ugliness,
would never have done what he had just done and betrayed what the girl
had chosen to keep secret from her maid.

"But why secret? Why? Why?" asked Robin, torn with desire to find out
all about Priscilla.

"I'm going to do this often," said Priscilla, looking up at him with a
pleased smile. "I never saw such easily amused little creatures. Don't
you think it is beautiful, to give poor people a few happy moments

"Very beautiful," said Robin, his eyes on her face.

"It is what I mean to do in future," she said dreamily, her chin on
her hand.

"It will be expensive," remarked Robin; for there were nearly two
hundred children, and Priscilla had collected the strangest things in
food on the long tables as a result of her method, when inviting, of
asking each mother what her child best liked to eat and then ordering
it with the lavishness of ignorance from Minehead.

"Oh, we shall live so simply ourselves that there will be enough left
to do all I want. And it will be the most blessed change and
refreshment, living simply. Fritzi hated the fuss and luxury quite as
much as I did."

"Did he?" said Robin, holding his breath. The girl was evidently off
her guard. He had not heard her call her uncle baldly Fritzi before;
and what fuss and luxury could a German teacher's life have known?

"He it was who first made me see that the body is more than meat and
the soul than raiment," mused Priscilla.

"Was he?"

"He pulled my soul out of the flesh-pots. I'm a sort of Israel come
out of Egypt, but an Egypt that was altogether too comfortable."

"Too comfortable? Can one be too comfortable?"

"I was. I couldn't move or see or breathe for comfort. It was like a
feather bed all over me."

"I wouldn't call that comfort," said Robin, for she paused, and he was
afraid she was not going on. "It sounds much more like torture."

"So it was at last. And Fritzi helped me to shake it off. If he hadn't
I'd have smothered slowly, and perhaps if I'd never known him I'd have
done it as gracefully as my sisters did. Why, they don't know to this
day that they are dead."

Robin was silent. He was afraid to speak lest anything he said should
remind her of the part she ought to be playing. He had no doubt now
at all that she was keeping a secret. A hundred questions were burning
on his lips. He hated himself for wanting to ask them, for being so
inquisitive, for taking advantage of the girl's being off her guard,
but what are you to do with your inherited failings? Robin's mother
was inquisitive and it had got into his blood, and I know of no moral
magnesia that will purify these things away. "You said the other day,"
he burst out at last, quite unable to stop himself, "that you only had
your uncle in the world. Are your sisters--are they in London?"

"In London?" Priscilla gazed at him a moment with a vague surprise.
Then fright flashed into her eyes. "Did I not tell you they were dead?
Smothered?" she said, getting up quickly, her face setting into the
frown that had so chilled Tussie on the heath.

"But I took that as a parable."

"How can I help how you took it?"

And she instantly left him and went away round the tables, beginning
those little pleasant observations to the children again that struck
him as so strange.

Well did he know the sort of thing. He had seen Lady Shuttleworth do
it fifty times to the tenants, to the cottagers, at flower-shows,
bazaars, on all occasions of public hospitality or ceremony; but
practised and old as Lady Shuttleworth was this girl seemed yet more
practised. She was a finished artist in the work, he said to himself
as he leaned against the wall, his handsome face flushed, his eyes
sulky, watching her. It was enough to make any good-looking young
man sulky, the mixture of mystery and aloofness about Miss
Neumann-Schultz. Extraordinary as it seemed, up to this point he had
found it quite impossible to indulge with her in that form of more or
less illustrated dialogue known to Symford youths and maidens as
billing and cooing. Very fain would Robin have billed and have cooed.
It was a practice he excelled in. And yet though he had devoted
himself for three whole days, stood on ladders, nailed up creepers,
bought and carried rum, had a horrible scene with his mother because
of her, he had not got an inch nearer things personal and cosy. Miss
Neumann-Schultz thanked him quite kindly and graciously for his
pains--oh, she was very gracious; gracious in the sort of way Lady
Shuttleworth used to be when he came home for the holidays and she
patted his head and uttered benignities--and having thanked,
apparently forgot him till the next time she wanted anything.

"Fritzi," said Priscilla, when in the course of her progress down the
room she met that burdened man, "I'm dreadfully afraid I've said some
foolish things."

Fritzing put the plate of cake he was carrying down on a dresser and
wiped his forehead. "Ma'am," he said looking worried, "I cannot watch
you and administer food to these barbarians simultaneously. If your
tongue is so unruly I would recommend complete silence."

"I've said something about my sisters."

"Sisters, ma'am?" said Fritzing anxiously.

"Does it matter?"

"Matter? I have carefully instructed the woman Pearce, who has
certainly informed, as I intended she should inform, the entire
village, that you were my brother's only child. Consequently, ma'am,
you have no sisters."

Priscilla made a gesture of despair. "How fearfully difficult it is
not to be straightforward," she said.

"Yes, ma'am, it is. Since we started on this adventure the whole race
of rogues has become the object of my sincerest admiration. What wits,
what quickness, what gifts--so varied and so deftly used--what skill
in deception, what resourcefulness in danger, what self-command--"

"Yes but Fritzi what are we to do?"

"Do, ma'am? About your royal sisters? Would to heaven I had been born
a rogue!"

"Yes, but as you were not--ought I to go back and say they're only
half-sisters? Or step-sisters? Or sisters in law? Wouldn't that do?"

"With whom were you speaking?"

"Mr. Morrison."

"Ma'am, let me beg you to be more prudent with that youth than with
any one. Our young friend Cæsar Augustus is I believe harmlessness
itself compared with him. Be on your guard, ma'am. Curb that fatal
feminine appendage, your tongue. I have remarked that he watches us.
But a short time since I saw him eagerly conversing with your Grand
Ducal Highness's maid. For me he has already laid several traps that I
have only just escaped falling into by an extraordinary presence of
mind and a nimbleness in dialectic almost worthy of a born rogue."

"Oh Fritzi," said the frightened Priscilla, laying her hand on his
sleeve, "do go and tell him I didn't mean what I said."

Fritzing wiped his brow again. "I fail to understand," he said,
looking at Priscilla with worried eyes, "what there is about us that
can possibly attract any one's attention."

"Why, there isn't anything," said Priscilla, with conviction. "We've
been most careful and clever. But just now--I don't know why--I began
to think aloud."

"Think aloud?" exclaimed Fritzing, horrified. "Oh ma'am let me beseech
you never again to do that. Better a thousand times not to think at
all. What was it that your Grand Ducal Highness thought aloud?"

And Priscilla, shamefaced, told him as well as she could remember.

"I will endeavour to remedy it," said poor Fritzing, running an
agitated hand through his hair.

Priscilla sighed, and stood drooping and penitent by the dresser while
he went down the room to where Robin still leaned against the wall.

"Sir," said Fritzing--he never called Robin young man, as he did
Tussie--"my niece tells me you are unable to distinguish truth from

"What?" said Robin staring.

"You are not, sir, to suppose that when my niece described her sisters
as dead that they are not really so."

"All right sir," said Robin, his eyes beginning to twinkle.

"The only portion of the story in which my niece used allegory was
when she described them as having been smothered. These young ladies,
sir, died in the ordinary way, in their beds."

"Feather beds, sir?" asked Robin briskly.

"Sir, I have not inquired into the nature of the beds," said Fritzing
with severity.

"Is it not rather unusual," asked Robin, "for two young ladies in one
family to die at once? Were they unhealthy young ladies?"

"Sir, they did not die at once, nor were they unhealthy. They were
perfectly healthy until they--until they began to die."

"Indeed," said Robin, with an interest properly tinged with regret.
"At least, sir," he added politely, after a pause in which he and
Fritzing stared very hard at each other, "I trust I may be permitted
to express my sympathy."

"Sir, you may." And bowing stiffly Fritzing returned to Priscilla, and
with a sigh of relief informed her that he had made things right

"Dear Fritzi," said Priscilla looking at him with love and admiration,
"how clever you are."


It was on the Tuesday, the day Priscilla and Fritzing left Baker's and
moved into Creeper Cottage, that the fickle goddess who had let them
nestle for more than a week beneath her wing got tired of them and
shook them out. Perhaps she was vexed by their clumsiness at
pretending, perhaps she thought she had done more than enough for
them, perhaps she was an epicure in words and did not like a cottage
called Creeper; anyhow she shook them out. And if they had had eyes to
see they would not have walked into their new home with such sighs of
satisfaction and such a comfortable feeling that now at last the era
of systematic serenity and self-realization, beautifully combined with
the daily exercise of charity, had begun; for waiting for them in
Priscilla's parlour, established indeed in her easy-chair by the fire
and warming her miserable toes on the very hob, sat grey Ill Luck
horribly squinting.

Creeper Cottage, it will be remembered, consisted of two cottages,
each with two rooms, an attic, and a kitchen, and in the back yard the
further accommodation of a coal-hole, a pig-stye, and a pump. Thanks
to Tussie's efforts more furniture had been got from Minehead. Tussie
had gone in himself, after a skilful questioning of Fritzing had made
him realize how little had been ordered, and had, with Fritzing's
permission, put the whole thing into the hands of a Minehead firm.
Thus there was a bed for Annalise and sheets for everybody, and the
place was as decent as it could be made in the time. It was so tiny
that it got done, after a great deal of urging from Tussie, by the
Tuesday at midday, and Tussie himself had superintended the storing of
wood in the coal-hole and the lighting of the fire that was to warm
his divine lady and that Ill Luck found so comforting to her toes. The
Shuttleworth horses had a busy time on the Friday, Saturday, and
Monday, trotting up and down between Symford and Minehead; and the
Shuttleworth servants and tenants, not being more blind than other
people, saw very well that their Augustus had lost his heart to the
lady from nowhere. As for Lady Shuttleworth, she only smiled a rueful
smile and stroked her poor Tussie's hair in silence when, having
murmured something about the horses being tired, he reproved her by
telling her that it was everybody's duty to do what they could for
strangers in difficulties.

Priscilla's side of Creeper Cottage was the end abutting on the
churchyard, and her parlour had one latticed window looking south down
the village street, and one looking west opening directly on to the
churchyard. The long grass of the churchyard, its dandelions and
daisies, grew right up beneath this window to her wall, and a tall
tombstone half-blocked her view of the elm-trees and the church. Over
this room, with the same romantic and gloomy outlook, was her bedroom.
Behind her parlour was what had been the shoemaker's kitchen, but it
had been turned into a temporary bathroom. True no water was laid on
as yet, but the pump was just outside, and nobody thought there would
be any difficulty about filling the bath every morning by means of the
pump combined with buckets. Over the bathroom was the attic. This was
Annalise's bedroom. Nobody thought there would be any difficulty about
that either; nobody, in fact, thought anything about anything. It was
a simple place, after the manner of attics, with a window in its
sloping ceiling through which stars might be studied with great
comfort as one lay in bed. A frugal mind, an earnest soul, would have
liked the attic, would have found a healthy enjoyment in a place so
plain and fresh, so swept in windy weather by the airs of heaven. A
poet, too, would certainly have flooded any parts of it that seemed
dark with the splendour of his own inner light; a nature-lover, again,
would have quickly discovered the spiders that dwelt in its corners,
and spent profitable hours on all fours observing them. But an
Annalise--what was she to make of such a place? Is it not true that
the less a person has inside him of culture and imagination the more
he wants outside him of the upholstery of life? I think it is true;
and if it is, then the vacancy of Annalise's mind may be measured by
the fact that what she demanded of life in return for the negative
services of not crying and wringing her hands was nothing less filled
with food and sofas and servants than a grand ducal palace.

But neither Priscilla nor Fritzing knew anything of Annalise's mind,
and if they had they would instantly have forgotten it again, of such
extreme unimportance would it have seemed. Nor would I dwell on it
myself if it were not that its very vacancy and smallness was the
cause of huge upheavals in Creeper Cottage, and the stone that the
builders ignored if they did not actually reject behaved as such
stones sometimes do and came down upon the builders' heads and crushed
them. Annalise, you see, was unable to appreciate peace, yet on the
other hand she was very able to destroy the peace of other people; and
Priscilla meant her cottage to be so peaceful--a temple, a holy place,
within whose quiet walls sacred years were going to be spent in doing
justly, in loving mercy, in walking humbly. True she had not as yet
made a nearer acquaintance with its inconveniences, but anyhow she
held the theory that inconveniences were things to be laughed at
and somehow circumvented, and that they do not enter into the
consideration of persons whose thoughts are absorbed by the burning
desire to live out their ideals. "You can be happy in any place
whatever," she remarked to Tussie on the Monday, when he was
expressing fears as to her future comfort; "absolutely any place will
do--a tub, a dingle, the top of a pillar--any place at all, if only
your soul is on fire."

"Of course you can," cried Tussie, ready to kiss her feet.

"And look how comfortable my cottage seems," said Priscilla, "directly
one compares it with things like tubs."

"Yes, yes," agreed Tussie, "I do see that it's enough for free spirits
to live in. I was only wondering whether--whether bodies would find it

"Oh bother bodies," said Priscilla airily.

But Tussie could not bring himself to bother bodies if they included
her own; on the contrary, the infatuated young man thought it would be
difficult sufficiently to cherish a thing so supremely precious and
sweet. And each time he went home after having been in the frugal
baldness of Creeper Cottage he hated the superfluities of his own
house more and more, he accused himself louder and louder of being
mean-spirited, effeminate, soft, vulgar, he loathed himself for living
embedded in such luxury while she, the dear and lovely one, was ready
cheerfully to pack her beauty into a tub if needs be, or let it be
weather-beaten on a pillar for thirty years if by so doing she could
save her soul alive. Tussie at this time became unable to see a sleek
servant dart to help him take off his coat without saying something
sharp to him, could not sit through a meal without making bitter
comparisons between what they were eating and what the poor were
probably eating, could not walk up his spacious staircase and along
his lofty corridors without scowling; they, indeed, roused his
contemptuous wrath in quite a special degree, the reason being that
Priscilla's stairs, the stairs up and down which her little feet would
have to clamber daily, were like a ladder, and she possessed no
passages at all. But what of that? Priscilla could not see that it
mattered, when Tussie drew her attention to it.

Both Fritzing's and her front door opened straight into their
sitting-rooms; both their staircases walked straight from the kitchens
up into the rooms above. They had meant to have a door knocked in the
dividing wall downstairs, but had been so anxious to get away from
Baker's that there was no time. In order therefore to get to Fritzing
Priscilla would have either to go out into the street and in again at
his front door, or go out at her back door and in again at his. Any
meals, too, she might choose to have served alone would have to be
carried round to her from the kitchen in Fritzing's half, either
through the backyard or through the street.

Tussie thought of this each time he sat at his own meals, surrounded
by deft menials, lapped as he told himself in luxury,--oh, thought
Tussie writhing, it was base. His much-tried mother had to listen to
many a cross and cryptic remark flung across the table from the dear
boy who had always been so gentle; and more than that, he put his
foot down once and for all and refused with a flatness that silenced
her to eat any more patent foods. "Absurd," cried Tussie. "No wonder
I'm such an idiot. Who could be anything else with his stomach full of
starch? Why, I believe the stuff has filled my veins with milk instead
of good honest blood."

"Dearest, I'll have it thrown out of the nearest window," said Lady
Shuttleworth, smiling bravely in her poor Tussie's small cross face.
"But what shall I give you instead? You know you won't eat meat."

"Give me lentils," cried Tussie. "They're cheap."


"Mother, I do think it offensive to spend much on what goes into or
onto one's body. Why not have fewer things, and give the rest to the

"But I do give the rest to the poor; I'm always doing it. And there's
quite enough for us and for the poor too."

"Give them more, then. Why," fumed Tussie, "can't we live decently?
Hasn't it struck you that we're very vulgar?"

"No, dearest, I can't say that it has."

"Well, we are. Everything we have that is beyond bare necessaries
makes us vulgar. And surely, mother, you do see that that's not a nice
thing to be."

"It's a horrid thing to be," said his mother, arranging his tie with
an immense and lingering tenderness.

"It's a difficult thing not to be," said Tussie, "if one is rich.
Hasn't it struck you that this ridiculous big house, and the masses of
things in it, and the whole place and all the money will inevitably
end by crushing us both out of heaven?"

"No, I can't say it has. I expect you've been thinking of things like
the eyes of needles and camels having to go through them," said his
mother, still patting and stroking his tie.

"Well, that's terrifically true," mused Tussie, reflecting ruefully on
the size and weight of the money-bags that were dragging him down into
darkness. Then he added suddenly, "Will you have a small bed--a little
iron one--put in my bedroom?"

"A small bed? But there's a bed there already, dear."

"That big thing's only fit for a sick woman. I won't wallow in it any

"But dearest, all your forefathers wallowed, as you call it, in it.
Doesn't it seem rather--a pity not to carry on traditions?"

"Well mother be kind and dear, and let me depart in peace from them. A
camp bed,--that's what I'd like. Shall I order it, or will you? And
did I tell you I've given Bryce the sack?"

"Bryce? Why, what has he done?"

"Oh he hasn't done anything that I know of, except make a sort of doll
or baby of me. Why should I be put into my clothes and taken out of
them again as though I hadn't been weaned yet?"

Now all this was very bad, but the greatest blow for Lady Shuttleworth
fell when Tussie declared that he would not come of age. The cheerful
face with which his mother had managed to listen to his other
defiances went very blank at that; do what she would she could not
prevent its falling. "Not come of age?" she repeated stupidly. "But my
darling, you can't help yourself--you must come of age."

"Oh I know I can't help being twenty-one and coming into all
this"--and he waved contemptuous arms--"but I won't do it blatantly."

"I--I don't understand," faltered Lady Shuttleworth.

"There mustn't be any fuss, mother."

"Do you mean no one is to come?"

"No one at all, except the tenants and people. Of course they are to
have their fun--I'll see that they have a jolly good time. But I won't
have our own set and the relations."

"Tussie, they've all accepted."

"Send round circulars."

"Tussie, you are putting me in a most painful position."

"Dear mother, I'm very sorry for that. I wish I'd thought like this
sooner. But really the idea is so revolting to me--it's so sickening
to think of all these people coming to pretend to rejoice over a worm
like myself."

"Tussle, you are not a worm."

"And then the expense and waste of entertaining them--the dreariness,
the boredom--oh, I wish I only possessed a tub--one single tub--or had
the pluck to live like Lavengro in a dingle."

"It's quite impossible to stop it now," interrupted Lady Shuttleworth
in the greatest distress; of Lavengro she had never heard.

"Yes you can, mother. Write and put it off."

"Write? What could I write? To-day is Tuesday, and they all arrive on
Friday. What excuse can I make at the last moment? And how can a
birthday be put off? My dearest boy, I simply can't." And Lady
Shuttleworth, the sensible, the cheery, the resourceful, the
perennially brave, wrung her hands and began quite helplessly to cry.

This unusual and pitiful sight at once conquered Tussie. For a moment
he stood aghast; then his arms were round his mother, and he promised
everything she wanted. What he said to her besides and what she sobbed
back to him I shall not tell. They never spoke of it again; but for
years they both looked back to it, that precious moment of clinging
together with bursting hearts, her old cheek against his young one,
her tears on his face, as to one of the most acutely sweet, acutely,
painfully, tender experiences of their joint lives.

It will be conceded that Priscilla had achieved a good deal in the one
week that had passed since she laid aside her high estate and stepped
down among ordinary people for the purpose of being and doing good.
She had brought violent discord into a hitherto peaceful vicarage,
thwarted the hopes of a mother, been the cause of a bitter quarrel
between her and her son, brought out by her mysteriousness a prying
tendency in the son that might have gone on sleeping for ever,
entirely upset the amiable Tussie's life by rending him asunder with a
love as strong as it was necessarily hopeless, made his mother anxious
and unhappy, and, what was perhaps the greatest achievement of all,
actually succeeded in making that mother cry. For of course Priscilla
was the ultimate cause of these unusual tears, as Lady Shuttleworth
very well knew. Lady Shuttleworth was the deceased Sir Augustus's
second wife, had married him when she was over forty and well out of
the crying stage, which in the busy does not last beyond childhood,
had lost him soon after Tussie's birth, had cried copiously and most
properly at his funeral, and had not cried since. It was then
undoubtedly a great achievement on the part of the young lady from
nowhere, this wringing of tears out of eyes that had been dry for one
and twenty years. But the list of what Priscilla had done does not end
with this havoc among mothers. Had she not interrupted the decent
course of Mrs. Jones's dying, and snatched her back to a hankering
after the unfit? Had she not taught the entire village to break the
Sabbath? Had she not made all its children either sick or cross under
the pretence of giving them a treat? On the Monday she did something
else that was equally well-meaning, and yet, as I shall presently
relate, of disastrous consequences: she went round the village from
cottage to cottage making friends with the children's mothers and
leaving behind her, wherever she went, little presents of money. She
had found money so extraordinarily efficacious in the comforting of
Mrs. Jones that before she started she told Fritzing to fill her purse
well, and in each cottage it was made somehow so clear how badly
different things were wanted that the purse was empty before she was
half round the village and she had to go back for a fresh supply. She
was extremely happy that afternoon, and so were the visited mothers.
They, indeed, talked of nothing else for the rest of the day,
discussed it over their garden hedges, looked in on each other to
compare notes, hurried to meet their husbands on their return from
work to tell them about it, and were made at one stroke into something
very like a colony of eager beggars. And in spite of Priscilla's
injunction to Mrs. Jones to hide her five-pound note all Symford knew
of that as well, and also of the five-pound note Mrs. Morrison had
taken away. Nothing was talked of in Symford but Priscilla. She had in
one week created quite a number of disturbances of a nature fruitful
for evil in that orderly village; and when on the Tuesday she and
Fritzing moved into Creeper Cottage they were objects of the intensest
interest to the entire country side, and the report of their riches,
their recklessness, and their eccentric choice of a dwelling had
rolled over the intervening hills as far as Minehead, where it was the
subject of many interesting comments in the local papers.

