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Title: In the Wilderness
Author: Hichens, Robert Smythe, 1864-1950
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "In the Wilderness" ***

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IN THE WILDERNESS


By Robert Hichens



BOOK I--HERMES AND THE CHILD



CHAPTER I

Amedeo Dorini, the hall porter of the Hotel Cavour in Milan, stood on
the pavement before the hotel one autumn afternoon in the year 1894,
waiting for the omnibus, which had gone to the station, and which was
now due to return, bearing--Amedeo hoped--a load of generously inclined
travelers. During the years of his not unpleasant servitude Amedeo had
become a student of human nature. He had learnt to judge shrewdly and
soundly, to sum up quickly, to deliver verdicts which were not unjust.
And now, as he saw the omnibus, with its two fat brown horses, coming
slowly along by the cab rank, and turning into the Piazza that is
presided over by Cavour's statue, he prepared almost mechanically to
measure and weigh evidence, to criticize and come to a conclusion.

He glanced first at the roof of the omnibus to take stock of the luggage
pile there. There was plenty of it, and a good deal of it was leather
and reassuring. Amedeo had a horror of tin trunks--they usually gave
such small tips. Having examined the luggage he sent a searching glance
to two rows of heads which were visible inside the vehicle. The brawny
porters hurried out, the luggage chute was placed in position, the
omnibus door was opened, and the first traveler stepped forth.

A German of the most economical type, large, red and wary, with a mouth
like a buttoned-up pocket, was followed by a broad-waisted wife, with
dragged hair and a looped-up gown. Amedeo's smile tightened. A Frenchman
followed them, pale and elaborate, a "one-nighter," as Amedeo instantly
decided in his mind. Such Frenchmen are seldom extravagant in hotels.
This gentleman would want a good room for a small price, would be
extremely critical about the cooking, and have a wandering eye and a
short memory for all servants in the morning.

An elderly Englishwoman was the fourth personage to appear. She was
badly dressed in black, wore a tam-o'-shanter with a huge black-headed
pin thrust through it, clung to a bag, smiled with amiable patronage as
she emerged, and at once, without reason, began to address Amedeo and
the porters in fluent, incorrect, and too carefully pronounced Italian.
Amedeo knew her--the Tabby who haunts Swiss and Italian hotels, the
eternal Tabby drastically complete.

A gay Italian is gaiety in flight, a human lark with a song. But a
gloomy Italian is oppressive and almost terrible. Despite the training
of years Amedeo's smile flickered and died out. A ferocious expression
surged up in his dark eyes as he turned rather bruskly to scrutinize
without hope the few remaining clients. But suddenly his face cleared as
he heard a buoyant voice say in English:

"I'll get out first, Godfather, and give you a hand."

On the last word, a tall and lithe figure stepped swiftly, and with a
sort of athletic certainty, out of the omnibus, turned at once towards
it, and, with a movement eloquent of affection and almost tender
reverence, stretched forth an arm and open hand.

A spare man of middle height, elderly, with thick gray hair, and a
clean-shaven, much-lined face, wearing a large loose overcoat and soft
brown hat, took the hand as he emerged. He did not need it; Amedeo
realized that, realized also that he was glad to take it, enjoyed
receiving this kind and unnecessary help.

"And now for Beatrice!" he said.

And he gave in his turn a hand to the girl who followed him.

There were still two people in the omnibus, the elderly man's Italian
valet and an Englishman. As the latter got out, and stretched his limbs
cramped with much sitting, he saw Amedeo, with genuine smiles, escorting
the two girls and the elderly man towards the glass-roofed hall, on the
left of which was the lift. The figure of the girl who had stepped out
first was about to disappear. As the Englishman looked she vanished.
But he had time to realize that a gait, the carriage of a head and its
movement in turning, can produce on an observer a moral effect. A joyous
sanity came to him from this unknown girl and made him feel joyously
sane. It seemed to sweep over him, like a cool and fresh breeze of the
sea falling through pine woods, to lift from him some of the dust of
his journey. He resolved to give the remainder of the dust to the public
garden, told his name, Dion Leith, to the manager, learnt that the room
he had ordered was ready for him, had his luggage sent up to it, and
then made his way to the trees on the far side of the broad road which
skirts the hotel. When he was among them he took off his hat, kept it
in his hand, and, so, strolled on down the almost deserted paths. As
he walked he tasted the autumn, not with any sadness, but with an
appreciation that was almost voluptuous. He was at a time of life and
experience, when, if the body is healthy, the soul is untroubled by
care, each season of the year holds its thrill for the strongly beating
heart, its tonic gift for the mind. Falling leaves were handfuls of gold
for this man. The faint chill in the air as evening drew on turned his
thoughts to the brightness and warmth of English fires burning on the
hearths of houses that sheltered dear and protected lives. The far-off
voices of calling children, coming to him from hidden places among the
trees, did not make him pensive because of their contrast with things
that were dying. He hailed them as voices of the youth which lasts in
the world, though the world may seem to be old to those who are old.

Dion Leith had a powerful grip on life and good things. He was young,
just twenty-six, strong and healthy, though slim-built in body,
alert and vigorous in mind, unperturbed in soul, buoyant and warmly
imaginative. Just at that moment the joy of life was almost at full
flood in him, for he had recently been reveling in a new and glorious
experience, and now carried it with him, a precious memory.

He had been traveling, and his wanderings had given him glimpses of two
worlds. In one of these worlds he had looked into the depths, had felt
as if he realized fully for the first time the violence of the angry and
ugly passions that deform life; in the other he had scaled the heights,
had tasted the still purity, the freshness, the exquisite calm, which
are also to be found in life.

He had visited Constantinople and had sailed from it to Greece. From
Greece he had taken ship to Brindisi, and was now on his way home to
England.

What he had thought at the time to be an ill chance had sent him on his
way alone. Guy Daventry, his great friend, who was to go with him, had
been seized by an illness. It was too late then to find another man
free. So, reluctantly, and inclined to grumble a little at fate, Dion
had set off in solitude.

He knew now that his solitude had given him keen sensations, which
he could scarcely have felt with the best of friends. Never, in any
company, had he been so repelled, enticed, disgusted, deeply enchanted,
as on these lonely wanderings which were now a part of his life.

How he had hated Constantinople, and how he had loved Greece! His
expectation had been betrayed by the event. He had not known himself
when he left England, or the part of himself which he had known had been
the lesser part, and he had taken it for the greater. For he had set out
on his journey with his hopes mainly fixed on Constantinople. Its road
of wildness and tumult, its barbaric glitter, its crude mixture of
races, even its passions and crimes--a legend in history, a solid fact
of to-day--had allured his mind. The art of Greece had beckoned to him;
its ancient shrines had had their strong summons for his brain; but
he had scarcely expected to love the country. He had imagined it as
certainly beautiful but with an austere and desolate beauty that would
be, perhaps, almost repellent to his nature. He had conceived of it as
probably sad in its naked calm, a country weary with the weight of a
glorious past.

But he had been deceived, and he was glad of that. Because he had been
able to love Greece so much he felt a greater confidence in himself.
Without any ugly pride he said to himself: "Perhaps my nature is a
little bit better, a little bit purer than I had supposed."

As the breeze in the public garden touched his bare head, slightly
lifting his thick dark hair, he remembered the winds of Greece; he
remembered his secret name for Greece, "the land of the early morning."
It was good to be able to delight in the early morning--pure, delicate,
marvelously fresh.

He at down on a bench under a chestnut tree. The children's voices had
died away. Silence seemed to be drawing near to the garden. He saw a
few moving figures in the shadows, but at a distance, fading towards the
city.

The line of the figure, the poise of the head of that girl with whom he
had driven from the station, came before Dion's eyes.



CHAPTER II

One winter day in 1895--it was a Sunday--when fog lay thickly over
London, Rosamund Everard sat alone in a house in Great Cumberland Place,
reading Dante's "Paradiso." Her sister, Beatrice, a pale, delicate
and sensitive shadow who adored her, and her guardian, Bruce Evelin, a
well-known Q.C. now retired from practice, had gone into the country to
visit some friends. Rosamund had also been invited, and much wanted, for
there was a party in the house, and her gaiety, her beauty, and her fine
singing made her a desirable guest; but she had "got out of it." On this
particular Sunday she specially wished to be in London. At a church not
far from Great Cumberland Place--St. Mary's, Welby Street--a man was
going to preach that evening whom she very much wanted to hear. Her
guardian's friend, Canon Wilton, had spoken to her about him, and had
said to her once, "I should particularly like _you_ to hear him." And
somehow the simple words had impressed themselves upon her. So, when
she heard that Mr. Robertson was coming from his church in Liverpool to
preach at St. Mary's, she gave up the country visit to hear him.

Beatrice and Bruce Evelin had no scruples in leaving her alone for a
couple of days. They knew that she, who had such an exceptional faculty
for getting on with all sorts and conditions of men and women, and
who always shed sunshine around her, had within her a great love of,
sometimes almost a thirst for, solitude.

"I need to be alone now and then," they had heard her say; "it's like
drinking water to me."

Sitting quietly by the fire with her delightful edition of Dante, her
left hand under her head, her tall figure stretched out in a low chair,
Rosamund heard a bell ring below. It called her from the "Paradiso." She
sprang up, remembering that she had given the butler no orders about not
wishing to be disturbed. At lunch-time the fog had been so dense that
she had not thought about possible visitors; she hurried to the head of
the staircase.

"Lurby! Lurby! I'm not at--"

It was too late. The butler must have been in the hall. She heard the
street door open and a man's voice murmuring something. Then the door
shut and she heard steps. She retreated into the drawing-room, pulling
down her brows and shaking her head. No more "Paradiso," and she loved
it so! A moment before she had been far away.

The book was lying open on the arm-chair in which she had been sitting.
She went to close it and put it on a table. For an instant she looked
down on the page, and immediately her dream returned. Then Lurby's dry,
soft voice said behind her:

"Mr. Leith, ma'am."

"Oh!" She turned, leaving the book.

Directly she looked at Dion Leith she knew why he had come.

"I'm all alone," Rosamund said. "I stayed here, instead of going to
Sherrington with Beattie and my guardian, because I wanted to hear a
sermon this evening. Come and sit down by the fire."

"What church are you going to?"

"St. Mary's, Welby Street."

"Shall I go with you?"

Rosamund had taken up the "Paradiso" and was shutting it.

"I think I'll go alone," she said gently but quite firmly.

"What are you reading?"

"Dante's 'Paradiso.'"

She put the book down on a table at her elbow.

"I don't believe you meant me to be let in," he said bluntly.

"I didn't know it was you. How could I know?"

"And if you had known?"

She hesitated. His brows contracted till he looked almost fierce.

"I'm not sure. Honestly I'm not sure. I've been quite alone since
Friday, when they went. And I'd got it into my head that I wasn't going
to see any one till to-morrow, except, of course, at the church."

Dion felt chilled almost to the bone.

"I can't understand," he almost burst out, in an uncontrolled way that
surprised himself. "Are you completely self-sufficing then? But it isn't
natural. Could you live alone?"

"I didn't say that."

She looked at him steadily and calmly, without a hint of anger.

"But could you?"

"I don't know. Probably not. I've never tried."

"But you don't hate the idea?"

His voice was almost violent.

"No; if--if I were living in a certain way."

"What way?"

But she did not answer his question.

"I dare say I might dislike living alone. I've never done such a thing,
therefore I can't tell."

"You're an enigma," he exclaimed. "And you seem so--so--you have this
extraordinary, this abnormal power of attracting people to you. You are
friends with everybody."

"Indeed I'm not."

"I mean you're so cordial, so friendly with everybody. Don't you care
for anybody?"

"I care very much for some people."

"And yet you could live alone! Shut in here for days with a book"--at
that moment he was positively jealous of old Dante, gone to his rest
five hundred and seventy-four years ago--"you're perfectly happy."

"The 'Paradiso' isn't an ordinary book," she said, very gently,
and looking at him with a kind, almost beaming expression in her
yellow-brown eyes.

"I don't believe you ever read an ordinary book."

"I like to feed on fine things. I'm half afraid of the second-rate."

"I love you for that. Oh, Rosamund, I love you for so many things!"

He got up and stood by the fire, turning his back to her for a moment.
When he swung round his face was earnest but he looked calmer. She
saw that he was making a strong effort to hold himself in, that he was
reaching out after self-control.

"I can't tell you all the things I love you for," he said, "but your
independence of spirit frightens me. From the very first, from that
evening when I saw you in the omnibus at the Milan Station over a year
ago, I felt your independence."

"Did I manifest it in the omnibus to poor Beattie and my guardian?" she
asked, smiling, and in a lighter tone.

"I don't know," he said gravely. "But when I saw you the same evening
walking with your sister in the public garden I felt it more strongly.
Even the way you held your head and moved--you reminded me of the
maidens of the Porch on the Acropolis. I connected you with Greece and
all my--my dreams of Greece."

"Perhaps if you hadn't just come from Greece--"

"Wasn't it strange," he said, interrupting her but quite unconscious
that he did so, "that almost the first words I heard you speak were
about Greece? You were telling your sister abut the Greek divers who
come to Portofino to find coral under the sea. I was sitting alone in
the garden, and you passed and I heard just a few words. They made me
think of the first Greek Island I ever saw, rising out of the sunset
as I voyaged from Constantinople to the Piraeus. It was wonderfully
beautiful and wonderfully calm. It was like a herald of all the beauty
and purity I found in Greece. It was--like you."

"How you hated Constantinople!" she said. "I remember you denouncing its
noise and its dirt, and the mongrel horrors of Pera, to my guardian in
the hotel where we made friends. And he put in a plea for Stamboul."

"Yes, I exaggerated. But Constantinople stood to me for all the uproar
of life, and Greece for the calm and beauty and happiness, the great
Sanity of the true happiness."

He looked at her with yearning in his dark eyes.

"For all I want in my own life," he added.

He paused; then an expression of strong, almost hard resolution made his
face look suddenly older.

"You told me at Burstal, on the Chilton Downs, after your debut in
'Elijah,' that you would give me an answer soon. I have waited a good
while--some weeks----"

"Why did you ask me just that day, after 'Woe unto them'?"

"I felt I must," he answered, but with a slight awkwardness, as if he
were evading something and felt half-guilty. "To-day I decided I would
ask you again, for the last time."

"You would never----"

"No, never. If you say 'Wait, and come later on and ask me,' I shall not
come."

She got up restlessly. She was obviously moved.

"Dion, I can't tell you to-day."

"Why not?"

"I don't know. I just feel I can't. It's no use."

"When did you mean to tell me?"

"I don't know."

"Did you mean ever to allude to the matter again, if I hadn't?"

"Yes, I should have told you, because I knew you were waiting.
I--I--often I have thought that I shall never marry any one."

She looked into the fire. Her face had become almost mysterious.

"Some women don't need--that," she murmured.

The fire played over her pale yellow hair.

"Abnormal women!" he exclaimed violently.

She turned.

"Hush! You don't know what you are saying. It isn't abnormal to wish to
dedicate----"

She stopped.

"What?" he said.

"Don't let us talk of these things. But you must not judge any woman
without knowing what is in her heart. Even your own mother, with whom
you have lived alone ever since your father's death--do you know very
much of her? We can't always show ourselves plainly as we are. It may
not be our fault."

"You will marry. You must marry."

"Why--must?"

He gazed at her. As she met his eyes she reddened slightly,
understanding his thought, that such a woman as she was ought not to
avoid the great vocation of woman. But there was another vocation, and
perhaps it was hers. She felt confused. Two desires were struggling
within her. It was as if her nature contained two necessities which were
wholly irreconcilable the one with the other.

"You can't tell me?" he said, at last.

"Not now."

"Then I am going, and I shall never ask you again. But I shall never be
able to love any one but you."

He said nothing more, and went away without touching her hand.

Words of Dante ran in Rosamund's head, and she repeated them to herself
after Dion had gone.

"_La divina volontate_!" She believed in it; she said to herself that
she trusted it absolutely. But how was she to know exactly what it
was? And yet, could she escape from it even if she wished to? Could she
wander away into any path where the Divine Will did not mean her to set
foot? Predestination--free will. "If only I were not so ignorant," she
thought.

Soon after six she went up to her bedroom to put on her things for
church.

Her bedroom was very simple, and showed plainly an indifference to
luxury, a dislike of show and of ostentation in its owner. The walls and
ceiling were white. The bed, which stood against the wall in one corner,
was exceptionally long. This fact, perhaps, made it look exceptionally
narrow. It was quite plain, had a white wooden bedstead, and was covered
with a white bedspread of a very ordinary type. There was one arm-chair
in the room made of wickerwork with a rather hard cushion on the seat,
the sort of cushion that resolutely refuses to "give" when one sits
down on it. On the small dressing-table there was no array of glittering
silver bottles, boxes and brushes. A straw flagon of eau-de-Cologne was
Rosamund's sole possession of perfume. She did not own a box of powder
or a puff. But it must be acknowledged that she never looked "shiny."
She had some ivory hair-brushes given to her one Christmas by Bruce
Evelin. Beside them was placed a hideous receptacle for--well, for
anything--pins, perhaps, buttons, small tiresomenesses of that kind.
It was made of some glistening black material, and at its center there
bloomed a fearful red cabbage rose, a rose all vulgarity, ostentation
and importance. This monstrosity had been given to Rosamund as a
thank-offering by a poor charwoman to whom she had been kind. It had
been in constant use now for over three years. The charwoman knew this
with grateful pride.

Upon the mantelpiece there were other gifts of a similar kind: a
photograph frame made of curly shells, a mug with "A present from
Greenwich" written across it in gold letters, a flesh-colored glass
vase with yellow trimmings, a china cow with its vermilion ears cocked
forward, lying down in a green meadow which just held it, and a toy
trombone with a cord and tassels. There were also several photographs of
poor people in their Sunday clothes. On the walls hung a photograph of
Cardinal Newman, a good copy of a Luini Madonna, two drawings of heads
by Burne-Jones, a small painting--signed "G. F. Watts"--of an old tree
trunk around which ivy was lovingly growing, and one or two prints.

The floor was polished and partially covered by three good-sized mats.
There was a writing-table on one side of the room with an ebony-and-gold
crucifix standing upon it. Opposite to it, on the other side of the
room near the fireplace, was a bookcase. On the shelves were volumes of
Shakespeare, Dante, Emerson, Wordsworth, Browning, Christina Rossetti,
Newman's "Dream of Gerontius" and "Apologia," Thomas a Kempis, several
works on mystics and mysticism, a life of St. Catherine of Genoa,
another of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Ignatius Loyola's "Spiritual
Exercises," Pascal's "Letters," etc., etc. Over the windows hung
gray-blue curtains.

Into this room Rosamund came that evening; she went to a wardrobe and
began to take down a long sealskin coat. Just then her maid appeared--an
Italian girl whom she had taken into her service in Milan when she had
studied singing there.

"Shan't I come with you, Signorina?" she asked, as she took the jacket
from her mistress and held it for Rosamund to put on.

"No, thank you, Maria. I'm going to church, the Protestant church."

"I could wait outside or come back to fetch you."

"It's not far. I shall be all right."

"But the fog is terrible. It's like a wall about the house."

"Is it as bad as that?"

She went to one of the windows, pulled aside the curtains, lifted the
blind and tried to look out. But she could not, for the fog pressed
against the window panes and hid the street and the houses opposite.

"It is bad."

She dropped the blind, let the curtains fall into place and turned
round.

"But I'd rather go alone. I can't miss the way, and I'm not a nervous
person. You'd be far more frightened than I." She smiled at the girl.

Apparently reassured, or perhaps merely glad that her unselfishness was
not going to be tested, Maria accompanied her mistress downstairs and
let her out. It was Lurby's "evening off," and for once he was not
discreetly on hand.

Church bells were chiming faintly in this City of dreadful night as
Rosamund almost felt her way onward. She heard them and thought they
were sad, and their melancholy seemed to be one with the melancholy of
the atmosphere. Some one passed by her. She just heard a muffled sound
of steps, just discerned a shadow--that was all.

To-morrow she must give an answer to Dion Leith. She went on slowly in
the fog, thinking, thinking. Two vertical lines showed in her usually
smooth forehead.

It was nearly half-past six when she turned into Welby Street. The
church was not a large one and there was no parish attached to it. It
was a proprietary chapel. The income of the incumbent came from pew
rents. His name was Limer, and he was a first-rate preacher of the
sensational type, a pulpit dealer in "actualities." He was also an
excellent musician, and took great pains with his choir. In consequence
of these talents, and of his diligent application of them, St. Mary's
was generally full, and all its pews were let at a high figure.
To-night, however, because of the fog, Rosamund expected to find few
people.

One bell was mournfully ringing as she drew near and presently saw a
faint gleaming of light through long narrow windows of painted glass.
"Ping, ping, ping!" It was a thin little summons to prayer. She passed
through a gateway in some railings of wrought ironwork, crossed a
slippery pavement and entered the church.

It was already more than three parts full, and there was a large
proportion of men in the congregation. A smart-looking young man,
evidently a gentleman, who was standing close to the door, nodded to
Rosamund and whispered:

"I'll put you into Lady Millingham's seat. You'll find Mrs. Chetwinde
and Mr. Darlington there."

"Oh, I'd rather--" began Rosamund.