They got into their cottage about tea time; and the first thing
Priscilla did was to exclaim at the pleasant sight of the wood fire
and sit down in the easy-chair to warm herself. We know who was
sitting in it already; and thus she was received by Bad Luck at once
into her very lap, and clutched about securely by that unpleasant
lady's cold and skinny arms. She looked up at Fritzing with a shiver
to remark wonderingly that the room, in spite of its big fire and its
smallness, was like ice, but her lips fell apart in a frozen stare and
she gazed blankly past him at the wall behind his head. "Look," she
whispered, pointing with a horrified forefinger. And Fritzing, turning
quickly, was just in time to snatch a row of cheap coloured portraits
from the wall and fling them face downwards under the table before
Tussie came in to ask if he could do anything.

The portraits were those of all the reigning princes of Germany and
had been put up as a delicate compliment by the representative of the
Minehead furnishers, while Priscilla and Fritzing were taking leave of
Baker's Farm; and the print Priscilla's eye had lighted on was the
portrait of her august parent, smiling at her. He was splendid in
state robes and orders, and there was a charger, and an obviously
expensive looped-up curtain, and much smoke as of nations furiously
raging together in the background, and outside this magnificence
meandered the unmeaning rosebuds of Priscilla's cheap wallpaper. His
smile seemed very terrible under the circumstances. Fritzing felt
this, and seized him and flung him with a desperate energy under the
table, where he went on smiling, as Priscilla remembered with a guilty
shudder, at nothing but oilcloth. "I don't believe I'll sleep if I
know he--he's got nothing he'd like better than oilcloth to look at,"
she whispered with an awestruck face to Fritzing as Tussie came in.

"I will cause them all to be returned," Fritzing assured her.

"What, have those people sent wrong things?" asked Tussie anxiously,
who felt that the entire responsibility of this _ménage_ was on his

"Oh, only some cheap prints," said Priscilla hastily. "I think they're
called oleographs or something."

"What impertinence," said Tussie hotly.

"I expect it was kindly meant, but I--I like my cottage quite plain."

"I'll have them sent back, sir," Tussie said to Fritzing, who was
rubbing his hands nervously through his hair; for the sight of his
grand ducal master's face smiling at him on whom he would surely never
wish to smile again, and doing it, too, from the walls of Creeper
Cottage, had given him a shock.

"You are ever helpful, young man," he said, bowing abstractedly and
going away to put down his hat and umbrella; and Priscilla, with a
cold feeling that she had had a bad omen, rang the handbell Tussie's
thoughtfulness had placed on her table and ordered Annalise to bring

Now Annalise had been standing on the threshold of her attic staring
at it in an amazement too deep for words when the bell fetched her
down. She appeared, however, before her mistress with a composed face,
received the order with her customary respectfulness, and sought out
Fritzing to inquire of him where the servants were to be found. "Her
Grand Ducal Highness desires tea," announced Annalise, appearing in
Fritzing's sitting-room, where he was standing absorbed in the bill
from the furnishers that he had found lying on his table.

"Then take it in," said Fritzing impatiently, without looking up.

"To whom shall I give the order?" inquired Annalise.

"To whom shall you give the order?" repeated Fritzing, pausing
in his study to stare at her, the bill in one hand and his
pocket-handkerchief, with which he was mopping his forehead, in
the other.

"Where," asked Annalise, "shall I find the cook?"

"Where shall you find the cook?" repeated Fritzing, staring still
harder. "This house is so gigantic is it not," he said with an
enormous sarcasm, "that no doubt the cook has lost himself. Have you
perhaps omitted to investigate the coal-hole?"

"Herr Geheimrath, where shall I find the cook?" asked Annalise tossing
her head.

"Fräulein, is there a mirror in your bedroom?"

"The smallest I ever saw. Only one-half of my face can I see reflected
in it at a time."

"Fräulein, the half of that face you see reflected in it is the half
of the face of the cook."

"I do not understand," said Annalise.

"Yet it is as clear as shining after rain. You, _mein liebes Kind_,
are the cook."

It was now Annalise's turn to stare, and she stood for a moment doing
it, her face changing from white to red while Fritzing turned his back
and taking out a pencil made little sums on the margin of the bill.
"Herr Geheimrath, I am not a cook," she said at last, swallowing her

"What, still there?" he exclaimed, looking up sharply. "Unworthy one,
get thee quickly to the kitchen. Is it seemly to keep the Princess

"I am not a cook," said Annalise defiantly. "I was not engaged as a
cook, I never was a cook, and I will not be a cook."

Fritzing flung down the bill and came and glared close into
Annalise's face. "Not a cook?" he cried. "You, a German girl, the
daughter of poor parents, you are not ashamed to say it? You do not
hide your head for shame? No--a being so useful, so necessary, so
worthy of respect as a cook you are not and never will be. I'll tell
you what you are,--I've told you once already, and I repeat it--you
are a knave, my Fräulein, a knave, I say. And in those parts of your
miserable nature where you are not a knave--for I willingly concede
that no man or woman is bad all through--in those parts, I say, where
your knavishness is intermittent, you are an absolute, unmitigated

"I will not bear this," cried Annalise.

"Will not! Cannot! Shall not! Inept Negation, get thee to thy kitchen
and seek wisdom among the pots."

"I am no one's slave," cried Annalise, "I am no one's prisoner."

"Hark at her! Who said you were? Have I not told you the only two
things you are?"

"But I am treated as a prisoner, I am treated as a slave," sobbed

"Unmannerly one, how dare you linger talking follies when your royal
mistress is waiting for her tea? Run--run! Or must I show you how?"

"Her Grand Ducal Highness," said Annalise, not budging, "told me also
to prepare the bath for her this evening."

"Well, what of that?" cried Fritzing, snatching up the bill again and
adding up furiously. "Prepare it, then."

"I see no water-taps."

"Woman, there are none."

"How can I prepare a bath without water-taps?"

"O thou Inefficiency! Ineptitude garbed as woman! Must I then teach
thee the elements of thy business? Hast thou not observed the pump? Go
to it, and draw water. Cause the water to flow into buckets. Carry
these buckets--need I go on? Will not Nature herself teach thee what
to do with buckets?"

Annalise flushed scarlet. "I will not go to the pump," she said.

"What, you will not carry out her Grand Ducal Highness's orders?"

"I will not go to the pump."

"You refuse to prepare the bath?"

"I will not go to the pump."

"You refuse to prepare the tea?"

"I will not be a cook."

"You are rankly rebellious?"

"I will not sleep in the attic."


"I will not eat the food."


"I will not do the work."


"I will go."


"_Go_," repeated Annalise, stamping her foot. "I demand my wages, the
increased wages that were promised me, and I will go."

"And where, Impudence past believing, will you go, in a country whose
tongue you most luckily do not understand?"

Annalise looked up into Fritzing's furious eyes with the challenge
of him who flings down his trump card. "Go?" she cried, with a
defiance that was blood-curdling in one so small and hitherto so
silent, "I will first go to that young gentleman who speaks my
language and I will tell him all, and then, with his assistance, I
will go straight--but _straight_, do you hear?"--and she stamped
her foot again--"to Lothen-Kunitz."


Early in this story I pointed out what to the intelligent must have
been from the beginning apparent, that Annalise held Priscilla and
Fritzing in the hollow of her hand. In the first excitement of the
start she had not noticed it, but during those woeful days of
disillusionment at Baker's she saw it with an ever-growing clearness;
and since Sunday, since the day she found a smiling young gentleman
ready to talk German to her and answer questions, she was perfectly
aware that she had only to close her hand and her victims would
squeeze into any shape she liked. She proposed to do this closing at
the first moment of sheer intolerableness, and that moment seemed well
reached when she entered Creeper Cottage and realized what the attic,
the kitchen, and the pump really meant.

It is always a shock to find one's self in the company of a worm that
turns, always a shock and an amazement; a spectacle one never,
somehow, gets used to. But how dreadful does it become when one is in
the power of the worm, and the worm is resentful, and ready to squeeze
to any extent. Fritzing reflected bitterly that Annalise might quite
well have been left at home. Quite well? A thousand times better.
What had she done but whine during her passive period? And now that
she was active, a volcano in full activity hurling forth hot streams
of treachery on two most harmless heads, she, the insignificant, the
base-born, the empty-brained, was actually going to be able to ruin
the plans of the noblest woman on earth.

Thus thought Fritzing, mopping his forehead. Annalise had rushed away
to her attic after flinging her defiance at him, her spirit ready to
dare anything but her body too small, she felt, to risk staying within
reach of a man who looked more like somebody who meant to shake her
than any one she had ever seen. Fritzing mopped his forehead, and
mopped and mopped again. He stood where she had left him, his eyes
fixed on the ground, his distress so extreme that he was quite near
crying. What was he to do? What was he to say to his Princess? How was
he to stop the girl's going back to Kunitz? How was he to stop her
going even so far as young Morrison? That she should tell young
Morrison who Priscilla was would indeed be a terrible thing. It would
end their being able to live in Symford. It would end their being able
to live in England. The Grand Duke would be after them, and there
would have to be another flight to another country, another start
there, another search for a home, another set of explanations,
pretences, fears, lies,--things of which he was so weary. But there
was something else, something worse than any of these things, that
made Fritzing mop his forehead with so extreme a desperation: Annalise
had demanded the money due to her, and Fritzing had no money.

I am afraid Fritzing was never meant for a conspirator. Nature never
meant him to be a plotter, an arranger of unpleasant surprises for
parents. She never meant him to run away. She meant him, probably,
to spend his days communing with the past in a lofty room with
distempered walls and busts round them. That he should be forced to
act, to decide, to be artful, to wrangle with maids, to make ends
meet, to squeeze his long frame and explosive disposition into a
Creeper Cottage where only an ill-fitting door separated him from the
noise and fumes of the kitchen, was surely a cruel trick of Fate, and
not less cruel because he had brought it on himself. That he should
have thought he could run away as well as any man is merely a proof of
his singleness of soul. A man who does that successfully is always,
among a great many other things, a man who takes plenty of money with
him and knows exactly where to put his hand on more when it is wanted.
Fritzing had thought it better to get away quickly with little money
than to wait and get away with more. He had seized all he could of his
own that was not invested, and Priscilla had drawn her loose cash from
the Kunitz bank; but what he took hidden in his gaiters after paying
for Priscilla's outfit and bribing Annalise was not more than three
hundred pounds; and what is three hundred pounds to a person who buys
and furnishes cottages and scatters five-pound notes among the poor?
The cottages were paid for. He had insisted on doing that at once,
chiefly in order to close his dealings with Mr. Dawson; but Mr. Dawson
had not let them go for less than a hundred and fifty for the two, in
spite of Tussie's having said a hundred was enough. When Fritzing told
Mr. Dawson what Tussie had said Mr. Dawson soon proved that Tussie
could not possibly have meant it; and Fritzing, knowing how rich
Priscilla really was and what vast savings he had himself lying over
in Germany in comfortable securities, paid him without arguing and
hastened from the hated presence. Then the journey for the three from
Kunitz had been expensive; the stay at Baker's Farm had been, strange
to say, expensive; Mrs. Jones's comforting had been expensive; the
village mothers had twice emptied Priscilla's purse of ten pounds; and
the treat to the Symford children had not been cheap. After paying for
this--the Minehead confectioner turned out to be a man of little faith
in unknown foreigners, and insisted on being paid at once--Fritzing
had about forty pounds left. This, he had thought, would do for food
and lights and things for a long while,--certainly till he had hit on
a plan by which he would be able to get hold of the Princess's money
and his own without betraying where they were; and here on his table,
the second unpleasant surprise that greeted him on entering his new
home (the first had been his late master's dreadful smile) was the
bill for the furnishing of it. To a man possessed of only forty pounds
any bill will seem tremendous. This one was for nearly two hundred;
and at the end of the long list of items, the biggest of which was
that bathroom without water that had sent Annalise out on strike, was
the information that a remittance would oblige. A remittance! Poor
Fritzing. He crushed the paper in his hand and made caustic mental
comments on the indecency of these people, clamouring for their money
almost before the last workman was out of the place, certainly before
the smell of paint was out of it, and clamouring, too, in the face of
the Shuttleworth countenance and support. He had not been a week yet
in Symford, and had been so busy, so rushed, that he had put off
thinking out a plan for getting his money over from Germany until he
should be settled. Never had he imagined people would demand payment
in this manner. Never, either, had he imagined the Princess would want
so much money for the poor; and never, of course, had he imagined that
there would be a children's treat within three days of their arrival.
Least of all had he dreamed that Annalise would so soon need more
bribing; for that was clearly the only thing to do. He saw it was the
only thing, after he had stood for some time thinking and wiping the
cold sweat from his forehead. She must be bribed, silenced, given in
to. He must part with as much as he possibly could of that last forty
pounds; as much, also, as he possibly could of his pride, and submit
to have the hussy's foot on his neck. Some day, some day, thought
Fritzing grinding his teeth, he would be even with her; and when that
day came he promised himself that it should certainly begin with a
sound shaking. "Truly," he reflected, "the foolish things of the world
confound the wise, and the weak things of the world confound the
things that are mighty." And he went out, and standing in the back
yard beneath Annalise's window softly called to her. "Fräulein,"
called Fritzing, softly as a dove wooing its mate.

"Aha," thought Annalise, sitting on her bed, quick to mark the change;
but she did not move.

"Fräulein," called Fritzing again; and it was hardly a call so much as
a melodious murmur.

Annalise did not move, but she grinned.

"Fräulein, come down one moment," cooed Fritzing, whose head was quite
near the attic window so low was Creeper Cottage. "I wish to speak to
you. I wish to give you something."

Annalise did not move, but she stuffed her handkerchief into her
mouth; for the first time since she left Calais she was enjoying

"If," went on Fritzing after an anxious pause, "I was sharp with you
just now--and I fear I may have been hasty--you should not take it
amiss from one who, like Brutus, is sick of many griefs. Come down,
Fräulein, and let me make amends."

The Princess's bell rang. At once habit impelled Annalise to that
which Fritzing's pleadings would never have effected; she scrambled
down the ladder, and leaving him still under her window presented
herself before her mistress with her usual face of meek respect.

"I said tea," said Priscilla very distinctly, looking at her with
slightly lifted eyebrows.

Annalise curtseyed and disappeared.

"How fearfully polite German maids are," remarked Tussie.

"In what way?" asked Priscilla.

"Those curtseys. They're magnificent."

"Don't English maids curtsey?"

"None that I've ever seen. Perhaps they do to royalties."

"Oh?" said Priscilla with a little jump. She was still so much
unnerved by the unexpected meeting with her father on the wall of
Creeper Cottage that she could not prevent the little jump.

"What would German maids do, I wonder, in dealing with royalties,"
said Tussie, "if they curtsey so beautifully to ordinary mistresses?
They'd have to go down on their knees to a princess, wouldn't they?"

"How should I know?" said Priscilla, irritably, alarmed to feel she
was turning red; and with great determination she began to talk

Fritzing was lying in wait for Annalise, and caught her as she came
into the bathroom.

"Fräulein," said the miserable man trying to screw his face into
persuasiveness, "you cannot let the Princess go without tea."

"Yes I can," said Annalise.

He thrust his hands into his pockets to keep them off her shoulders.

"Make it this once, Fräulein, and I will hire a woman of the village
to make it in future. And see, you must not leave the Princess's
service, a service of such great honour to yourself, because I chanced
to be perhaps a little--hasty. I will give you two hundred marks to
console you for the slight though undoubted difference in the mode of
living, and I will, as I said, hire a woman to come each day and cook.
Will it not be well so?"

"No," said Annalise.


Annalise put her hands on her hips, and swaying lightly from side to
side began to sing softly. Fritzing gazed at this fresh development in
her manners in silent astonishment. "_Jedermann macht mir die Cour,
c'est l'amour, c'est l'amour_," sang Annalise, her head one side, her
eyes on the ceiling.

"_Liebes Kind_, are your promises of no value? Did you not promise to
keep your mouth shut, and not betray the Princess's confidence? Did
she not seek you out from all the others for the honour of keeping her
secrets? And you will, after one week, divulge them to a stranger? You
will leave her service? You will return to Kunitz? Is it well so?"

"_C'est l'amour, c'est l'amour_," sang Annalise, swaying.

"Is it well so, Fräulein?" repeated Fritzing, strangling a furious
desire to slap her.

"Did you speak?" inquired Annalise, pausing in her song.

"I am speaking all the time. I asked if it were well to betray the
secrets of your royal mistress."

"I have been starved," said Annalise.

"You have had the same fare as ourselves."

"I have been called names."

"Have I not expressed--regret?"

"I have been treated as dirt."

"Well, well, I have apologized."

"If you had behaved to me as a maid of a royal lady should be behaved
to, I would have faithfully done my part and kept silence. Now give me
my money and I will go."

"I will give you your money--certainly, _liebes Kind_. It is what I am
most desirous of doing. But only on condition that you stay. If you
go, you go without it. If you stay, I will do as I said about the cook
and will--" Fritzing paused--"I will endeavour to refrain from calling
you anything hasty."

"Two hundred marks," said Annalise gazing at the ceiling, "is

"Nothing?" cried Fritzing. "You know very well that it is, for you, a
great sum."

"It is nothing. I require a thousand."

"A thousand? What, fifty English sovereigns? Nay, then, but there is
no reasoning with you," cried Fritzing in tones of real despair.

She caught the conviction in them and hesitated. "Eight hundred,
then," she said.

"Impossible. And besides it would be a sin. I will give you twenty."

"Twenty? Twenty marks?" Annalise stared at him a moment then resumed
her swaying and her song--"_Jedermann macht mir die Cour_"--sang
Annalise with redoubled conviction.

"No, no, not marks--twenty pounds," said Fritzing, interrupting what
was to him a most maddening music. "Four hundred marks. As much as
many a German girl can only earn by labouring two years you will
receive for doing nothing but hold your tongue."

Annalise closed her lips tightly and shook her head. "My tongue cannot
be held for that," she said, beginning to sway again and hum.

Adjectives foamed on Fritzing's own, but he kept them back.
"_Mädchen_," he said with the gentleness of a pastor in a confirmation
class, "do you not remember that the love of money is the root of all
evil? I do not recognize you. Since when have you become thus greedy
for it?"

"Give me eight hundred and I will stop."

"I will give you six hundred," said Fritzing, fighting for each of his
last precious pounds.



"I said eight," said Annalise, stopping and looking at him with lifted
eye-brows and exactly imitating the distinctness with which the
Princess had just said "I said tea."

"Six is an enormous sum. Why, what would you do with it?"

"That is my affair. Perhaps buy food," she said with a malicious

"I tell you there shall be a cook."

"A cook," said Annalise counting on her fingers,--"and a good cook,
observe--not a cook like the Frau Pearce--a cook, then, no more rude
names, and eight hundred marks. Then I stop. I suffer. I am silent."

"It cannot be done. I cannot give you eight."

"_C'est l'amour, c'est l'amour_.... The Princess waits for her tea. I
will prepare it for her this once. I am good, you see, at heart. But I
must have eight hundred marks. _Cest l'amo-o-o-o-o-our_."

"I will give you seven," said Fritzing, doing rapid sums in his head.
Seven hundred was something under thirty-five pounds. He would still
have five pounds left for housekeeping. How long that would last he
admitted to himself that probably only heaven knew, but he hoped that
with economy it might be made to carry them over a fortnight; and
surely by the end of a fortnight he would have hit on a way of getting
fresh supplies from Germany? "I will give you seven hundred. That is
the utter-most. I can give no more till I have written home for money.
I have only a little more than that here altogether. See, I treat you
like a reasonable being--I set the truth plainly before you. More
than seven hundred I could not give if I would."

"Good," said Annalise, breaking off her music suddenly. "I will take
that now and guarantee to be silent for fourteen days. At the end of
that time the Herr Geheimrath will have plenty more money and will, if
he still desires my services and my silence, give me the three hundred
still due to me on the thousand I demand. If the Herr Geheimrath
prefers not to, then I depart to my native country. While the
fortnight lasts I will suffer all there is to suffer in silence. Is
the Herr Geheimrath agreed?"

"Shameless one!" mentally shrieked Fritzing, "Wait and see what will
happen to thee when my turn comes!" But aloud he only agreed. "It is
well, Fräulein," he said. "Take in the Princess's tea, and then come
to my sitting-room and I will give you the money. The fire burns in
the kitchen. Utensils, I believe, are ready to hand. It should not
prove a task too difficult."

"Perhaps the Herr Geheimrath will show me where the tea and milk is?
And also the sugar, and the bread and butter if any?" suggested
Annalise in a small meek voice as she tripped before him into the

What could he do but follow? Her foot was well on his neck; and it
occurred to him as he rummaged miserably among canisters that if the
creature should take it into her head to marry him he might
conceivably have to let her do it. As it was it was he and not
Annalise who took the kettle out to the pump to fill it, and her face
while he was doing it would have rejoiced her parents or other persons
to whom she was presumably dear, it was wide with so enormous a
satisfaction. Thus terrible is it to be in the power of an Annalise.


The first evening in Creeper Cottage was unpleasant. There was a
blazing wood fire, the curtains were drawn, the lamp shone rosily
through its red shade, and when Priscilla stood up her hair dusted the
oak beams of the ceiling, it was so low. The background, you see, was
perfectly satisfactory; exactly what a cottage background should be on
an autumn night when outside a wet mist is hanging like a grey curtain
across the window panes; and Tussie arriving at nine o'clock to help
consecrate the new life with Shakespeare felt, as he opened the door
and walked out of the darkness into the rosy, cosy little room, that
he need not after all worry himself with doubts as to the divine
girl's being comfortable. Never did place appear more comfortable. It
did not occur to him that a lamp with a red shade and the blaze of a
wood fire will make any place appear comfortable so long as they go on
shining, and he looked up at Priscilla--I am afraid he had to look up
at her when they were both standing--with the broadest smile of
genuine pleasure. "It _does_ look jolly," he said heartily.

His pleasure was doomed to an immediate wiping out. Priscilla smiled,
but with a reservation behind her smile that his sensitive spirit felt
at once. She was alone, and there was no sign whatever either of her
uncle or of preparations for the reading of Shakespeare.

"Is anything not quite right?" Tussie asked, his face falling at once
to an anxious pucker.