But he had already begun to move up the aisle, and she was obliged to
follow him to a pew close to the pulpit, in which were seated a smartly
dressed woman with a vague and yet acute expression, pale eyes and
a Burne-Jones throat; and a thin, lanky and immensely tall man of
uncertain age, with pale brown, very straight hair, large white ears,
thick ragged eyebrows, a carefully disarranged beard and mustache, and
an irregular refined face decorated with a discreet but kind expression.
These were Mrs. Willie Chetwinde, who had a wonderful house in Lowndes
Square, and Mr. Esme Darlington, bachelor, of St. James's Square, who
was everybody's friend including his own.

Rosamund just recognized them gravely; then she knelt down and prayed
earnestly, with her face hidden against her muff. She still heard the
little bell's insistent "Ping, ping, ping!" She pressed her shut eyes
so hard against the muff that rings of yellow light floated up in her
darkness, forming, retreating, melting away.

The bell ceased; the first notes of the organ sounded in a voluntary by
Mendelssohn, amiable and charming; the choir filed in as Rosamund rose
from her knees. In the procession the two last figures were Mr. Limer
and Mr.--or, as he was always called in Liverpool, Father--Robertson.

Mr. Limer was a short, squat, clean-shaven but hairy dark man, with
coal-black hair sweeping round a big forehead, a determined face and
large, indignant brown eyes. The Liverpool clergyman was of middle
height, very thin, with snow-white hair, dark eyes and eyebrows, and a
young almost boyish face, with straight, small features, and a luminous,
gentle and yet intense look. He seemed almost to glow, quietly,
definitely, like a lamp set in a dark place, and one felt that his glow
could not easily be extinguished. He walked tranquilly by the side of
Mr. Limer, and looked absolutely unselfconscious, quietly dignified and
simple.

When he went into the pulpit the lights were lowered and a pleasant
twilight prevailed. But the preacher's face was strongly illuminated.

Mr. Robertson preached on the sin of egoism, and took as the motto of
his sermon the words--"_Ego dormio et cor meum vigilat_." His method
of preaching was quiet, but intense; again the glow of the lamp. Often
there were passages which suggested a meditation--a soul communing with
itself fearlessly, with an unyielding, but never violent, determination
to arrive at the truth. And Rosamund, listening, felt as if nothing
could keep this man with the snow-white hair and the young face away
from the truth.

He ranged over a wide field--egoism being wide as the world--he exposed
many of the larger evils brought about by egoism, in connexion with the
Arts, with politics, with charity, with religious work in great cities,
with missionary enterprises abroad; he touched on some of the more
subtle forms of egoism, which may poison even the sources of love; and
finally he discussed the gains and the losses of egoism. "For," he said,
"let us be honest and acknowledge that we often gain, in the worldly
sense, by our sins, and sometimes lose by our virtues." Power of a kind
can be, and very often is, obtained by egoists through their egoism.
He discussed that power, showed its value and the glory of it. Then
he contrasted with it the power which is only obtained by those who,
completely unselfish, know not how to think of themselves. He enlarged
on this theme, on the Kingdom which can belong only to those who are
selfless. And then he drew to the end of his sermon.

"One of the best means I know," he said, "for getting rid of egoism is
this: whenever you have to take some big decision between two courses
of action--perhaps between two life courses--ask yourself, 'Which can I
share?'--which of these two paths is wide enough to admit of my treading
it with a companion, whose steps I can help, whose journey I can
enliven, whose weariness I can solace, and whose burden I can now and
then bear for a little while? And if only one of the paths is wide
enough, then choose that in preference to the other. I believe
profoundly in 'sharing terms.'"

He paused, gazing at the congregation with his soft and luminous eyes.
Then he added:

"_Ego dormio et cor meum vigilat_. When the insistent _I_ sleeps, only
then perhaps can the heart be truly awake, be really watchful. Then let
us send the insistent I to sleep, and let us keep it slumbering."

He half-smiled as he finished. There had been something slightly
whimsical about his final words, about his manner and himself when he
said them.

Silence and the fog, and Rosamund walking homewards with her hands deep
in her muff. All those bodies and minds and souls which had been in the
church had evaporated into the night. Mrs. Chetwinde and Esme Darlington
had wanted to speak to Rosamund, but she had slipped out of the church
quickly. She did not wish to talk to any one.

"_Ego dormio et cor meum vigilat_."

What an odd little turn, or twist, the preacher had given to the meaning
of those words! "Whenever you have to take some big decision between
two life courses, ask yourself, 'Which can I share?' and if you can only
share one, choose that."

Very slowly Rosamund walked on, bending a little above the big muff,
like one pulled forward by a weight of heavy thoughts. She turned a
corner. Presently she turned another corner and traversed a square,
which could not be seen to be a square. And then, quite suddenly, she
realized that she had not been thinking about her way home and that she
was lost in the impenetrable fog.

She stood still and listened. She heard nothing. Traffic seemed stopped
in this region. On her left there were three steps. She went up them and
was under the porch of a house. Light shone dully from within, and by it
she could just make out on the door the number "8." At least it seemed
to her that probably it was an "8." She hesitated, came down the steps,
and walked on. It was impossible to see the names of the streets and
squares. But presently she would come across a policeman. She went on
and on, but no policeman bulked shadowy against the background of night
and of the fog which at last seemed almost terrible to her.

Rosamund was not timid. She was constitutionally incapable of timidity.
Nor was she actively alarmed in a strong and definite way. But gradually
there seemed to permeate her a cold, almost numbing sensation of
loneliness and of desolation. For the first time in her life she felt
not merely alone but solitary, and not merely solitary but as if she
were condemned to be so by some power that was hostile to her.

It was a hideous feeling. Something in the fog and in the night made
an assault upon her imagination. Abruptly she was numbered among the
derelict women whom nobody wants, whom no man thinks of or wishes to be
with, whom no child calls mother. She felt physically and morally, "I
am solitary," and it was horrible to her. She saw herself old and alone,
and she shuddered.

How long she walked on she did not know, but when at last she heard
a step shuffling along somewhere in front of her, she had almost--she
thought--realized Eternity.

The step was not coming towards her but was going onwards slowly before
her. She hastened, and presently came up with an old man, poorly dressed
in a dreadful frock-coat and disgraceful trousers, wearing on his long
gray locks a desperado of a top hat, and carrying, in a bloated and
almost purple hand, a large empty jug.

"Please!" said Rosamund.

The old gentleman shuffled on.

"Could you tell me--_please_--can you tell me where we are?"

She had grasped his left coat-sleeve. He turned and, bending, she peered
into the face of a drunkard.

"Close to the 'Daniel Lambert,'" said an almost refined old voice.

And a pair of pathetic gray eyes peered up at her above a nose that was
like a conflagration.

"Where's that? What is it?"

"Don't you know the 'Daniel Lambert'?"

The voice sounded very surprised and almost suspicious.

"No."

"It's well known, very well known. I'm just popping round there to get a
little something--eh!"

The voice died away.

"I want to find Great Cumberland Place."

"Well, you're pretty close to it. The 'Daniel Lambert's' in the Edgware
Road."

"Could you find it?--Great Cumberland Place, I mean?"

"Certainly."

"I wish you would. I should be so grateful."

The gray eyes became more pathetic.

"Grateful to me--would you, miss? I'll go with you and very glad to do
it."

The old gentleman took Rosamund home and talked to her on the way.
When they parted she asked for his name and address. He hesitated for
a moment and then gave it: "Mr. Thrush, 2 Albingdon Buildings, John's
Court, near Edgware Road."

"Thank you. You've done me a good turn."

At this moment the front door was opened by the housemaid.

"Oh--miss!" she said.

Her eyes left Rosamund and fastened themselves, like weapons, on the
old gentleman's nose. He lifted his desperado of a hat and immediately
turned away, trying to conceal his jug under his left arm, but
inadvertently letting it protrude.

"Good night, and thank you very much indeed!" Rosamund called after him
with warm cordiality.

"I'm glad you've got back, miss. We were in a way. It's ever so late."

"I got lost in the fog. That dear old man rescued me."

"I'm very thankful, miss, I'm sure."

The girl seemed stiffened with astonishment. She shut the street door
automatically.

"He used to be a chemist once."

"Did he, miss?"

"Yes, quite a successful one too; just off Hanover Square, he told me.
He was going round to get something for his supper when we met."

"Indeed, miss?"

Rosamund went upstairs.

"Yes, poor old man," she said, as she ascended.

Like most people in perfect health Rosamund slept well; but that night
she lay awake. She did not want to sleep. She had something to decide,
something of vital importance to her. Two courses lay open to her. She
might marry Dion Leith, or she might resolve never to marry. Like most
girls she had had dreams, but unlike most girls, she had often dreamed
of a life in which men had no place. She had recently entered upon the
career of a public singer, not because she was obliged to earn money but
because she had a fine voice and a strong temperament, and longed for
self-expression. But she had always believed that her public career
would be a short one. She loved fine music and enjoyed bringing its
message home to people, but she had little or no personal vanity, and
the life of a public performer entailed a great deal which she already
found herself disliking. Recently, too, her successful career had
received a slight check. She had made her festival debut at Burstal in
"Elijah," and no engagements for oratorio had followed upon it. Some
day, while she was still young, she meant to retire, and then----

If she married Dion Leith she would have to give up an old dream. On the
other hand, if she married him, perhaps some day she would be a mother.
She felt certain--she did not know why--that if she did not marry Dion
Leith she would never marry at all.

She thought, she prayed, she thought again. Sometimes in the dark hours
of that night the memory of her sensation of loneliness in the fog
returned to her. Sometimes Mr. Robertson's "Which can I share?" echoed
within her, in the resonant chamber of her soul. He had been very quiet,
but he had made an enormous impression upon her; he had made her hate
egoism much more than she had hated it hitherto.

Even into the innermost sanctuary of religion egoism can perhaps find
a way. The thought of that troubled Rosamund in the dark. But when the
hour of dawn grew near she fell asleep. She had made up her mind, or,
rather, it had surely been made up for her. For a conviction had come
upon her that for good or for evil it was meant that her life should
be linked with Dion Leith's. He possessed something which she valued
highly, and which, she thought, was possessed by very few men. He
offered it to her. If she refused it, such an offering would probably
never be made to her again.

To be a lonely woman; to be a subtle and profound egoist; to be loved,
cherished, worshiped; to be a mother.

Many lives of women seemed to float before her eyes.

Just before she lost consciousness it seemed to her, for a moment, that
she was looking into the pathetic eyes of the old man whom she had met
in the fog.

"Poor old man!" she murmured.

She slept.

On the following morning she sent this note to Dion Leith:


"MY DEAR DION,--I will marry you.

"ROSAMUND."



CHAPTER III

In the following spring, Rosamund and Dion were married, and Dion took
Rosamund "to the land of the early morning."

They arrived in Greece at the beginning of May, when the rains were over
and the heats of summer were at hand. The bed of Ilissus was empty. Dust
lay white in the streets of Athens and along the road to Phaleron and
the sea. The low-lying tracts of country were desert-dry, and about
Athens the world was arrayed in the garb of the East. Nevertheless there
was still a delicate freshness in the winds that blew to the little city
from the purple Aegean or from the mountains of Argolis; stirring the
dust into spiral dances among the pale houses upon which Lycabettos
looks down; shaking the tiny leaves of the tressy pepper trees near the
Royal Palace; whispering the antique secrets of the ages into the ears
of the maidens who, unwearied and happily submissive, bear up the Porch
of the Erechtheion; stealing across the vast spaces and between the
mighty columns of the Parthenon. The dawns and the twilights had not
lost the pure savor of their almost frail vitality. The deepness of
slumber still came with the nights.

Greece was, perhaps, at her loveliest. And Greece was almost deserted by
travelers. They had come and gone with the spring, leaving the land to
its own, and to those two who had come there to drink deep at the wells
of happiness. And, a little selfish as lovers are, Rosamund and Dion
took everything wonderful and beautiful as their possession.

The yellow-green pines near the convent of Daphni threw patches of shade
on the warm earth because they wanted to rest there; the kingfisher
rose in low and arrow-like flight from the banks of Khephissus to make a
sweet diversion for them; they longed for brilliance, and the lagoons of
Salamis were dyed with a wonder of emerald; they asked for twilight, and
the deep and deserted glades of Academe gave it them in full measure.
All these possessions, and many others, they enjoyed almost as children
enjoy a meadow full of flowers when they have climbed over the gate
that bars it from the high road. But the Acropolis was the stronghold
of their joy. Only when their feet pressed its silvery grasses, and trod
its warm marble pavements, did they hold the world within their grasp.

For some days after their arrival in Greece they almost lived among the
ruins. The long-coated guardians smiled at them, at first with a sort
of faint amusement, at last with a friendly pleasure. And they smiled
at themselves. Each evening they said, "To-morrow we will do this--or
that," and each morning they said nothing, just looked at each other
after breakfast, read in each other's eyes the repetition of desire, and
set out on the dear dusty road with which they were already so familiar.

Had there ever before been a honeymoon bounded by the precipices of the
Acropolis? They sometimes discussed that important question, and always
decided against the impertinent possibility. "What we are doing has
never been done before." Dion went further than this, to "What I am
feeling has never been felt before." His youth asserted itself in
silent, determined statements which seemed to him to ring with authentic
truth.

It was a far cry from the downs of Chilton to the summit of the
Acropolis. Dion remembered the crowd assembled to hear "Elijah"; he felt
the ugly heat, the press of humanity. And all that was but the prelude
to this! Even the voice crying "Woe unto them!" had been the prelude
to the wonderful silence of Greece. He felt marvelously changed. And
Rosamund often seemed to him changed, too, because she was his own. That
wonderful fact gave her new values, spread about her new mysteries. And
some of these mysteries Dion did not attempt to fathom at first. Perhaps
he felt that some silences of love are like certain ceremony with a
friend--a mark of the delicacy which is the sign-manual of the things
that endure. In the beginning of that honeymoon there was a beautiful
restraint which was surely of good augury for the future. Not all
the doors were set violently open, not all the rooms were ruthlessly
visited.

Dion found that he was able to reverence the woman who had given herself
to him more after he had received the gift than before. And this was
very wonderful to him, was even, somehow, perplexing. For Rosamund
had the royal way of bestowing. She was capable of refusal, but not of
half-measures or of niggardliness. There was something primitive in
her which spoke truth with a voice that was fearless; and yet that
very primitiveness seemed closely allied with her purity. Dion only
understood what that purity was when he was married to her. It was like
the radiant atmosphere of Greece to him. Had not Greece led him to it,
made him desire it with all that was best in his nature? Now he had
brought it to Greece. Actually, day after day, he trod the Acropolis
with Rosamund.

Greece had already, he believed, put out a hand and drawn them more
closely together.

"Love me, love the land I love."

Laughingly, yet half-anxiously too, Dion had said that to Rosamund when
they left Brindisi and set sail for Greece. With her usual sincerity she
had answered:

"I want to love it. Do you wish me to say more than that, to make
promises I may not be able to keep?"

"No," he had answered. "I only want truth from you." And after a moment
he had added, "I shall never want anything from you but your truth."

She had looked at him rather strangely, like one moved by conflicting
feelings, and after a slight hesitation she had said:

"Dion, do you realize all the meaning in those words of yours?"

"Of course I do."

"Then if you really mean them you must be one of the most daring of
human beings. But I shall try a compromise with you. I shall try to give
you my best truth, never my worst. You deserve that, I think. Indeed, I
know you do."

And he had left it to her. Was he not wise to do that? Already he
trusted her absolutely, as he had never thought to trust any one.

"I could face any storm with you," he once said to Rosamund.

Rosamund had wanted to love Greece, and from the first moment of seeing
the land she had loved it.

In the beginning of their stay she had scarcely been able to believe
that she was really in Athens. A great name had aroused in her
imagination a conception of a great city. The soft familiarity, the
almost rustic simplicity and intimacy, the absolutely unpretentious
brightness and homely cheerfulness of the small capital of this unique
land had surprised, had almost confused her.

"Is this really Athens?" she had said, wondering, as they had driven
into what seemed a village set in bright bareness, sparsely shaded here
and there by small pepper-trees.

And the question had persisted in her mind, had almost trembled upon
her lips, for two or three days. But then had come a mysterious change,
brought about, perhaps, by affection. Quickly she had learnt to love
Athens, and then she had the feeling that if it had been in any way
different from what it was she could not have loved it. Its very
smallness delighted her, and she would not permit its faults to be
mentioned in her presence. Once, when Dion said that it was a great pity
the Athenians did not plant more trees, and a greater pity they so often
lopped off branches from the few trees they had, she exclaimed:

"You mustn't run down my Athens. It likes to give itself to the sun
generously. It's grateful, as it well may be, for all the sun has done
for it. Look at the color of that marble."

And Dion looked at the honey color, and the wonderful reddish-gold, and,
laughing, said:

"Athens is the one faultless city, and the dogs tell us so every night
and all night long."

"Dogs always bark when the moon is up," she answered, with a
semi-humorous gravity.

"As they bark in Athens?" he queried.

"Yes, of course."

"If I am ever criticized," he asked, "will you be my defender?"

"I shan't hear you criticized."

"How do you know that?"

"I do know it," she said, looking at him with her honest brown eyes;
"nobody will criticize you when I am there."

He caught hold of her hand.

"And you? Don't you often criticize me silently? I'm sure you do. Why
did you marry me, Rosamund?"

They were sitting on the Acropolis when he put that question. It was
a shining day. The far-off seas gleamed. There was a golden pathway to
Aegina. The brilliant clearness, not European but Eastern, did not
make the great view spread out beneath and around them hard. Greece
lay wrapped in a mystery of sunlight, different from, yet scarcely less
magical than, the mystery of shadows and the moon. Rosamund looked out
on the glory. She had taken off her hat, and given her yellow hair
to the sunlight. Without any head-covering she always looked more
beautiful, and, to Dion, more Greek than when her hair was concealed.
He saw in her then more clearly than at other times the woman of all the
ages rather than the woman of an epoch subject to certain fashions.
As he looked at her now, resting on a block of warm marble above the
precipice which is dominated by the little temple of Athena Nike, he
wondered, with the concealed humility of the great lover, how it was
that she had ever chosen to give herself to him. He had sworn to marry
her. He had not been weak in his wooing, had not been one of those men
who will linger on indefinitely at a woman's feet, ready to submit to
unnumbered refusals. But now there rose up in the depths of him the cry,
"What am I?" and the answer, "Only a man like thousands of other men, in
no way remarkable, in no way more worthy than thousands of others of the
gift of great happiness."

Rosamund turned from the shining view. There was in her eyes an unusual
vagueness.

"Why did you?"

"Why did I marry you, Dion?"

"Yes. When I found you with your 'Paradise' I don't think you meant ever
to marry me."

"I always liked you. But at first I didn't think of you in that way."

"But you had known for ages before Burstal----"

"Yes, of course. I knew the day I sang at Mr. Darlington's, at that
party he gave to introduce me as a singer. I knew first from your
mother. She told me."

"My mother?"

"By the look she gave me when you introduced me to her."

"Was it an----How d'you mean?"

"I can scarcely explain. But it was a look that asked a great many
questions. And they wouldn't have been asked if you hadn't cared for me,
and if she hadn't known it."

"What did you think when you knew?"

"That it was kind of you to care for me."

"Kind?"

"Yes. I always feel that about people who like me very much."

"And did you just go on thinking me kind until that day at Burstal?"

"I suppose so. But I felt very much at home with you."

"I don't know whether that's a compliment to a man who's still young, or
not?"

"Nor do I. But that's just how it was."

He said nothing for a little while. When he spoke again it was with some
hesitation, and his manner was almost diffident.

"Rosamund, that day at Burstal, were you at all inclined to accept me?"

"Yes; I think, perhaps, I was. Why?"

"Sometimes I have fancied there was a moment when----"

He looked at her and then, for once, his eyes fell before hers almost
guiltily. They sat in silence for a moment. Behind them, on a bench set
in the shadow of a mighty wall, was a guardian of the Acropolis, a thin
brown man with very large ears sticking out from his head. He had been
dozing, but now stirred, shuffled his feet, and suddenly cleared his
throat. Then he sighed heavily.

"And if there was, why did you think it came, Dion?" said Rosamund
suddenly, with an almost startling swiftness of decision.

Dion reddened.

"Why don't you like to tell me?"

"Oh, well--things go through the mind without our wishing them to. You
must know that, Rosamund. They are often like absurd little intruders.
One kicks them out if one can."

"What kind of intruder did you kick out, or try to kick out, at
Burstal?"

She spoke half-laughingly, but half-challengingly.

He drew a little nearer to her.

"Sometimes I have fancied that perhaps, that day at Burstal, you
suddenly realized that love might be a more powerful upholder of life
than ambition ever could be."

"Sometimes? And you thought it first on the downs, or at any rate after
the concert?"

"I think I did."

"Do you realize," she said slowly, and as if with an effort, "that you
and I have never discussed my singing in 'Elijah'?"

"I know we never have."

"Let us do it now," she continued, still seeming to make a strong
effort.

"But why should we?"

"I want to. Didn't I sing well?"

"I thought you sang wonderfully well."

"Then what was it that went wrong? I've never understood."

"Why should you think anything went wrong? The critics said it was a
remarkable performance. You made a great effect."

"I believe I did. But I felt for the first time that day that I was out
of sympathy with my audience. And then"--she paused, but presently added
with a certain dryness--"I was never offered any engagement to sing in
oratorio after Burstal."

"I believe a good many people thought your talent would show at its best
in opera."

"I shall never go on the stage. The idea is hateful to me, and always
has been. Would you like me to sing on the stage?"

"No."

"Dion, why don't you tell me what happened that day at Burstal?"

"I scarcely could."

"I wish you would try."

"Well--I think it was a mistake for you to begin your public career in
oratorio by singing 'Woe unto them.'"

"Why?"

"It's an unsympathetic thing. It's a cruel sort of thing."

"Cruel? But it's one of the best-known things in oratorio."

"You made it quite new."

"How?"

"It sounded fanatical when you sang it. I never heard it sound like that
before."

"Fanatical?" she said, and her voice was rather cold.

"Rosamund," he said, quickly and anxiously, "you asked me to tell you
exactly what I meant, what I felt, that is----"

"Yes, I know. Go on, Dion. Well? It sounded fanatical----"

"To me. I'm only telling you my impression. When I've heard 'Woe unto
them' before it has always sounded sad, piteous if you like, a sort of
wailing. When you sang it, somehow it was like a curse, a tremendous
summoning of vengeance."

"Why not? Are not the words 'Destruction shall fall upon them'?"

"I know. But you made it sound--to me, I mean--almost as if you were
rejoicing personally at the thought of the destruction, as if you were
longing almost eagerly for it to overwhelm the faithless."

"I see. That is what you meant by fanatical?"

"Yes, I suppose so."

After a long pause she said:

"Nobody has told me that till now."

"Perhaps others didn't feel it as I did."

"I don't know. What does one know about other people? Not even my
guardian said anything. I never could understand----"

She broke off, then continued steadily:

"So you think I repelled people that day?"

"It seems impossible that you--"

But she interrupted him.

"No, Dion, it isn't at all impossible. I think if we are absolutely
sincere we repel people very often."

"But you are the most sincere person I have ever seen, and you must know
how beloved you are, how popular you are wherever you go."

"When I'm being sincere with the part of me that's feeling kind or
affectionate. Let us go to the Parthenon."

She got up, opened her white sun-umbrella and turned round, keeping her
hat in her left hand. As she stood there in that setting of marble, with
the sun caught in her hair, and the mighty view below and beyond her,
she looked wonderfully beautiful, Dion thought, but almost stern. He
feared perhaps he had hurt her. But was it his fault? She had told him
to speak.

Rosamund did not return to the subject of her debut at Burstal, but
in the late afternoon of that day she spoke of her singing, and of the
place it might have in their married life. Dion believed she did this
because of their conversation near the Temple of Nike.

They had spent most of the day on the Acropolis. Both had brought books:
she, Mahaffy's "History of Greek Literature"; he, a volume of poems
written by a young diplomat who loved Greece and knew her well. Neither
of them had read many pages, but as the strong radiance began to soften
about them on the height, and the breeze from the Saronic Gulf came to
them with a more feathery warmth and freshness over the smiling bareness
of the Attic Plain, Dion, who had been half-dreamily turning the leaves
of his little book, said:

"Rosamund."

"Yes?"

"Look at the sea and the mountains of Trigania, those far-off
mountains"--he pointed--"and the outpost of Hydra."

She looked and said nothing. Then he read to her these lines of the
young diplomat-poet:

     "A crescent sail upon the sea,
     So calm and fair and ripple free
     You wonder storms can ever be;

     A shore with deep indented bays,
     And o'er the gleaming water-ways
     A glimpse of Islands in the haze;

     A face bronzed dark to red and gold,
     With mountain eyes that seem to hold
     The freshness of the world of old;

     A shepherd's crook, a coat of fleece,
     A grazing flock;--the sense of peace,
     The long sweet silence,--this is Greece!"

Rosamund gazed before her at Greece in the evening light.

"'The freshness of the world of old,'" she repeated, and her voice had
a thrill in it. "'The sense of peace, the long sweet silence,--this is
Greece.' If there was music with the music of those words I should love
to sing them."

"And how you could sing them. Like no other."

"At any rate my heart would be in them. 'The freshness of the world of
old--the sense of peace, the long sweet silence.'"

She was standing now near the edge of the sacred rock, looking out over
the tawny plain flanked by gray Hymettos, and away to the sea. There
were no voices rising from below. There was no sound of traffic on
the white road which wound away down the slope to the hidden city. Her
contralto voice lingered on the words; her lips drew them out softly,
lengthening the sounds they loved.

"Freshness, that which belonged to the early world, long sweet silence,
peace. Oh, Dion, if you know how something in me cares for freshness and
for peace!"

Her glad energies were strangely stilled; yet there was a kind of force
in her stillness, the force that is in all deep truths of whatever
nature they may be. He felt that he was near to perhaps the most
essential part of her, to that which was perhaps more truly her than
even the radiant and buoyant humanity by means of which she drew people
to her.

"Could you live always out of the world?" he asked her.

"But it wouldn't be out of the world."

"Away from people--with me?"

"With you?"

She looked at him for a moment almost as if startled. Then there came
into her brown eyes a scrutiny that seemed half-inward, as if it were
partially applied to herself.

"It's difficult to be certain what one could do. I suppose one has
several sides."

"Ah! And your singing side?"

"I want to speak about that."

Her voice was suddenly more practical, and her whole look and manner
changed, losing in romance and strangeness, gaining in directness and
energy.

"We've never discussed it."

She sat down on a slab of rock at the edge of the precipice, and went
on:

"You don't mind your wife being a public singer, do you, Dion?"

"Suppose I do?"

"Do you?"

"You're so energetic I doubt if you could be happy in idleness."

"I couldn't in England."

"And in Greece? But we are only here for such a short time."

He took her hand in his.

"Learning the lessons of happiness."

"Good lessons for us!" she said, smiling.

"The best there are. I believe in the education of joy. It opens the
heart, calls up all the generous things. But your singing; can I bear
your traveling about perpetually all over England?"

"If I get engagements."

"You will. You had a good many for concerts last winter. You've got
several for June and July. You'll get many more. But who's to go with
you on your travels?"

"Beattie, of course. Why do you look at me like that?"

"How do we know Beatrice won't marry?"

Rosamund looked grave.

"Why shouldn't she?" asked Dion.

"She may, of course."

"D'you think she'll remain your apanage now?" he asked, with a hint of
smiling sarcasm that could not hurt her.

"My apanage?"

"Hasn't she been something like that?"

"Perhaps she has. But Beattie always sinks herself in others. She
wouldn't be happy if she didn't do that. Of course, your friend Guy
Daventry's in love with Beattie."

"Deeply."

"But I'm not at all sure that Beattie--"

She paused abruptly. After a moment she continued:

"You asked me to-day why I married you. I didn't answer you and I'm not
going to answer you now--entirely. But you're not like other men, most
other men."

"In what way?"

"A way that means very much to me," she answered, with a delicious
purity and directness. "Women feel such things very soon when they know
men. I could easily have never married, but I could never, never have
married a man who had lived, as I believe most men have lived."

"I think I always knew that from the first moment I saw you."

"Did you? I'm glad. I care tremendously for _that_ in you, Dion--more
than you will ever know."

"That's my great, too great reward," he said soberly, almost with a
touch of deep awe. Then, reddening and looking away, he added, "You were
the very first."

"Was I?"

"Yes, but--but you mustn't think that it was a religious feeling,
anything of that kind, which kept me back from--from certain things. It
was more the desire to be strong, healthy, to have the sane mind in the
sane body, I think. I was mad about athletics, all that sort of thing.
Anyhow, you know now. You were the first. You will be the only one in my
life."

There was a long silence between them. Then Rosamund said, with a change
of manner to practical briskness:

"If Beattie ever should marry, I could take a maid about with me."

"Yes. An hotel in Liverpool with a maid! In Blackpool, in Huddersfield,
in Wolverhampton, in Glasgow, when there's a heavy thaw on, with a maid!
Oh, how delightful it will be! Manchester on a wet day in early spring
with a--"

"Hush!" she put one hand on his lips gently, and looked at him with a
sort of smiling challenge in her eyes. "Do you mean to forbid me?"

"I don't think I could ever forbid you to do anything."

"We shall see in England."

"But, Rosamund"--there was no one in sight, and he slipped one arm round
her--"if something came to fill your life, both our lives, to the brim?"

"Ah, then,"--a very remote expression came into her eyes,--"then it
would all be different."

"All?"

"Yes. Everything would be quite different then."

"Not our relation to each other?"

"Yes, even that. Perhaps that most of all."

"I--I hardly like to hear you say that," he said, struggling against
a perhaps stupid, or even hateful, feeling of depression mingled with
something else.

"But wouldn't it? Think!"

"I don't want that to change. I should hate any change in that."

"What we want, and what we hate, doesn't affect what has to be. And I
expect at the end we shall be thankful for that. But, Dion, yes, _if_
what you say, I could give it all up. Public singing! What would it
matter then? I'm a woman, not a singer. But perhaps it will never come."

"Who knows?" he said.

And he sighed.

She turned towards him, leaned one hand on the stone and looked at him
almost anxiously.

"What is the matter, Dion?"

"Why? There is nothing the matter."

"Would you rather we never had that in our lives?"

"A child?"

"Yes, a child."

"I thought I longed for that," he answered.

"Do you meant that you have changed and don't long any more?"

"I suppose it's like this. When a man's very happy, perfectly happy, he
doesn't--perhaps he can't--want any change to come. If you're perfectly
happy instinctively you almost fear any change. Till to-day, till this
very minute perhaps, I thought I wanted to have a child--some day.
Perhaps I still do really, or perhaps I shall. But--you must forgive me,
I can't help it!--this evening, sitting here, I don't want anything to
come between us. It seems to me that even a child of ours would take
some of you away from me. Don't you see that?"

She shook her head.

"That's a man's feeling. I can't share it."

"But think--all the attention you would have to give to a child, all the
thoughts you would fasten on it, all the anxieties you'd have about it!"

"Well?"

"One only has a certain amount of time. You'd have to take away a good
deal, a great deal, of the time you can now give to me. Oh, it sounds
too beastly, I know! Perhaps I scarcely mean it! But surely you can see
how a man who loves a woman very much might, without being the least
bit unnatural, think, 'I'd like to keep every bit of her for myself.
I'd like to have her all to myself!' I dare say this feeling will pass.
Remember, Rose, we're only just married, and we're in Greece, right away
from every one. Don't think me morbidly jealous, or a beast. I'm not. I
expect lots of men have felt as I do, perhaps even till the first child
came."

"Ah, then it would be all right," she said. "The natural things, the
things nature intends, are always all right."

"How blessedly sane and central you are!"

"If we had a child--Dion, you must believe me!--we should be drawn ever
so much nearer together by it. If we ever do have one, we shall look
back on this time--you will--and think 'We were much farther apart then
than we are now.'"

"I don't like to hear you say that," he said gravely, almost with pain.

Could a woman like Rosamund be driven by an instinct blindly? She
was such a perfect type of womanhood. It would be almost a tragedy if
she--such a woman--died childless. Perhaps instinct had obscurely warned
her of that, had taught her where to look for a mate. He, Dion, had
always lived purely. That day she had acknowledged that she had divined
it. Was that, perhaps, her real, her instinctive reason for marrying
him? But a man wants to be married for one thing only, because the
woman longs for him. And Dion was just an ordinary man with very strong
feelings.

"Let's take one more stroll before we go down," he said.

"Yes, to the maidens," she answered.

Her voice sounded relieved. She pushed her arm gently through his as
they moved away, and he felt all his body thrill. The mystery of love
was almost painful to him at that moment. He realized that a great love
might grow to have an affinity with a disease. "I must be careful. I
must take great care with this love of mine," he thought.

They went slowly over the slabs of marble and the gray rocks and passed
before the west front of the Parthenon. Dion felt slight resistance in
Rosamund's arm, and stopped. In the changing light the marble was full
of warm color, was in places mysterious and translucent almost as amber.
The immense power, the gigantic calm of the temple, a sort of still
breathing of Eternity upon Time, confronted a glory which was beginning
to change in the face of its changelessness. Soon the seas that held
their dream under the precipices of Sunion, and along the shores of
Aegina, where the tall shepherd boys in their fleeces of white lead home
the flocks in the twilight, would lose the wonder of their shining, and
the skies the rapture of their diffused light. In the quietly austere
Attic Plain, through the whispering groves of Academe, and along the
sacred way to Eleusis, a very delicate vagueness was beginning to
travel, like a wanderer setting forth to greet the coming of the night.
The ranges of hills and mountains, Hymettos and Pentelicus, Parnes
stretching to the far distance, Mount Corydallus, the peak of Salamis,
the exquisitely long mountains of Trigania--"the greyhounds of their
tribe," Rosamund loved to call them--were changing almost from moment
to moment, becoming a little softer, a little more tender, putting off
their distinct hues of the day for the colors of sleep and forgetting.
But the great Doric columns fronting them, the core of the heart of this
evening splendor, seemed not to defy, but to ignore, all the processes
of change. In its ruin the Parthenon seemed to say, "I have not
changed." And it was true. For the same soul which had confronted
Pericles confronted the two lovers who now stood at the foot of the
temple.

"I wonder how many thousands of people of all nations have learnt the
same lesson here," Rosamund said at last.

"The Doric lesson, you mean?"

"Yes, of strength, simplicity, endurance, calmness."

"And I wonder how many thousands have forgotten the lesson."

"Why do you say that, Dion?"

"I don't know. Great art is a moral teacher, I'm sure of that. But men
are very light-minded as a rule, I think. If they lived before these
columns they might learn a great deal, they might even develop in a
splendid direction, I believe. But an hour, even a few hours, is that
enough? Impressions fade very quickly in most people."

"Not in you. You never forget the Parthenon, and I shall never forget
it."

She stood for some minutes quite still gazing steadily up at the
temple, gaining--it seemed to her--her own stillness from its tremendous
immobility.

"The greatest strength is in silence," she thought. "The greatest power
is in motionlessness."

She thought of the raging of the great sea. But no! There was more of
the essence of strength, of the stern inwardness of power, in that which
confronted life and Time in absolute stillness; in a mountain, in
this temple. And the temple spoke to something far down within her; to
something which desired long silences and deep retirement, to something
mystic which she did not understand. The temple was Pagan and she knew
that. But that in her to which it spoke was not Pagan. Before she left
Athens she meant to realize that the soul of man, when it speaks through
mighty and pure effort, of whatever kind, always speaks to the same
Listener, to but one, though man may not know it.

"Doric!" she said at last. "I have always known that for me that would
be the greatest. The simplest thing is the most sublime thing. That
temple is like the Sermon on the Mount to me. Didn't you bring me here
because it meant so much to you?"

"Not entirely. No, Rosamund, I think I brought you here because I felt
that you belonged here."

"This satisfies me."

She sighed deeply, still gazing at the temple.

"You aren't only in Greece, you are of Greece. Come to the maidens."

As they went on slowly the acid voices of the little birds which fly
perpetually among the columns of the Parthenon followed them, bidding
them good night.

They descended over the uneven ground and came to the famous Porch of
the Caryatides, jutting out from the little Ionic temple which is the
handmaid of the Parthenon. Not far from the Porch, and immediately
before it, was a wooden bench. Already Rosamund and Dion had spent many
hours here, sometimes sitting on the bench, more often resting on the
warm ground in the sunshine, among the fragments of ruin and the speary,
silver-green grasses. Now Rosamund sat down and Dion stood by her side.

"Rosamund, those maidens are my ideal of womanhood shown in marble," he
said.

"They are almost miraculously beautiful. And one scarcely knows why. But
I know that every time I see them the mystery of their beauty seems more
ineffable to me, and the meaning of it seems more profound. How did men
get so much meaning into marble?"

"By caring so much for what is beautiful in womanhood, I suppose."

He sat down close beside her.

"I sometimes wonder whether women have any idea what some men, many men,
I believe, seek in women."

"What do they seek?"

"What do those maidens that hold up the Porch suggest to you?"

"All that's calm without a touch of coldness, and strong without a touch
of hardness, and noble without a touch of pride, and obedient without a
touch of servility."

"Brave sweetness, too, and protectiveness. They are wonderful, and so
are some women. When I saw you in the omnibus at Milan I thought of
these maidens immediately."

"How strange!"

"Why strange?"

"Isn't it?" she said, gazing at the six maidens in their flowering
draperies of marble, who, upon their uncovered heads, bore tranquillity
up the marble architrave. "How wonderfully simple and unpretending they
are!"

"Are not you?"

"I don't know. I don't believe I think about it."

"I do. Rosamund, sometimes I feel that I am an unique man--just think of
a fellow in a firm on the Stock Exchange being unique!--because I have
had an ideal, and I have attainted to it. When I was here alone, I
conceived for the first time an ideal of woman. I said to myself, 'In
the days of ancient Greece there must have been such women in the flesh
as these maidens in marble. If I could have lived and loved then!' And I
came away from Greece carrying a sort of romantic dream with me. And now
I sit here with you; I can't think why I, a quite ordinary man, should
be picked out for perfect happiness."

"Is it really perfect?" she asked, turning to him.

"I think so. In such a place with you!"

As the evening drew on, a little wind came and went over the rocky
height, but it had no breath of cold in it. Two Greek soldiers passed
by slowly behind them--short young men with skins almost as dark as
the skins of Arabs of the South, black eyes and faces full of active
mentality. They were talking eagerly, but stopped for a moment to look
at the English, and beyond them at the six maidens on their platform of
marble. Then they went on talking again, but presently hesitated, came
back, and stood not far off, gazing at the Porch with a mixture of
reverence and quiet wistfulness. Dion drew Rosamund's attention to them.

"They feel the beauty," he said.

"Yes, I like that."

She looked at the two young men with a smile. One of them noticed it,
and smiled back at her almost boyishly, and with a sort of confidential
simplicity.

The light began to fail. The six maidens were less clearly seen, but the
deep meaning of them did not lessen. In the gathering darkness they and
their sweet effort became more touching, more lovable. Their persistence
was exquisite now that they confronted with serenity the night.

"They are beautiful by day, but at night they are adorable," said
Rosamund.

"Don't you know why I thought of them when I met you?" he whispered.

She got up slowly. The Greek soldiers moved, turned, and went down the
slope towards the Propylae. Their quick voices were heard again. Then
there was the sound of a bell.

"Time to go," said Rosamund.

As they followed the soldiers she again put her arm through her young
husband's.

"Dion," she said, "I think I'm a little afraid of your ideals. I
understand them. I have ideals too. But I think perhaps mine are less in
danger of ever being shattered than yours are."

"Why? But I know mine are not in danger."

"How can you say that?"

"It's no use trying to frighten me. But what about your ideals? What is
the nature of the difference between yours and mine, which makes yours
so much less vulnerable than mine?"

But she only said:

"I don't believe I could explain it. But I feel it, and I shall go on
feeling it."

They went down the steep marble steps, gave the guardian at the foot of
them good night, and walked almost in silence to Athens.



CHAPTER IV

After that day Rosamund and Dion often talked of the child who might
eventually come into their lives to change them. Rosamund indeed, now
that such a possibility had been discussed between them, returned to it
with an eagerness which she did not seek to conceal. She was wonderfully
frank, and her frankness seemed to belong naturally to her transparent
purity, to be an essential part of it. Dion's momentary depression that
evening on the Acropolis had evidently stirred something in her which
would not let her rest until it had expressed itself. She had detected
for the first time in her husband a hint of something connected with his
love for her which seemed to her morbid. She could not forget it and she
was resolved to destroy it if possible. When they next stood together on
their beloved height she said to him:

"Dion, don't you hate anything morbid?"

"Yes, loathe it!" he answered, with hearty conviction. "But surely you
know that. Why d'you ask me such a thing? How dare you?"

And he turned to her his brown face, bright this morning with good
spirits, his dark eyes sparkling with hopefulness and energy.

It was a pale morning, such as often comes to Athens even at the edge
of the summer. They were standing on the little terrace near to the
Acropolis Museum, looking down over the city and to helmet-shaped
Lycabettos. The wind, too fond of the Attic Plain, was blowing, not
wildly, but with sufficient force to send the dust whirling in light
clouds over the pale houses and the little Byzantine churches. Long
and narrow rivulets of dust marked the positions of the few roads
which stretched out along the plain. The darkness of the groves which
sheltered the course of the Kephisos contrasted strongly with the flying
pallors and seemed at enmity with them. The sky was milky white and
gray, broken up in places by clouds of fantastic shapes, along the
ruffled edges of which ran thin gleams of sunshine like things half
timorous and ashamed. Upon the flat shores near Phaleron the purple
seas broke in spray, and the salty drops were caught up by the wind and
mingled with the hurrying grains of dust. It was not exactly a sad day,
but there was an uneasiness abroad. The delicate calm of Greece was
disturbed. Nevertheless Dion was feeling gay and light-hearted, inclined
to enjoy everything the world about him offered to him. Even the
restlessness beneath and around them accorded with his springing
spirits. The whirling spirals of dust suggested to him the gaiety of a
dance. The voice of the wind was a joyous music in his ears.

"How dare you?" he repeated with a happy pretense of indignation.

"Because I think you were almost morbid yesterday."

"I? When?"

"When we spoke of the possibility of our some day having a child."

"I had a moment of thinking that too," he agreed. "Yes, Rose, the
thought went through my mind that a great love, such as mine for you,
might become almost a disease if one didn't watch it, hold it in."

"If it ever did become like that, do you know what would happen?"

"What, Rose?"

"Instead of rejoicing in it I should shrink from it."

"That's enough for me!"

He spoke gaily, confidently.

"Besides, I don't really believe I'm a man to love like that. I
only imagined I might for a moment, perhaps because it was twilight.
Imaginings come with the twilight."

"I could never bear to think, if a child came, that you didn't want it,
that you wished it out of the way."