Priscilla looked at him and smiled again, but this time the smile was
real, in her eyes as well as on her lips, dancing in them together
with the flickering firelight. "It's rather funny," she said. "It has
never happened to me before. What do you think? I'm hungry."



Tussie stared, arrested in the unwinding of his comforter.

"Really hungry. _Dreadfully_ hungry. So hungry that I hate


"I know. You're going to say why not eat? It does seem simple. But
you've no idea how difficult it really is. I'm afraid my uncle and I
have rather heaps to learn. We forgot to get a cook."

"A cook? But I thought--I understood that curtseying maid of yours was
going to do all that?"

"So did I. So did he. But she won't."

Priscilla flushed, for since Tussie left after tea she had had
grievous surprises, of a kind that made her first indignant and then
inclined to wince. Fritzing had not been able to hide from her that
Annalise had rebelled and refused to cook, and Priscilla had not been
able to follow her immediate impulse and dismiss her. It was at this
point, when she realized this, that the wincing began. She felt
perfectly sick at the thought, flashed upon her for the first time,
that she was in the power of a servant.

"Do you mean to say," said Tussie in a voice hollow with
consternation, "that you've had no dinner?"

"Dinner? In a cottage? Why of course there was no dinner. There never
will be any dinner--at night, at least. But the tragic thing is there
was no supper. We didn't think of it till we began to get hungry.
Annalise began first. She got hungry at six o'clock, and said
something to Fritz--my uncle about it, but he wasn't hungry himself
then and so he snubbed her. Now he is hungry himself, and he's gone
out to see if he can't find a cook. It's very stupid. There's nothing
in the house. Annalise ate the bread and things she found. She's
upstairs now, crying." And Priscilla's lips twitched as she looked at
Tussie's concerned face, and she began to laugh.

He seized his hat. "I'll go and get you something," he said, dashing
at the door.

"I can't think what, at this time of the night. The only shop shuts at

"I'll make them open it."

"They go to bed at nine."

"I'll get them out of bed if I have to shie stones at their windows
all night."

"Don't go without your coat--you'll catch a most frightful cold."

He put his arm through the door to take it, and vanished in the fog.
He did not put on the coat in his agitation, but kept it over his arm.
His comforter stayed in Priscilla's parlour, on the chair where he had
flung it. He was in evening dress, and his throat was sore already
with the cold that was coming on and that he had caught, as he
expected, running races on the Sunday at Priscilla's children's party.

Priscilla went back to her seat by the fire, and thought very hard
about things like bread. It would of course be impossible that she
should have reached this state of famine only because one meal had
been missed; but she had eaten nothing all day,--disliked the Baker's
Farm breakfast too much even to look at it, forgotten the Baker's Farm
dinner because she was just moving into her cottage, and at tea had
been too greatly upset by the unexpected appearance of her father on
the wall to care to eat the bread and butter Annalise brought in. Now
she was in that state when you tremble and feel cold. She had told
Annalise, about half-past seven, to bring her the bread left from tea,
but Annalise had eaten it. At half-past eight she had told Annalise to
bring her the sugar, for she had read somewhere that if you eat enough
sugar it takes away the desire even of the hungriest for other food,
but Annalise, who had eaten the sugar as well, said that the Herr
Geheimrath must have eaten it. It certainly was not there, and neither
was the Herr Geheimrath to defend himself; since half-past seven he
had been out looking for a cook, his mind pervaded by the idea that if
only he could get a cook food would follow in her wake as naturally as
flowers follow after rain. Priscilla fretting in her chair that he
should stay away so long saw very clearly that no cook could help
them. What is the use of a cook in a house where there is nothing to
cook? If only Fritzing would come back quickly with a great many
loaves of bread! The door was opened a little way and somebody's
knuckles knocked. She thought it was Tussie, quick and clever as ever,
and in a voice full of welcome told him to come in; upon which in
stepped Robin Morrison very briskly, delighted by the warmth of the
invitation. "Why now this _is_ nice," said Robin, all smiles.

Priscilla did not move and did not offer to shake hands, so he stood
on the hearthrug and spread out his own to the blaze, looking down at
her with bright, audacious eyes. He thought he had not yet seen her so
beautiful. There was an extraordinary depth and mystery in her look,
he thought, as it rested for a moment on his face, and she had never
yet dropped her eyelashes as she now did when her eyes met his. We
know she was very hungry, and there was no strength in her at all.
Not only did her eyelashes drop, but her head as well, and her hands
hung helplessly, like drooping white flowers, one over each arm of the

"I came in to ask Mr. Neumann-Schultz if there's anything I can do for
you," said Robin.

"Did you? He lives next door."

"I know. I knocked there first, but he didn't answer so I thought he
must be here."

Priscilla said nothing. At any other time she would have snubbed Robin
and got rid of him. Now she merely sat and drooped.

"Has he gone out?"


Her voice was very low, hardly more than a whisper. Those who know the
faintness of hunger at this stage will also know the pathos that
steals into the voice of the sufferer when he is unwillingly made to
speak; it becomes plaintive, melodious with yearning, the yearning for
food. But if you do not know this, if you have yourself just come from
dinner, if you are half in love and want the other person to be quite
in love, if you are full of faith in your own fascinations, you are
apt to fall into Robin's error and mistake the nature of the yearning.
Tussie in Robin's place would have doubted the evidence of his senses,
but then Tussie was very modest. Robin doubted nothing. He saw, he
heard, and he thrilled; and underneath his thrilling, which was real
enough to make him flush to the roots of his hair, far down underneath
it was the swift contemptuous comment, "They're all alike."

Priscilla shut her eyes. She was listening for the first sound of
Tussie's or Fritzing's footfall, the glad sound heralding the approach
of something to eat, and wishing Robin would go away. He was kind at
times and obliging, but on the whole a nuisance. It was a great pity
there were so many people in the world who were nuisances and did not
know it. Somebody ought to tell them,--their mothers, or other useful
persons of that sort. She vaguely decided that the next time she met
Robin and was strengthened properly by food she would say a few things
to him from which recovery would take a long while.

"Are you--not well?" Robin asked, after a silence during which his
eyes never left her and hers were shut; and even to himself his voice
sounded deeper, more intense than usual.

"Oh yes," murmured Priscilla with a little sigh.

"Are you--happy?"

Happy? Can anybody who is supperless, dinnerless, breakfastless, be
happy, Priscilla wondered? But the question struck her as funny, and
the vibrating tones in which it was asked struck her as rather funny
too, and she opened her eyes for a moment to look up at Robin with a
smile of amusement--a smile that she could not guess was turned by the
hunger within her into something wistful and tremulous. "Yes," said
Priscilla in that strange pathetic voice, "I--think so." And after a
brief glance at him down went her weary eyelids again.

The next thing that happened was that Robin, who was trembling,
kissed her hand. This she let him do with perfect placidity. Every
German woman is used to having her hand kissed. It is kissed on
meeting, it is kissed on parting, it is kissed at a great many odd
times in between; she holds it up mechanically when she comes
across a male acquaintance; she is never surprised at the ceremony;
the only thing that surprises her is if it is left out. Priscilla
then simply thought Robin was going. "What a mercy," she said to
herself, glancing at him a moment through her eyelashes. But Robin
was not used to hand-kissing and saw things in a very different
light. He felt she made no attempt to draw her hand away, he heard
her murmuring something inarticulate--it was merely Good-bye--he
was hurled along to his doom; and stooping over her the unfortunate
young man kissed her hair.

Priscilla opened her eyes suddenly and very wide. I don't know what
folly he would have perpetrated next, or what sillinesses were on the
tip of his tongue, or what meaning he still chose to read in her look,
but an instant afterwards he was brought down for ever from the giddy
heights of his illusions: Priscilla boxed his ears.

I am sorry to have to record it. It is always sweeter if a woman does
not box ears. The action is shrewish, benighted, mediæval, nay,
barbarous; and this box was a very hard one indeed, extraordinarily
hard for so little a hand and so fasting a girl. But we know she had
twice already been on the verge of doing it; and the pent-up vigour of
what the policeman had not got and what the mother in the train had
not got was added I imagine to what Robin got. Anyhow it was
efficacious. There was an exclamation--I think of surprise, for surely
a young man would not have minded the pain?--and he put his hand up
quickly to his face. Priscilla got up just as quickly out of her chair
and rang the handbell furiously, her eyes on his, her face ablaze.
Annalise must have thrown herself down the ladder, for they hardly
seemed to have been standing there an instant face to face, their eyes
on a level, he scarlet, she white, both deadly silent, before the maid
was in the room.

"This person has insulted me," said Priscilla, turning to her and
pointing at Robin. "He never comes here again. Don't let me find you
forgetting that," she added, frowning at the girl; for she remembered
they had been seen talking eagerly together at the children's treat.

"I never"--began Robin.

"Will you go?"

Annalise opened the door for him. He went out, and she shut it behind
him. Then she walked sedately across the room again, looking sideways
at the Princess, who took no notice of her but stood motionless by the
table gazing straight before her, her lips compressed, her face set
in a kind of frozen white rage, and having got into the bathroom
Annalise began to run. She ran out at the back door, in again at
Fritzing's back door, out at his front door into the street, and
caught up Robin as he was turning down the lane to the vicarage. "What
have you done?" she asked him breathlessly, in German.

"Done?" Robin threw back his head and laughed quite loud.

"Sh--sh," said Annalise, glancing back fearfully over her shoulder.

"Done?" said Robin, subduing his bitter mirth. "What do you suppose
I've done? I've done what any man would have in my place--encouraged,
almost asked to do it. I kissed your young lady, _liebes Fräulein_,
and she pretended not to like it. Now isn't that what a sensible girl
like you would call absurd?"

But Annalise started back from the hand he held out to her in genuine
horror. "What?" she cried, "What?"

"What? What?" mocked Robin. "Well then, what? Are you all such prudes
in Germany? Even you pretending, you little hypocrite?"

"Oh," cried Annalise hysterically, pushing him away with both her
hands, "what have you done? _Elender Junge_, what have you done?"

"I think you must all be mad," said Robin angrily. "You can't persuade
me that nobody ever kisses anybody over in Germany."

"Oh yes they do--oh yes they do," cried Annalise, wringing her hands,
"but neither there nor anywhere else--in England, anywhere in the
world--do the sons of pastors--the sons of pastors--" She seemed to
struggle for breath, and twisted and untwisted her apron round her
hands in a storm of agitation while Robin, utterly astonished, stared
at her--"Neither there nor anywhere else do they--the sons of
pastors--kiss--kiss royal princesses."

It was now Robin's turn to say "What?"


He went up to Cambridge the next morning. Term had not begun, but he
went; a Robin with all the briskness gone out of him, and if still
with something of the bird left only of a bird that is moulting. His
father was mildly surprised, but applauded the apparent desire for
solitary study. His mother was violently surprised, and tried hard
to get at his true reasons. She saw with the piercing eye of a
relation--that eye from which hardly anything can ever be hidden--that
something had happened and that the something was sobering and
unpleasant. She could not imagine what it was, for she did not know he
had been to Creeper Cottage the night before and all the afternoon and
at dinner he had talked and behaved as usual. Now he did not talk at
all, and his behaviour was limited to a hasty packing of portmanteaus.
Determined to question him she called him into the study just before
he started, and shut the door.

"I must go mater," he said, pulling out his watch; he had carefully
avoided her since breakfast though she had laid many traps for him.

"Robin, I want to tell you that I think you splendid."

"Splendid? What on earth for? You were telling me a very different
sort of thing a day or two ago."

"I am sorry now for what I said on Sunday."

"I don't think a mother ought ever to say she's sorry," said Robin

"Not if she is?"

"She oughtn't to say so."

"Well dear let us be friends. Don't go away angry with me. I do
appreciate you so much for going. You are my own dear boy." And she
put her hands on his shoulders.

He took out his watch again. "I say, I must be off."

"Don't suppose a mother doesn't see and understand."

"Oh I don't suppose anything. Good-bye mater."

"I think it so splendid of you to go, to turn your back on temptation,
to unwind yourself from that wretched girl's coils."


"My Robin"--she stroked his cheek, the same cheek, as it happened,
Priscilla had smitten--"my Robin must not throw himself away. I am
ambitious where you are concerned, my darling. It would have broken my
heart for you to have married a nobody--perhaps a worse than nobody."

Robin, who was staring at her with an indescribable expression on his
face, took her hands off his shoulders. "Look here mater," he
said--and he was seized by a desire to laugh terrifically--"there is
nothing in the world quite so amusing as the way people will talk
wisely of things they don't in the faintest degree understand. They
seem to feel wise in proportion to their ignorance. I expect you think
that's a funny speech for me to make. I can tell you I don't think it
half as funny as yours was. Good-bye. I shall miss my train you know
if you keep me, and then I'd be exposed again to those--what was the
word? ah, yes--coils. Coils!" He burst into loud laughter. "Good-bye

She was staring at him blankly. He hastily brushed her forehead with
his moustache and hurried to the door, his face full of strange mirth.
"I say," he said, putting in his head again, "there's just one thing
I'd like to say."

She made an eager step towards him. "Do say it my darling--say all
that is in your heart."

"Oh it's not much--it's only God help poor Tuss." And that was the
last of him. She heard him chuckling all down the passage; but long
before his fly had reached Ullerton he had left off doing that and was
moulting again.

It rained that day in Somersetshire, a steady, hopeless rain that
soaked many a leaf off the trees before its time and made the year
look suddenly quite old. From the windows of Creeper Cottage you could
see the water running in rivulets down the hill into the deserted
village, and wreaths of mist hanging about the downs beyond. The
dripping tombstone that blocked Priscilla's window grew danker and
blacker as the day went by. The fires in the cottage burnt badly, for
the wood had somehow got wet. The oilcloth and the wall-papers looked
very dismal in the grey daylight. Rain came in underneath the two
front doors and made puddles that nobody wiped away.

Priscilla had got up very late, after a night spent staring into the
darkness, and then had sent for Fritzing and told him what Robin had
done. The unhappy man's horror will be easily imagined. She was in bed
the night before when he came in, quite cured of her hunger and only
wanting to be alone with her wrath. Fritzing had found no one in the
parlour but Tussie clasping an immense biscuit-tin in his arms, with a
face so tragic that Fritzing thought something terrible must have
happened. Tussie had returned joyfully, laden with biscuits and
sardines, to find the girl standing straight and speechless by the
table, her face rigid, her eyes ablaze. She had not so much as glanced
at the biscuits; she had not said a single word; her look rested on
him a moment as though she did not see him and then she went into the
next room and upstairs to bed. He knew she went upstairs to bed for in
Creeper Cottage you could hear everything.

Fritzing coming in a few minutes later without the cook he had hoped
to find, was glad enough of Tussie's sardines and biscuits--they were
ginger biscuits--and while he ate them, abstractedly and together,
Tussie looked on and wondered in spite of his wretchedness what the
combination could possibly taste like. Then, after a late breakfast
on the Wednesday morning, Priscilla sent for Fritzing and told him
what Robin had done. The burdened man, so full already of anxieties
and worries, was shattered by the blow. "I have always held duelling
in extreme contempt," he said when at last he could speak, "but now I
shall certainly fight."

"Fight? You? Fritzi, I've only told you because I--I feel so
unprotected here and you must keep him off if he ever tries to come
again. But you shall not fight. What, first he is to insult me and
then hurt or kill my Fritzi? Besides, nobody ever fights duels in

"That remains to be seen. I shall now go to his house and insult him
steadily for half an hour. At the expiration of that time he will
probably be himself anxious to fight. We might go to France--"

"Oh Fritzi don't be so dreadful. Don't go to him--leave him
alone--nobody must ever know--"

"I shall now go and insult him," repeated Fritzing with an
inflexibility that silenced her.

And she saw him a minute later pass her window under his umbrella,
splashing indifferently through all the puddles, battle and
destruction in his face.

Robin, however, was at Ullerton by the time Fritzing got to the
vicarage. He waved the servant aside when she told him he had gone,
and insisted on penetrating into the presence of the young man's
father. He waved Mrs. Morrison aside too when she tried to substitute
herself for the vicar, and did at last by his stony persistency get
into the good man's presence. Not until the vicar himself told him
that Robin had gone would Fritzing believe it. "The villain has fled,"
he told Priscilla, coming back drenched in body but unquenchable in
spirit. "Your chastisement, ma'am, was very effectual."

"If he's gone, then don't let us think about him any more."

"Nay, ma'am, I now set out for Cambridge. If I may not meet him fairly
in duel and have my chance of honourably removing him from a world
that has had enough of him, I would fain in my turn box his ears."

But Priscilla caught him by both arms. "Why, Fritzi," she cried, "he
might remove you and not you him--and from a world that hasn't had
nearly enough of you. Fritzi, you cannot leave me. I won't let you go.
I wish I had never told you. Don't let us talk of it ever again. It is
hateful to me. I--I can't bear it." And she looked into his face with
something very like tears in her eyes.

Of course Fritzing stayed. How could he go away even for one hour,
even in search of a cook, when such dreadful things happened? He was
bowed down by the burden of his responsibilities. He went into his
sitting-room and spent the morning striding up and down it between the
street door and the door into the kitchen,--a stride and a half one
way, and a stride and a half back back again,--doing what all
evildoers have to do sooner or later, cudgelling his brains for a way
out of life's complications: and every now and then the terribleness
of what had happened to his Princess, his guarded Princess, his
unapproachable one, came over him with a fresh wave of horror and he
groaned aloud.

In the kitchen sat the Shuttleworth kitchenmaid, a most accomplished
young person, listening to the groans and wondering what next. Tussie
had sent her, with fearful threats of what sort of character she would
get if she refused to go. She had at once given notice, but had been
forced all the same to go, being driven over in a dog-cart in the
early morning rain by a groom who made laboured pleasantries at her
expense. She could cook very well, almost as well as that great
personage the Shuttleworth cook, but she could only cook if there were
things to be cooked; and what she found at Creeper Cottage was the
rest of the ginger biscuits and sardines. Well, I will not linger over
that. Priscilla did get breakfast somehow, the girl, after trying
vainly to strike sparks of helpfulness out of Annalise, going to the
store and ordering what was necessary. Then she washed up, while
Annalise tripped in and out for the express purpose, so it seemed, of
turning up her nose; then she sat and waited and wondered what next.
For a long time she supposed somebody would send for her to come and
talk about luncheon; but nobody did. She heard the ceaseless
stridings in the next room, and every now and then the groans. The
rain on the kitchen window did not patter more ceaselessly than the
footsteps strode up and down, and the groans got very much on to the
girl's nerves. At last she decided that no person who was groaning
like that would ever want to order luncheon, and she had better go to
the young lady. She went out accordingly and knocked at Priscilla's
door. Priscilla was in her chair by the fire, lost in troublous
thought. She looked vaguely at the kitchenmaid for a moment, and then
asked her to go away. "I'm busy," explained Priscilla, whose hands
were folded in her lap.

"Please miss, what do you wish for luncheon?"

"Who are you?"

"I'm the--assistant cook at the 'All, miss. Lady Shuttleworth's
assistant cook. Sir Augustus desired me to cook for you to-day."

"Then please do it."

"Yes miss. What do you wish for luncheon?"


"Yes miss. And the gentleman--don't he want nothing neither?"

"He'll probably tell you when he does."

"Yes miss. It's as well to know a little beforehand, ain't it, miss.
There's nothing in the--a-hem--'ouse, and I suppose I'd have to buy

"Please do."

"Yes miss. Perhaps if you'd tell me what the gentleman likes I could
go out and get it."

"But I don't know what he likes. And wouldn't you get wet? Send

"Yes miss. Who?"

Priscilla gazed at her a moment. "Ah yes--" she said, "I forgot. I'm
afraid there isn't anybody. I think you had better ask my uncle what
he wants, and then if you would--I'm very sorry you should have such
bad weather--but if you don't mind, would you go and buy the things?"

"Yes miss."

The girl went away, and Priscilla began for the first time to consider
the probability of her having in the near future to think of and order
three meals every day of her life; and not only three meals, but she
dimly perceived there would be a multitude of other dreary things to
think of and order,--their linen, for instance, must be washed, and
how did one set about that? And would not Fritzing's buttons presently
come off and have to be sewn on again? His socks, when they went into
holes, could be thrown out of the window and new ones bought, but even
Priscilla saw that you could not throw a whole coat out of a window
because its buttons had come off. There would, then, have to be some
mending done for Fritzing, and Annalise would certainly not be the one
to do it. Was the simple life a sordid life as well? Did it only look
simple from outside and far away? And was it, close, mere drudging? A
fear came over her that her soul, her precious soul, for whose sake
she had dared everything, instead of being able to spread its wings in
the light of a glorious clear life was going to be choked out of
existence by weeds just as completely as at Kunitz.

The Shuttleworth kitchenmaid meanwhile, who was not hindered at every
turn by a regard for her soul, made her way to Fritzing as she had
been told and inquired of him what she should cook for his dinner. No
man likes to be interrupted in his groanings; and Fritzing, who was
not hungry and was startled by the sudden appearance of a stranger in
his room asking him intimate questions, a person of whose presence in
the cottage he had been unaware, flew at her. "Woman, what have I to
do with you?" he cried, stopping in his walk and confronting her with
surprising fierceness. "Is it seemly to burst in on a man like this?
Have you no decency? No respect for another's privacy? Begone, I
command you--begone! Begone!" And he made the same movements with his
hands that persons do when they shoo away fowls or other animals in

This was too much for the Shuttleworth kitchenmaid. The obligations,
she considered, were all on the side of Creeper Cottage, and she
retreated in amazement and anger to the kitchen, put on her hat and
mackintosh, and at once departed, regardless of the rain and the
consequences, through two miles of dripping lanes to Symford Hall.
What would have happened to her there if she had been discovered by
Tussie I do not know, but I imagine it would have been something bad.
She was saved, however, by his being in bed, clutched by the throat by
a violent cold; and there he lay helpless, burning and shivering and
throbbing, the pains of his body increased a hundredfold by the
distraction of his mind about Priscilla. Why, Tussie asked himself
over and over again, had she looked so strange the night before? Why
had she gone starving to bed? What was she doing to-day? Was the
kitchenmaid taking proper care of her? Was she keeping warm and dry
this shocking weather? Had she slept comfortably the first night in
her little home? Poor Tussie. It is a grievous thing to love any one
too much; a grievous, wasteful, paralyzing thing; a tumbling of the
universe out of focus, a bringing of the whole world down to the mean
level of one desire, a shutting out of wider, more beautiful feelings,
a wrapping of one's self in a thick garment of selfishness, outside
which all the dear, tender, modest, everyday affections and
friendships, the wholesome, ordinary loves, the precious loves of use
and wont, are left to shiver and grow cold. Tussie's mother sat
outside growing very cold indeed. Her heart was stricken within her.
She, most orderly of women, did not in the least mind, so occupied was
she with deeper cares, that her household was in rebellion, her cook
who had been with her practically all her life leaving because she had
been commanded by Tussie, before he had to fall back on the
kitchenmaid, to proceed forthwith to Creeper Cottage and stay there
indefinitely; her kitchenmaid, also a valued functionary, leaving;
Bryce, Tussie's servant who took such care of him and was so clever in
sickness, gone suddenly in his indignation at having to go at
all,--all these things no longer mattered. Nor did it matter that the
coming of age festivities were thrown into hopeless confusion by
Tussie's illness, that the guests must all be telegraphed to and put
off, that the whole village would be aghast at such a disappointment,
that all her plans and preparations had been wasted. As the first day
and night of illness dragged slowly past she grew to be nothing but
one great ache of yearning over her sick boy, a most soul-rending
yearning to do what she knew was for ever impossible, to put her arms
so close round him, so close, so carefully, so tenderly, that nothing,
no evil, no pain, could get through that clasp of love to hurt him any

"Why don't you take better care of your only son?" said the doctor
grimly after he had seen Tussie that evening, who by that time was in
a very pitiable condition.

Lady Shuttleworth stared at him, wide-eyed and speechless.

"It's absurd, you know, to let him get into this state. I've often
warned you. He can't be allowed to play ducks and drakes with himself
like other young men. He's got no strength to fall back upon. I
consider you are directly responsible for this illness. Why do you
let him go out at night this time of year? Why do you let him
over-exert himself? I suppose," said the doctor, who had brought
Tussie into the world and was as brutal as he was clever, besides
being at that moment extremely angry, "I suppose you want to lose him,

How could she explain to him what she knew to be true, that the one
person responsible for Tussie's illness was Priscilla? She therefore
only stared, wide-eyed and speechless; and indeed her heart was very
nearly broken.


About three o'clock that afternoon Priscilla saw quite clearly what
she had dimly perceived in the morning, that if there was to be
domestic peace in Creeper Cottage she must bestir herself. She did not
like bestirring herself; at least, not in such directions. She would
go out and help the poor, talk to them, cheer them, nurse their babies
even and stir their porridge, but she had not up to this point
realized her own needs, and how urgent they could be and how
importunate. It was hunger that cleared her vision. The first time she
was hungry she had been amused. Now when it happened again she was
both surprised and indignant. "Can one's wretched body _never_ keep
quiet?" she thought impatiently, when the first twinges dragged her
relentlessly out of her dejected dreaming by the fire. She remembered
the cold tremblings of the night before, and felt that that state
would certainly be reached again quite soon if she did not stop it at
once. She rang for Annalise. "Tell the cook I will have some luncheon
after all," she said.

"The cook is gone," said Annalise, whose eyes were more aggressively
swollen than they had yet been.

"Gone where?"

"Gone away. Gone for ever."

"But why?" asked Priscilla, really dismayed.

"The Herr Geheimrath insulted her. I heard him doing it. No woman of
decency can permit such a tone. She at once left. There has been no
dinner to-day. There will be, I greatly fear, n--o--o--supp--pper."
And Annalise gave a loud sob and covered her face with her apron.

Then Priscilla saw that if life was to roll along at all it was her
shoulder that would have to be put to the wheel. Fritzing's shoulder
was evidently not a popular one among the lower classes. The vision of
her own doing anything with wheels was sufficiently amazing, but she
did not stop to gaze upon it. "Annalise," she said, getting up quickly
and giving herself a little shake, "fetch me my hat and coat. I'm
going out."

Annalise let her apron drop far enough to enable her to point to the
deluge going on out of doors. "Not in this weather?" she faltered,
images of garments soaked in mud and needing much drying and brushing
troubling her.

"Get me the things," said Priscilla.

"Your Grand Ducal Highness will be wet through."

"Get me the things. And don't cry quite so much. Crying really is the
most shocking waste of time."

Annalise withdrew, and Priscilla went round to Fritzing. It was the
first time she had been round to him. He was sitting at his table, his
head in his hands, staring at the furnisher's bill, and he started to
see her coming in unexpectedly through the kitchen, and shut the bill
hastily in a drawer.

"Fritzi, have you had anything to eat to-day?"

"Certainly. I had an excellent breakfast."

"Nothing since?"

"I have not yet felt the need."

"You know the cook Lady Shuttleworth sent has gone again?"

"What, that woman who burst in upon me was Lady Shuttleworth's cook?"

"Yes. And you frightened her so she ran home."

"Ma'am, she overstepped the limits of my patience."

"Dear Fritzi, I often wonder where exactly the limits of your patience
are. With me they have withdrawn into infinite space--I've never been
able to reach them. But every one else seems to have a knack--well,
somebody must cook. You tell me Annalise won't. Perhaps she really
can't. Anyhow I cannot mention it to her, because it would be too
horrible to have her flatly refusing to do something I told her to do
and yet not be able to send her away. But somebody must cook, and I'm
going out to get the somebody. Hush"--she put up her hand as he opened
his mouth to speak--"I know it's raining. I know I'll get wet. Don't
let us waste time protesting. I'm going."

Fritzing was conscience-stricken. "Ma'am," he said, "you must forgive
me for unwittingly bringing this bother upon you. Had I had time for
reflection I would not have been so sharp. But the woman burst upon
me. I knew not who she was. Sooner than offend her I would have cut
out my tongue, could I have foreseen you would yourself go in search
in the rain of a substitute. Permit me to seek another."

"No, no--you have no luck with cooks," said Priscilla smiling. "I'm
going. Why I feel more cheerful already--just getting out of that
chair makes me feel better."

"Were you not cheerful before?" inquired Fritzing anxiously.

"Not very," admitted Priscilla. "But then neither were you. Don't
suppose I didn't see you with your head in your hands when I came in.
Cheerful people never seize their heads in that way. Now Fritzi I know
what's worrying you--it's that absurd affair last night. I've left off
thinking about it. I'm going to be very happy again, and so must you
be. We won't let one mad young man turn all our beautiful life sour,
will we?"

He bent down and kissed her hand. "Permit me to accompany you at
least," he begged. "I cannot endure--"

But she shook her head; and as she presently walked through the rain
holding Fritzing's umbrella,--none had been bought to replace hers,
broken on the journey--getting muddier and more draggled every
minute, she felt that now indeed she had got down to elementary
conditions, climbed right down out of the clouds to the place where
life lies unvarnished and uncomfortable, where Necessity spends her
time forcing you to do all the things you don't like, where the whole
world seems hungry and muddy and wet. It was an extraordinary
experience for her, this slopping through the mud with soaking shoes,
no prospect of a meal, and a heart that insisted on sinking in spite
of her attempts to persuade herself that the situation was amusing. It
did not amuse her. It might have amused somebody else,--the Grand
Duke, for instance, if he could have watched her now (from, say, a
Gothic window, himself dry and fed and taken care of), being punished
so naturally and inevitably by the weapons Providence never allows to
rust, those weapons that save parents and guardians so much personal
exertion if only they will let things take their course, those sharp,
swift consequences that attend the actions of the impetuous. I might,
indeed, if this were a sermon and there were a congregation unable to
get away, expatiate on the habit these weapons have of smiting with
equal fury the just and the unjust; how you only need to be a little
foolish, quite a little foolish, under conditions that seem to force
it upon you, and down they come, sure and relentless, and you are
smitten with a thoroughness that leaves you lame for years; how
motives are nothing, circumstances are nothing; how the motives may
have been aflame with goodness, the circumstances such that any other
course was impossible; how all these things don't matter in the
least,--you are and shall be smitten. But this is not a sermon. I have
no congregation. And why should I preach to a reader who meanwhile has

It comforted Priscilla to find that almost the whole village wanted to
come and cook for her, or as the women put it "do" for her. Their
cooking powers were strictly limited, and they proposed to make up for
this by doing for her very completely in other ways; they would scrub,
sweep, clean windows, wash,--anything and everything they would do.
Would they also sew buttons on her uncle's clothes? Priscilla asked
anxiously. And they were ready to sew buttons all over Fritzing if
buttons would make him happy. This eagerness was very gratifying, but
it was embarrassing as well. The extremely aged and the extremely
young were the only ones that refrained from offering their services.
Some of the girls were excluded as too weedy; some of the mothers
because their babies were too new; some of the wives because their
husbands were too exacting; but when Priscilla counted up the names
she had written down she found there were twenty-five. For a moment
she was staggered. Then she rose to the occasion and got out of the
difficulty with what she thought great skill, arranging, as it was
impossible to disappoint twenty-four of these, that they should take
it in turn, each coming for one day until all had had a day and then
beginning again with the first one. It seemed a brilliant plan. Life
at Creeper Cottage promised to be very varied. She gathered them
together in the village shop to talk it over. She asked them if they
thought ten shillings a day and food would be enough. She asked it
hesitatingly, afraid lest she were making them an impossibly frugal
offer. She was relieved at the cry of assent; but it was followed
after a moment by murmurs from the married women, when they had had
time to reflect, that it was unfair to pay the raw young ones at the
same rate as themselves. Priscilla however turned a deaf ear to their
murmurings. "The girls may not," she said, raising her hand to impose
silence, "be able to get through as much as you do in a day, but
they'll be just as tired when evening comes. Certainly I shall give
them the same wages." She made them draw lots as to who should begin,
and took the winner home with her then and there; she too, though the
day was far spent, was to have her ten shillings. "What, have you
forgotten your New Testaments?" Priscilla cried, when more murmurs
greeted this announcement. "Don't you remember the people who came at
the eleventh hour to labour in the vineyard and got just the same as
the others? Why should I try to improve on parables?" And there was
something about Priscilla, an air, an authority, that twisted the
women of Symford into any shape of agreement she chose. The
twenty-four went their several ways. The twenty-fifth ran home to put
on a clean apron, and got back to the shop in time to carry the eggs
and butter and bread Priscilla had bought. "I forgot to bring any
money," said Priscilla when the postmistress--it was she who kept the
village shop--told her how much it came to. "Does it matter?"

"Oh don't mention it, Miss Neumann-Schultz," was the pleasant answer
of that genteel and trustful lady; and she suggested that Priscilla
should take with her a well-recommended leg of mutton she had that
day for sale as well. Priscilla shuddered at the sight of it and
determined never to eat legs of mutton again. The bacon, too, piled up
on the counter, revolted her. The only things that looked as decent
raw as when they were cooked were eggs; and on eggs she decided she
and Fritzing would in future live. She broke off a piece of the crust
of the bread Mrs. Vickerton was wrapping up and ate it, putting great
pressure on herself to do it carelessly, with a becoming indifference.

"It's good bread," said Mrs. Vickerton, doing up her parcel.

"Where in the world do you get it from?" asked Priscilla
enthusiastically. "The man must be a genius."

"The carrier brings it every day," said Mrs. Vickerton, pleased and
touched by such appreciation. "It's a Minehead baker's."

"He ought to be given an order, if ever man ought."

"An order? For you regular, Miss Neumann-Schultz?"

"No, no,--the sort you pin on your breast," said Priscilla.

"Ho," smiled Mrs. Vickerton vaguely, who did not follow; she was so
genteel that she could never have enough of aspirates. And Priscilla,
giving the parcel to her breathless new help, hurried back to Creeper

Now this help, or char-girl--you could not call her a charwoman she
was manifestly still so very young--was that Emma who had been obliged
to tell the vicar's wife about Priscilla's children's treat and who
did not punctually return books. I will not go so far as to say that
not to return books punctually is sinful, though deep down in my soul
I think it is, but anyhow it is a symptom of moral slackness. Emma was
quite good so long as she was left alone. She could walk quite
straight so long as there were no stones in the way and nobody to pull
her aside. If there were stones, she instantly stumbled; if somebody
pulled, she instantly went. She was weak, amiable, well-intentioned.
She had a widowed father who was unpleasant and who sometimes beat her
on Saturday nights, and on Sunday mornings sometimes, if the fumes of
the Cock and Hens still hung about him, threw things at her before she
went to church. A widowed father in Emma's class is an ill being to
live with. The vicar did his best to comfort her. Mrs. Morrison talked
of the commandments and of honouring one's father and mother and of
how the less there was to honour the greater the glory of doing it;
and Emma was so amiable that she actually did manage to honour him six
days out of the seven. At the same time she could not help thinking it
would be nice to go away to a place where he wasn't. They were
extremely poor; almost the poorest family in the village, and the
vision of possessing ten shillings of her very own was a dizzy one.
She had a sweetheart, and she had sent him word by a younger sister of
the good fortune that had befallen her and begged him to come up to
Creeper Cottage that evening and help her carry the precious wages
safely home; and at nine o'clock when her work was done she presented
herself all blushes and smiles before Priscilla and shyly asked her
for them.

Priscilla was alone in her parlour reading. She referred her, as her
habit was, to Fritzing; but Fritzing had gone out for a little air,
the rain having cleared off, and when the girl told her so Priscilla
bade her come round in the morning and fetch the money.

Emma's face fell so woefully at this--was not her John at that moment
all expectant round the corner?--that Priscilla smiled and got up to
see if she could find some money herself. In the first drawer she
opened in Fritzing's sitting-room was a pocket-book, and in this
pocket-book Fritzing's last five-pound note. There was nothing else
except the furnisher's bill. She pushed that on one side without
looking at it; what did bills matter? Bills never yet had mattered to
Priscilla. She pushed it on one side and searched for silver, but
found none. "Perhaps you can change this?" she said, holding out the

"The shop's shut now, miss," said Laura, gazing with round eyes at the
mighty sum.

"Well then take it, and bring me the change in the morning."

Emma took it with trembling fingers--she had not in her life touched
so much money--and ran out into the darkness to where her John was
waiting. Symford never saw either of them again. Priscilla never saw
her change. Emma went to perdition. Priscilla went back to her chair
by the fire. She was under the distinct and comfortable impression
that she had been the means of making the girl happy. "How easy it is,
making people happy," thought Priscilla placidly, the sweetest smile
on her charming mouth.


Bad luck, it will be seen, dogged the footsteps of Priscilla. Never
indeed for a single hour after she entered Creeper Cottage did the
gloomy lady cease from her attentions. The place was pervaded by her
thick and evil atmosphere. Fritzing could not go out for an airing
without something of far-reaching consequence happening while he was
away. It was of course Bad Luck that made the one girl in Symford who
was easily swayed by passing winds of temptation draw the lot that put
the five-pound note into her hands; if she had come to the cottage
just one day later, or if the rain had gone on just half an hour
longer and kept Fritzing indoors, she would, I have no doubt whatever,
be still in Symford practising every feeble virtue either on her
father or on her John, by this time probably her very own John. As it
was she was a thief, a lost soul, a banished face for ever from the
ways of grace.

Thus are we all the sport of circumstance. Thus was all Symford the
sport of Priscilla. Fritzing knew nothing of his loss. He had not told
Priscilla a word of his money difficulties, his idea being to keep
every cloud from her life as long and as completely as possible.
Besides, how idle to talk of these things to some one who could in no
way help him with counsel or suggestions. He had put the money in his
drawer, and the thought that it was still unchanged and safe comforted
him a little in the watches of the sleepless nights.

Nothing particular happened on the Thursday morning, except that the
second of the twenty-five kept on breaking things, and Priscilla who
was helping Fritzing arrange the books he had ordered from London
remarked at the fifth terrific smash, a smash so terrific as to cause
Creeper Cottage to tremble all over, that more crockery had better be

"Yes," said Fritzing, glancing swiftly at her with almost a guilty

He felt very keenly his want of resourcefulness in this matter of
getting the money over from Germany, but he clung to the hope that a
few more wakeful nights would clear his brain and show him the way;
and meanwhile there was always the five-pound note in the drawer.

"And Fritzi, I shall have to get some clothes soon," Priscilla went
on, dusting the books as he handed them to her.

"Clothes, ma'am?" repeated Fritzing, straightening himself to stare at

"Those things you bought for me in Gerstein--they're delicious,
they're curiosities, but they're not clothes. I mean always to keep
them. I'll have them put in a glass case, and they shall always be
near me when we're happy again."

"Happy again, ma'am?"

"Settled again, I mean," quickly amended Priscilla.

She dusted in silence for a little, and began to put the books she had
dusted in the shelves. "I'd better write to Paris," she said

Fritzing jumped. "Paris, ma'am?"

"They've got my measurements. This dress can't stand much more. It's
the one I've worn all the time. The soaking it got yesterday was very
bad for it. You don't see such things, but if you did you'd probably
get a tremendous shock."

"Ma'am, if you write to Paris you must give your own name, which of
course is impossible. They will send nothing to an unknown customer in
England called Neumann-Schultz."

"Oh but we'd send the money with the order. That's quite easy, isn't

"Perfectly easy," said Fritzing in an oddly exasperated voice; at once
adding, still more snappily, "Might I request your Grand Ducal
Highness to have the goodness not to put my Æschylus--a most valuable
edition--head downwards on the shelf? It is a manner of treating books
often to be observed in housemaids and similar ignorants. But you,
ma'am, have been trained by me I trust in other and more reverent ways
of handling what is left to us of the mighty spirits of the past."

"I'm sorry," said Priscilla, hastily turning the Æschylus right side
up again; and by launching forth into a long and extremely bitter
dissertation on the various ways persons of no intellectual
conscience have of ill-treating books, he got rid of some of his
agitation and fixed her attention for the time on questions less
fraught with complications than clothes from Paris.

About half-past two they were still sitting over the eggs and bread
and butter that Priscilla ordered three times a day and that Fritzing
ate with unquestioning obedience, when the Shuttleworth victoria
stopped in front of the cottage and Lady Shuttleworth got out.
Fritzing, polite man, hastened to meet her, pushing aside the footman
and offering his arm. She looked at him vaguely, and asked if his
niece were at home.

"Certainly," said Fritzing, leading her into Priscilla's parlour.
"Shall I inquire if she will receive you?"

"Do," said Lady Shuttleworth, taking no apparent notice of the odd
wording of this question. "Tussie isn't well," she said the moment
Priscilla appeared, fixing her eyes on her face but looking as though
she hardly saw her, as though she saw past her, through her, to
something beyond, while she said a lesson learned by rote.

"Isn't he? Oh I'm sorry," said Priscilla.

"He caught cold last Sunday at your treat. He oughtn't to have run
those races with the boys. He can't--stand--much."

Priscilla looked at her questioningly. The old lady's face was quite
set and calm, but there had been a queer catch in her voice at the
last words.

"Why does he do such things, then?" asked Priscilla, feeling vaguely

"Ah yes, my dear--why? That is a question for you to answer, is it

"For me?"

"On Tuesday night," continued Lady Shuttleworth, "he was ill when he
left home to come here. He would come. It was a terrible night for a
delicate boy to go out. And he didn't stay here, I understand. He went
out to buy something after closing time, and stood a long while trying
to wake the people up."

"Yes," said Priscilla, feeling guilty, "I--that was my fault. He went
for me."

"Yes my dear. Since then he has been ill. I've come to ask you if
you'll drive back with me and see if--if you cannot persuade him that
you are happy. He seems to be much--troubled."


"He seems to be afraid you are not happy. You know," she added with a
little quavering smile, "Tussie is very kind. He is very unselfish. He
takes everybody's burdens on his shoulders. He seems to be quite
haunted by the idea that your life here is unendurably uncomfortable,
and it worries him dreadfully that he can't get to you to set things
straight. I think if he were to see you, and you were very cheerful,
and--and smiled, my dear, it might help to get him over this."

"Get him over this?" echoed Priscilla. "Is he so ill?"

Lady Shuttleworth looked at her and said nothing.

"Of course I'll come," said Priscilla, hastily ringing the bell.

"But you must not look unhappy," said Lady Shuttleworth, laying her
hand on the girl's arm, "that would make matters ten times worse. You
must promise to be as gay as possible."

"Yes, yes--I'll be gay," promised Priscilla, while her heart became as
lead within her at the thought that she was the cause of poor Tussie's
sufferings. But was she really, she asked herself during the drive?
What had she done but accept help eagerly offered? Surely it was very
innocent to do that? It was what she had been doing all her life, and
people had been delighted when she let them be kind to her, and
certainly had not got ill immediately afterwards. Were you never to
let anybody do anything for you lest while they were doing it they
should get wet feet and things, and then their colds would be upon
your head? She was very sorry Tussie should be ill, dreadfully sorry.
He was so kind and good that it was impossible not to like him. She
did like him. She liked him quite as well as most young men and much
better than many. "I'm afraid you are very unhappy," she said suddenly
to Lady Shuttleworth, struck by the look on her face as she leaned
back, silent, in her corner.

"I do feel rather at my wits' end," said Lady Shuttleworth. "For
instance, I'm wondering whether what I'm doing now isn't a great

"What you are doing now?"

"Taking you to see Tussie."

"Oh but I promise to be cheerful. I'll tell him how comfortable we
are. He'll see I look well taken care of."

"But for all that I'm afraid he may--he may--"

"Why, we're going to be tremendously taken care of. Even he will see
that. Only think--I've engaged twenty-five cooks."

"Twenty-five cooks?" echoed Lady Shuttleworth, staring in spite of her
sorrows. "But isn't my kitchenmaid--?"

"Oh she left us almost at once. She couldn't stand my uncle. He is
rather difficult to stand at first. You have to know him quite a long
while before you can begin to like him. And I don't think kitchenmaids
ever would begin."

"But my dear, twenty-five cooks?"