"I never should. But I expect lots of young married people have queer
thoughts and feelings which they keep entirely to themselves--I blurted
mine out. You've got a dangerously sincere husband, Rose. The whole
matter lies in your own hands. If we ever have a child, love it, but
don't love it more than me."

"I should love it so differently! How could maternal love interfere with
the love of woman for man?"

"No, I don't suppose it could."

"Of course it never could."

"Then that's settled. Where shall we go to get out of the wind? It seems
to be rising."

After searching for a place of shelter in vain they eventually took
refuge in the Parthenon, under the shadow of the great western wall.
Perhaps in consequence of the wind the Acropolis was entirely deserted.
Only the guardians were hidden somewhere, behind columns, in the Porch
of the Museum, under the roof of their little dwelling at the foot of
the marble staircase which leads up to the Propylae. The huge wall of
the Parthenon kept off the wind from the sea, and as Rosamund and Dion
no longer saw the whirling dust clouds in the plain they had, for the
moment, almost an illusion of peace. They sat down on the guardian's
bench, just beneath some faint fragments of paintings which dated
from the time when the temple was made use of as a church by Greek
Christians; and immediately Rosamund went on talking about the child.
She spoke very quietly and earnestly, with the greatest simplicity, and
by degrees Dion came to see her as a mother, to feel that perhaps only
as a mother could she fulfil herself. The whole of her beauty would
never be revealed unless she were seen with a child of her own. Hitherto
he had thought of her chiefly in relation to himself, as the girl he
longed to win, then as the girl he most wonderfully had succeeded in
winning. She put herself before him now in a different light, and he
saw in her new and beautiful possibilities. While she was talking his
imagination began to play about the child, and presently he realized
that he was thinking of it as a boy. Then, in a moment, he realized that
on the previous evening he had thought of a male, not of a female child.
With this in his mind he said abruptly:

"What sort of a child do you wish to have, Rosamund?"

"What sort?" she said, looking at him with surprise in her brown eyes.

"Yes."

"What do you mean? A beautiful, strong, healthy child, of course, the
sort of child every married woman longs to have, and imagines having
till it comes."

"Beautiful, strong, healthy!" he repeated, returning her look. "Of
course it could only be that--your child. But I meant, do you want it to
be a boy or a girl?"

"Oh!"

She paused, and looked away from him and down at the uncemented marble
blocks which form the pavement of the Parthenon.

"Well?" he said, as she kept silence.

"If it were to be a girl I should love it."

"You wish it to be a girl?"

"I didn't say that. The fact is, Dion"--and now she again looked at him,
"I have always thought of our child as a boy. That's why your question
almost startled me. I have never even once thought of having a girl. I
don't know why."

"I think I do."

"Why then?"

"The thought was born of the desire. You wanted our child to be a son
and so you thought of it as a son."

"Perhaps that was it."

"Wasn't it?"

He spoke with a certain pressure. She remained silent for a moment, and
two little vertical lines appeared in her forehead. Then she said:

"Yes, I believe it was. And you?"

"I confess that when yesterday we spoke of a child I was thinking all
the time about a boy."

She gazed at him with something visionary in her eyes, which made them
look for a moment like the eyes of a woman whom he had not seen till
now. Then she said quietly:

"It will be a boy, I think. Indeed, if it weren't perhaps absurd, I
should say that I know it will be a boy."

He said nothing more just then, but at that moment he felt as if he,
too, knew, not merely hoped, or guessed, something about their joint
future, knew in the depths of him that a boy-child would some day be
sent to Rosamund and to him, to influence and to change their lives.

The wind began to fail almost suddenly, the sky grew brighter, a shaft
of sun lay on the marble at their feet.

"It's going to be fine," Dion said. "Let's be active for once. The wind
has made me restless. Suppose we get a couple of horses and ride out to
the convent of Daphni!"

She got up at once.

"Yes. I've brought my habit, and haven't had it on once."

As they left the Great Temple she looked up at the mighty columns and
said;

"Doric! If we have a boy let us bring him up to be Doric."

"Yes, Rosamund," he said quietly and strongly. "We will."

Afterward he believed that it was then, and only then, that he caught
something of her deep longing to have a child. He began to see how a
man's child might influence him and affect his life, might even send him
upwards by innocently looking up to him. It would be bad, very bad, to
fail as a husband, but, by Jove! it would be one of the great tragedies
to fail as a father. Mentally Dion measured the respective heights
of himself and a very small boy; saw the boy's trusting eyes looking,
almost peering, up at him. Such eyes could change, could become very
attentive. "It wouldn't do to be adversely criticized by your boy," he
thought. And one day he said to Rosamund, but in almost a casual way:

"If we ever do have a boy, Rose, and want him to be Doric, we shall have
to start in by being Doric ourselves, eh?"

"Yes," she answered, "I've thought that, too."

"D'you think I could ever learn to be that?"

"I know you could. You are on the way already, I think. I noticed
in London that you were never influenced by all the affectations and
absurdities, or worse, that seem to have taken hold of so many people
lately."

"There has been a wave of something rather beastly passing over London
certainly. But I almost wonder you knew it."

"Why?"

"Can your eyes see anything that isn't good?"

"Yes. But I don't want ever to look long on what I hate."

"You aren't afraid you might cease from hating it!"

"Oh, no. But I believe in feeding always on wholesome food."

"Modern London doesn't."

"I shall never be modern, I'm afraid," she said, half laughing, and with
a soft touch of apparently genuine deprecation.

"Be eternal, that's better!" he almost whispered. "Listen to that
nightingale. It's singing a song of all the ages. You have a message
like that for me."

They had strolled out after dinner in the warm May night, and had walked
a little way up the steep flank of Lycabettos till they reached a wooden
bench near which were a few small fir trees. Somewhere among these trees
there was hidden a nightingale, which sang with intensity to Athens
spread out below, a small maze of mellow lights and of many not
inharmonious voices. Even in the night, and at a distance, they felt the
smiling intimacy of the little city they loved. Its history was like
a living thing dwelling among the shadows, hallowed and hallowing, its
treasures, like night flowers, breathed out a mysterious message to
them. They received it, and felt that they understood it. Had the
nightingale been singing to any city its song must have seemed to them
beautiful. But it was singing to Athens, and that fact gave to its
voice, in their ears, a magical meaning.

They sat for a while in silence. Nobody passed on the winding path.
Their impulse to solitude was unshared by the dwellers in Athens.
Neither knew exactly what thoughts were passing through the other's
mind, what aspirations were flaming up in the heart of the other. But
they knew that they were close bound in sympathy just then, voyaging
towards a common future. That future lay over the sea in gray England.
Their time in Greece was but an interlude. But in it they were
gathering up impressions, were laying in stores for their journey. The
nightingale's song was part of their provision. It had to sing to just
them for some hidden reason. And to Dion it seemed that the nightingale
knew the reason while they did not, that it comprehended all the under
things of love and of sorrow of which they were ignorant. When he spoke
again he said:

"A bird's song always makes me feel very unlearned. Do you know what I
mean?"

"Yes. We've got to learn so much."

"Together."

"Yes--partly."

"Partly?" he said quickly.

"I think there's a great deal that can only be learnt quite alone."

Again, as sometimes before, Dion trod on the verges of mystery, felt as
if something in Rosamund chided him, and was chilled for a moment.

"I dare say you are right," he said. "But I believe I could learn any
lesson more easily with you to help me."

"No, I don't think so."

"Perhaps we shall know which is right, you or I, when we've been much
longer together," he said, with an effort to speak lightly.

"Yes."

"Rosamund, sometimes you make me feel as if you thought I didn't know
you, I mean didn't know you thoroughly."

"Do I?"

"Yes."

Again silence fell between them. As Dion listened once more to the
persistent nightingale he felt that there was pain somewhere at the back
of its ecstasy. He looked down at the soft lights of little Athens, and
suddenly knew that much sorrow lay in the shadows of all the cities of
the earth. There was surely a great reserve in the girl who had given
herself to him. That was natural, perhaps. But to-night he felt that she
was aware of this reserve and was consciously guarding it like a sacred
thing. Presently they got up and went slowly down the hill.

"Suppose you had never married," he said, as they drew near to the city,
"how would you have lived, do you think?"

"Perhaps for my singing, at first," she answered.

"And afterwards?"

"Afterwards? Very quietly, I think."

"You won't tell me."

"I don't know for certain, and what does it matter? I have married. If I
hadn't, perhaps I should have been very selfish and thought myself very
self-sacrificing."

"I wonder in what way selfish."

"There are so many ways. I heard a sermon once on a foggy night in
London."

"Ah--that evening I called on you."

"I didn't say so. It made me understand egoism better than I had
understood it before. Perhaps it's the unpardonable sin."

"Then it could never be your sin."

"Hush!"

They no longer heard the nightingale. The voices and the houses of
Athens were about them.

As the days slipped by, Dion felt that Rosamund and he grew closer
together. He knew, though he could not perhaps have said how, that he
would be the only man in her intimate life. Even if he died she would
never--he felt sure of this--yield herself to another man. The tie
between them was to her a bond for eternity. Her body would never be
given twice. That he knew. But sometimes he asked himself whether her
whole soul would ever be given even once. The insatiable greed of a
great and exclusive love was alive within him, needing always something
more than it had. At first, after their marriage, he had not been aware
of this greed, had not realized that nothing great is content to
remain just as it is at a given moment. His love had to progress, and
gradually, in Greece, he became conscious of this fact.

His inner certainty, quite unshakable, that Rosamund would never belong
to another man in the physical sense made jealousy of an ordinary kind
impossible to him. The lowness, the hideous vulgarity of the jealousy
which tortures the writhing flesh would never be his. Yet he wanted more
than he had sometimes, stretched out arms to something which did not
come to nestle against him.

There was a great independence in Rosamund, he thought, which set
her apart from other women, Not only could she bear to be alone, she
sometimes wished to be alone. Dion, on the contrary, never wished to be
away from her. It might be necessary for him to leave her. He was not
a young doting fool who could not detach himself even for a moment from
his wife's apron strings. But he knew very well that at all times he
preferred to be with her, close to her, that he relished everything
more when he was in her company than when he was alone. She added to his
power of enjoyment, to his faculty of appreciation, by being beside
him. The Parthenon even was made more sublime to him by her. That was
a mystery. And the mystery of her human power to increase penetrated
everywhere through their life in common, like a percolating flood that
could not be gainsaid. She manifested her influence upon him subtly
through the maidens of the Porch, through the almost neat perfection
of the Theseion, through the detached grandeur of those columns in the
waste place, that golden and carved Olympieion which acts as an outpost
to Athens. It was as if she had the power to put something of herself
into everything that he cared for so that he might care for it more,
whether it were a golden sunset on the sea over which they drifted in
a sailing-boat off the coast of old Phaleron, or a marble figure in a
museum. She dwelt in the stones of a ruined temple; she set her feet
upon the dream of the distant mountains; she was in the dawn, the
twilight, and in all the ways of the moon, because he loved her and
found her in all things when they were together.

He did not know whether she, in a similar mysterious way, found him in
all that she enjoyed. He did not ask her the question. Perhaps, really,
in that truth of apprehension which lives very far down in a man, he had
divined the answer, although he told himself that he did not know.

He found always something new to enjoy and to worship in Rosamund.

They had many tastes in common. At first, of deliberate choice, they had
bounded their honeymoon with the precipices of the Acropolis, learning
the Doric lesson on that height above the world. Then one day they had
made a great sacrifice and gone to pass their hours in the pine woods
of Kephissia. They had returned to the Acropolis quite athirst. But by
degrees the instinct to wander a little farther afield took greater hold
upon them, their love of physical exercise asserted itself. They began
to take long rides on horseback, carrying food in their saddle-bags. The
gently wild charm of Greece laid its spell upon them. They both loved
Athens, but now they began to love, too, escaping from Athens.

Directly they were out of the city they were in a freedom that appealed
to the gipsy in both. Dion's strong boyishness, which had never yet
been cast off, was met and countered by the best of good fellowship
in Rosamund. Though she could be very serious, and even what he called
"strange," she was never depressed or sad. Her good spirits were
unfailing and infectious. She reveled in a "jaunt" or a "day out," and
her physical strength kept fatigue far from her. She could ride for many
hours without losing her freshness and zest. Every little episode of the
wayside interested and entertained her. Everything comic made her laugh.
She showed an ardor almost like an intelligent child's in getting to
understand all she saw. Scenery, buildings, animal life, people, every
offering of Greece was eagerly accepted, examined and discussed by her.
She was the perfect comrade for the wilds. Their common joy in the wilds
drew her and Dion more closely together. Never before had Rosamund been
quite away from civilization, from the hitherto easily borne trammels of
modern complicated life. She "found herself" in the adventure. The pure
remoteness of Greece came to her like natal air. She breathed it in with
a sort of rapture. It was as Dion had said. She was not merely in, she
was of, Greece.

They rode one day to Eleusis; on another day to Tatoi, buried in
oak-woods on the slope of Parnes; on another through noisy and mongrel
Piraeus, and over undulating wrinkled ground, burnt up by the sun and
covered with low scrub and bushes of myrtle, to the shore of the gulf
opposite to Salamis; on yet another to Marathon, where they lunched on
the famous mound beneath which the bodies of the Athenians who fell in
the battle were buried. They took no companion with them. Dion carried
a revolver in his hip pocket, but never had reason to show or to use
it. When they dismounted they tethered the horses to a bush or tree, or
sometimes hobbled their forelegs, and turned them loose for a while.

Such days were pure joy to them both. In them they went back to the
early world. They did not make the hard and self-conscious imaginative
effort of the prig to hurl themselves into an historic past. They just
let the land and its memories take them. As, sitting on the warm ground
among the wild myrtle bushes, they looked across the emerald green
unruffled waters to Salamis, that very long isle with its calm gray and
orange hills and its indented shores, perhaps for a moment they talked
of the Queen of Halicarnassus, and of the deception of Xerxes watching
from his throne on Mount Aegaleos. But the waters were now so solitary,
the peace about them was so profound, that the memory of battles soon
faded away in the sunshine. Terror and death had been here once. A queen
had destroyed her own people in that jeweled sea, a king had fled from
those delicate mountains. But now sea and land were for lovers. A fly
with shining wings journeyed among the leaves of the myrtles, a beetle
crept over the hot sandy ground leaving a minute pattern behind it;
and Rosamund and Dion forgot all about Artemisia, as they brooded,
wide-eyed, over the activities of the dwellers in the waste. At such
moments they realized the magic of life, as they had never realized it
in the turmoil of London. The insect with its wings that caught the
sun, the intent and preoccupied little traveler whose course could be
deflected by a twig, revealed the wonder that is lost and forgotten in
the crowded highways of men.

It was when they were at Marathon that Rosamund told Dion she loved
Greece partly because of its emptiness. The country was not only rather
bare of vegetation, despite its groves of glorious old olives, its woods
of oaks round Tatoi, its delicious curly forests of yellow-green pines,
which looked, Rosamund declared, as if they had just had their dainty
heads perfectly dressed by an accomplished coiffeur, it was also almost
strangely bare of men.

"Where are the Greeks?" Rosamund had often asked during their first few
rides, as they cantered on and on, scarcely ever meeting a human being.

"In the towns to be sure!" Dion had answered.

"And where are the towns?"

"Ah! That's more than I can tell you!" he had said, laughing.

To one hitherto accustomed to England, the emptiness of the country,
even quite near to Athens, was at first surprising. Soon it became
enchanting.

"This is a country I can thoroughly trust," Rosamund declared at
Marathon.

Dion had just finished hobbling the two horses, and now lifted himself
up. His brown face was flushed from bending. His thin riding-clothes
were white with dust, which he beat off with hands that looked almost as
if they wore gloves, so deeply were they dyed by the sun. As the cloud
dispersed he emerged carrying their lunch in a straw pannier.

"Why trust--specially?" he said. "Ah," he threw himself down by her
side with a sigh of happiness, "this is good! The historic mound, and
we think of it merely as a resting-place, vandals that we are. But--why
trust?"

"I mean that Greece never keeps any unpleasant surprises up her sleeve,
surprises such as other countries have of noisy, intruding people. It's
terrible how accustomed I'm getting to having everything all to myself,
and how I simply love it."

He began slowly unpacking the pannier, and laying its contents out on
the mound.

"You're a puzzle, Rosamund," he said.

"Why?"

"You have a greater faculty for making yourself delightful to all sorts
of people than I have found in any other person, woman or man. And yet
you are developing a perfect passion for solitude."

"Do you want people here?"

"No."

"Then you agree with me."

"But you have an absolute lust for an empty world."

"Look!"

She stretched out her right arm--she was leaning on the other with her
cheek in her hand--and pointed to the crescent-shaped plain which
lay beyond them, bounded by a sea which was a wonder of sparkling and
intense blue, and guarded by a curving line of low hills. There were
some clouds in the sky, but the winds were at rest, and the clouds were
just white things dreaming. In the plain there were no trees. Here and
there some vague crops hinted at the languid labors of men. No human
beings were visible, but in the distance, not very far from the sea
edge, a few oxen were feeding. Their dark slow-moving bodies intersected
the blue. There were no ships or boats upon the stretch of sea which
Rosamund and Dion gazed at. Behind them the bare hills showed no sign of
life. The solitude was profound but not startling. It seemed in place,
necessary and beautiful. In the emptiness there was something touching,
something reticently satisfying. It was a land and seascape delicately
purged.

"Greece and solitude," said Rosamund. "I shall always connect them
together. I shall always love each for the other's sake."

In the silence which followed the words the far-off lowing of oxen came
to them over the flats. Rosamund shut her eyes, Dion half shut his, and
the empty world was a shining dream.

When they had lunched, Rosamund said:

"I am going to climb up into that house. The owner will never come, I'm
sure."

Near them upon the mound was a dwelling of Arcady, in which surely a
shepherd sometimes lay and piped to the sun and the sea god. It was
lifted upon a tripod of poles, and was deftly made of brushwood, with
roof, floor and two walls all complete. A ladder of wood, from which the
bark had been stripped, led up to it.

"You want to sleep?" Dion asked.

She looked at him.

"Perhaps."

He helped her up to her feet. Quickly she mounted the ladder and stepped
into the room.

"Good-by!" she said, looking down at him and smiling.

"Good-by!" he answered, looking up.

She made a pretense of shutting a door and withdrawing into privacy. He
lit his pipe, hesitated a moment, then went to lie down under her room.
Now he no longer saw her, but he heard her movements overhead. The dry
brushwood crackled as she lay down, as she settled herself. She was
lying surely at full length. He guessed that she had stretched out her
arms and put her two hands under her head. She sighed. Below he echoed
her sigh with a long breath of contentment. Then they both lay very
still.

Marathon!

He remembered his schoolbooks. He remembered beginning Greek. He had
never been very good at Greek. His mother, if she had been a man and had
gone to Oxford or Cambridge, would have made a far better classic than
he. She had helped him sometimes during the holidays when he was
quite small. He remembered exactly how she had looked when he had been
conjugating--half-loving and half-satirical. He had made a good many
mistakes. Later he had read Greek history with his mother, he had read
about the battle of Marathon.

"Marathon"--it was written in his school history, "became a magic
word at Athens . . . the one hundred and ninety-two Athenians who had
perished in the battle were buried on the field, and over their remains
a tumulus or mound was erected, which may still be seen about half
a mile from the sea." As a small boy he had read that with a certain
inevitable detachment. And now here he lay, a man, on that very tumulus,
and the brushwood creaked above his head with the movement of the woman
he loved.

How wonderful was the weaving of the Fates!

And if some day he should sit in the place of his mother, and should
hear a small boy, his small boy, conjugating. By Jove! He would have to
rub up his classics! Not for ten years old; he wasn't so bad as that;
but for twenty, when the small boy would be going up to Oxford, and
would, perhaps, be turning out alarmingly learned.

Rosamund the mother of a young man!

But Dion shied away from that. He could imagine her as the mother of a
child, beautiful mother of a child almost as beautiful; but he could not
conceive of her as the "mater" of a person with a mustache.

Their youth, their youth--must it go?

Again she moved slightly above him. The twigs crackled, making an almost
irritable music of dryness. Again the lowing of cattle came over that
old battlefield from the edge of the sea. And just then, at that very
moment, Dion knew that his great love could not stand still, that, like
all great things, it must progress. And the cry, that intense human cry,
"Whither?" echoed in the deep places of his soul. Whither were he and
his great love going? To what end were they journeying? For a moment
sadness invaded him, the sadness of one who thinks and is very ignorant.
Why cannot a man think deeply without thinking of an end? "All things
come to an end!" That cruel saying went through his mind like footsteps
echoing on iron, and a sense of fear encompassed him. There is something
terrible in a great love, set in the little life of a man like a vast
light in a tiny attic.

Did Rosamund ever have such thoughts? Dion longed to ask her. Was she
sleeping perhaps now? She was lying very still. If they ever had a child
its coming would mark a great step onwards along the road, the closing
of a very beautiful chapter in their book of life. It would be over,
their loneliness in love, man and woman in solitude. Even the sexual tie
would be changed. All the world would be changed.

He lay flat on the ground, stretched out, his elbows firmly planted, his
chin in his palms, his face set towards the plain and the sea.

What he looked at seemed gently to chide him. There were such a
brightness and simplicity and such a delicious freedom from all
complication in this Grecian landscape edged by the wide frankness of
the sea that he felt reassured. Edging the mound there were wild aloes
and the wild oleander. A river intersected the plain which in many
places was tawny yellow. Along the river bank grew tall reeds, sedges
and rushes. Beyond the plain, and beyond the blue waters, rose the
Island of Euboea, and ranges of mountains, those mountains of Greece
which are so characteristic in their unpretentious bareness, which
neither overwhelm nor entice, but which are unfailingly delicate,
unfailing beautiful, quietly, almost gently, noble. In the distance,
when he turned his head, Dion could see the little Albanian village of
Marathon, a huddle of tiny houses far off under the hills. He looked at
it for a moment, then again looked out over the plain, rejoicing in
its emptiness. Along the sea edge the cattle were straying, but their
movements were almost imperceptible. Still they were living things and
drew Dion's eyes. The life in them sent out its message to the life in
him, and he earnestly watched them grazing. Their vague and ruminating
movements really emphasized the profound peace which lay around Rosamund
and him. To watch them thus was a savoring of peace. For every contented
animal is a bearer of peaceful tidings. In the Garden of Eden with the
Two there were happy animals. And Dion recalled the great battle which
had dyed red this serene wilderness, a battle which was great because
it had been gently sung, lifted up by the music of poets, set on high
by the lips of orators. He looked over the land and thought: "Here
Miltiades won the name which has resounded through history. To that
shore, where I see the cattle, the Persians were driven." And it
seemed to him that the battle of Marathon had been fought in order that
Rosamund and he, in the nineteenth century, might be drawn to this place
to meet the shining afternoon. Yes, it was fought for that, and to make
this place the more wonderful for them. It was their Garden of Eden
consecrated by History.

What a very small animal that was which had strayed away from its kind
over the tawny ground where surely there was nothing to feed upon! The
little dark body of it looked oddly detached as it moved along. And
now another animal was following it quickly. The arrival of the second
darkness, running, made Dion know that the first was human, the guardian
of the beasts, no doubt.

So Eden was invaded already! He smiled as he thought of the serpent. The
human being came on slowly, always moving in the direction of the mound,
and always accompanied by its attendant animal--a dog, of course. Soon
Dion knew that both were making for the mound. It occurred to him
that Rosamund was in the private room of him who was approaching, was
possibly sound asleep there.

"Rosamund!" he almost whispered.

There was no answer.

"Rosamund!" he murmured, looking upward to his roof, which was her
floor.

"Hush!" came down to him through the brushwood. "I'm willing it to come
to us."

"What--the guardian of the cattle?"

"Guardian of the ----! It's a child!"

"How do you know?"

"I do know. Now you're not to frighten it."

"Of course not!"

He lay very still, his chin in his palms, watching the on-comers. How
had she known? And then, seeing suddenly through her eyes, he knew that
of course it was a child, that it could not be anything else. All its
movements now proclaimed to him its childishness, and he watched it with
a sort of fascination.

For he had never seen Rosamund with a child. That would be for him a new
experience with something, perhaps, prophetic in it.

Child and animal approached steadily, keeping an undeviating course, and
presently Dion saw a very small, but sturdy, Greek boy of perhaps ten
years old, wearing a collarless shirt, open at a deep brown throat,
leggings of some thin material, boots, and a funny little patched brown
coat and pointed hood made all in one, and hanging down with a fulness
almost of skirts about the small determined legs. The accompanying dog
was a very sympathetic, blunt-nosed, round-headed, curly-coated type,
whose whiteness, which positively invited the stroking hand, was broken
by two great black blotches set all askew on the back, and by a black
patch which ringed the left eye and completely smothered the cocked-up
left ear. The child carried a stick, which nearly reached to his
shoulder, and which ended in a long and narrow crook. The happy dog,
like its master, had no collar.

When these two reached the foot of the tumulus they stood still and
stared upwards. The dog uttered a short gruff bark, looked at the boy,
wagged a fat tail, barked again, abruptly depressed the fore part of its
body till its chin was against the ground between its paws, then jumped
into the air with a sudden demeanor of ludicrously young, and rather
uncouth, waggishness, which made Dion laugh.

The small boy replied with a smile almost as sturdy as his legs, which
he now permitted to convey him with decisive firmness through the wild
aloes and oleanders to the summit of the tumulus. He stood before Dion,
holding his crooked staff tightly in his right hand, but his large dark
eyes were directed upwards. Evidently his attention was not to be
given to Dion. His dog, on the contrary, after a stare and two muffled
attempts at a menacing bark, came to make friends with Dion in a way
devoid of all dignity, full of curves, wrigglings, tail waggings and
grins which exposed rows of smiling teeth.

"Dion!" came Rosamund's voice from above.

"Yes?"

"Do show him the way up. He wants to come up."

Dion got up, took the little Greek's hand firmly, led him to the foot
of the ladder, and pointed to Rosamund who leaned from her brushwood
chamber and held out inviting hands, smiling, and looking at the child
with shining eyes. He understood that he was very much wanted, gravely
placed his staff on the ground, laid hold of the ladder, and slowly
clambered up, with the skirts of his coat sticking out behind him. His
dog set up a loud barking, scrambled at the ladder, and made desperate
efforts to follow him.

"Help him up, Dion!" came the commanding voice from above.

Dion seized the curly coat of the dog--picked up handfuls of dog. There
was a struggle. The dog made fierce motions as if swimming, and whined
in a thin and desperate soprano. Its body heaved upwards, its forepaws
clutched the edge of the brushwood floor, and it arrived.

"Bravo!" cried Rosamund, as she proceeded to settle down with her
guests. "But why don't I know Greek?"

"It doesn't matter," Dion murmured, standing with his hands on the
ladder. "You know their language."

Rosamund was sitting now, half-curled up, with her back against the
brushwood wall. Her light sun-helmet lay on the floor. In her ruffled
hair were caught two or three thin brown leaves, their brittle edges
curled inwards. The little boy, slightly smiling, yet essentially
serious, as are children tested by a great new experience, squatted
close to her and facing her, with one leg under him, the other leg
stretched out confidentially, as much as to say, "Here it is!" The dog
lay close by panting, smiling, showing as much tongue and teeth as
was caninely possible in the ardor of feeling tremendously uplifted,
important, one of the very few.

And Rosamund proceeded to entertain her guests.

What did she do? Sometimes, long afterwards in England, Dion, recalling
that day--a very memorable day in his life--asked himself the question.
And he could never remember very much. But he knew that Rosamund showed
him new aspects of tenderness and fun. What do women who love and
understand little boys do to put them at their ease, to break down their
small shynesses? Rosamund did absurd things with deep earnestness and
complete concentration. She invented games, played with twigs and straws
which she drew from the walls of her chamber. She changed the dog's
appearance by rearrangements of his ears, to which he submitted with
a slobbering ecstasy, gazing at her with yellow eyes which looked
flattened in his head. Turned quite back, their pink insides exposed
to view, the ears changed him into a brand-new dog, at which his master
stared with an amazement which soon was merged in gratification. With a
pocket-handkerchief she performed marvels of impersonation which the boy
watched with an almost severe intentness, even putting out his tongue
slowly, and developing a slight squint, when the magician rose to the
top of her powers. She conjured with a silver coin, and of course let
the child play with her watch. She had realized at a glance that those
things which would be considered as baby nonsense by an English boy of
ten, to this small dweller on the plain of Marathon were full of the
magic of the unknown. And at last:

"Throw me up an orange, Dion!" she cried. "I know there are two or three
left in the pannier."

Dion bent down eagerly, rummaged and found an orange.

"Here!" he said. "Catch!"

He threw it up. She caught it with elaboration to astonish the boy.

"What are you going to do?" asked Dion.

"Throw me up your pocket-knife and you'll see."

Again he threw and she caught, while the boy's mouth gaped.

"Now then!" cried Rosamund.

She set to work, and almost directly had introduced her astounded guest
of the Greek kingdom to the famous "Crossing the Channel" tragedy.

So great was the effect of this upon little Miltiades,--so they both
always called the boy when talking of him in after times,--that he began
to perspire, and drops of saliva fell from the corners of his small and
pouting mouth in imitation of the dreadfully human orange by which he
was confronted. Thereupon Rosamund threw off all ceremony and frankly
played the mother. She drew the boy, smiling, sideways to her, wiped his
mouth with her handkerchief, gently blew his small nose and gave him a
warm kiss.

"There!" she said.

And upon this the child made a remark.

Neither of them ever knew what it meant. It was long, and sounded
like an explanation. Having spoken, Miltiades suddenly looked shy. He
wriggled towards the top of the ladder. Dion thought that Rosamund would
try to stop him from leaving her, but she did not. On the contrary,
she drew up her legs and made way for him, carefully. The child deftly
descended, picked up his staff and turned. The dog, barking joyously,
had leaped after him, and now gamboled around him. For a moment the
child hesitated, and in that moment Dion popped the remains of their
lunch into his coat pockets; then slowly he walked to the side of the
tumulus by which he had come up. There he stood for two or three minutes
staring once more up at Rosamund. She waved a friendly hand to him,
boyishly, Dion thought. He smiled cautiously, then confidentially,
suddenly turned and bolted down the slope uttering little cries--and so
away once more to the far-off cattle on the old battlefield, followed by
his curly dog.

When Dion had watched him into the distance, beyond which lay the
shining glory of the sea, and looked up to Rosamund again, she was
pulling the little dry leaves from her undulating hair.

"I'm all brushwood," she said, "and I love it."

"So do I."

"I ought to have been born a shepherdess. Why do you look at me like
that?"

"Perhaps because I'm seeing a new girl who's got even more woman in her
than I knew till to-day."

"Most women are like that, Dion, when they get the chance."

"To think you knew all those tricks and never told me!"

"Help me down."

He stretched out his arms to her. When she was on the ground he still
held her for a moment.

"You darling!" he whispered. "Never shall I forget this day at Marathon,
the shining, the child, and you--you!"

They did not talk much on the long ride homeward. The heat was great,
but they were not afraid of it, for the shining fires of this land on
the edge of the east cherished and did not burn them. The white dust lay
deep on the road, and flew in light clouds from under the feet of their
horses as they rode slowly upwards, leaving the blue of their pastoral
behind them, and coming into the yellow of the pine woods. Later, as
they drew nearer to Athens, the ancient groves of the olives, touched
with a gentle solemnity, would give them greeting; the fig trees and
mulberry trees would be about them, and the long vineyards watched over
by the aristocratic cypress lifting its dark spire to the sun. But now
the kingdom of the pine trees joyously held them. They were in the happy
woods in which even to breathe was sheer happiness. Now and then they
pulled up and looked back to the crescent-shaped plain which held a
child instead of armies. They traced the course of the river marked
out by the reeds and sedges. They saw the tiny dark specks, which were
cattle grazing, with the wonder of blue beyond them. In these moments,
half-unconsciously, they were telling memory to lay in its provision
for the future. Perhaps they would never come back; never again would
Rosamund rest in her brushwood chamber, never again would Dion hear the
dry music above him, and feel the growth of his love, the urgency of
its progress just as he had felt them that day. They might be intensely
happy, but exactly the same happiness would probably not be theirs again
through all the years that were coming. The little boy and his dog had
doubtless gone out of their lives for ever. Their good-by to Marathon
might well be final. They looked back again and again, till the blue
of the sea was lost to them. Then they rode on, faster. The horses
knew they were going homeward, and showed a new liveliness, sharing the
friskiness of the little graceful trees about them. Now and then the
riders saw some dusty peasants--brown and sun-dried men wearing the
fustanella, and shoes with turned-up toes ornamented with big black
tassels; women with dingy handkerchiefs tied over their heads;
children who looked almost like the spawn of the sun in their healthy,
bright-eyed brownness. And these people had cheerful faces. Their rustic
lot seemed enviable. Who would not shed his sorrows under these pine
trees, in the country where the solitudes radiated happiness, and even
bareness was like music? Here was none of the heavy and exotic passion,
none of the lustrous and almost morbid romance of the true and distant
East, drowsy with voluptuous memories. That setting was not for
Rosamund. Here were a lightness, a purity and sweetness of Arcadia, and
people who looked both intelligent and simple.

At a turn of the road they met some Vlachs--rascally wanderers, lean as
greyhounds, chicken-stealers and robbers in the night, yet with a sort
of consecration of careless cheerfulness upon them. They called out.
In their cries there was the sound of a lively malice. Their brown feet
stirred up the dust and set it dancing in the sunshine, a symbol surely
of their wayward, unfettered spirits. A little way off, on a slope among
the trees, their dark tents could be partially seen.

"Lucky beggars!" murmured Dion, as he threw them a few small coins,
while Rosamund smiled at them and waved her hand in answer to their
greetings. "I believe it's the ideal life to dwell in the tents."

"It seems so to-day."

"Won't it to-morrow? Won't it when we are in London?"

"Perhaps more than ever then."

Was she gently evading an answer? They had reached the brow of the hill
and put their horses to a canter. The white dust settled over them. They
were like millers on horseback as they left the pine woods behind them.
But the touch of the dust was as the touch of nature upon their faces
and hands. They would not have been free of it as they rode towards
Athens, and came to the region of the vineyards, of the olive groves and
the cypresses. Now and then they passed ramshackle cafes made of boards
roughly nailed together anyhow, with a straggle of vine sprawling over
them, and the earth for a flooring. Tables were set out before them,
or in their shadows; a few bottles were visible within; on benches or
stools were grouped Greeks, old and young, busily talking, no doubt
about politics. Carts occasionally passed by the riders, sending out
dust to mingle with theirs. Turkeys gobbled at them, dogs barked in
front of one-storied houses. They saw peasants sitting sideways on
pattering donkeys, and now and then a man on horseback. By thin runlets
of water were women, chattering as they washed the clothes of their
households. Then again, the horses came into the bright and solitary
places where the cheerful loneliness of Greece held sway.

And so, at last they cantered into the outskirts of Athens when the
evening was falling. Another day had slipped from them. But both felt it
was a day which they had known very well, had realized with an unusual
fulness.

"It's been a day of days!" Dion said that evening.

And Rosamund nodded assent.

A child had been in that day, and, with a child's irresistible might,
had altered everything for them. Now Dion knew how Rosamund would be
with a child of her own, and Rosamund knew that Dion loved her more
deeply because he had seen her with a child. A little messenger had
come to them over the sun-dried plain of Marathon bearing a gift of
knowledge.

The next day they spent quietly. In the morning they visited the
National Museum, and in the late afternoon they returned to the
Acropolis.

In the Museum Rosamund was fascinated by the tombs. She, who always
seemed so remote from sorrow, who, to Dion, was the personification of
vitality and joyousness, was deeply moved by the record of death, by
the wonderfully restrained, and yet wonderfully frank, suggestion of the
grief of those who, centuries ago, had mingled their dust with the dust
of the relations, the lovers, the friends, whom they had mourned for.

"What a lesson this is for me!" she murmured at last, after standing for
a long while wrapped in silence and contemplation.

"Why for you, specially?" he asked.

She looked up at him. There were tears in her eyes. He believed she
was hesitating, undecided whether to let him into a new chamber of her
being, or whether to close a half-opened door against him.

"It's very difficult to submit, I think, for some of us," she answered,
after a pause, slowly. "Those old Greeks must have known how to do it."

"To submit to sorrow?"

"Yes, to a great sorrow. Such a thing is like an attack in the dark. If
I am attacked I want to strike back and hurt."

"But whom could you reasonably hurt on account of a death that came in
the course of nature? That's what you mean, isn't it?"

"Yes."

After a slight hesitation she said:

"Do you mean that you don't think we can hurt God?"

"I wonder," Dion answered.

"I don't. I know we can."

She looked again at the tomb before which they were standing. It showed
a woman seated and stretching out her right arm, which a woman friend
was touching. In the background was another, contemplative, woman and
a man wearing a chaplet of leaves, his hand lifted to his face. For
epitaph there was one word cut in marble.

"It means farewell, doesn't it?" asked Rosamund.

"Yes."

"Perhaps you'll smile, but I think these tombs are the most beautiful
things I have seen in Greece. It's a miracle--their lack of violence.
What a noble thing grief could be. That little simple word. It's great
to be able to give up the dearest thing with that one little word. But I
couldn't--I couldn't."

"How do you know?"

"I know, because I didn't."

She said nothing more on the subject that morning, but when they were
on the Acropolis waiting, as so often before, for the approach of the
evening, she returned to it. Evidently it was haunting her that day.

"I believe giving up nobly is a much finer thing than attaining nobly,"
she said. "And yet attaining wins all the applause, and giving up, if it
gets anything, only gets that ugly thing--pity."

"But is pity an ugly thing?" said Dion.

He had a little stone in his hand, and, as he spoke, he threw it gently
towards the precipice, taking care not to send it over the edge.

"I think I would rather have anything on earth from people than their
pity."

"Suppose I were to pity you because I loved you?"

He picked up another stone and held it in his hand.

"I should hate it."

He had lifted his hand for the throw, but he kept hold of the stone.

"What, pity that came straight out of love?"

"Any sort of pity."

"You must be very proud--much prouder than I am then. If I were unhappy
I should wish to have pity from you."

"Perhaps you have never been really unhappy."

Dion laid the stone down. He thought hard for a moment.

"Without any hope at all of a change back to happiness--no, actually I
never have."

"Ah, then you've never had to brace up and see if you could find a
strong voice to utter your 'farewell'!"

She spoke with firmness, a firmness that rang like true metal struck
with a hammer and giving back sincerity.

"That sounds tremendously Doric," he said.

His lips were smiling, but there was an almost surprised expression in
his eyes.

"Dion, do you know you're intuitive to-day?"

"Ah, your training--your training!"

"Didn't you say we should have to be Doric ourselves if----?"

"Come, Rosamund, it's time for the Parthenon."

Once more they went over the uneven ground to stand before its solemn
splendor.

"Shall we have learnt before we go?" said Dion.

"It's strange, but I think the tombs teach me more. They're more within
my reach. This is so tremendous that it's remote. Perhaps a man, or--or
a boy----"

She looked at him.

"A boy?"

"Yes."

He drew her down. She clasped her hands, that looked to him so capable
and so pure, round her knees.

"A boy? Go on, Rose."

"He might learn his lesson here, with a man to help him. The Parthenon's
tremendously masculine. Perhaps women have to learn from the gentleness
of those dear tombs."

Never before had she seemed to him so soft, so utterly soft of nature.

"You've been thinking a great deal to-day of our boy, haven't you?" he
said.

"Yes."

"Suppose we did have a boy and lost him?"

"Lost him?"

Her voice sounded suddenly almost hostile.

"Such a thing has happened to parents. It might happen to us."

"I don't believe it would happen to me," Rosamund said, with a sort of
curious, almost cold decision.

"But why not?"

"What made you think of such a thing?"

"I don't know. Perhaps it was because of what you said this morning
about grief, and then about bracing up and finding a firm voice to utter
one's 'farewell.'"

"You don't understand what a woman would feel who lost her child."

"Are you sure that you do?"

"Partly. Quite enough to----Don't let us speak about it any more."

"No. There's nothing more futile than imagining horrors that are never
coming upon us."

"I never do it," she said, with resolute cheerfulness. "But we shall
very soon have to say one 'farewell.'"

"To the Parthenon?"

"Yes."

"Say it to-night!"

She turned round to face him.

"To-night? Why?"

"For a little while."

A sudden happy idea had come to him. A shadow had fallen over her for
a moment. He wanted to drive it away, to set her again in the full
sunshine for which she was born, and in which, if he could have his
will, she should always dwell.

"You wanted to take me away somewhere."

"Yes. You must see a little more of Greece before we go home. Say your
'farewell,' Rosamund."

She did not know what was in his mind, but she obeyed him, and, looking
up at the great marble columns, glowing with honey-color and gold in the
afternoon light, she murmured:

"Farewell."

On the following day they left Athens and set out on the journey to
Olympia.



CHAPTER V

"Why are you bringing me to Olympia?"

That question, unuttered by her lips, was often in Rosamund's eyes as
they drew near to the green wilds of Elis. Of course they had always
meant to visit Olympia before they sailed away to England, but she knew
very well that Dion had some special purpose in his mind, and that it
was closely connected with his great love of her. She had understood
that on the Acropolis, and her "farewell" had been an act of submission
to his will not wholly unselfish. Her curiosity was awake.

What was the secret of Olympia?

They had gone by train to Patras, slept there, and thence rode
on horseback to Pyrgos through the vast vineyards of the
Peloponnesus--vineyards that stretched down to the sea and were dotted
with sentinel cypresses. The heat was much greater than it had been in
Athens. Enormous aloes hedged gardens from which came scents that seemed
warm. The sandy soil, turned up by the horses' feet, was hot to the
touch. The air quivered, and was shot with a music of insects faint but
pervasive.

Pyrgos was suffocating and noisy, but Rosamund was amused by democracy
at close quarters, showing its naked love of liberty. Her strong
humanity rose to the occasion, and she gave herself with a smiling
willingness to the streets, in which men, women, children and animals,
with lungs of leather, sent forth their ultimate music. Nevertheless,
she was glad when she and Dion set out again, and followed the banks of
the Alpheus, leaving the cries of the city behind them. It seemed to her
that they were traveling to some hidden treasure, secluded in the folds
of a green valley where the feet of men seldom, if ever, came. Dion's
eyes told her that they were drawing nearer and nearer to the secret he
knew of, and was going to reveal to her. She often caught him looking
at her with an almost boyish expression of loving anticipation; and more
than once he laughed happily when he saw her question, but he would not
give her an answer.

Peasants worked in the vineyards, shoulder-high in the plants, brown and
sweating in the glare. Swarthy children, with intelligent eyes, often
with delicate noses, and those pouting lips which are characteristic of
many Greek statues, ran to stare at them, and sometimes followed them a
little way, but without asking for alms. Then the solitudes took them,
and they wound on and on, with their guide as their only companion.