And Priscilla explained how and why she had come by them; and though
Lady Shuttleworth, remembering the order till now prevailing in the
village and the lowness of the wages, could not help thinking that
here was a girl more potent for mischief than any girl she had ever
met, yet a feeble gleam of amusement did, as she listened, slant
across the inky blackness of her soul.

Tussie was sitting up in bed with a great many pillows behind him,
finding immense difficulty in breathing, when his mother, her bonnet
off and every trace of having been out removed, came in and said Miss
Neumann-Schultz was downstairs.

"Downstairs? Here? In this house?" gasped Tussie, his eyes round with
wonder and joy.

"Yes. She--called. Would you like her to come up and see you?"

"Oh mother!"

Lady Shuttleworth hurried out. How could she bear this, she thought,
stumbling a little as though she did not see very well. She went
downstairs with the sound of that Oh mother throbbing in her ears.

Tussie's temperature, high already, went up by leaps during the few
minutes of waiting. He gave feverish directions to the nurse about a
comfortable chair being put exactly in the right place, about his
pillows being smoothed, his medicine bottles hidden, and was very
anxious that the flannel garment he was made to wear when ill, a
garment his mother called a nightingale--not after the bird but the
lady--and that was the bluest flannel garment ever seen, should be
arranged neatly over his narrow chest.

The nurse looked disapproving. She did not like her patients to be
happy. Perhaps she was right. It is always better, I believe, to be
cautious and careful, to husband your strength, to be deadly prudent
and deadly dull. As you would poison, so should you avoid doing what
the poet calls living too much in your large hours. The truly prudent
never have large hours; nor should you, if you want to be comfortable.
And you get your reward, I am told, in living longer; in having, that
is, a few more of those years that cluster round the end, during which
you are fed and carried and washed by persons who generally grumble.
Who wants to be a flame, doomed to be blown out by the same gust of
wind that has first fanned it to its very brightest? If you are not a
flame you cannot, of course, be blown out. Gusts no longer shake you.
Tempests pass you by untouched. And if besides you have the additional
advantage of being extremely smug, extremely thick-skinned, you shall
go on living till ninety, and not during the whole of that time be
stirred by so much as a single draught.

Priscilla came up determined to be so cheerful that she began to smile
almost before she got to the door. "I've come to tell you how
splendidly we're getting on at the cottage," she said taking Tussie's
lean hot hand, the shell of her smile remaining but the heart and
substance gone out of it, he looked so pitiful and strange.

"Really? Really?" choked Tussie, putting the other lean hot hand over
hers and burning all the coolness out of it.

The nurse looked still more disapproving. She had not heard Sir
Augustus had a _fiancée_, and even if he had this was no time for
philandering. She too had noticed the voice in which he had said Oh
mother, and she saw by his eyes that his temperature had gone up. Who
was this shabby young lady? She felt sure that no one so shabby could
be his _fiancée_, and she could only conclude that Lady Shuttleworth
must be mad.

"Nurse, I'm going to stay here a little," said Lady Shuttleworth.
"I'll call you when I want you."

"I think, madam, Sir Augustus ought not--" began the nurse.

"No, no, he shall not. Go and have forty winks, nurse."

And the nurse had to go; people generally did when Lady Shuttleworth
sent them.

"Sit down--no don't--stay a moment like this," said Tussie, his breath
coming in little jerks,--"unless you are tired? Did you walk?"

"I'm afraid you are very ill," said Priscilla, leaving her hand in his
and looking down at him with a face that all her efforts could not
induce to smile.

"Oh I'll be all right soon. How good of you to come. You've not been
hungry since?"

"No, no," said Priscilla, stroking his hands with her free hand and
giving them soothing pats as one would to a sick child.

"Really not? I've thought of that ever since. I've never got your face
that night out of my head. What had happened? While I was away--what
had happened?"

"Nothing--nothing had happened," said Priscilla hastily. "I was tired.
I had a mood. I get them, you know. I get angry easily. Then I like
to be alone till I'm sorry."

"But what had made you angry? Had I--?"

"No, never. You have never been anything but good and kind. You've
been our protecting spirit since we came here."

Tussie laughed shrilly, and immediately was seized by a coughing fit.
Lady Shuttleworth stood at the foot of the bed watching him with a
face from which happiness seemed to have fled for ever. Priscilla grew
more and more wretched, caught, obliged to stand there, distractedly
stroking his hands in her utter inability to think of anything else to

"A nice protecting spirit," gasped Tussie derisively, when he could
speak. "Look at me here, tied down to this bed for heaven knows how
long, and not able to do a thing for you."

"But there's nothing now to do. We're quite comfortable. We are
really. Do, do believe it."

"Are you only comfortable, or are you happy as well?"

"Oh, we're _very_ happy," said Priscilla with all the emphasis she
could get into her voice; and again she tried, quite unsuccessfully,
to wrench her mouth into a smile.

"Then, if you're happy, why do you look so miserable?"

He was gazing up into her face with eyes whose piercing brightness
would have frightened the nurse. There was no shyness now about
Tussie. There never is about persons whose temperature is 102.

"Miserable?" repeated Priscilla. She tried to smile; looked helplessly
at Lady Shuttleworth; looked down again at Tussie; and stammering
"Because you are so ill and it's all my fault," to her horror, to her
boundless indignation at herself, two tears, big and not to be hidden,
rolled down her face and dropped on to Tussie's and her clasped hands.

Tussie struggled to sit up straight. "Look, mother, look--" he cried,
gasping, "my beautiful one--my dear and lovely one--my darling--she's
crying--I've made her cry--now never tell me I'm not a brute
again--see, see what I've done!"

"Oh"--murmured Priscilla, in great distress and amazement. Was the
poor dear delirious? And she tried to get her hands away.

But Tussie would not let them go. He held them in a clutch that seemed
like hot iron in both his, and dragging himself nearer to them covered
them with wild kisses.

Lady Shuttleworth was appalled. "Tussie," she said in a very even
voice, "you must let Miss Neumann-Schultz go now. You must be quiet
again now. Let her go, dear. Perhaps she'll--come again."

"Oh mother, leave me alone," cried Tussie, lying right across his
pillows, his face on Priscilla's hands. "What do you know of these
things? This is my darling--this is my wife--dream of my spirit--star
of my soul--"

"Never in this world!" cried Lady Shuttleworth, coming round to the
head of the bed as quickly as her shaking limbs would take her.

"Yes, yes, come here if you like, mother--come close--listen while I
tell her how I love her. I don't care who hears. Why should I? If I
weren't ill I'd care. I'd be tongue-tied--I'd have gone on being
tongue-tied for ever. Oh I bless being ill, I bless being ill--I can
say anything, anything--"

"Tussie, don't say it," entreated his mother. "The less you say now
the more grateful you'll be later on. Let her go."

"Listen to her!" cried Tussie, interrupting his kissing of her hands
to look up at Priscilla and smile with a sort of pitying wonder, "Let
you go? Does one let one's life go? One's hope of salvation go? One's
little precious minute of perfect happiness go? When I'm well again I
shall be just as dull and stupid as ever, just such a shy fool, not
able to speak--"

"But it's a gracious state"--stammered poor Priscilla.

"Loving you? Loving you?"

"No, no--not being able to speak. It's always best--"

"It isn't. It's best to be true to one's self, to show honestly what
one feels, as I am now--as I am now--" And he fell to kissing her
hands again.

"Tussie, this isn't being honest," said Lady Shuttleworth sternly,
"it's being feverish."

"Listen to her! Was ever a man interrupted like this in the act of
asking a girl to marry him?"

"Tussie!" cried Lady Shuttleworth.

"Ethel, will you marry me? Because I love you so? It's an absurd
reason--the most magnificently absurd reason, but I know there's no
other why you should--"

Priscilla was shaken and stricken as she had never yet been; shaken
with pity, stricken with remorse. She looked down at him in dismay
while he kissed her hands with desperate, overwhelming love. What was
she to do? Lady Shuttleworth tried to draw her away. What was she to
do? If Tussie was overwhelmed with love, she was overwhelmed with

"Ethel--Ethel--" gasped Tussie, kissing her hands, looking up at her,
kissing them again.

Pity overcame her, engulfed her. She bent her head down to his and
laid her cheek an instant on the absurd flannel nightingale, tenderly,

"Ethel--Ethel," choked Tussie, "will you marry me?"

"Dear Tussie," she whispered in a shaky whisper, "I promise to answer
you when you are well. Not yet. Not now. Get quite well, and then if
you still want an answer I promise to give you one. Now let me go."

"Ethel," implored Tussie, looking at her with a wild entreaty in his
eyes, "will you kiss me? Just once--to help me to live--"

And in her desire to comfort him she stooped down again and did kiss
him, soberly, almost gingerly, on the forehead.

He let her hands slide away from between his and lay back on his
pillows in a state for the moment of absolute beatitude. He shut his
eyes, and did not move while she crept softly out of the room.

"What have you done?" asked Lady Shuttleworth trembling, when they
were safely in the passage and the door shut behind them.

"I can't think--I can't think," groaned Priscilla, wringing her hands.
And, leaning against the balusters, then and there in that most
public situation she began very bitterly to cry.


Priscilla went home dazed. All her suitors hitherto had approached her
ceremoniously, timidly, through the Grand Duke; and we know they had
not approached very near. But here was one, timid enough in health,
who was positively reckless under circumstances that made most people
meek. He had proposed to her arrayed in a blue flannel nightingale,
and Priscilla felt that headlong self-effacement could go no further.
"He must have a great soul," she said to herself over and over again
during the drive home, "a great, _great_ soul." And it seemed of
little use wiping her tears away, so many fresh ones immediately took
their place.

She ached over Tussie and Tussie's mother. What had she done? She felt
she had done wrong; yet how, except by just existing? and she did feel
she couldn't help doing that. Certainly she had made two kind hearts
extremely miserable,--one was miserable now, and the other didn't yet
know how miserable it was going to be. She ought to have known, she
ought to have thought, she ought to have foreseen. She of all persons
in the world ought to have been careful with young men who believed
her to be of their own class. Contrition and woe took possession of
Priscilla's soul. She knew it was true that she could not help
existing, but she knew besides, far back in a remote and seldom
investigated corner of her mind, a corner on which she did not care to
turn the light of careful criticism, that she ought not to be existing
in Symford. It was because she was there, out of her proper sphere, in
a place she had no business to be in at all, that these strange and
heart-wringing scenes with young men occurred. And Fritzing would
notice her red eyes and ask what had happened; and here within two
days was a second story to be told of a young man unintentionally
hurried to his doom. Would Fritzing be angry? She never knew
beforehand. Would he, only remembering she was grand ducal, regard it
as an insult and want to fight Tussie? The vision of poor Tussie,
weak, fevered, embedded in pillows, swathed in flannel, receiving
bloodthirsty messages of defiance from Fritzing upset her into more
tears. Fritzing, she felt at that moment, was a trial. He burdened her
with his gigantic efforts to keep her from burdens. He burdened her
with his inflated notions of how burdenless she ought to be. He was
admirable, unselfish, devoted; but she felt it was possible to be too
admirable, too unselfish, too devoted. In a word Priscilla's mind
was in a state of upheaval, and the only ray of light she saw
anywhere--and never was ray more watery--was that Tussie, for the
moment at least, was content. The attitude of his mother, on the
other hand, was distressing and disturbing. There had been no more My
dears and other kind ways. She had watched her crying on the stairs in
stony silence, had gone down with her to the door in stony silence,
and just at the last had said in an unmistakably stony voice, "All
this is very cruel."

Priscilla was overwhelmed by the difficulties of life. The world was
too much with her, she felt, a very great deal too much. She sent the
Shuttleworth carriage away at the entrance to the village and went in
to sit with Mrs. Jones a little, so that her eyes might lose their
redness before she faced Fritzing; and Mrs. Jones was so glad to see
her, so full of praises of her unselfish goodness in coming in, that
once again Priscilla was forced to be ashamed of herself and of
everything she did.

"I'm not unselfish, and I'm not good," she said, smoothing the old
lady's coverlet.

Mrs. Jones chuckled faintly. "Pretty dear," was her only comment.

"I don't think I'm pretty and I know I'm not a dear," said Priscilla,
quite vexed.

"Ain't you then, deary," murmured Mrs. Jones soothingly.

Priscilla saw it was no use arguing, and taking up the Bible that
always lay on the table by the bed began to read aloud. She read and
read till both were quieted,--Mrs. Jones into an evidently sweet
sleep, she herself into peace. Then she left off and sat for some time
watching the old lady, the open Bible in-her lap, her soul filled
with calm words and consolations, wondering what it could be like
being so near death. Must it not be beautiful, thought Priscilla, to
slip away so quietly in that sunny room, with no sound to break the
peace but the ticking of the clock that marked off the last minutes,
and outside the occasional footstep of a passer-by still hurrying on
life's business? Wonderful to have done with everything, to have it
all behind one, settled, lived through, endured. The troublous joys
as well as the pains, all finished; the griefs and the stinging
happinesses, all alike lived down; and now evening, and sleep. In the
few days Priscilla had known her the old lady had drawn visibly nearer
death. Lying there on the pillow, so little and light that she hardly
pressed it down at all, she looked very near it indeed. And how kind
Death was, rubbing away the traces of what must have been a sordid
existence, set about years back with the usual coarse pleasures and
selfish hopes,--how kind Death was, letting all there was of spirit
shine out so sweetly at the end. There was an enlarged photograph of
Mrs. Jones and her husband over the fireplace, a photograph taken for
their silver wedding; she must have been about forty-five; how kind
Death was, thought Priscilla, looking from the picture to the figure
on the bed. She sighed a little, and got up. Life lay before her, an
endless ladder up each of whose steep rungs she would have to clamber;
in every sort of weather she would have to clamber, getting more
battered, more blistered with every rung.... She looked wistfully at
the figure on the bed, and sighed a little. Then she crept out, and
softly shut the door.

She walked home lost in thought. As she was going up the hill to her
cottage Fritzing suddenly emerged from it and indulged in movements so
strange and complicated that they looked like nothing less than a
desperate dancing on the doorstep. Priscilla walked faster, staring in
astonishment. He made strange gestures, his face was pale, his hair
rubbed up into a kind of infuriated mop.

"Why, what in the world--" began the amazed Priscilla, as soon as she
was near enough.

"Ma'am, I've been robbed," shouted Fritzing; and all Symford might
have heard if it had happened to be listening.

"Robbed?" repeated Priscilla. "What of?"

"Of all my money, ma'am. Of all I had--of all we had--to live on."

"Nonsense, Fritzi," said Priscilla; but she did turn a little paler.
"Don't let us stand out here," she added; and she got him in and shut
the street door.

He would have left it open and would have shouted his woes through
it as through a trumpet down the street, oblivious of all things
under heaven but his misfortune. He tore open the drawer of the
writing-table. "In this drawer--in the pocket-book you see in this
drawer--in this now empty pocket-book, did I leave it. It was there
yesterday. It was there last night. Now it is gone. Miscreants from
without have visited us. Or perhaps, viler still, miscreants from
within. A miscreant, I do believe, capable of anything--Annalise--"

"Fritzi, I took a five-pound note out of that last night, if that's
what you miss."

"You, ma'am?"

"To pay the girl who worked here her wages. You weren't here. I
couldn't find anything smaller."

"_Gott sei Dank! Gott sei Dank_!" cried Fritzing, going back to German
in his joy. "Oh ma'am, if you had told me earlier you would have
spared me great anguish. Have you the change?"

"Didn't she bring it?"

"Bring it, ma'am?"

"I gave it to her last night to change. She was to bring it round this
morning. Didn't she?"

Fritzing stared aghast. Then he disappeared into the kitchen. In a
moment he was back again. "She has not been here," he said, in a voice
packed once more with torment.

"Perhaps she has forgotten."

"Ma'am, how came you--"

"Now you're going to scold me."

"No, no--but how is it possible that you should have trusted--"

"Fritzi, you _are_ going to scold me, and I'm so tired. What else has
been taken? You said all your money--"

He snatched up his hat. "Nothing else, ma'am, nothing else. I will go
and seek the girl." And he clapped it down over his eyes as he always
did in moments of great mental stress.

"What a fuss," thought Priscilla wearily. Aloud she said, "The girl
here to-day will tell you where she lives. Of course she has
forgotten, or not been able to change it yet." And she left him, and
went out to get into her own half of the house.

Yes, Fritzi really was a trial. Why such a fuss and such big words
about five pounds? If it were lost and the girl afraid to come and say
so, it didn't matter much; anyhow nothing like so much as having one's
peace upset. How foolish to be so agitated and talk of having been
robbed of everything. Fritzing's mind, she feared, that large,
enlightened mind on whose breadth and serenity she had gazed
admiringly ever since she could remember gazing at all, was shrinking
to dimensions that would presently exactly match the dimensions of
Creeper Cottage. She went upstairs disheartened and tired, and
dropping down full length on her sofa desired Annalise to wash her

"Your Grand Ducal Highness has been weeping," said Annalise, whisking
the sponge in and out of corners with a skill surprising in one who
had only practised the process during the last ten days.

Priscilla opened her eyes to stare at her in frankest surprise, for
never yet had Annalise dared make a remark unrequested. Annalise, by
beginning to wash them, forced her to shut them again.

Priscilla then opened her mouth to tell her what she thought of her.
Immediately Annalise's swift sponge stopped it up.

"Your Grand Ducal Highness," said Annalise, washing Priscilla's mouth
with a thoroughness and an amount of water suggestive of its not
having been washed for months, "told me only yesterday that weeping
was a terrible--_schreckliche_--waste of time. Therefore, since your
Grand Ducal Highness knows that and yet herself weeps, it is easy to
see that there exists a reason for weeping which makes weeping

"Will you--" began Priscilla, only to be stopped instantly by the
ready sponge.

"Your Grand Ducal Highness is unhappy. 'Tis not to be wondered at.
Trust a faithful servant, one whose life-blood is at your Grand Ducal
Highness's disposal, and tell her if it is not then true that the Herr
Geheimrath has decoyed you from your home and your Grossherzoglicher
Herr Papa?"

"Will you--"

Again the pouncing sponge.

"My heart bleeds--indeed it bleeds--to think of the Herr Papa's
sufferings, his fears, his anxieties. It is a picture on which I
cannot calmly look. Day and night--for at night I lie sleepless on my
bed--I am inquiring of myself what it can be, the spell that the Herr
Geheimrath has cast over your Grand Ducal--"

"Will you--"

Again the pouncing sponge; but this time Priscilla caught the girl's
hand, and holding it at arm's length sat up. "Are you mad?" she asked,
looking at Annalise as though she saw her for the first time.

Annalise dropped the sponge and clasped her hands. "Not mad," she
said, "only very, very devoted."

"No. Mad. Give me a towel."

Priscilla was so angry that she did not dare say more. If she had said
a part even of what she wanted to say all would have been over between
herself and Annalise; so she dried her face in silence, declining to
allow it to be touched. "You can go," she said, glancing at the door,
her face pale with suppressed wrath but also, it must be confessed,
very clean; and when she was alone she dropped once again on to the
sofa and buried her head in the cushion. How dared Annalise? How dared
she? How dared she? Priscilla asked herself over and over again,
wincing, furious. Why had she not thought of this, known that she
would be in the power of any servant they chose to bring? Surely there
was no limit, positively none, to what the girl might do or say? How
was she going to bear her about her, endure the sight and sound of
that veiled impertinence? She buried her head very deep in the
cushion, vainly striving to blot out the world and Annalise in its
feathers, but even there there was no peace, for suddenly a great
noise of doors going and legs striding penetrated through its
stuffiness and she heard Fritzing's voice very loud and near--all
sounds in Creeper Cottage were loud and near--ordering Annalise to ask
her Grand Ducal Highness to descend.

"I won't," thought Priscilla, burying her head deeper. "That poor Emma
has lost the note and he's going to fuss. I won't descend."

Then came Annalise's tap at her door. Priscilla did not answer.
Annalise tapped again. Priscilla did not answer, but turning her head
face upwards composed herself to an appearance of sleep.

Annalise tapped a third time. "The Herr Geheimrath wishes to speak to
your Grand Ducal Highness," she called through the door; and after a
pause opened it and peeped in. "Her Grand Ducal Highness sleeps," she
informed Fritzing down the stairs, her nose at the angle in the air it
always took when she spoke to him.

"Then wake her! Wake her!" cried Fritzing.

"Is it possible something has happened?" thought Annalise joyfully,
her eyes gleaming as she willingly flew back to Priscilla's
door,--anything, anything, she thought, sooner than the life she was

Priscilla heard Fritzing's order and sat up at once, surprised at such
an unprecedented indifference to her comfort. Her heart began to beat
faster; a swift fear that Kunitz was at her heels seized her; she
jumped up and ran out.

Fritzing was standing at the foot of the stairs.

"Come down, ma'am," he said; "I must speak to you at once."

"What's the matter?" asked Priscilla, getting down the steep little
stairs as quickly as was possible without tumbling.

"Hateful English tongue," thought Annalise, to whom the habit the
Princess and Fritzing had got into of talking English together was a
constant annoyance and disappointment.

Fritzing preceded Priscilla into her parlour, and when she was in he
shut the door behind her. Then he leaned his hands on the table to
steady himself and confronted her with a twitching face. Priscilla
looked at him appalled. Was the Grand Duke round the corner?
Lingering, perhaps, among the very tombs just outside her window?
"What is it?" she asked faintly.

"Ma'am, the five pounds has disappeared for ever."

"Really Fritzi, you are too absurd about that wretched five pounds,"
cried Priscilla, blazing into anger.

"But it was all we had."

"All we--?"

"Ma'am, it was positively our last penny."

"I--don't understand."

He made her understand. With paper and pencil, with the bills and his
own calculations, he made her understand. His hands shook, but he
went through with it item by item, through everything they had spent
from the moment they left Kunitz. They were in such a corner, so
tightly jammed, that all efforts to hide it and pretend there was no
corner seemed to him folly. He now saw that such efforts always had
been folly, and that he ought to have seen to it that her mind on this
important point was from the first perfectly clear; then nothing would
have happened. "You have had the misfortune, ma'am, to choose a fool
for your protector in this adventure," he said bitterly, pushing the
papers from him as though he loathed the sight of them.