He was a gentle, even languid-looking youth, called Nicholas Agathoulos,
who was a native of Patras, but who had lived a good deal in Athens,
who spoke a few words of English and French, and who professed a deep
passion for Lord Byron. Nicholas rode on a mule, leading, or not leading
as the case might be--for he was a charmingly careless person--a
second mule on which was fastened Rosamund's and Dion's scanty luggage.
Rosamund, like a born vagabond, was content to travel in this glorious
climate with scarcely any impedimenta. When Nicholas was looked at he
smiled peacefully under his quiet and unpretending black mustache. When
he was not looked at he seemed to sleep with open eyes. He never sang
or whistled, had no music at all in him; but he could quote stanzas from
"Don Juan" in Greek, and, when he did that, he woke up, sparks of fire
glowed in his eyes, and his employers realized that he shared to the
full the patriotism of his countrymen.

Did he know the secret of Olympia which Dion was concealing so
carefully, and enjoying so much, as the little train of pilgrims wound
onwards among fruit trees and shrubs of arbutus, penetrating farther and
ever farther into a region sweet and remote? Of course he must know it.

"I shall ask Nicholas," Rosamund said once to Dion, perversely.

"What?"

"You know perfectly well what."

His face was a map of innocence as he touched his thin horse with the
whip and rode forward a little faster.

"What is there to see at Olympia, Nicholas?" she said, speaking rather
loudly in order that Dion might hear.

Nicholas woke up, and hastily, in a melodious voice, quoted some scraps
of guide-book. Rosamund did not find what she wanted among them. She
knew already about the ruins, about the Nike of Paeonius and the Hermes
of Praxiteles. So she left the young Greek to his waking dream, and
possessed her soul in a patience that was not difficult. She liked to
dwell in anticipation. And she felt that any secret this land was about
to reveal to her would be, must be, beautiful. She trusted Greece.

"We aren't far off now," said Dion presently, as they rode up the
valley--a valley secluded from the world, pastoral and remote, shaded by
Judas trees.

"How peaceful and lovely it is."

"And full of the echoes of the Pagan feet which once trod here."

"I don't hear them," said Rosamund, "and I am listening."

"Perhaps you could never hear Pagan echoes. And yet you love Greece."

"Yes. But I have nothing Pagan in me. I know that."

"It doesn't matter," he said. "You are the ideal woman to be in Greece
with. If I don't come back to Greece with you, I shall never come back."

They rode on. Her horse was following his along the windings of the
river. Presently she said:

"Where are we going to sleep? Surely there isn't a possible inn in
this remoteness?--or have they build one for travelers who come here in
winter and spring?"

"Our inn will be a little above Olympia."

The green valley seemed closing about them, as if anxious to take them
to itself, to keep them in its closest intimacy, with a gentle jealousy.
Rosamund had a sensation, almost voluptuous, of yielding to the pastoral
greenness, to the warm stillness, to the hush of the delicate wilds.

"Elis! Elis!" she whispered to herself. "I am riding up into Elis, where
once the processions passed to the games, where Nero built himself a
mansion. And there's a secret here for me."

Then suddenly there came into her mind the words in the "Paradiso" which
she had been dreaming over in London on the foggy day when Dion had
asked her to marry him.

The Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence from warm love and living hope
which conquereth the Divine will.

It was strange that the words should come to her just then. She could
not think why they came. But, repeating them to herself, she felt how
very far off she was from Paganism. Yet she had within her warm love
surely and living hope. Could such things, as they were within her, ever
do violence to the Kingdom of Heaven? She looked between her horse's
perpetually moving ears at the hollow athletic back of her young
husband. If she had not married she would have given rein to deep
impulses within her which now would never be indulged. They would not
have led her to Greece. If she had been governed by them she would never
have been drawn on by the secret of Olympia. How strange it was that,
within the compass of one human being, should be contained two widely
differing characters. Well, she had chosen, and henceforth she must live
according to the choice she had made. But how would she have been in
the other life of which she had dreamed so often, and so deeply, in her
hours of solitude? She would never know that. She had chosen the warm
love and the living hope, but the Kingdom of Heaven should never suffer
violence from anything she had chosen. There are doubtless many ways of
consecrating a life, of rendering service.

They came into a scattered and dingy hamlet. Hills rose about it, but
the narrowing valley still wound on.

"We are close to the ruins," said Dion.

"Already! Where are we going to sleep?"

"Up there!"

He pointed to a steep hill that was set sheer above the valley.

"Go on with the mules, Nicholas."

Nicholas rode on, smiling.

"What's that building on the hump?"

"The Museum."

"I wonder why they put the inn so far away."

"It isn't really very far, not many minutes from here. But the way's
pretty steep. Now then, Rosamund!"

They set their horses to the task. Nicholas and the mules were out of
sight. A bend of the little track had hidden them.

"Why, there's a village up here!" said Rosamund, as they came to a
small collection of houses with yards and rough gardens and scattered
outbuildings.

"Yes--Drouva. Our inn is just beyond it, but quite separated from it."

"I'm glad of that. They don't bother very much about cleanliness here, I
should think."

He was smiling at her now. His lips were twitching under his mustache,
and his eyes seemed trying not to tell something to her.

"Surely the secret isn't up here?"

He shook his head, still smiling, almost laughing.

They were now beyond the village, and emerged on a plateau of rough
short grass which seemed to dominate the world.

"This is the top of the hill of Drouva," said Dion, with a ring of joy,
and almost of pride, in his voice. "And there's our inn, the Inn of
Drouva."

Rosamund pulled up her horse. She did not say a word. She just looked,
while her horse lowered his head and sniffed the air in through his
twitching nostrils. Then he sent forth a quivering neigh, his welcome to
the Inn of Drouva. The view was immense, but Rosamund was not looking
at it. A small dark object not far off in the foreground of this great
picture held her eyes. For the moment she saw little or nothing else.

She saw a dark, peaked tent pitched in the middle of the plateau. Smoke
from a fire curled up behind it. Two or three figures moved near it.
Beyond, Nicholas was unloading the mules.

She dropped the cord by which she had been guiding her horse and slipped
down to the ground. Her legs were rather stiff from riding. She held on
to the saddle for a moment.

"A camp?" she said at last.

Dion was beside her.

"An awfully rough one."

"How jolly!"

She said the words almost solemnly.

"Dion, you are a brick!" she added, after a pause. "I've never stayed in
camp before. A real brick! But you always are."

"Aren't you coming into the camp?"

She put her hand on his arm and kept him back.

"No--wait! What did you mean by shaking your head when I asked you if
the secret was up here?"

"This isn't the real secret. It wasn't because of this that I asked you
suddenly on the Acropolis to say 'farewell' to the Parthenon."

"There's another secret?"

"There's another reason, the real reason, why I hurried you to Olympia.
But I'm going to let you find it out for yourself. I shan't tell you
anything."

"But how shall I know when----?"

"You will know."

"To-day?"

"Don't you think we might stay on our hill-top till to-morrow?"

"Yes, all right. It's glorious here; I won't be impatient. But how could
you manage to get the tent here before we came?"

"We've been two nights on the way, Patras and Pyrgos. That gave plenty
of time to the magician to work the spell. Come along."

This time she did not hold him back. Her eagerness was as great as his.
Certainly it was a very ordinary camp, scarcely, in fact, a camp at all.
The tent was small and of the roughest kind, but there were two neat
little camp-beds within it, with their toes planted on the short dry
grass. In the iron washhand stand were a shining white basin and a jug
filled with clear water. There was a cake of remarkable pink soap with a
strange and piercing scent; there was a "tooth glass"; there was a straw
mat.

"What isn't there?" cried Rosamund, who was almost as delighted as a
child.

A grave and very handsome gentleman from Athens, Achilles Stavros
by name, received her congratulations with a classical smile of
satisfaction.

"He's even got a genuine Greek nose for the occasion!" Rosamund said
delightedly to Dion, when Achilles retired for a moment to give some
instructions about tea to the cook. "Where did you find him?"

"That's my secret."

"I never realised how delicious a camp was before. My wildest dreams are
surpassed."

As they looked at the two small, hard chairs with straw bottoms which
were solemnly set out side by side facing the view, and upon which
Achilles expected them to sink voluptuously for the ritual of tea, they
broke into laughter at Rosamund's exaggerated expressions of
delight. But directly she was able to stop laughing she affirmed with
determination:

"I don't care what anybody says, or thinks; I repeat it"--she glanced
from the straw mat to the cake of anemic pink soap--"my wildest dreams
are surpassed. To think"--she spread out her hands--"only to think of
finding a tooth glass here! It's--it's admirable!"

She turned upon him an almost fanatical eye, daring contradiction; and
they both laughed again, long and loud like two children who, suddenly
aware of a keen physical pleasure, prolong it beyond all reasonable
bounds.

"What are we going to have for tea?" she asked.

"Tea," Dion cried.

"You ridiculous creature!"

From a short distance, Achilles gazed upon the merriment of theses
newly-married English travelers. Nobody had told him they were newly
married; he just knew it, had known it at a glance. As he watched, the
laughter presently died away, and he saw the two walk forward to the
edge of the small plateau, then stand still to gaze at the view.

The prospect from the hill of Drouva above Olympia is very great, and
all Rosamund's inclination to merriment died out of her as she looked
upon it. Even her joy in the camp was forgotten for a moment.

Upon their plateau, sole guests of the bareness, stood two small olive
trees, not distorted by winds. Rosamund leaned against one of them
as she gazed, put her arms round it with a sort of affectionate
carelessness that was half-protective, that seemed to say, "You dear
little tree! How nice of you to be here. But you almost want taking care
of." Then the tree was forgotten, and the Hellenic beauty reigned over
her spirit, as she gazed upon the immense pastoral bounded by mountains
and the sea; a green wilderness threaded by a serpentine river of
silver--a far-flung river which lingered on its way, journeying hither
and thither, making great curves as if it loved the wilderness
and wished to know it well, to know all of it before being merged
irrevocably with the sea.

"Those are the valleys of the Kladeos and the Alpheios."

"Yes."

"And that far-off Isle is the Island of Zante."

"Of Zante," she repeated.

After a long pause she said:

"You know those words somewhere in the Bible--'the wilderness and the
solitary places'?"

"Yes."

"I've always loved them, just those words. Even when I was quite a
child I liked to say them. And I remember once, when I was staying at
Sherrington, we drove over to the cathedral. Canon Wilton took us into
the stalls. It was a week-day and there were very few people. The anthem
was Wesley's 'The Wilderness.' I had never heard it before, and when I
heard those words--my words--being sung, I had such a queer thrill. I
wanted to cry and I was startled. To most people, I suppose, the word
wilderness suggests something dreary and parched, ugly desolation."

"Yes. The scapegoat was driven out into the wilderness."

"I think I'd rather take _my_ sin into the wilderness than anywhere
else. Purification might be found there."

"_Your_ sin!" he said. "As if----" He was silent.

Zante seemed sleeping in the distance of the Ionian Sea, far away as
the dream from which one has waked, touched with a dream's mystic
remoteness. The great plain, stretching to mountains and sea, vast and
green and lonely--but with the loneliness that smiles, desiring nothing
else--seemed uninhabited. Perhaps there were men in it, laboring among
the vineyards or toiling among the crops, women bending over the earth
by which they lived, or washing clothes on the banks of the river.
Rosamund did not look for them and did not see them. In the green
landscape, over which from a distance the mountains kept their quiet and
deeply reserved watch, she detected no movement. Even the silver of
the river seemed immobile, as if its journeyings were now stilled by an
afternoon spell.

"It's as empty as the plain of Marathon, but how much greater!" she said
at last.

"At Marathon there was the child."

"Yes, and here there's not even a child."

She sighed.

"I wonder what one would learn to be if one lived on the hill of
Drouva?" she said.

"It will be much more beautiful at sunset. We are looking due west. Soon
we shall have the moon rising behind us."

"What memories I shall carry away!"

"And I."

"You were here before alone?"

"Yes. I walked up from the village just before sunset after a long day
among the ruins. I--I didn't know then of your existence. That seems
strange."

But she was gazing at the view, and now with an earnestness in which
there seemed to him to be a hint of effort, as if she were, perhaps,
urging imagination to take her away and to make her one with that on
which she looked. It struck him just then that, since they had been
married, she had changed a good deal, or developed. A new dreaminess had
been added to her power and her buoyancy which, at times, made her very
different from the radiant girl he had won.

"The Island of Zante!" she said once more, with a last look at the sea,
as they turned away in answer to the grave summons of Achilles. "Ah,
what those miss who never travel!"

"And yet I remember your saying once that you had very little of the
normal in you, and even something about the cat's instinct."

"Probably I meant the cat's instinct to say nasty things. Every woman--"

"No, what you meant--"

He began actually to explain, but her "Puss, Puss, Puss!" stopped him.
Her dream was over and her laugh rang out infectiously as they returned
to the tent.

The tea was fairly bad, but she defended its merits with energy, and
munched biscuits with an excellent appetite. Afterwards she smoked a
cigarette and Dion his pipe, sitting on the ground and leaning against
the tent wall. In vain Achilles drew her attention to the chairs.
Rosamund stretched out her long limbs luxuriously and shook her head.

"I'm not a school-teacher, Achilles," she said.

And Dion had to explain what she meant perhaps--only perhaps, for he
wasn't sure about it himself,--to that classical personage.

"These chairs fight against the whole thing," she said, when Achilles
was gone.

"I'll hide them," said Dion.

He was up in a moment, caught hold of the chairs, gripping one in each
hand, and marched off with them. When he came back Rosamund was no
longer sitting on the ground by the tent wall. She had slipped away. He
looked round. She must have gone beyond the brow of the hill, for she
was not on the plateau. He hesitated, pulling hard at his pipe. He knew
her curious independence, knew that sometimes she wanted to be alone.
No doubt she had gone to look at the great view from some hidden place.
Well, then, he ought not to try to find her, he ought to respect her
wish to be by herself. But this evening it hurt him. As he stood there
he felt wounded, for he remembered telling her that the great view would
be much more beautiful at sunset when the moon would be rising behind
them. The implication of course had been, "Wait a little and I'll
show you." It was he who had chosen the place for the camp, he who had
prepared the surprise. Perhaps foolishly, he had thought of the whole
thing, even of the plain, the river, the mountains, the sea and the
Island of Zante, as a sort of possession which he was going gloriously
to share with her. And now----! He felt deprived, almost wronged. The
sky was changing. He turned and looked to the east. Above Olympia, in
a clear and tremulous sky, a great silver moon was rising. It was his
hour, and she had hidden herself.

Again, at that moment, Dion felt almost afraid of his love.

His pipe had gone out. He took it from his lips, bent, and knocked out
the tobacco against the heel of his boot. He was horribly disappointed,
but he was not going to search for Rosamund; nor was he ever going to
let her know of his disappointment. Perhaps by concealing it he would
kill it. He thrust his pipe into his pocket, hesitated, then walked a
little way from the camp and sat down on the side of the hill. What rot
it was his always wanting to share everything now. Till he met Rosamund
he had always thought only women could never be happy unless they shared
their pleasures, and preferably with a man. Love apparently could
play the very devil, bridge the gulf between sexes, make a man who was
thoroughly masculine in all his tastes and habits have "little feelings"
which belonged properly only to women.

Doric! Suddenly the word jumped up in his mind, and a vision of the
Parthenon columns rose before his imagination, sternly glorious, almost
with the strength of a menace. He set his teeth together and cursed
himself for a fool and a backslider.

Rosamund and he were to be Doric. Well, this evening he didn't know
exactly what he was, but he certainly was not Doric.

Just then he heard the sound of a shot. He did not know what direction
it came from, but, fantastically enough, it seemed to be a comment on
his thought, a brusk, decisive exclamation flung at him from out of the
silent evening. "Sentimentalist! Take that, and get out of your mush
of feeling!" As he recognized it--he now forced himself to that
sticking-point--to be a mush, the shot's comment fell in, of course,
with his own view of the matter.

He sat still for a moment, thinking of the shot, and probably expecting
it to be repeated. It was not repeated. A great silence prevailed, the
silence of the Hellenic wild held in the hand of evening. And abruptly,
perhaps, from that large and pervasive silence, Dion caught a coldness
of fear. All his perceptions rushed upon him, an acute crowd. He sprang
up, put his hand to his revolver. Rosamund out alone somewhere in the
loneliness of Greece--evening--a shot!

He was over the brow of the hill towards the west in a moment. All
respect for Rosamund's evening whim, all remembrance of his own proper
pride, was gone from him.

"Rosamund!" he called; "Rosamund!"

"Here!" replied her strong voice from somewhere a little way below him.

And he saw her standing on the hillside and looking downwards. He thrust
his revolver back into his pocket quickly. Already his pride was pushing
its head up again. He stood still, looking down on her.

"It's all right, it is?"

This time she lifted her head and turned her face up to him.

"All right?"

"I heard a shot."

He saw laughter dawning in her face.

"You don't mean to say----?"

She laughed frankly.

"Come down here!"

He joined her.

"What was it?"

"Did you, or didn't you, think I'd been attacked by Greek brigands?"

"Of course not! But I heard a shot, and it just struck me----"

At that moment he was almost ashamed of loving her so much.

"Well, there's the brigand, and I do believe he's going to shoot again.
The ruffian! Yes, he's taking aim! Oh, Dion, let's seek cover."

Still laughing, she shrank against him. He put one arm round her
shoulder bruskly, and his hand closed on her tightly. A little way below
them, relieved with a strange and romantic distinctness against the
evening light, in which now there was a strong suggestion of gold, was
a small figure, straight, active--a figure of the open air and the wide
spaces--with a gun to its right shoulder. A shot rang out.

"He's got it," said Rosamund.

And there was a note of admiring praise in her voice.

"That child's a dead shot," she added. "It's quail he's after, I
believe. Look! He's picking it up."

The small black figure bent quickly down, after running forward a little
way.

"He retrieves as well as he shoots. Shall we go to him and see whether
it's quail?"

"Another child," said Dion.

He still had his arm round her shoulder.

"Why did you come here?" he asked.

"To look at the evening coming to me over the wilderness. But he made me
forget it for a moment."

Dion was staring at her now.

"I believe a child could make you forget anything," he said.

"Let's go to him."

The gold of the evening was strengthening and deepening. The vast view,
which was the background to the child's little figure, was losing its
robe of green and of blue, green of the land, blue of the sea, was
putting on velvety darkness and gold. The serpentine river was a long
band of gold flung out, as if by a careless enchanter, towards the
golden sea in which Zante was dreaming. Remote and immense this land
had seemed in the full daytime, a tremendous pastoral deserted by
men, sufficient to itself and existing only for its own beauty. Now it
existed for a child. The human element had caused nature, as it were,
to recede, to take the second place. A child, bending down to pick up a
shot quail, then straightening up victoriously, held the vast panorama
in submission, as if he had quietly given out the order, "Make me
significant." And Rosamund, who had stolen away to meet the evening, was
now only intent on knowing whether the shot bird was a quail or not.

It was a quail, and a fat one.

When they came to the boy they found him a barefooted urchin, with
tattered coarse clothes and densely thick, uncovered black hair growing
down almost to his fiery young eyes, which stared at them proudly. There
was a wild look in those eyes never to be found in the eyes of a dweller
in cities, a wild grace in his figure, and a complete self-possession in
his whole bearing. The quail just shot he had in his hand. Another was
stuffed into the large pocket of his jacket. He pulled it out and showed
it to them, reading at a glance the admiration in Rosamund's eyes. Dion
held out a hand to the boy's gun, but at this his manner changed, he
clutched it tightly, moved a step or two back, and scowled.

"He's a regular young savage," said Dion.

"I like him as he is. Besides, why should he give his gun to a stranger?
He knows nothing about us."

"You're immense!" said Dion, laughing.

"Let's have the quail for our dinner."

"D'you expect him to give them to us without a stand-up fight and
probably bloodshed? For he's armed, unfortunately!"

"Don't be ridiculous. Look here, Dion, you go off for a minute, and
leave him with me. I think you get on his nerves."

"Well, I'm----!"

But he went. He left the two figures together, and presently saw them
both from a distance against the vastness of the gold. Bushes and
shrubs, and two or three giant pine trees, between the summit of Drouva
and the plain, showed black, and the figures of woman and child were
almost ebon. Dion watched them. He could not see any features. The
two were now like carved things which could move, and only by their
movements could they tell him anything. The gun over the boy's shoulder
was like a long finger pointing to the west where a redness was creeping
among the gold. The great moon climbed above Drouva. Bluish-gray smoke
came from the camp-fire at a little distance. It ascended without
wavering straight up in the windless evening. Far down in the hidden
valley, behind Dion and below the small village, shadows were stealing
through quiet Elis, shadows were coming to shroud the secret that was
held in the shrine of Olympia. A slight sound of bells stole up on the
stillness from somewhere below, somewhere not far from those two ebon
figures. And this sound, suggestive of moving animals coming from
pasture to protected places for the night, put a heart in the breast of
this pastoral. Thin was the sound and delicate, fit music for Greece
in the fragile evening. As Dion listened to it, he looked at that black
finger below him pointing to the redness in the west. Then he remembered
it was a gun, and, for an instant, looking at the red, he thought of the
color of fresh blood.

At this moment the tall figure, Rosamund, took hold of the gun, and the
two figures moved away slowly down the winding track in the hill, and
were hidden at a turning of the path.

Almost directly a third shot rang out. The young dweller in the
wilderness was allowing Rosamund to give a taste of her skill with the
gun.



CHAPTER VI

Rosamund came back to the camp that evening with Dirmikis,--so the boy
of the wilderness was called,--and five quail, three of them to her gun.
She was radiant, and indeed had an air almost of triumph. Her eyes
were sparkling, her cheeks were glowing; she looked like a beautiful
schoolgirl as she walked in over the plateau with the sunset flushing
scarlet behind her, and the big moon coming to meet her. Dirmikis, at
her side, carried the quail upside down in his brown hands. Rosamund had
the gun under her right arm.

"It's a capital gun," she called out to Dion. "I got three. Here,
Dirmikis,"--she turned to the boy,--"show them."

"Does he understand English?"

"No, but he understands me!" she retorted with pride. "Look there!"

Dirmikis held up the birds, smiling a savage smile.

"Aren't they fat? Feel them, Dion! The three fattest ones fell to my
gun, but don't tell _him_."

She sketched a delicious wink, looking about sixteen.

"I really have a good eye," she added, praising herself with gusto.
"It's no use being over-modest, is it? If one has a gift, well one just
has it. Here, Dirmikis!"

She gave his gun carefully to the barefooted child.

"He's a little stunner, and so chivalrous. I never met a boy I liked
more. Do give him a nice present, Dion, and let him feed in the camp if
he likes."

"Well, what next? What am I to give him?"

"Nothing dressy. He isn't a manikin, he's a real Doric boy."

She slapped Dirmikis on the back with a generous hand. He smiled
radiantly, this time without any savagery.

"The sort of boy who'll be of some use in the world."

"I'll give him a tip."

Rosamund seemed about to assent when an idea struck her, as she
afterwards said, "with the force of a bomb."

"I know what he'll like better than anything."

"Well?"

"Your revolver, to be sure!"

"My revolver to be suren't!" exclaimed Dion passionately, inventing a
negative. "I bought it at great cost to defend you with, not for the
endowment of a half-naked varmint from the wilderness under Drouva."

"Be careful, Dion; you're insulting a Doric boy!"

"Here--I'll insult him with a ten-lepta piece."

"Don't be mean. Bribe him thoroughly if you're going to bribe him. We go
shooting together again to-morrow evening."

"Do you indeed?"

"Yes, directly after tea. It's all arranged. Dirmikis suggested it with
the most charming chivalry, and I gave yes for an answer. So we must
keep on good terms with him at whatever cost."

She cocked up her chin and walked exultantly into the tent. A minute
afterwards there rang out to the evening a warm contralto voice singing.

Dirmikis looked at the tent and then at Dion with an air of profound
astonishment. The quail dropped from his hands, and he did not even
snatch at them as he listened to the remarkable sounds which, he could
not doubt, flowed from his Amazon. His brows came down over his fiery
eyes, and he seemed to stand at gaze like an animal, half-fascinated
and half-suspicious. The voice died away and was followed by a sound of
pouring water. Then Dirmikis accepted two ten-lepta pieces and picked up
the quail. Dion introduced him to the cook, and it was understood that
he should be fed in the camp, and that the quail should form part of the
evening meal.

Very good they proved to be, cooked in leaves with the addition of
some fried slices of fat ham. Rosamund exulted again as she ate them,
recognizing the birds she had shot "by the taste."

"This is one! Aren't mine different from Dirmikis's?" she exclaimed. "So
much more succulent!"

"Naturally, you great baby!"

"Life is glorious!" she exclaimed resonantly. "To eat one's own bag on
the top of Drouva under the moon! Oh!"

She looked at the moon, then bent over her plate of metal-ware which
was set on the tiny folding-table. In her joy she was exactly like a big
child.

"I wonder how many I shall get to-morrow. I got my eye in at the very
start. Really, Dion, you know, I'm a gifted creature. It isn't every
one----"

And she ran on, laughing at herself, reveling in her whimsical pretense
of conceit till dinner was over.

"Now a cigarette! Never have I enjoyed any meal so much as this! It's
only out of doors that one gets hold of the real _joie de vivre_."

"You're never without it, thank God," returned Dion, striking a match
for her.

So still was the evening that the flame burned steadily even upon that
height facing immensities. Rosamund leaned to it with the cigarette
between her lips. Her face was browned to the sun. She looked rather
like a splendid blonde gipsy, with loose yellow hair and the careless
eyes of those who dwell under smiling heavens. She sent out a puff of
cigarette smoke, directing it with ardor to the moon which now rode high
above them.

"I'd like to catch up nature in my arms to-night," she said. "Come,
Dion, let's go a little way."

She was up, and put her arm through his like a comrade. He squeezed her
arm against his side and, strolling there in the night on the edge of
the hill, she talked at first with almost tumultuous energy, with an
energy as of an Amazon who cared for the things of the soul as much as
for the things of the body. To-night her body and soul seemed on the
same high level of intensity.

At first she talked of the present, of their life in Greece and of what
it had meant to her, what it had done for her; and then, always with her
arm through Dion's, she began to talk of the future.

"We've got to go away from all this, but let us carry it with us; you
know, as one can carry things that one has really gathered up, really
got hold of. It will mean a lot to us afterwards in England, in our
regular humdrum life. Not that life's ever humdrum. We must take Drouva
to England, and Marathon, and the view from the Acropolis, and the
columns of the Parthenon above all those, and the tombs."

"But they're sad."

"We must take them. I'm quite sure the way to make life splendid, noble,
what it is meant to be to each of us, is to press close against
one's heart all that is sent to one, the sorrows as well as the joys.
Everything one tries to keep at arm's length hurts one."

"Sins?"

"Sins, Dion? I said what is sent to us."

"Don't you think----?"

"Sins are never sent to us, we always have to go and fetch them. It's
like that poor old chemist going round the corner in the fog with a jug
for what is ruining his life."

"What poor old chemist?" he asked.

"A great friend of mine in London--Mr. Thrush. You shall know him some
day. Oh--but London! Now, Dion, can we, you and I, live perpetually in
London after all this?"

"Well, dearest, I must stick close to business."

"I know that. And we've got the little house. But later on?"

"And your singing, your traveling all over the place with a maid!"

"I wonder if I shall. To-night I don't feel as if I shall."

She stood still abruptly, and was silent for a minute.

"Don't you think," she said, in a different and less exuberant voice,
and with a changed and less physical manner--"don't you think sometimes,
in exceptional hours, one can feel what is to come, what is laid up for
one? I do. This is an exceptional hour. We are on the heights and it's
very wonderful. Well, perhaps to-night we can feel what is coming. Let's
try."

"How?"

"Let's just be quiet, and give ourselves up to the hill of Drouva, and
Greece, and the night, and--and what surrounds and permeates us and all
this."

With a big and noble gesture she indicated the sleeping world far below
them, breathless under the moon; the imperceptible valleys merged in the
great plain through which the river, silver once more, moved unsleeping
between its low-lying banks to the sea; the ranges of mountains which
held themselves apart in the night, a great company, reserved and almost
austere, yet trodden with confidence by the feet of those fairies who
haunt the ancient lands; the sea which drew down the moon as a lover
draws down his mistress; Zante riding the sea like a shadow in harbor.

And they were silent. Dion had a sensation of consciously giving
himself, almost as a bather, to the sea. Did he feel what was coming to
him and to this girl at his side, who was part of him, and yet who was
alone, whose arm clasped his, yet whose soul dwelt far off in its own
remoteness? Would the years draw them closer and closer together, knit
them together, through greater knowledge, through custom, through shared
joys and beliefs, through common beliefs, through children, till they
were as branches growing out of one stem firmly rooted?

He gave himself and gave himself, or tried to give himself in the
silence. Yet he could not have said truly that any mystical knowledge
came to him. Only one thing he seemed strangely to know, that they would
never have children. The sleeping world and the sea, and, as Rosamund
had said, "what surrounds and permeates us and all this" seemed to
permit him mysteriously to get at that one bit of foreknowledge.
Something seemed to say to him, "You will be the father of one child."
And yet, when he came to think of it, he realized how probable, how
indeed almost certain it was that the silent voice issued from within
himself. Rosamund and he had talked about a child, a boy, had begun
almost to sketch out mental plans for that boy's upbringing; they had
never talked about children. He believed that he had penetrated to the
secret of the voice. He said to himself, "All that sort of thing comes
out of one's self. It doesn't reach one from the outside." And yet, when
he looked out over the world, which seemed wrapped in ethereal garments,
garments woven by spirit on looms no hand of woman or man might ever
touch, he was vaguely conscious that all within him which was of any
real value was there too. Surely he did not possess. Rather was he
possessed of.

He looked at Rosamund at last.

"Have you got anything?"

But she did not answer him. There was a great stillness in her big
eyes. All the vital exuberance of body and spirit mingled together had
vanished from her abruptly. Nothing of the Amazon who had captured the
heart of Dirmikis remained. As Dion looked at her now, he simply could
not see the beautiful schoolgirl of sixteen, the blonde gipsy who had
bent forward, cigarette in mouth, to his match, who had leaned back and
blown rings to the moon above Drouva. Had she ever set the butt of a gun
against her shoulder? Something in this woman's eyes made him suddenly
feel as if he ought to leave her alone. Yet her arm still lay on his,
and she was his.

Against the silver of the moon the twisted trunks of the two small
olive trees showed black and significant. The red of the dying camp-fire
glowed not far from the tent. Dogs were barking in the hamlet of Drouva.
She neither saw details nor heard ugly sounds in the night. He knew
that. And the rest? It seemed to him that something of her, the spirit
of her, perhaps, or some part of it with which his had never yet had any
close contact, was awake and at work in the night. But though he held
her arm in his she was a long way from him. And there came to him this
thought:

"I felt as if I ought to leave her alone. But she has left me alone."

Almost mechanically, and slowly, he straightened his arm, thus letting
hers slip. She did not seem to notice his action. She gazed out towards
Zante over a world that now looked very mystical. In the daylight it had
been a green pastoral. Now there was over it, and even surely in it, a
dim whiteness, a something pure and hushed, like the sound, remote and
curiously final, of a quiet sleeper.

That night, when they went to bed, Rosamund was full of the delight of
a new experience. She insisted that the flap of the tent should not be
kept shut down. She had never slept in a tent before, and was resolved
to look out and see the stars from her pillow.

"And my olive tree," she added.

Obediently, as soon as she was in her camp-bed, Dion lifted the flap.
A candle was still burning, set on a chair between the two beds. As the
moonlight came in, Rosamund lifted herself on one arm, leaned over and
blew it out.

"How horrible moonlight makes candlelight," she said.

Dion, in his pyjamas, was outside fastening back the flap, his bare feet
on the short dry grass.

"I can see the Pleiades!" she added earnestly.

"There!" said Dion.

He looked up at the sky.

"The Pleiades, the Great Bear, Mars."

"Oh!" she drew in her breath. "A shooting star!"

She pressed her lips together and half-shut her eyes. By her contracted
forehead Dion saw that she was wishing almost fiercely. He believed he
read her wish. He had not seen the traveling star, and did not try to
wish with her, lest he should cross the path of the Fates and throw his
shadow on her desire.

He came softly into the tent which was full of the whiteness of the
moon. Sleeping thus with Rosamund in the bosom of nature was very
wonderful to him. It was like a sort of re-marriage. The moon and the
stars looking in made his relation to her quite new and more beautiful.

"I shall never forget Olympia," he whispered, leaning over her.

He kissed her very gently, not with any passion. He had the feeling that
she would almost resent passion just then.

He got into his bed and lay with his arm crooked, his cheek in his hand.
Part of the Milky Way was visible to him, that dust of little stars
powdering the deep of the sky. If he, too, should see a falling star
to-night, dropping down towards the hidden sea, vanishing below the line
of the hill! Would he echo her wish?

"Are you sleepy, Rosamund?" he asked presently.

"No I don't want to sleep. It would make me miss all the stars."

"And if you're tired to-morrow?"

"I shan't be. I shan't be tired while we are in camp. I should like
never to go to bed in a room again. I should like always to dwell in the
wilderness."

He longed for the addition of just two words. They did not come. But
of course they were to be understood. There is no need to state things
known. The fact that she had let him bring her to the wilderness was
enough. The last words he heard Rosamund say that night were these,
almost whispered slowly to herself and to the stars:

"The wilderness--and--the solitary places."

Very early in the morning she awoke while Dion was sleeping. She slipped
softly out of the little camp-bed, wrapped a cloak around her, and went
out to gaze at the dawn.

When they sat at breakfast she said:

"And now are you going to tell me the secret?"

"No. I'm going to let you find it out for yourself."

"But if I can't?"

"You will."

They set off, about ten, down the hill on foot. The morning was very
still and already very hot. As they descended towards the basin in which
lies Olympia, heat ascended to meet them and to give them a welcome--a
soft and almost enticing heat like a breath from some green fastness
where strange marvels were secluded.

"Elis even smells remote," Rosamund said.

"Are you sorry to leave the hill-top?" he asked.

"I was, but already I'm beginning to feel drawn on. There's something
here--what is it?"

She looked at him.

"Something for you."

"Specially for me?"

"Specially for you."

"Hidden in the folds of the green. Where are we going first?"

"To the ruins."

He was carrying their lunch in a straw pannier slung over his shoulder.

"We'll lunch in the house of Nero, and rest there."

"That sounds rather dreadful, Dion."

"Wait till you see it."

"I can't imagine that monster in Elis."

"He was a very artistic monster, you remember."

"Like some of the decadents in London. Why is it that those who hate
moral beauty so often worship all the other beauties?"

"D'you think in their hearts they actually hate moral beauty?"

"Well, despise it, laugh at it, try to tarnish it."

"Paganism!"

"Good heavens, no!"

And they both laughed as they went down the narrow path to the soft
green valley that awaited them, hushed in the breathless morning,
withdrawn among the hills, holding its memories of the athletic triumphs
of past ages. Near the Museum they stopped for a moment to look down on
the valley.

"Is the Hermes in there?" Rosamund asked, glancing at the closed and
deserted building.

"Yes."

"What a strange and delicious home for him."

"You shall visit him presently. There are jackals in this valley."

"I didn't hear any last night."

She looked again at the closed door of the Museum.

"When do they open it?"

"Probably the guardian's in there. That's where he lives."

He pointed to a small dwelling close to the museum. Just then a tiny
murmur of some far-away wind stirred the umbrella pines which stood
sentinel over the valley.

"Oh, Dion, what an exquisite sound!" she said.

She held up one hand like a listening child. There was awe in her eyes.

"This is a shrine," she said, when the murmur failed. "Dion, I know you
planned to go first to the ruins."

"Yes. They're just below us. Look--by the river!"

"Let me see the Hermes first, just for a moment."

Their eyes met. He thought she was reading his mind, though he tried to
keep it closed against her just then.

"Why are you in such a hurry?" he asked.

"I feel I must see it," she answered, with a sort of sweet obstinacy.

He hesitated.

"Well, then--I'll see if I can find the guardian."

In a moment he came back with a smiling Greek who was holding a key. As
the man went to open the door, Dion said:

"Rose, will you follow my directions?"

"When?"

"Now, when you go into the Museum."

"But aren't you coming too?"

"Not now. I will when we've seen the ruins. When you go into the Museum
go straight through the vestibule where the Roman Emperors are. Don't
turn to the right. In front of you you'll see a hall with a wooden roof
and red walls. The 'Victory' is there. But don't stay there. Go into the
small room beyond, the last room, and you mustn't let the guardian go
with you."

From behind came the sound of the big door being opened.

"Then that is the secret, and I knew about it all the time!"

"Knew about it--yes."

She looked down on the green cup surrounded by hills, with its little
river where now two half-naked men were dragging with a hand-net for
fish. Again the tiny breath from the far-away wind stirred in the pine
trees, evoking soft sounds of Eternity. She turned away and went into
the Museum.

Left alone, Dion lifted the lunch-pannier from his shoulder and laid it
down on the ground. Then he sat down under one of the pine trees. A wild
olive grew very near it. He thought of the crown of wild olive which the
victors received in days when the valley resounded with voices and the
trampling of the feet of horses. He took off his hat and laid it beside
him on the ground by the lunch-pannier. One of the men in the river
cried out to his companion. Sheep-bells sounded softly down the valley.
Some peasants went by with a small train of donkeys on a path which
wound away at the foot of the hill of Kronos.

Dion was being unselfish. In staying where he was, beyond the outer
door of the house of Hermes, he was taking the first firm step on a path
which might lead him on very far. He had slept in the dawn when Rosamund
slipped out of the tent, but till the stars waned he had been awake, and
in the white light of the moon he had seen the beginning of the path.
Men were said to be selfish. People, especially women, often talked
as if selfishness were bred in the very fiber of men, as if it were
ineradicable, and must be accepted by women. He meant to prove to one
woman that even a man could be unselfish, moved by something greater
than himself. Up there on Drouva he had definitely dedicated himself
to Rosamund. His acute pain when, coming back to the place where he
had left her by the tent before sunset, he had not found her, his
sense almost of smoldering anger, had startled him. In the night he had
thought things over, and then he had come to the beginning of the path.
A really great love, if it is to be worthy to carry the torch, must
tread in the way of unselfishness. He would conform to the needs,
doubtless imperious, of Rosamund's nature, even when they conflicted
with his.

So now he sat outside under the pine tree, and she was within alone. A
first step was taken on the path.

Would she presently come through the hall of the Victory to call him in?

He heard the guardian cough in the vestibule of the Emperors; the cough
was that of a man securely alone with his bodily manifestations. The
train of peasants had vanished. Still the sheep-bells sounded, but the
chime seemed to come to him now from a greater distance.

The morning was wearing on. When would she come back to him from the
secret of Olympia?

He heard again above his head the eternities whispering in the pine
branches. The calmness and heat of the valley mingled together, and rose
to him, and wanted to take him to themselves. But he was detached from
them, terribly detached by his virtue--his virtue, which involved him in
a struggle, pushed them off.

Surely an hour had passed, perhaps even more. He began to tingle with
impatience. The sound of the sheep-bells had died away beyond the
colonnade of the echoes. A living silence was now about him.

At last he put on his hat and got up. The Hermes was proving his power
too mercilessly, was stealing the hours like a thief at work in the
dark. The knowledge that Rosamund was his own for life did not help Dion
at all at this moment. He had planned out this day as if they were never
to have another. Their time in Greece was nearly over, and they could
not linger for very long anywhere. Anyhow, just this day, once gone,
could never be recaptured.

He looked towards the doorway of the Museum, hesitating. He was devoured
by impatience. Nevertheless he did not wish to step out of that path,
the beginning of which he had seen in the night. Determined not to seek
Rosamund, yet driven by restlessness, he did one of those meaningless
things which, bringing hurt to nature, are expected by man to bring him
at least a momentary solace. His eyes happened to rest on the olive tree
which stood not far from the Museum. One branch of it was stretched out
beyond the others. He walked up to the tree, pulled at the branch, and
finally snapped it off, stripped it of its leaves and threw it on the
ground.

As he finished this stupid and useless act, Rosamund came out of the
Museum, looking almost angry.

"Oh, Dion, was it you?" she asked. "What could make you do such a
thing?"

"But--what do you mean?" he asked.

She looked down at the massacred branch at his feet.

"A branch of wild olive! If you only knew how it hurt me."

"Oh--that! But how could you know?"

She still looked at him with a sort of shining of anger in her eyes.

"I saw from the room of the Hermes. The doorway of the Museum is the
frame for such a picture of Elis! It's almost, in its way, as dream-like
and lovely as the distant country one sees through the temple door in
Raphael's 'Marriage of the Virgin' in Milan. And hanging partly across
it was that branch of wild olive. I was looking at it and loving it in
the room of the Hermes when a man's arm, your arm, was thrust into the
picture, and the poor branch was torn away."

She had spoken quite excitedly, still evidently under the impulse of
something like anger. Now she suddenly pulled herself up with a little
forced laugh.

"Of course you didn't know; you couldn't. I suppose I was dreaming,
and it--it looked like a sort of murder. But still I don't see why you
should tear the branch off, and all the leaves too."

"I'm sorry, I'm very sorry, Rosamund. It was idiotic. Of course I hadn't
an idea what you were doing, I mean, that you were looking at it. One
does senseless little things sometimes."

"It looked so angry."

"What did?"

"Your hand, your arm. You can have no idea how----"

She broke off again.

"Let me come in with you. Let's go to the Hermes."

"Oh no, not now."

She spoke with almost brusk decision.

"Very well, then, I'll just pay the man something, and we'll be off to
the ruins."

"Yes."

Dion went to pay the guardian, whom he found standing up among the Roman
Emperors in a dignified and receptive attitude. When he came back he
picked up the lunch-basket, slung it over his shoulder, and they walked
down the small hill and towards the ruins in silence. He felt involved
in a tragedy, pained and discomforted. Yet it was all rather absurd,
too. He did not know what to say, how to take it, and he looked straight
ahead, seeking instinctively for some diversion. When they were on the
river bank he found it in the fishermen who were wading in the shallows
with their nets.

"I wonder what they catch here," he said. "There's not much water."

Rosamund took up the remark with her usual readiness and sympathetic
cordiality, and soon they were chattering again much as usual.