Priscilla sat dumfoundered. She was looking quite straight for the
first time at certain pitiless aspects of life. For the first time she
was face to face with the sternness, the hardness, the relentlessness
of everything that has to do with money so soon as one has not got
any. It seemed almost incredible to her that she who had given so
lavishly to anybody and everybody, who had been so glad to give, who
had thought of money when she thought of it at all as a thing to be
passed on, as a thing that soiled one unless it was passed on, but
that, passed on, became strangely glorified and powerful for good--it
seemed incredible that she should be in need of it herself, and unable
to think of a single person who would give her some. And what a little
she needed: just to tide them over the next week or two till they had
got theirs from home; yet even that little, the merest nothing
compared to what she had flung about in the village, was as
unattainable as though it had been a fortune. "Can we--can we not
borrow?" she said at last.

"Yes ma'am, we can and we must. I will proceed this evening to Symford
Hall and borrow of Augustus."

"No," said Priscilla; so suddenly and so energetically that Fritzing

"No, ma'am?" he repeated, astonished. "Why, he is the very person. In
fact he is our only hope. He must and shall help us."

"No," repeated Priscilla, still more energetically.

"Pray ma'am," said Fritzing, shrugging his shoulders, "are these
women's whims--I never comprehended them rightly and doubt if I ever
shall--are they to be allowed to lead us even in dangerous crises? To
lead us to certain shipwreck, ma'am? The alternatives in this case are
three. Permit me to point them out. Either we return to Kunitz--"

"Oh," shivered Priscilla, shrinking as from a blow.

"Or, after a brief period of starvation and other violent discomfort,
we are cast into gaol for debt--"

"Oh?" shivered Priscilla, in tones of terrified inquiry.

"Or, I borrow of Augustus."

"No," said Priscilla, just as energetically as before.

"Augustus is wealthy. Augustus is willing. Ma'am, I would stake my
soul that he is willing."

"You shall not borrow of him," said Priscilla. "He--he's too ill."

"Well then, ma'am," said Fritzing with a gesture of extreme
exasperation, "since you cannot be allowed to be cast into gaol there
remains but Kunitz. Like the dogs of the Scriptures we will return--"

"Why not borrow of the vicar?" interrupted Priscilla. "Surely he would
be glad to help any one in difficulties?"

"Of the vicar? What, of the father of the young man who insulted your
Grand Ducal Highness and whom I propose to kill in duel my first
leisure moment? Ma'am, there are depths of infamy to which even a
desperate man will not descend."

Priscilla dug holes in the tablecloth with the point of the pencil. "I
can't conceive," she said, "why you gave Annalise all that money. So

"Why, ma'am, she refused, unless I did, to prepare your Grand Ducal
Highness's tea."

"Oh Fritzi!" Priscilla looked up at him, shaking her head and smiling
through all her troubles. Was ever so much love and so much folly
united in one wise old man? Was ever, for that matter, so expensive a

"I admit I permitted the immediate, the passing, moment to blot out
the future from my clearer vision on that occasion."

"On that occasion? Oh Fritzi. What about all the other occasions?
When you gave me all I asked for--for the poor people, for my party.
You must have suffered tortures of anxiety. And all by yourself. Oh
Fritzi. It was dear of you--perfectly, wonderfully, dear. But you
ought to have been different with me from the beginning--treated me
exactly as you would have treated a real niece--"

"Ma'am," cried Fritzing, jumping up, "this is waste of time. Our case
is very urgent. Money must be obtained. You must allow me to judge in
this matter, however ill I have acquitted myself up to now. I shall
start at once for Symford Hall and obtain a loan of Augustus."

Priscilla pushed back her chair and got up too. "My dear Fritzi,
please leave that unfortunate young man out of the question," she
said, flushing. "How can you worry a person who is ill in bed with
such things?"

"His mother is not ill in bed and will do quite as well. I am
certainly going."

"You are not going. I won't have you ask his mother. I--forbid you to
do anything of the sort. Oh Fritzi," she added in despair, for he had
picked up the hat and stick he had flung down on coming in and was
evidently not going to take the least notice of her commands--"oh
Fritzi, you can't ask Tussie for money. It would kill him to know we
were in difficulties."

"Kill him, ma'am? Why should it kill him?" shouted Fritzing,
exasperated by such a picture of softness.

"It wouldn't only kill him--it would be simply too dreadful besides,"
said Priscilla, greatly distressed. "Why, he asked me this
afternoon--wasn't going to tell you, but you force me to--he asked me
this very afternoon to marry him, and the dreadful part is that I'm
afraid he thinks--he hopes--that I'm going to."


The only inhabitant of Creeper Cottage who slept that night was
Annalise. Priscilla spent it walking up and down her bedroom, and
Fritzing on the other side of the wall spent it walking up and down
his. They could hear each other doing it; it was a melancholy sound.
Once Priscilla was seized with laughter--a not very genial mirth, but
still laughter--and had to fling herself on her bed and bury her face
in the pillows lest Fritzing should hear so blood-curdling a noise. It
was when their steps had fallen steadily together for several turns
and the church clock, just as she was noticing this, had struck three.
Not for this, to tramp up and down their rooms all night, not for this
had they left Kunitz. The thought of all they had dreamed life in
Creeper Cottage was going to be, of all they had never doubted it was
going to be, of peaceful nights passed in wholesome slumber, of days
laden with fruitful works, of evenings with the poets, came into her
head and made this tormented marching suddenly seem intensely droll.
She laughed into her pillow till the tears rolled down her face, and
the pains she had to take to keep all sounds from reaching Fritzing
only made her laugh more.

It was a windy night, and the wind sighed round the cottage and
rattled the casements and rose every now and then to a howl very
dreary to hear. While Priscilla was laughing a great gust shook the
house, and involuntarily she raised her head to listen. It died away,
and her head dropped back on to her arms again, but the laughter was
gone. She lay solemn enough, listening to Fritzing's creakings, and
thought of the past day and of the days to come till her soul grew
cold. Surely she was a sort of poisonous weed, fatal to every one
about her? Fritzing, Tussie, the poor girl Emma--oh, it could not be
true about Emma. She had lost the money, and was trying to gather
courage to come and say so; or she had simply not been able to change
it yet. Fritzing had jumped to the conclusion, because nothing had
been heard of her all day at home, that she had run away with it.
Priscilla twisted herself about uneasily. It was not the loss of the
five pounds that made her twist, bad though that loss was in their
utter poverty; it was the thought that if Emma had really run away
she, by her careless folly, had driven the girl to ruin. And then
Tussie. How dreadful that was. At three in the morning, with the
wailing wind rising and falling and the room black with the inky
blackness of a moonless October night, the Tussie complication seemed
to be gigantic, of a quite appalling size, threatening to choke her,
to crush all the spring and youth out of her. If Tussie got well she
was going to break his heart; if Tussie died it would be her fault.
No one but herself was responsible for his illness, her own selfish,
hateful self. Yes, she was a poisonous weed; a baleful, fatal thing,
not fit for great undertakings, not fit for a noble life, too foolish
to depart successfully from the lines laid down for her by other
people; wickedly careless; shamefully shortsighted; spoiling, ruining,
everything she touched. Priscilla writhed. Nobody likes being forced
to recognize that they are poisonous weeds. Even to be a plain weed is
grievous to one's vanity, but to be a weed and poisonous as well is a
very desperate thing to be. She passed a dreadful night. It was the
worst she could remember.

And the evening too--how bad it had been; though contrary to her
expectations Fritzing showed no desire to fight Tussie. He was not so
unreasonable as she had supposed; and besides, he was too completely
beaten down by the ever-increasing weight and number of his
responsibilities to do anything in regard to that unfortunate youth
but be sorry for him. More than once that evening he looked at
Priscilla in silent wonder at the amount of trouble one young woman
could give. How necessary, he thought, and how wise was that plan at
which he used in his ignorance to rail, of setting an elderly female
like the Disthal to control the actions and dog the footsteps of the
Priscillas of this world. He hated the Disthal and all women like her,
women with mountainous bodies and minimal brains--bodies self-indulged
into shapelessness, brains neglected into disappearance; but the
nobler and simpler and the more generous the girl the more did she
need some such mixture of fleshliness and cunning constantly with her.
It seemed absurd, and it seemed all wrong; yet surely it was so. He
pondered over it long in dejected musings, the fighting tendency gone
out of him completely for the time, so dark was his spirit with the
shadows of the future.

They had borrowed the wages--it was a dreadful moment--for that day's
cook from Annalise. For their food they decided to run up a bill at
the store; but every day each fresh cook would have to be paid, and
every day her wages would have to be lent by Annalise. Annalise lent
superbly; with an air as of giving freely, with joy. All she required
was the Princess's signature to a memorandum drawn up by herself by
which she was promised the money back, doubled, within three months.
Priscilla read this, flushed to her hair, signed, and ordered her out
of the room. Annalise, who was beginning to enjoy herself, went
upstairs singing. In the parlour Priscilla broke the pen she had
signed with into quite small pieces and flung them on to the fire,--a
useless demonstration, but then she was a quick-tempered young lady.
In the attic Annalise sat down and wrote a letter breathing lofty
sentiments to the Countess Disthal in Kunitz, telling her she could no
longer keep silence in the face of a royal parent's anxieties and she
was willing to reveal the address of the Princess Priscilla and so
staunch the bleeding of a noble heart if the Grand Duke would forward
her or forward to her parents on her behalf the sum of twenty thousand
marks. Gladly would she render this service, which was at the same
time her duty, for nothing, if she had not the future to consider and
an infirm father. Meanwhile she gave the Symford post-office as an
address, assuring the Countess that it was at least fifty miles from
the Princess's present hiding-place, the address of which would only
be sent on the conditions named. Then, immensely proud of her
cleverness, she trotted down to the post-office, bought stamps, and
put the letter herself in the box.

That evening she sang in the kitchen, she sang in the bath-room, she
sang in the attic and on the stairs to the attic. What she sang,
persistently, over and over again, and loudest outside Fritzing's
door, was a German song about how beautiful it is at evening when the
bells ring one to rest, and the refrain at the end of each verse was
ding-dong twice repeated. Priscilla rang her own bell, unable to
endure it, but Annalise did not consider this to be one of those that
are beautiful and did not answer it till it had been rung three times.

"Do not sing," said Priscilla, when she appeared.

"Your Grand Ducal Highness objects?"

Priscilla turned red. "I'll give no reasons," she said icily. "Do not

"Yet it is a sign of a light heart. Your Grand Ducal Highness did not
like to see me weep--she should the more like to hear me rejoice."

"You can go."

"My heart to-night is light, because I am the means of being of use
to your Grand Ducal Highness, of showing my devotion, of being of

"Do me the service of being quiet."

Annalise curtseyed and withdrew, and spent the rest of the evening
bursting into spasmodic and immediately interrupted song,--breaking
off after a few bars with a cough of remembrance and apology. When
this happened Fritzing and Priscilla looked at each other with grave
and meditative eyes; they knew how completely they were in her power.

Fritzing wrote that night to the friend in London who had engaged the
rooms for him at Baker's Farm, and asked him to lend him fifty pounds
for a week,--preferably three hundred (this would cover the
furnisher's bill), but if he could lend neither five would do. The
friend, a teacher of German, could as easily have lent the three
hundred as the five, so poor was he, so fit an object for a loan
himself; but long before his letter explaining this in words eloquent
of regret (for he was a loyal friend) reached Fritzing, many things
had happened to that bewildered man to whom so many things had
happened already, and caused him to forget both his friend and his

This, then, was how the afternoon and evening of Thursday were
passed; and on Friday morning, quite unstrung by their sleepless
night, Priscilla and Fritzing were proposing to go up together on
to the moor, there to seek width and freshness, be blown upon by
moist winds, and forget for a little the crushing narrowness and
perplexities of Creeper Cottage, when Mrs. Morrison walked in. She
opened the door first and then, when half of her was inside, knocked
with her knuckles, which were the only things to knock with on
Priscilla's simple door.

Priscilla was standing by the fire dressed to go out, waiting for
Fritzing, and she stared at this apparition in great and unconcealed
surprise. What business, said Priscilla's look more plainly than any
words, what business had people to walk into other people's cottages
in such a manner? She stood quite still, and scrutinized Mrs. Morrison
with the questioning expression she used to find so effective in
Kunitz days when confronted by a person inclined to forget which,
exactly, was his proper place. But Mrs. Morrison knew nothing of
Kunitz, and the look lost half its potency without its impressive
background. Besides, the lady was not one to notice things so slight
as looks; to keep her in her proper place you would have needed
sledge-hammers. She came in without thinking it necessary to wait to
be asked to, nodded something that might perhaps have represented a
greeting and of which Priscilla took no notice, and her face was the
face of somebody who is angry.

"How wearing for the vicar," thought Priscilla, "to have a wife who
is angry at ten o'clock in the morning."

"I've come in the interests--" began Mrs. Morrison, whose voice was
quite as angry as her face.

"I'm just going out," said Priscilla.

"--Of religion and morality."

"Are they distinct?" asked Priscilla, drawing on her gloves.

"You can imagine that nothing would make me pay you a visit but the
strongest sense of the duty I owe to my position in the parish."

"Why should I imagine it?"

"Of course I expect impertinence."

"I'm afraid you've come here to be rude."

"I shall not be daunted by anything you may say from doing my duty."

"Will you please do it, then, and get it over?"

"The duties of a clergyman's wife are often very disagreeable."

"Probably you've got hold of a perfectly wrong idea of what yours
really are."

"It is a new experience for me to be told so by a girl of your age."

"I am not telling you. I only suggest."

"I was prepared for rudeness."

"Then why did you come?"

"How long are you going to stay in this parish?"

"You don't expect me to answer that?"

"You've not been in it a fortnight, and you have done more harm than
most people in a lifetime."

"I'm afraid you exaggerate."

"You have taught it to drink."

"I gave a dying old woman what she most longed for."

"You've taught it to break the Sabbath."

"I made a great many little children very happy."

"You have ruined the habits of thrift we have been at such pains to
teach and encourage for twenty-five years."

"I helped the poor when they asked me to."

"And now what I want to know is, what has become of the Hancock girl?"

"Pray who, exactly, is the Hancock girl?"

"That unfortunate creature who worked here for you on Wednesday."

Priscilla's face changed. "Emma?" she asked.

"Emma. At this hour the day before yesterday she was as good a girl as
any in the village. She was good, and dutiful, and honest. Now what is
she and where is she?"

"Has she--isn't she in her home?"

"She never went home."

"Then she did lose the money?"

"Lose it? She has stolen it. Do you not see you have deliberately made
a thief out of an honest girl?"

Priscilla gazed in dismay at the avenging vicar's wife. It was true
then, and she had the fatal gift of spoiling all she touched.

"And worse than that--you have brought a good girl to ruin. He'll
never marry her now."


"Do you not know the person she was engaged to has gone with her?"

"I don't know anything."

"They walked from here to Ullerton and went to London. Her father came
round to us yesterday after your uncle had been to him making
inquiries, and it is all as clear as day. Till your uncle told him, he
did not know about the money, and had been too--not well enough that
day to notice Emma's not having come home. Your uncle's visit sobered
him. We telegraphed to the police. They've been traced to London.
That's all. Except," and she glared at Priscilla with all the wrath of
a prophet whose denunciations have been justified, "except that one
more life is ruined."

"I'm very sorry--very, very sorry," said Priscilla, so earnestly, so
abjectly even, that her eyes filled with tears. "I see now how
thoughtless it was of me."


"It was inexcusably thoughtless."

"Thoughtless!" cried Mrs. Morrison again.

"If you like, it was criminally thoughtless."

"Thoughtless!" cried Mrs. Morrison a third time.

"But it wasn't more than thoughtless. I'd give anything to be able to
set it right. I am most truly grieved. But isn't it a little hard to
make me responsible?"

Mrs. Morrison stared at her as one who eyes some strange new monster.
"How amazingly selfish you are," she said at last, in tones almost of

"Selfish?" faltered Priscilla, who began to wonder what she was not.

"In the face of such total ruin, such utter shipwreck, to be thinking
of what is hard on you. You! Why, here you are with a safe skin, free
from the bitter anxieties and temptations poor people have to fight
with, with so much time unoccupied that you fill it up with mischief,
with more money than you know what to do with"--Priscilla pressed her
hands together--"sheltered, free from every care"--Priscilla opened
her lips but shut them again--"and there is that miserable Emma,
hopeless, branded, for ever an outcast because of you,--only because
of you, and you think of yourself and talk of its being hard."

Priscilla looked at Mrs. Morrison, opened her mouth to say something,
shut it, opened it again, and remarked very lamely that the heart
alone knows its own bitterness.

"Psha," said Mrs. Morrison, greatly incensed at having the Scriptures,
her own speciality, quoted at her. "I'd like to know what bitterness
yours has known, unless it's the bitterness of a bad conscience. Now
I've come here to-day"--she raised her voice to a note of warning--"to
give you a chance. To make you think, by pointing out the path you
are treading. You are young, and it is my duty to let no young person
go downhill without one warning word. You have brought much evil on
our village--why you, a stranger, should be bent on making us all
unhappy I can't imagine. You hypocritically try to pretend that what
plain people call evil is really good. But your last action, forcing
Emma Hancock to be a thief and worse, even you cannot possibly defend.
You have much on your conscience--far, far more than I should care to
have on mine. How wicked to give all that money to Mrs. Jones. Don't
you see you are tempting people who know she is defenceless to steal
it from her? Perhaps even murder her? I saved her from that--you did
not reckon with me, you see. Take my advice--leave Symford, and go
back to where you came from"--Priscilla started--"and get something to
do that will keep you fully occupied. If you don't, you'll be laying
up a wretched, perhaps a degraded future for yourself. Don't
suppose,"--her voice grew very loud--"don't suppose we are fools here
and are not all of us aware of the way you have tried to lure young
men on"--Priscilla started again--"in the hope, of course, of getting
one of them to marry you. But your intentions have been frustrated
luckily, in the one case by Providence flinging your victim on a bed
of sickness and in the other by your having altogether mistaken the
sort of young fellow you were dealing with."

Mrs. Morrison paused for breath. This last part of her speech had been
made with an ever accumulating rage. Priscilla stood looking at her,
her eyebrows drawn down very level over her eyes.

"My son is much too steady and conscientious, besides being too much
accustomed to first-rate society, to stoop to anything so vulgar--"

"As myself?" inquired Priscilla.

"As a love-affair with the first stray girl he picks up."

"Do you mean me?"

"He saw through your intentions, laughed at them, and calmly returned
to his studies at Cambridge."

"I boxed his ears."


"I boxed his ears."


"I boxed his ears. That's why he went. He didn't go calmly. It wasn't
his studies."

"How dare you box--oh, this is too horrible--and you stand there and
tell me so to my face?"

"I'm afraid I must. The tone of your remarks positively demands it.
Your son's conduct positively demanded that I should box his ears. So
I did."

"Of all the shameless--"

"I'm afraid you're becoming like him--altogether impossible."

"You first lure him on, and then--oh, it is shameful!"

"Have you finished what you came for?"

"You are the most brazen--"

"Hush. Do be careful. Suppose my uncle were to hear you? If you've
finished won't you go?"

"Go? I shall not go till I have said my say. I shall send the vicar to
you about Robin--such conduct is so--so infamous that I can't--I
can't--I can't--"

"I'm sorry if it has distressed you."

"Distressed me? You are the most--"

"Really I think we've done, haven't we?" said Priscilla hurriedly,
dreadfully afraid lest Fritzing should come in and hear her being
called names.

"To think that you dared--to think that my--my noble boy--"

"He wasn't very noble. Mothers don't ever really know their sons, I

"Shameless girl!" cried Mrs. Morrison, so loud, so completely beside
herself, that Priscilla hastily rang her bell, certain that Fritzing
must hear and would plunge in to her rescue; and of all things she had
learned to dread Fritzing's plunging to her rescue. "Open the door for
this lady," she said to Annalise, who appeared with a marvellous
promptitude; and as Mrs. Morrison still stood her ground and refused
to see either Annalise or the door Priscilla ended the interview by
walking out herself, with great dignity, into the bathroom.


And now I have come to a part of my story that I would much rather not
write. Always my inclination if left alone is to sit in the sun and
sing of things like crocuses, of nothing less fresh and clean than
crocuses. The engaging sprightliness of crocuses; their dear little
smell, not to be smelled except by the privileged few; their luminous
transparency--I am thinking of the white and the purple; their kind
way of not keeping hearts sick for Spring waiting longer than they can
just bear; how pleasant to sit with a friend in the sun, a friend who
like myself likes to babble of green fields, and talk together about
all things flowery. But Priscilla's story has taken such a hold on me,
it seemed when first I heard it to be so full of lessons, that I feel
bound to set it down from beginning to end for the use and warning of
all persons, princesses and others, who think that by searching, by
going far afield, they will find happiness, and do not see that it is
lying all the while at their feet. They do not see it because it is so
close. It is so close that there is a danger of its being trodden on
or kicked away. And it is shy, and waits to be picked up. Priscilla,
we know, went very far afield in search of hers, and having
undertaken to tell of what befell her I must not now, only because I
would rather, suppress any portion of the story. Besides, it is a
portion vital to the catastrophe.

In Minehead, then, there lived at this time a murderer. He had not
been found out yet and he was not a murderer by profession, for he was
a bricklayer; but in his heart he was, and that is just as bad. He had
had a varied career into the details of which I do not propose to go,
had come three or four years before to live in the West of England
because it was so far from all the other places he had lived in, had
got work in Minehead, settled there respectably, married, and was a
friend of that carrier who brought the bread and other parcels every
day to the Symford store. At this time he was in money difficulties
and his wife, of whom he was fond, was in an expensive state of
health. The accounts of Priscilla's generosity and wealth had reached
Minehead as I said some time ago, and had got even into the local
papers. The carrier was the chief transmitter of news, for he saw Mrs.
Vickerton every day and she was a woman who loved to talk; but those
of the Shuttleworth servants who were often in Minehead on divers
errands ratified and added to all he said, and embellished the tale
besides with what was to them the most interesting part, the
unmistakable signs their Augustus showed of intending to marry the
young woman. This did not interest the murderer. Sir Augustus and the
lady he meant to marry were outside his sphere altogether; too well
protected, too powerful. What he liked to hear about was the money
Priscilla had scattered among the cottagers, how much each woman had
got, whether it had been spent or not, whether she had a husband, or
grown-up children; and best of all he liked to hear about the money
Mrs. Jones had got. All the village, and therefore Mrs. Vickerton and
the carrier, knew of it, knew even the exact spot beneath the bolster
where it was kept, knew it was kept there for safety from the
depredations of the vicar's wife, knew the vicar's wife had taken away
Priscilla's first present. The carrier knew too of Mrs. Jones's age,
her weakness, her nearness to death. He remarked that such a sum
wasn't of much use to an old woman certain to die in a few days, and
that it might just as well not be hers at all for all the spending it
got. The murderer, whose reputation in Minehead was so immaculate that
not a single fly had ever dared blow on it, said kindly that no doubt
just to have it in her possession was cheering and that one should not
grudge the old their little bits of comfort; and he walked over to
Symford that night, and getting there about one o'clock murdered Mrs.
Jones. I will not enter into details. I believe it was quite simple.
He was back by six next morning with the five pounds in his pocket,
and his wife that day had meat for dinner.

That is all I shall say about the murderer, except that he was never
found out; and nothing shall induce me to dwell upon the murder. But
what about the effect it had on Priscilla? Well, it absolutely crushed

The day before, after Mrs. Morrison's visit, she had been wretched
enough, spending most of it walking very fast, as driven spirits do,
with Fritzing for miles across the bleak and blowy moor, by turns
contrite and rebellious, one moment ready to admit she was a miserable
sinner, the next indignantly repudiating Mrs. Morrison's and her own
conscience's accusations, her soul much beaten and bent by winds of
misgiving but still on its feet, still defiant, still sheltering
itself when it could behind plain common sense which whispered at
intervals that all that had happened was only bad luck. They walked
miles that day; often in silence, sometimes in gusty talk--talk gusty
with the swift changes of Priscilla's mood scudding across the leaden
background of Fritzing's steadier despair--and they got back tired,
hungry, their clothes splashed with mud, their minds no nearer light
than when they started. She had, I say, been wretched enough; but what
was this wretchedness to that which followed? In her ignorance she
thought it the worst day she had ever had, the most tormented; and
when she went to bed she sought comfort in its very badness by telling
herself that it was over and could never come again. It could not. But
Time is prolific of surprises; and on Saturday morning Symford woke
with a shudder to the murder of Mrs. Jones.

Now such a thing as this had not happened in that part of
Somersetshire within the memory of living man, and though Symford
shuddered it was also proud and pleased. The mixed feeling of horror,
pleasure, and pride was a thrilling one. It felt itself at once raised
to a position of lurid conspicuousness in the county, its name would
be in every mouth, the papers, perhaps even the London papers, would
talk about it. At all times, in spite of the care and guidance it had
had from the clergy and gentry, the account of a murder gave Symford
more pure pleasure than any other form of entertainment; and now here
was one, not at second-hand, not to be viewed through the cooling
medium of print and pictures, but in its midst, before its eyes, at
its very doors. Mrs. Jones went up strangely in its estimation. The
general feeling was that it was an honour to have known her. Nobody
worked that day. The school was deserted. Dinners were not cooked.
Babies shrieked uncomforted. All Symford was gathered in groups
outside Mrs. Jones's cottage, and as the day wore on and the news
spread, visitors from the neighbouring villages, from Minehead and
from Ullerton, arrived with sandwiches and swelled them.

Priscilla saw these groups from her windows. The fatal cottage was at
the foot of the hill in full view both of her bedroom and her parlour.
Only by sitting in the bathroom would she be able to get away from it.
When the news was brought her, breathlessly, pallidly, by Annalise in
the early morning with her hot water, she refused to believe it.
Annalise knew no English and must have got hold of a horrible wrong
tale. The old lady was dead no doubt, had died quietly in her sleep as
had been expected, but what folly was all this about a murder? Yet she
sat up in bed and felt rather cold as she looked at Annalise, for
Annalise was very pallid. And then at last she had to believe it.
Annalise had had it told her from beginning to end, with the help of
signs, by the charwoman. She had learned more English in those few
crimson minutes than in the whole of the time she had been in England.
The charwoman had begun her demonstration by slowly drawing her finger
across her throat from one ear to the other, and Annalise repeated the
action for Priscilla's clearer comprehension. How Priscilla got up
that day and dressed she never knew. Once at least during the process
she stumbled back on to the bed and lay with her face on her arms,
shaken by a most desperate weeping. That fatal charity; those fatal
five-pound notes. Annalise, panic-stricken lest she who possessed so
many should be the next victim, poured out the tale of the missing
money, of the plain motive for the murder, with a convincingness, a
naked truth, that stabbed Priscilla to the heart with each clinching

"They say the old woman must have cried out--must have been awakened,
or the man would have taken the money without--"

"Oh don't--oh leave me--" moaned Priscilla.

She did not go downstairs that day. Every time Annalise tried to come
in she sent her away. When she was talked to of food, she felt sick.
Once she began to pace about the room, but the sight of those eager
black knots of people down the street, of policemen and other
important and official-looking persons going in and out of the
cottage, drove her back to her bed and its sheltering, world-deadening
pillow. Indeed the waters of life had gone over her head and swallowed
her up in hopeless blackness. She acknowledged herself wrong. She gave
in utterly. Every word Mrs. Morrison--a dreadful woman, yet dreadful
as she was still a thousand times better than herself--every word she
had said, every one of those bitter words at which she had been so
indignant the morning before, was true, was justified. That day
Priscilla tore the last shreds of self-satisfaction from her soul and
sat staring at it with horrified eyes as at a thing wholly repulsive,
dangerous, blighting. What was to become of her, and of poor Fritzing,
dragged down by her to an equal misery? About one o'clock she heard
Mrs. Morrison's voice below, in altercation apparently with him. At
this time she was crying again; bitter, burning tears; those scorching
tears that follow in the wake of destroyed illusions, that drop, hot
and withering, on to the fragments of what was once the guiding glory
of an ideal. She was brought so low, was so humbled, so uncertain of
herself, that she felt it would bring her peace if she might go down
to Mrs. Morrison and acknowledge all her vileness; tell her how wrong
she had been, ask her forgiveness for her rudeness, beg her for pity,
for help, for counsel. She needed some kind older woman,--oh she
needed some kind older woman to hold out cool hands of wisdom and show
her the way. But then she would have to make a complete confession of
everything she had done, and how would Mrs. Morrison or any other
decent woman look upon her flight from her father's home? Would they
not turn away shuddering from what she now saw was a hideous
selfishness and ingratitude? The altercation going on below rose
rapidly in heat. Just at the end it grew so heated that even through
the pillow Priscilla could hear its flaming conclusion.

"Man, I tell you your niece is to all intents and purposes a
murderess, a double murderess," cried Mrs. Morrison. "Not only has she
the woman's murder to answer for, but the ruined soul of the murderer
as well."

Upon which there was a loud shout of "Hence! Hence!" and a great
slamming of the street door.

For some time after this Priscilla heard fevered walking about in her
parlour and sounds as of many and muffled imprecations; then, when
they had grown a little more intermittent, careful footsteps came up
her stairs, footsteps so careful, so determined not to disturb, that
the stairs cracked and wheezed more than they had ever yet been known
to do. Arrived at the top they paused outside her door, and Priscilla,
checking her sobs, could hear how Fritzing stood there wrestling with
his body's determination to breathe too loud. He stood there listening
for what seemed to her an eternity. She almost screamed at last as the
minutes passed and she knew he was still there, motionless, listening.
After a long while he went away again with the same anxious care to
make no noise, and she, with a movement of utter abandonment to woe,
turned over and cried herself sick.

Till evening she lay there alone, and then the steps came up again,
accompanied this time by the tinkle of china and spoons. Priscilla was
sitting at the window looking on to the churchyard, staring into the
dark with its swaying branches and few faint stars, and when she heard
him outside the door listening again in anxious silence she got up and
opened it.

Fritzing held a plate of food in one hand and a glass of milk in the
other. The expression on his face was absurdly like that of a mother
yearning over a sick child. "_Mein liebes Kind_--_mein liebes Kind_,"
he stammered when she came out, so woebegone, so crushed, so utterly
unlike any Priscilla of any one of her moods that he had ever seen
before. Her eyes were red, her eyelids heavy with tears, her face was
pinched and narrower, the corners of her mouth had a most piteous
droop, her very hair, pushed back off her forehead, seemed sad, and
hung in spiritless masses about her neck and ears. "_Mein liebes
Kind_," stammered poor Fritzing; and his hand shook so that he upset
some of the milk.

Priscilla leaned against the door-post. She was feeling sick and
giddy. "How dreadful this is," she murmured, looking at him with
weary, woeful eyes.

"No, no--all will be well," said Fritzing, striving to be brisk.
"Drink some milk, ma'am."

"Oh, I have been wicked."


Fritzing hastily put the plate and glass down on the floor, and
catching up the hand hanging limply by her side passionately kissed
it. "You are the noblest woman on earth," he said.

"Oh," said Priscilla, turning away her head and shutting her eyes for
very weariness of such futile phrases.

"Ma'am, you are. I would swear it. But you are also a child, and so
you are ready at the first reverse to suppose you have done with
happiness for ever. Who knows," said Fritzing with a great show of
bright belief in his own prophecy, the while his heart was a stone,
"who knows but what you are now on the very threshold of it?"

"Oh," murmured Priscilla, too beaten to do anything but droop her

"It is insisting on the commonplace to remind you, ma'am, that the
darkest hour comes before dawn. Yet it is a well-known natural

Priscilla leaned her head against the door-post. She stood there
motionless, her hands hanging by her side, her eyes shut, her mouth
slightly open, the very picture of one who has given up.

"Drink some milk, ma'am. At least endeavour to."

She took no heed of him.

"For God's sake, ma'am, do not approach these slight misadventures in
so tragic a spirit. You have done nothing wrong whatever. I know you
accuse yourself. It is madness to do so. I, who have so often scolded
you, who have never spared the lash of my tongue when in past years I
saw fair reason to apply it, I tell you now with the same reliable
candour that your actions in this village and the motives that
prompted them have been in each single case of a stainless nobility."

She took no heed of him.

He stooped down and picked up the glass. "Drink some milk, ma'am. A
few mouthfuls, perhaps even one, will help to clear the muddied vision
of your mind. I cannot understand," he went on, half despairing, half
exasperated, "what reasons you can possibly have for refusing to drink
some milk. It is a feat most easily accomplished."

She did not move.

"Do you perchance imagine that a starved and badly treated body can
ever harbour that most precious gift of the gods, a clear, sane mind?"

She did not move.

He looked at her in silence for a moment, then put down the glass.
"This is all my fault," he said slowly. "The whole responsibility for
this unhappiness is on my shoulders, and I frankly confess it is a
burden so grievous that I know not how to bear it."

He paused, but she took no notice.

"Ma'am, I have loved you."

She took no notice.

"And the property of love, I have observed, is often to mangle and
kill the soul of its object."

She might have been asleep.

"Ma'am, I have brought you to a sorry pass. I was old, and you were
young. I experienced, you ignorant. I deliberate, you impulsive. I a
man, you a woman. Instead of restraining you, guiding you, shielding
you from yourself, I was most vile, and fired you with desires for
freedom that under the peculiar circumstances were wicked, set a ball
rolling that I might have foreseen could never afterwards be stopped,
put thoughts into your head that never without me would have entered
it, embarked you on an enterprise in which the happiness of your whole
life was doomed to shipwreck."

She stirred a little, and sighed a faint protest.

"This is very terrible to me--of a crushing, killing weight. Let it
not also have to be said that I mangled your very soul, dimmed your
reason, impaired the sweet sanity, the nice adjustment of what I know
was once a fair and balanced mind."

She raised her head slowly and looked at him. "What?" she said. "Do
you think--do you think I'm going mad?"

"I think it very likely, ma'am," said Fritzing with conviction.

A startled expression crept into her eyes.

"So much morbid introspection," he went on, "followed by hours of
weeping and fasting, if indulged in long enough will certainly have
that result. A person who fasts a sufficient length of time invariably
parts piecemeal with valuable portions of his wits."

She stretched out her hand.

He mistook the action and bent down and kissed it.

"No," said Priscilla, "I want the milk."

He snatched it up and gave it to her, watching her drink with all the
relief, the thankfulness of a mother whose child's sickness takes a
turn for the better. When she had finished she gave him back the
glass. "Fritzi," she said, looking at him with eyes wide open now and
dark with anxious questioning, "we won't reproach ourselves then if we
can help it--"

"Certainly not, ma'am--a most futile thing to do."

"I'll try to believe what you say about me, if you promise to believe
what I say about you."

"Ma'am, I'll believe anything if only you will be reasonable."

"You've been everything to me--that's what I want to say. Always, ever
since I can remember."

"And you, ma'am? What have you not been to me?"

"And there's nothing, nothing you can blame yourself for."


"You've been too good, too unselfish, and I've dragged you down."


"Well, we won't begin again. But tell me one thing--and tell me the
truth--oh Fritzi tell me the truth as you value your soul--do you
anywhere see the least light on our future? Do you anywhere see even a
bit, a smallest bit of hope?"

He took her hand again and kissed it; then lifted his head and looked
at her very solemnly. "No, ma'am," he said with the decision of an
unshakable conviction, "upon my immortal soul I do not see a shred."


Let the reader now picture Priscilla coming downstairs the next
morning, a golden Sunday morning full of Sabbath calm, and a Priscilla
leaden-eyed and leaden-souled, her shabby garments worn out to a
symbol of her worn out zeals, her face the face of one who has
forgotten peace, her eyes the eyes of one at strife with the future,
of one for ever asking "What next?" and shrinking with a shuddering
"Oh please not that," from the bald reply.

Out of doors Nature wore her mildest, most beneficent aspect. She very
evidently cared nothing for the squalid tragedies of human fate. Her
hills were bathed in gentle light. Her sunshine lay warm along the
cottage fronts. In the gardens her hopeful bees, cheated into thoughts
of summer, droned round the pale mauves and purples of what was left
of starworts. The grass in the churchyard sparkled with the fairy film
of gossamers. Sparrows chirped. Robins whistled. And humanity gave the
last touch to the picture by ringing the church bells melodiously to

Without doubt it was a day of blessing, supposing any one could be
found willing to be blest. Let the reader, then, imagine this outward
serenity, this divine calmness, this fair and light-flooded world,
and within the musty walls of Creeper Cottage Priscilla coming down to
breakfast, despair in her eyes and heart.

They breakfasted late; so late that it was done to the accompaniment,
strangely purified and beautified by the intervening church walls and
graveyard, of Mrs. Morrison's organ playing and the chanting of the
village choir. Their door stood wide open, for the street was empty.
Everybody was in church. The service was, as Mrs. Morrison afterwards
remarked, unusually well attended. The voluntaries she played that day
were Dead Marches, and the vicar preached a conscience-shattering
sermon upon the text "Lord, who is it?"

He thought that Mrs. Jones's murderer must be one of his parishioners.
It was a painful thought, but it had to be faced. He had lived so long
shut out from gossip, so deaf to the ever-clicking tongue of rumour,
that he had forgotten how far even small scraps can travel, and that
the news of Mrs. Jones's bolster being a hiding-place for her money
should have spread beyond the village never occurred to him. He was
moved on this occasion as much as a man who has long ago given up
being moved can be, for he had had a really dreadful two days with
Mrs. Morrison, dating from the moment she came in with the news of the
boxing of their only son's ears. He had, as the reader will have
gathered, nothing of it having been recorded, refused to visit and
reprimand Priscilla for this. He had found excuses for her. He had
sided with her against his son. He had been as wholly, maddeningly
obstinate as the extremely good sometimes are. Then came Mrs. Jones's
murder. He was greatly shaken, but still refused to call upon
Priscilla in connection with it, and pooh-poohed the notion of her
being responsible for the crime as definitely as an aged saint of
habitually grave speech can be expected to pooh-pooh at all. He said
she was not responsible. He said, when his wife with all the emphasis
apparently inseparable from the conversation of those who feel
strongly, told him that he owed it to himself, to his parish, to his
country, to go and accuse her, that he owed no man anything but to
love one another. There was nothing to be done with the vicar. Still
these scenes had not left him scathless, and it was a vicar moved to
the utmost limits of his capacity in that direction who went into the
pulpit that day repeating the question "Who is it?" so insistently, so
appealingly, with such searching glances along the rows of faces in
the pews, that the congregation, shuffling and uncomfortable, looked
furtively at each other with an ever growing suspicion and dislike.
The vicar as he went on waxing warmer, more insistent, observed at
least a dozen persons with guilt on every feature. It darted out like
a toad from the hiding-place of some private ooze at the bottom of
each soul into one face after the other; and there was a certain youth
who grew so visibly in guilt, who had so many beads of an obviously
guilty perspiration on his forehead, and eyes so guiltily starting
from their sockets, that only by a violent effort of self-control
could the vicar stop himself from pointing at him and shouting out
then and there "Thou art the man!"

Meanwhile the real murderer had hired a waggonette and was taking his
wife for a pleasant country drive.

It was to pacify Fritzing that Priscilla came down to breakfast. Left
to herself she would by preference never have breakfasted again. She
even drank more milk to please him; but though it might please him, no
amount of milk could wash out the utter blackness of her spirit. He,
seeing her droop behind the jug, seeing her gazing drearily at nothing
in particular, jumped up and took a book from the shelves and without
more ado began to read aloud. "It is better, ma'am," he explained
briefly, glancing at her over his spectacles, "than that you should
give yourself over to gloom."

Priscilla turned vague eyes on to him. "How can I help gloom?" she

"Yes, yes, that may be. But nobody should be gloomy at breakfast. The
entire day is very apt, in consequence, to be curdled."

"It will be curdled anyhow," said Priscilla, her head sinking on to
her chest.

"Ma'am, listen to this."

And with a piece of bread and butter in one hand, from which he took
occasional hurried bites, and the other raised in appropriate varying
gesticulation, Fritzing read portions of the Persae of Æschylus to
her, first in Greek for the joy of his own ear and then translating it
into English for the edification of hers. He, at least, was off after
the first line, sailing golden seas remote and glorious, places where
words were lovely and deeds heroic, places most beautiful and brave,
most admirably, most restfully unlike Creeper Cottage. He rolled out
the sentences, turning them on his tongue, savouring them, reluctant
to let them go. She sat looking at him, wondering how he could
possibly even for an instant forget the actual and the present.

"'Xerxes went forth, Xerxes perished, Xerxes mismanaged all things in
the depths of the sea--'" declaimed Fritzing.

"He must have been like us," murmured Priscilla.

"'O for Darius the scatheless, the protector! No woman ever mourned
for deed of his--'"

"What a nice man," sighed Priscilla. "'O for Darius!'"

"Ma'am, if you interrupt how can I read? And it is a most beautiful

"But we do want a Darius badly," moaned Priscilla.

"'The ships went forth, the grey-faced ships, like to each other as
bird is to bird, the ships and all they carried perished, the ships
perished by the hand of the Greeks. The king, 'tis said, escapes, but
hardly, by the plains of Thrace and the toilsome ways, and behind him
he leaves his first-fruits--sailors unburied on the shores of Salamis.
Then grieve, sting yourselves to grief, make heaven echo, howl like
dogs for the horror, for they are battered together by the terrible
waters, they are shredded to pieces by the voiceless children of the
Pure. The house has no master--'"

"Fritzi, I wish you'd leave off," implored Priscilla. "It's quite as
gloomy as anything I was thinking."

"But ma'am the difference is that it is also beautiful, whereas the
gloom at present enveloping us is mere squalor. 'The voiceless
children of the Pure--' how is that, ma'am, for beauty?"

"I don't even know what it means," sighed Priscilla.

"Ma'am, it is an extremely beautiful manner of alluding to fish."

"I don't care," said Priscilla.

"Ma'am, is it possible that the blight of passing and outward
circumstance has penetrated to and settled upon what should always be
of a sublime inaccessibility, your soul?"

"I don't care about the fish," repeated Priscilla listlessly. Then
with a sudden movement she pushed back her chair and jumped up. "Oh,"
she cried, beating her hands together, "don't talk to me of fish when
I can't see an inch--oh not a single inch into the future!"

Fritzing looked at her, his finger on the page. Half of him was still
at the bottom of classic seas with the battered and shredded sailors.
How much rather would he have stayed there, have gone on reading
Æschylus a little, have taken her with him for a brief space of
serenity into that moist refuge from the harassed present, have
forgotten at least for one morning the necessity, the dreariness of
being forced to face things, to talk over, to decide. Besides, what
could he decide? The unhappy man had no idea. Nor had Priscilla. To
stay in Symford seemed impossible, but to leave it seemed still more
so. And sooner than go back disgraced to Kunitz and fling herself at
paternal feet which would in all probability immediately spurn her,
Priscilla felt she would die. But how could she stay in Symford,
surrounded by angry neighbours, next door to Tussie, with Robin coming
back for vacations, with Mrs. Morrison hating her, with Lady
Shuttleworth hating her, with Emma's father hating her, with the blood
of Mrs. Jones on her head? Could one live peacefully in such an
accursed place? Yet how could they go away? Even if they were able to
compose their nerves sufficiently to make new plans they could not go
because they were in debt.

"Fritzi," cried Priscilla with more passion than she had ever put into
speech before, "life's too much for me--I tell you life's too much for
me!" And with a gesture of her arms as though she would sweep it all
back, keep it from surging over her, from choking her, she ran out
into the street to get into her own room and be alone, pulling the
door to behind her for fear he should follow and want to explain and
comfort, leaving him with his Æschylus in which, happening to glance
sighing, he, enviable man, at once became again absorbed, and running
blindly, headlong, as he runs who is surrounded and accompanied by a
swarm of deadly insects which he vainly tries to out-distance, she ran
straight into somebody coming from the opposite direction, ran full
tilt, was almost knocked off her feet, and looking up with the
impatient anguish of him who is asked to endure his last straw her
lips fell apart in an utter and boundless amazement; for the person
she had run against was that Prince--the last of the series,
distinguished from the rest by his having quenched the Grand Duke's
irrelevant effervescence by the simple expedient of saying Bosh--who
had so earnestly desired to marry her.


"Hullo," said the Prince, who spoke admirable English.

Priscilla could only stare.

His instinct was to repeat the exclamation which he felt represented
his feelings very exactly, for her appearance--clothes, expression,
everything--astonished him, but he doubted whether it would well bear
repeating. "Is this where you are staying?" he inquired instead.

"Yes," said Priscilla.

"May I come in?"

"Yes," said Priscilla.

He followed her into her parlour. He looked at her critically as she
walked slowly before him, from head to foot he looked at her
critically; at every inch of the shabby serge gown, at the little head
with its badly arranged hair, at the little heel that caught in an
unmended bit of braid, at the little shoe with its bow of frayed
ribbon, and he smiled broadly behind his moustache. But when she
turned round he was perfectly solemn.

"I suppose," said the Prince, putting his hands in his pockets and
gazing about the room with an appearance of cheerful interest, "this
is what one calls a snug little place."

Priscilla stood silent. She felt as though she had been shaken
abruptly out of sleep. Her face even now after the soul-rending time
she had been having, in spite of the shadows beneath the eyes, the
droop at the corners of the mouth, in spite, too, it must be said of
the flagrantly cottage fashion in which Annalise had done her hair,
seemed to the Prince so extremely beautiful, so absolutely the face of
his dearest, best desires, so limpid, apart from all grace of
colouring and happy circumstance of feature, with the light of a sweet
and noble nature, so manifestly the outward expression of an
indwelling lovely soul, that his eyes, after one glance round the
room, fixed themselves upon it and never were able to leave it again.

For a minute or two she stood silent, trying to collect her thoughts,
trying to shake off the feeling that she was being called back to life
out of a dream. It had not been a dream, she kept telling herself--bad
though it was it had not been a dream but the reality; and this man
dropped suddenly in to the middle of it from another world, he was the
dream, part of the dream she had rebelled against and run away from a
fortnight before.

Then she looked at him, and she knew she was putting off her soul with
nonsense. Never was anybody less like a dream than the Prince; never
was anybody more squarely, more certainly real. And he was of her own
kind, of her own world. He and she were equals. They could talk
together plainly, baldly, a talk ungarnished and unretarded by
deferences on the one side and on the other a kindness apt to become
excessive in its anxiety not to appear to condescend. The feeling that
once more after what seemed an eternity she was with an equal was of a
singular refreshment. During those few moments in which they stood
silent, facing each other, in spite of her efforts to keep it out, in
spite of really conscientious efforts, a great calm came in and spread
over her spirit. Yet she had no reason to feel calm she thought,
struggling. Was there not rather cause for an infinity of shame? What
had he come for? He of all people. The scandalously jilted, the
affronted, the run away from. Was it because she had been looking so
long at Fritzing that this man seemed so nicely groomed? Or at Tussie,
that he seemed so well put together? Or at Robin, that he seemed so
modest? Was it because people's eyes--Mrs. Morrison's, Lady
Shuttleworth's--had been so angry lately whenever they rested on her
that his seemed so very kind? No; she did remember thinking them that,
even being struck by them, when she saw him first in Kunitz. A dull
red crept into her face when she remembered that day and what
followed. "It isn't very snug," she said at last, trying to hide by a
careful coldness of speech all the strange things she was feeling.
"When it rains there are puddles by the door. The door, you see, opens
into the street."

"I see," said the Prince.

There was a silence.

"I don't suppose you really do," said Priscilla, full of strange

"My dear cousin?"

"I don't know if you've come to laugh at me?"

"Do I look as if I had?"

"I dare say you think--because you've not been through it
yourself--that it--it's rather ridiculous."

"My dear cousin," protested the Prince.

Her lips quivered. She had gone through much, and she had lived for
two days only on milk.

"Do you wipe the puddles up, or does old Fritzing?"

"You see you _have_ come to laugh."

"I hope you'll believe that I've not. Must I be gloomy?"

"How do you know Fritzing's here?"

"Why everybody knows that."

"Everybody?" There was an astonished pause. "How do you know we're
here--here, in Creeper Cottage?"

"Creeper Cottage is it? I didn't know it had a name. Do you have so
many earwigs?"

"How did you know we were in Symford?"

"Why everybody knows that."

Priscilla was silent. Again she felt she was being awakened from a

"I've met quite a lot of interesting people since I saw you last," he
said. "At least, they interested me because they all knew you."

"Knew me?"

"Knew you and that old scound--the excellent Fritzing. There's an
extremely pleasant policeman, for instance, in Kunitz--"

"Oh," said Priscilla, starting and turning red. She could not think of
that policeman without crisping her fingers.

"He and I are intimate friends. And there's a most intelligent
person--really a most helpful, obliging person--who came with you from
Dover to Ullerton."

"With us?"

"I found the conversation, too, of the ostler at the Ullerton Arms of
immense interest."

"But what--"

"And last night I slept at Baker's Farm, and spent a very pleasant
evening with Mrs. Pearce."

"But why--"

"She's an instructive woman. Her weakest point, I should say, is her

"I wonder why you bother to talk like this--to be sarcastic."

"About the junkets? Didn't you think they were bad?"

"Do you suppose it's worth while to--to kick somebody who's down? And
so low down? So completely got to the bottom?"

"Kick? On my soul I assure you that the very last thing I want to do
is to kick you."

"Then why do you do it?"

"I don't do it. Do you know what I've come for?"

"Is my father round the corner?"

"Nobody's round the corner. I've muzzled your father. I've come quite
by myself. And do you know why?"

"No," said Priscilla, shortly, defiantly; adding before he could
speak, "I can't imagine." And adding to that, again before he could
speak, "Unless it's for the fun of hunting down a defenceless quarry."

"I say, that's rather picturesque," said the Prince with every
appearance of being struck.

Priscilla blushed. In spite of herself every word they said to each
other made her feel more natural, farther away from self-torment and
sordid fears, nearer to that healthy state of mind, swamped out of her
lately, when petulance comes more easily than meekness. The mere
presence of the Prince seemed to set things right, to raise her again
in her own esteem. There was undoubtedly something wholesome about the
man, something everyday and reassuring, something dependable and sane.
The first smile for I don't know how long came and cheered the corners
of her mouth. "I'm afraid I've grown magniloquent since--since--"

"Since you ran away?"

She nodded. "Fritzing, you know, is most persistently picturesque. I
think it's catching. But he's wonderful," she added quickly,--"most
wonderful in patience and goodness."

"Oh everybody knows he's wonderful. Where is the great man?"

"In the next room. Do you want him?"

"Good Lord, no. You've not told me what you suppose I've come for."

"I did. I told you I couldn't imagine."

"It's for a most saintly, really nice reason. Guess."

"I can't guess."

"Oh but try."

Priscilla to her extreme disgust felt herself turning very red. "I
suppose to spy out the nakedness of the land," she said severely.

"Now you're picturesque again. You must have been reading a tremendous
lot lately. Of course you would, with that learned old fossil about.
No my dear, I've come simply to see if you are happy."

She looked at him, and her flush slowly died away.

"Simply to convince myself that you are happy."

Her eyes filling with tears she thought it more expedient to fix them
on the table-cloth. She did fix them on it, and the golden fringe of
eyelashes that he very rightly thought so beautiful lay in long dusky
curves on her serious face. "It's extraordinarily nice of you if--if
it's true," she said.

"But it is true. And if you are, if you tell me you are and I'm able
to believe it, I bow myself out, dear cousin, and shall devote any
energies I have left after doing that to going on muzzling your
father. He shall not, I promise you, in any way disturb you. Haven't
I kept him well in hand up to this?"

She raised her eyes to his. "Was it you keeping him so quiet?"

"It was, my dear. He was very restive. You've no notion of all the
things he wanted to do. It wanted a pretty strong hand, and a light
one too, I can tell you. But I was determined you should have your
head. That woman Disthal--"

Priscilla started.

"You don't like her?" inquired the Prince sympathetically.


"I was afraid you couldn't. But I didn't know how to manage that part.
She's in London."

Priscilla started again. "I thought--I thought she was in bed," she

"She was, but she got out again. Your--departure cured her."

"Didn't you tell me nobody was round the corner?"

"Well, you don't call London round the corner? I wouldn't let her come
any nearer to you. She's waiting there quite quietly."

"What is she waiting for?" asked Priscilla quickly.

"Come now, she's your lady in waiting you know. It seems natural
enough she should wait, don't it?"

"No," said Priscilla, knitting her eyebrows.

"Don't frown. She had to come too. She's brought some of your women
and a whole lot"--he glanced at the blue serge suit and put his hand
up to his moustache--"a whole lot of clothes."

"Clothes?" A wave of colour flooded her face. She could not help it at
the moment any more than a starving man can help looking eager when
food is set before him. "Oh," she said, "I hope they're the ones I was
expecting from Paris?"

"I should think it very likely. There seem to be a great many. I never
saw so many boxes for one little cousin."

Priscilla made a sudden movement with her hands. "You can't think,"
she said, "how tired I am of this dress."

"Yes I can," the Prince assured her.

"I've worn it every day."

"You must have."

"Every single day since the day I--I--"

"The day you ran away from me."

She blushed. "I didn't run away from you. At least, not exactly. You
were only the last straw."

"A nice thing for a man to be."

"I ran because--because--oh, it's a long story, and I'm afraid a very
foolish one."

A gleam came into the Prince's eyes. He took a step nearer her, but
immediately thinking better of it took it back again. "Perhaps," he
said pleasantly, "only the beginning was foolish, and you'll settle
down after a bit and get quite fond of Creeper Cottage."

She looked at him startled.

"You see my dear it was rather tremendous what you did. You must have
been most fearfully sick of things at Kunitz. I can well understand
it. You couldn't be expected to like me all at once. And if I had to
have that Disthal woman at my heels wherever I went I'd shoot myself.
What you've done is much braver really than shooting one's self. But
the question is do you like it as much as you thought you would?"

Priscilla gave him a swift look, and said nothing.

"If you don't, there's the Disthal waiting for you with all those
charming frocks, and all you've got to do is to put them on and go

"But I can't go home. How can I? I am disgraced. My father would never
let me in."

"Oh I'd arrange all that. I don't think you'd find him angry if you
followed my advice very carefully. On the other hand, if you like
this and want to stay on there's nothing more to be said. I'll say
good-bye, and promise you shall be left in peace. You shall be left to
be happy entirely in your own way."

Priscilla was silent.

"You don't--look happy," he said, scrutinizing her face.

She was silent.

"You've got very thin. How did you manage that in such a little

"We've muddled things rather," she said with an ashamed sort of smile.
"On the days when I was hungry there wasn't anything to eat, and then
when there were things I wasn't hungry."

The Prince looked puzzled. "Didn't that old scamp--I mean didn't the
excellent Fritzing bring enough money?"

"He thought he did, but it wasn't enough."

"Is it all gone?"

"We're in debt."

Again he put his hand up to his moustache. "Well I'll see to all that,
of course," he said gravely. "And when that has been set right you're
sure you'll like staying on here?"

She summoned all her courage, and looked at him for an instant
straight in the face. "No," she said.



There was another silence. He was standing on the hearthrug, she on
the other side of the table; but the room was so small that by putting
out his hand he could have touched her. A queer expression was in his
eyes as he looked at her, an expression entirely at variance with his
calm and good-natured talk, the exceedingly anxious expression of a
man who knows his whole happiness is quivering in the balance. She did
not see it, for she preferred to look at the table-cloth.

"Dreadful things have happened here," she said in a low voice.

"What sort?"

"Horrid sorts. Appalling sorts."

"Tell me."

"I couldn't bear to."

"But I think I know."

She looked at him astonished.

"Mrs. Pearce--"

"She told you?"

"What she knew she told me. Perhaps there's something she doesn't

Priscilla remembered Robin, and blushed.

"Yes, she told me about that," said the Prince nodding.

"About what?" asked Priscilla, startled.

"About the squire intending to marry you."

"Oh," said Priscilla.

"It seems hard on him, don't it? Has it struck you that such things
are likely to occur pretty often to Miss Maria-Theresa Ethel

"I'm afraid you really have come only to laugh," said Priscilla, her
lips quivering.

"I swear it's only to see if you are happy."

"Well, see then." And throwing back her head with a great defiance she
looked at him while her eyes filled with tears; and though they
presently brimmed over, and began to drop down pitifully one by one,
she would not flinch but went on looking.

"I see," said the Prince quietly. "And I'm convinced. Of course, then,
I shall suggest your leaving this."

"I want to."

"And putting yourself in the care of the Disthal."

Priscilla winced.

"Only her temporary care. Quite temporary. And letting her take you
back to Kunitz."

Priscilla winced again.

"Only temporarily," said the Prince.

"But my father would never--"

"Yes my dear, he will. He'll be delighted to see you. He'll rejoice."


"I assure you he will. You've only got to do what I tell you."

"Shall you--come too?"

"If you'll let me."

"But then--but then--"

"Then what, my dear?"

She looked at him, and her face changed slowly from white to red and
red to white again. Fritzing's words crossed her mind--"If you marry
him you will be undoubtedly eternally lost," and her very soul cried
out that they were folly. Why should she be eternally lost? What
cobwebs were these, cobwebs of an old brain preoccupied with shadows,
dusty things to be swept away at the first touch of Nature's vigorous
broom? Indeed she thought it far more likely that she would be
eternally found. But she was ashamed of herself, ashamed of all she
had done, ashamed of the disgraceful way she had treated this man,
terribly disillusioned, terribly out of conceit with herself, and she
stood there changing colour, hanging her head, humbled, penitent,
every shred of the dignity she had been trained to gone, simply
somebody who has been very silly and is very sorry.

The Prince put out his hand.

She pretended not to see it.

The Prince came round the table. "You know," he said, "our engagement
hasn't been broken off yet?"

Her instinct was to edge away, but she would not stoop to edging. "Was
it ever made?" she asked, not able to induce her voice to rise above a


There was another silence.

"Why, then--" began Priscilla, for the silence had come to be more
throbbing, more intolerably expressive than any speech.

"Yes?" encouraged the Prince, coming very close.

She turned her head slowly. "Why, then--" said Priscilla again, her
face breaking into a smile, half touched, half mischievous, wholly

"I think so too," said the Prince; and he shut her mouth with a kiss.

       *       *       *       *       *

"And now," said the Prince some time afterwards, "let us go to that
old sinner Fritzing."

Priscilla hung back, reluctant to deal this final blow to the heart
that had endured so many. "He'll be terribly shocked," she said.

But the Prince declared it had to be done; and hand in hand they went
out into the street, and opening Fritzing's door stood before him.

He was still absorbed in his Æschylus, had been sitting absorbed in
the deeds of the dead and departed, of the long dead Xerxes, the long
dead Darius, the very fish, voiceless but voracious, long since as
dead as the most shredded of the sailors,--he had been sitting
absorbed in these various corpses all the while that in the next room,
on the other side of a few inches of plaster and paper, so close you
would have thought his heart must have burned within him, so close you
would have thought he must be scorched, the living present had been
pulsing and glowing, beating against the bright bars of the future,
stirring up into alertness a whole row of little red-headed souls till
then asleep, souls with golden eyelashes, souls eager to come and be
princes and princesses of--I had almost revealed the mighty nation's
name. A shadow fell across his book, and looking up he saw the two
standing before him hand in hand.

Priscilla caught her breath: what white anguish was going to flash
into his face when he grasped the situation? Judge then of her
amazement, her hesitation whether to be pleased or vexed, to laugh or
cry, when, grasping it, he leaped to his feet and in tones of a most
limitless, a most unutterable relief, shouted three times running
"_Gott sei Dank_!"


So that was the end of Priscilla's fortnight,--according to the way
you look at it glorious or inglorious. I shall not say which I think
it was; whether it is better to marry a prince, become in course of
time a queen, be at the head of a great nation, be surfeited with
honour, wealth, power and magnificence till the day when Death with
calm, indifferent fingers strips everything away and leaves you at
last to the meek simplicity of a shroud; or whether toilsome paths,
stern resistances, buffetings bravely taken, battles fought inch by
inch, an ideal desperately clung to even though in clinging you are
slain, is not rather the part to be chosen of him whose soul would sit
attired with stars. Anyhow the goddess laughed, the goddess who had
left Priscilla in the lurch, when she heard the end of the adventure;
and her unpleasant sister, having nothing more to do in Creeper
Cottage, gathered up her rags and grinned too as she left it. At least
her claws had lacerated much over-tender flesh during her stay; and
though the Prince had interrupted the operation and forced her for the
moment to inactivity, she was not dissatisfied with what had been

Priscilla, it will readily be imagined, made no farewell calls. She
disappeared from Symford as suddenly as she had appeared; and Mrs.
Morrison, coming into Creeper Cottage on Monday afternoon to unload
her conscience yet more, found only a pleasant gentleman, a stranger
of mellifluous manners, writing out cheques. She had ten minutes talk
with him, and went home very sad and wise. Indeed from that day, her
spirit being the spirit of the true snob, the hectorer of the humble,
the devout groveller in the courtyards of the great, she was a
much-changed woman. Even her hair felt it, and settled down unchecked
to greyness. She no longer cared to put on a pink tulle bow in the
afternoons, which may or may not be a sign of grace. She ceased to
suppose that she was pretty. When the accounts of Priscilla's wedding
filled all the papers she became so ill that she had to go to bed and
be nursed. Sometimes to the vicar's mild surprise she hesitated before
expressing an opinion. Once at least she of her own accord said
she had been wrong. And although she never told any one of the
conversation with the gentleman writing cheques, when Robin came home
for Christmas and looked at her he knew at once what she knew.

As for Lady Shuttleworth, she got a letter from Priscilla; quite a
long one, enclosing a little one for Tussie to be given him if and
when his mother thought expedient. Lady Shuttleworth was not surprised
by what she read. She had suspected it from the moment Priscilla rose
up the day she called on her at Baker's Farm and dismissed her. Till
her marriage with the late Sir Augustus she had been lady-in-waiting
to one of the English princesses, and she could not be mistaken on
such points. She knew the sort of thing too well. But she never
forgave Priscilla. How could she? Was the day of Tussie's coming of
age, that dreadful day when he was nearest death, a day a mother could
ever forget? It had all been most wanton, most cruel. We know she was
full of the milk of human kindness: on the subject of Priscilla it was
unmixed gall.

As for Tussie,--well, you cannot have omelettes without breaking eggs,
and Tussie on this occasion was the eggs. It is a painful part to
play. He found it exquisitely painful, and vainly sought comfort in
the consolation that it had been Priscilla's omelette. The consolation
proved empty, and for a long while he suffered every sort of torment
known to the sensitive. But he got over it. People do. They will get
over anything if you give them time, and he being young had plenty of
it. He lived it down as one lives down every sorrow and every joy; and
when in the fulness of time, after a series of years in which he went
about listlessly in a soft felt hat and an unsatisfactory collar, he
married, it was to Priscilla's capital that he went for his honeymoon.
She, hearing he was there, sent for them both and was kind.

As for Annalise, she never got her twenty thousand marks. On the
contrary, the vindictive Grand Duke caused her to be prosecuted for
blackmailing, and she would undoubtedly have languished in prison if
Priscilla had not interfered and sent her back to her parents. Like
Mrs. Morrison, she is chastened. She does not turn up her nose so
much. She does not sing. Indeed her songs ceased from the moment she
caught sight through a crack in the kitchen door of the Prince's broad
shoulders filling up Fritzing's sitting-room. From that moment
Annalise swooned from one depth of respect and awe to the other. She
became breathlessly willing, meek to vanishing point. But Priscilla
could not forget all she had made her suffer; and the Prince, who had
thought of everything, suddenly producing her head woman from some
recess in Baker's Farm, where she too had spent the night, Annalise
was superseded, her further bitter fate being to be left behind
at Creeper Cottage in the charge of the gentleman with the
cheque-book--who as it chanced was a faddist in food and would allow
nothing more comforting than dried fruits and nuts to darken the
doors--till he should have leisure to pack her up and send her home.

As for Emma, she was hunted out by that detective who travelled down
into Somersetshire with the fugitives and who had already been so
useful to the Prince; and Priscilla, desperately anxious to make
amends wherever she could, took her into her own household, watching
over her herself, seeing to it that no word of what she had done was
ever blown about among the crowd of idle tongues, and she ended, I
believe, by marrying a lacquey,--one of those splendid persons with
white silk calves who were so precious in the sight of Annalise.
Indeed I am not sure that it was not the very lacquey Annalise had
loved most and had intended to marry herself. In this story at least,
the claims of poetic justice shall be strictly attended to; and
Annalise had sniffed outrageously at Emma.

As for the Countess Disthal, she married the doctor and was sorry ever
afterwards; but her sorrow was as nothing compared with his.

As for Fritzing, he is _Hofbibliothekar_ of the Prince's father's
court library; a court more brilliant than and a library vastly
inferior to the one he had fled from at Kunitz. He keeps much in his
rooms, and communes almost exclusively with the dead. He finds the
dead alone truly satisfactory. Priscilla loves him still and will
always love him, but she is very busy and has little time to think.
She does not let him give her children lessons; instead he plays with
them, and grows old and patient apace.

And now having finished my story, there is nothing left for me to
do but stand aside and watch Priscilla and her husband walking
hand-in-hand farther and farther away from me up a path which I
suppose is the path of glory, into something apparently golden and
rosy, something very glowing and full of promise, that turns out on
closer scrutiny to be their future. It certainly seems radiant enough
to the superficial observer. Even I, who have looked into her soul
and known its hungers, am a little dazzled. Let it not however be
imagined that a person who has been truthful so long as myself is
going to lapse into easy lies at the last, and pretend that she was
uninterruptedly satisfied and happy for the rest of her days. She was
not; but then who is?

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "The Princess Priscilla's Fortnight" ***

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