The great heat of the hour after noontide found them lunching among the
ruins of Nero's house. By this time the spell of the place had fast
hold of them both. Nature had long since taken the ruins to her gentle
breast; she took Rosamund and Dion with them. In her green lap she
sheltered them; with her green hills and her groves of pine trees she
wrapped them round; with her tall grasses, her bushes, her wild flowers
and her leaves she caught at and caressed them. A jackal whined in its
lair near the huge limestone blocks of the temple of Zeus. Green lizards
basked on the pavements which still showed the little ruts constructed
to save the feet of contending athletes from slipping. All along the
green valley the birds flew and sang; blackberry bushes climbed over
the broken walls of the mansion of Nero, and red and white daisies and
silvery grasses grew in every cranny where the kindly earth found a
foothold.

"Look at those butterflies, Dion!" Rosamund said.

Two snow-white butterflies, wandering among the ruins, had found their
way to the house of Nero, and seemed inclined to make it their home.
Keeping close together, as if guided by some sweet and whimsical
purpose, they flew from stone to stone, from daisy to daisy, often
alighting, as if bent on a thorough investigation of this ancient
precinct, then fluttering forward again, with quivering wings, not quite
satisfied, in an airy search for the thing or place desired. Several
times they seemed about to abandon the ruins of Nero's house, but,
though they fluttered away, they always returned. And at last they
alighted side by side on a piece of uneven wall, and rested, as if
asleep in the sun, with folded wings.

"That's the finishing touch," said Rosamund. "White butterflies asleep
in the house of Nero."

She looked round over the ruins, poetic and beautiful in their
prostration, as if they had fallen to kiss the vale which, in return,
had folded them in an eternal embrace.

"Don't take me to Delphi this time, Dion; don't take me anywhere else,"
she said.

"I was thinking only to-day that our time's very short now. We lingered
so long in Athens."

"We'll say our good-by to Greece from the Acropolis. That's--of course!
The grandeur and wonder are there. But the dream of Greece--that's here.
This is a shrine."

"For Pan?"

"Oh no, not for Pan, though I dare say he often comes here."

From the Kronos Hill, covered with little pines, came the mystical voice
of the breeze, speaking to them in long and remote murmurs.

"That's the most exquisite sound in the world," Rosamund continued. "But
it has nothing to do with Pan. You remember that day we went into the
Russian church in Athens, Dion?"

"Yes."

"There was the same sort of sound in those Russian voices when they were
singing very softly. It could never come from a Pagan world."

"You find belief behind it?"

"No--knowledge."

He did not ask her to define exactly what she meant. It was not an hour
for definition, but for dreaming, and he was happy again; the cloud of
the morning had passed away; he had his love with untroubled eyes among
the ruins. Thinking of that, realizing that with a sudden intensity, he
took her warm hand from the warm stone on which it was resting, and held
it closely in his.

"Oh, Rosamund, shall I ever have another hour as happy as this?" he
said.

A little way off, in that long meadow in the breast of which the Stadium
lay hidden, the sheep-bells sounded almost pathetically; a flock was
there happily at pasture.

"It's as if all the green doors were closing upon us to keep us in Elis
forever, isn't it?" she said. "But----"

She looked at him with a sort of smiling reproach:

"You wouldn't be allowed to stay."

"Why not?"

"You committed a crime this morning. Nature's taken possession of
Olympia, and you struck at her."

"D'you know why I did that?"

"No."

But she did not again ask him why, and he never told her. When the heat
had lessened a little, they wandered once more through that garden of
ruins, where scarcely a column is standing, where convulsions of nature
have helped the hands of man to overthrow man's work, and where nature
has healed every wound, and made every scar tender and beautiful. And
presently Rosamund said:

"I want to know exactly where Hermes was found."

"Come, and I'll show you."

He led her on among the wild flowers and the grasses, till they came to
the clearly marked base of the Heraeon, the most ancient known temple
of Greece. Two of its columns were standing, tremendously massive Doric
columns of a warm golden-brown color.

"The Hermes was found in this temple. It stood between two of the
columns, but I believe it was lying down when it was found."

"It's difficult to imagine him between such columns as these."

"Yet you love Doric."

"Yes, but I don't know----"

She looked at the columns, even put her hands on them as if trying to
clasp them.

"It must have been right. The Greeks knew. Strength and grace, power and
delicacy, that's the bodily ideal. So the Hermes stood actually here."

She looked all round, she listened to the distant sheep-bells, she drew
into her nostrils the green scents of the valley.

"And left his influence here for ever," she added. "His quiet
influence."

"Let me come to see him with you on the way home."

And this time she said, "Yes."



At a little after four they left the sweet valley, and, passing over
the river ascended the hill to the Museum. The door was open, and the
guardian was sitting profoundly asleep in the vestibule of the Emperors.

"You see, that's the picture-frame," Rosamund whispered, when they
were inside, pointing to the doorway. "The branch came just there in my
picture."

She had lifted her hand. He took her by the wrist and gently pulled her
hand down.

"You mustn't show me that."

"Don't let us wake him."

A fly buzzed outside on the sunny threshold of the door, making a sleepy
sound like the winding of a rustic horn in the golden stillness, as they
went forward on tiptoe between the dull red walls of the hall of the
Victory, and came into the room beyond, where the Hermes stood alone but
for the little Dionysos on his arm.

There a greater silence seemed to reign--the silence of the harmony
which lies beyond music, as a blue background of the atmosphere lies
beyond the verges of the vastest stretch of land that man's eyes have
power to see; he sees the blue, but almost as if with his soul, and
in like manner hears the harmony. Both Rosamund and Dion felt the
difference in the silence directly they entered that sacred room.

There was no room beyond it. Not very large, it was lighted by three
windows set in a row under a handsome roof of wood. The walls were dull
red like the walls in the hall of the Victory. On the mosaic pavement
were placed two chairs. Rosamund went straight up to one of them, and
sat down in front of the statue, which was raised on a high pedestal,
and set facing the right-hand wall of the chamber. Dion remained
standing a little way behind her.

He remembered quite well his first visit to Olympia, his first sight
of the Hermes. He had realized then very clearly the tragedy of large
Museums in which statues stand together in throngs, enclosed within
roaring cities. From its situation, hidden in the green breast of this
valley in Elis, the Hermes seemed to receive a sort of consecration, a
blessing from its shrine; and the valley received surely from the Hermes
a gracious benediction, making it unlike any other valley, however
beautiful, in any land of the earth. Nowhere else could the Hermes have
been so serenely tender, so exquisitely benign in its contemplation; and
no other valley could have kept it safe with such gentle watchfulness,
such tranquilly unwearied patience. Surely each loved the other, and so
each gained something from the other.

Through all the months since his visit, Dion had remembered the unique
quality of the peace of Olympia, like no other peace, and the strange
and exquisite hush which greeted the pilgrim at the threshold of the
chamber in which the Hermes stood. He had remembered, but now he felt.
Again the silence seemed to come out of the marble to greet him, a
remembered pilgrim who had returned to his worship bringing another
pilgrim. He entered once more into the peace of the Hermes, and now
Rosamund shared that peace. As he looked at her for a moment, he knew he
had made a complete atonement; he had sent the shadow away.

How could any shadow stand in the presence of the Hermes? The divine
calm within this chamber had a power which was akin to the power of
nature in the twilight of a windless evening, or of a beautiful soul at
ease in its own simplicity. It purified. Dion could not imagine any
man being able to look at the Hermes and feel the attraction of sin.
Rosamund was right, he thought. Surely men have to go and fetch their
sins. Their goodness is given to them. The mother holds it, and is aware
of it, when her baby is put into her arms for the first time.

For a long while these two watched Hermes and the child in the silence
of Elis, bound together by an almost perfect sympathy. And they
understood as never before the beauty of calm--calm of the nerves, calm
of the body, calm of the mind, the heart and the soul; peace physical,
intellectual and moral. In looking at the Hermes they saw, or seemed to
themselves to see, the goal, what struggling humanity is meant for--the
perfect poise, all faculties under effortless control, and so peace.

"We must be meant for that," Dion said to himself. "Shall we reach that
goal, and take a child with us?"

Then he looked down at Rosamund, saw her pale yellow hair, the back of
her neck, in which, somehow, purity was manifested, and thought:

"I might perhaps get there through her, but only through her."

She turned round, looked at him and smiled.

"Isn't he divine? And the child's attitude!"

Dion moved and sat down beside her.

"If this is Paganism," she continued, "it's the same thing as
Christianity. It's what God means. Men try to separate things that are
all one. I feel that when I look at Hermes. Oh, how beautiful he is! And
his beauty is as much moral as physical. You know the Antinous mouth?"

"Of course."

"Look at his mouth. Could any one, comparing the two, honestly say that
purity doesn't shine like a light in darkness? Aren't those lips stamped
with the Divine seal?"

"Yes, they are."

"Dion, I'm so thankful I have a husband who's kept the power to see that
even physical beauty must have moral beauty behind it to be perfect.
Many men can't see that, I think."

"Is it their fault?"

"Yes."

After another long silence she said:

"Spirit really is everything. Hermes tells me that almost as plainly as
the New Testament. Lots of people we know in London would laugh at me
for saying so, the people who talk of 'being Greek' and who never can be
Greek. And he stood between Doric columns. I'm trying to learn something
here."

"What?"

"How to bring _him_ up if he ever comes."

Dion felt for her hand.



They stayed on for a week at Drouva. Each evening Rosamund shot with
the boy of the wilderness, and they ate any birds that fell, at their
evening meal. The nights were given to the stars till sleep came. And
all the days were dedicated to Hermes, the child, and the sweet green
valley which served as a casket for the perfect jewel which the earth
had given up after centuries of possession. Since Rosamund had told the
dear secret of her heart, what she was trying to learn, Dion was able to
see her go in alone to the inner chamber without any secret jealousy or
any impatience. The given confidence had done its blessed work swiftly
and surely; the spring behind the action, revealed so simply, was
respected, was almost loved by Dion. Often he sat among the ruins alone,
smoking his pipe; or he wandered away after the call of the sheep-bells,
passing between the ruined walls overgrown with brambles and grasses and
mosses, shaded here and there by a solitary tree, and under the low arch
of the Athletes' entrance into the great green space where the contests
had been held. Here he found the wearers of music feeding peacefully,
attended by a dreaming boy. With the Two in the Garden of Eden there
were happy animals. The sheep-bells ringing tranquilly in his ears made
Eden more real to him, and also more like something in one of the happy
dreams of a man.

A world that had risen to great heights of emotion in this valley was
dead, but that did not sadden him. He found it impossible to be sad in
Olympia, because his own life was so happy.

A delicious egoism, the birthright of his youth, had him safe in its
grasp. But sometimes, when Rosamund was alone in the room of the Hermes,
learning her lesson, and he was among the ruins, or walking above the
buried Stadium where the flocks were at pasture, he recalled the great
contests of the Athletes of ancient Greece; the foot-races which were
the original competitions at the games, the races in armor, the long
jumps, the wrestling matches, the discus and dart-throwing, the boxing
and the brutal _pankration_. And he remembered that at the Olympic
Games there were races for boys, for quite young boys. A boy had won at
Olympia who was only twelve years old. When Dion recalled that fact one
golden afternoon, it seemed to him that perhaps his lesson was to be
learnt among the feeding sheep in the valley, rather even than on the
hill where the Hermes dwelt. The father surely shapes one part of the
sacred clay of youth, while on the other part, with a greater softness,
a perhaps subtler care, the mother works.

He would try to make his boy sturdy and strong and courageous, swift
to the race of life; he would train his boy to be a victor, to be a boy
champion among other boys. Her son must not fail to win the crown of
wild olive. And when he was a man----! But at that point in his dreams
of the future Dion always pulled up. He could not see Rosamund as the
mother of a man, could not see Rosamund old. She would, of course, be
beautiful in old age, with a perhaps more spiritual beauty than she had
even now. He shut his eyes, tried to imagine her, to see her before him
with snow-white hair, a face perhaps etherealized by knowledge of life
and suffering; once he even called up the most perfect picture of old
age he knew of--the portrait of Whistler's mother, calm, dignified,
gentle, at peace, with folded hands; but his efforts were in vain; he
simply could not see his Rosamund old. And so, because of that, he could
only see their child as a very young boy, wearing a boy's crown of wild
olive, such as had once been won by the boy of twelve in the games at
Olympia.

The last day of their visit to the green wilds and the hilltops dawned,
still, cloudless and very hot. There was a light haze over Zante, and
the great plain held a look of sleep--not the sleep of night but of the
siesta, when the dreams come out of the sun, and descend through the
deep-blue corridors to visit those who are weary in the gold. Rosamund,
bareheaded, stood on the hill of Drouva and gazed towards the sea; her
arm was round her olive tree; she looked marvelously well, lithe and
strong, but her face was grave, held even a hint of sadness.

"Our last day here!" she said to Dion. "One more night with the stars,
only one! Dion, when you brought me here, you did a dangerous thing."

"Gave you opportunities for regret? D'you mean that?"

She nodded, still gazing towards Zante.

"Such opportunities!"

"It couldn't be helped. I had to bring you."

"Of course. I know. If you had let me leave Greece without coming here,
and I had ever come to understand what I had missed, I don't believe I
could have forgiven even you."

"I always meant to bring you here."

"But you had a sudden impulse, didn't you?"

"Yes."

"Why exactly did it come?"

He hesitated. Suddenly he felt reserved; but he broke through his
reserve and answered:

"I saw I had made you feel sad."

"Did you? Why was that?"

"Don't you remember?"

She was catching the dream of the plain, perhaps, for she replied, with
an almost preoccupied air:

"I don't think so."

"I wanted to make you happy again, very happy, to give you a treat as
quickly as possible. The idea of this"--he flung out a brown hand--"came
to me suddenly. That's how it was. You--you don't know how I wish to
keep every breath of sorrow out of your life."

"I know you do; I feel it. But you've put a sorrow in."

She spoke with a half-whimsical smile.

"Have I?"

"The sorrow of leaving all this, of leaving the Hermes. I didn't know
it was possible to grow to care for a lifeless thing as I care for
him. Sometimes I believe the marble has actually retained nothing of
Praxiteles as a man. I mean as apart from a sculptor. But he must have
been full of almost divine feelings and conceptions, or he could never
have made my Hermes. No man can make the divine without having divinity
in him. I've learnt more here in these few days than I have learnt in
all my years."

"From the statue of a Pagan. Isn't that strange?"

"No, I don't think so. For I was able to see the Christianity in it. I
know what Praxiteles was only able to feel mysteriously. Sometimes in
London I've heard people--you know the sort of people I mean--regretting
they didn't live in the old Greek world."

"I've regretted that."

"Have you? But not in their way. When I look at the Hermes I feel very
thankful I have lived since."

"Tell me just why."

"Because I live in a world which has received definitely and finally the
message the Hermes knew before it was sent down."

She took away her arm from the olive tree and sighed.

"Oh, Dion, I shall hate going away, leaving the tent and Drouva and him.
But I believe whenever I think of Olympia I shall feel the peace that,
thank God, doesn't pass all understanding."

They went down to the valley that day to pay their final visit to the
Hermes. Twilight had not yet come, but was not very far off when, for
the last time, they crossed the threshold of his chamber. More silent
than ever, more benignly silent, did the hush about him seem to Dion;
more profound were his peace and serenity. He and the child had surely
withdrawn a little farther from all that was not intended, but that, for
some inscrutable reason, had come to be. His winged sandals had carried
him still farther away. As Dion looked at him he seemed to be afar.

"Rosamund!"

"Yes?"

"This evening I have a feeling about the Hermes I've never had before."

"What is it?"

"That he's taking the child away, quite away."

"But he's always been here, and not here. That's what I love so much."

"I don't mean quite that. It's as if he were taking the child farther
and farther away, partly because of us."

"I don't like that. I don't feel that at all."

"We belong to this world, you see, and are subject to all its
conditions. We are in it and of it."

"Well?"

"He belongs to such a different world."

"Yes, the released world, where no ugly passions can ever get in."

"The way he looks at Dionysos tells one that. He hasn't any fear for the
boy's future when he grows up and comes to know things. It just strikes
me that no human being who thinks could ever look at a human child like
that. There would always be the fear behind--'What is life going to do
to the child?'"

She looked at him, and her face was very grave.

"D'you think we should feel that?"

"Surely."

"Unless we got the serene courage of the Hermes."

"But he lived among gods, and we live among men."

"Not always."

"I don't understand."

"Perhaps some day you will," she answered.

Into her eyes there had come a strange look of withdrawal.

At that moment the atmosphere in the room of the Hermes seemed to Dion
more full of peace even than before, but the peace was like something
almost tangible. It troubled him a little because he felt that the
Hermes, the child and Rosamund were of it, while he was not. They were
surrounded by the atmosphere necessary to them, and to which they were
mysteriously accustomed, while he was for the first time in such an
atmosphere. He felt separated from Rosamund by a gulf, perhaps very
narrow, but probably very deep.

Over Elis the twilight was falling, a green twilight sylvan and very
ethereal, tremulous in its delicate beauty. It stole through the green
doors, and down through the murmuring pine trees; it crossed the shallow
river, and made its way to the garden of ruins where once the Hermes had
stood between Doric Columns in the Heraeon. Through the colonnade of the
echoes it passed, and under the arch of the Athletes. Over the crude and
almost terrible strength of the ruins of the temple of Zeus it let its
green garments trail down, as it felt its way softly but surely to the
buried Stadium where once a boy of twelve had won the crown of wild
olive. The sheep-bells were ringing softly; the flocks were going
homeward from pasture. They were making their way up the valley now at
the base of the Kronos Hill, and the chime of their little bells mingled
with the wide whispering of the eternities among the summits of the pine
trees. Music of earth mingled with the music from a distance that knew
what the twilight knew.

The tall oblong of the Museum doorway on the hill framed a tiny picture
of Elis, bathed in green and tremulous light; a small section of
hillside, a fragment of empty, poetic country--Pan's world rather hinted
at than revealed--a suggestion of evening sky, remote, with infinity
lost in its distance. But there was no branch of wild olive flickering
across the picture.

Rosamund missed it as she looked from the room of the Hermes out to the
whispering evening and the quiet vale of Olympia. But she did not say
so to Dion. He thought of it too, as he looked at her, and he tried to
forget it. The picture framed by the doorway strangely grew dimmer and
yet more full of greenish light; the country of Pan was fading in light.
Presently details were entirely lost. Only an oblong of green, now
almost emerald, light showed from the chamber of the Hermes. And in that
chamber the two marble figures were gradually fading; the athletic, yet
miraculously graceful, messenger of the gods with the winged sandals,
the tiny child clinging to his shoulder with one little arm stretched
out in an enchanting gesture of desire. Still the child nestled against
Hermes, and still Hermes contemplated the child, with a celestial
benignity, a half-smiling calmness of other worlds than this.

In the vestibule of the Emperors the guardian waited patiently. He was
not accustomed to visitors who lingered on like these two English,
when the light was failing, and surely it must be difficult, if not
impossible, to see the statues properly. But Rosamund, with her usual
lack of all effort, had captivated him. He had grown accustomed to her
visits; he was even flattered by them. It pleased him subtly to have in
his care a treasure such as the Hermes, to see which beautiful women,
the Rosamunds of the world, traveled from far-off countries. Rosamund's
perpetual, and prolonged, visits had made him feel more important than
he had ever succeeded in feeling before. Let the night come, she might
stay on there, if she chose. He took very little account of Dion. But
Rosamund was beginning to assume a certain vital importance in his quiet
life.

The green light faded into a very dim primrose; the music of the
sheep-bells drew near and died away among the small houses of the
hamlet at the foot of the hill of Drouva; Elis withdrew itself into the
obscurity that would last till the late coming of the waning moon. Of
Hermes and Dionysos now only the attitudes could be seen faintly. But
even they told of a golden age, an age from which everything ugly,
everything violent, everything unseemly, everything insincere,
everything cruel was blotted out--an age of serenity of body and soul,
the age of the long peace.

"He's gone," said Dion at last.

Rosamund got up slowly.

"You think he's taken away the child because of us?"

There was an almost pathetic sound in her voice, but there was a smile
in it too.

"You remember my stupid remark?"

"Perhaps it wasn't stupid. I think those who dare to have a child ought
to keep very near to the world Hermes walks in. They mayn't wear wings
on their sandals, but the earth oughtn't to hold their feet too fast.
Hermes has taught me."

"No one could ever want to take a child away from you," he answered.

In the vestibule of the Emperors they bade good-by to the guardian of
the Museum, and made him understand that on the morrow they would be
gone.

As he looked at Dion's gift he felt for a moment almost depressed. He
was accustomed to his constant visitor. Surely he would miss her. She
smiled on him with her warm and very human cordiality for the last time,
and went away, with her companion, into the dimness towards the hill of
Drouva. Then the guardian pulled the great door. It closed with a final
sound. The key was turned. And Hermes was left untroubled in that world
where wings grow out of the sandals.



BOOK II -- ECHO



CHAPTER I

Robin, whose other name was Gabriel, arrived at the "little house," of
which Rosamund had spoken to Dion upon the hill of Drouva, early in the
following year, on the last night of February to be exact. For a long
time before his coming his future home had been subtly permeated by an
atmosphere of expectancy.

No. 5 Little Market Street was in Westminster, not far from the river
and the Houses of Parliament, yet in a street which looked almost
remote, and which was often very quiet although close to great arteries
of life. Dion sometimes thought it almost too dusky a setting for his
Rosamund, but it was she who had chosen it, and they had both become
quickly fond of it. It was a house with white paneling, graceful
ceilings and carved fireplaces, and a shallow staircase of oak. There
was a tiny but welcoming hall, and the landing on the first floor
suggested potpourri, chintz-covered settees, and little curtains of
chintz moved by a country wind coming through open windows. There were,
in fact, chintz-covered settees, and there was potpourri. Rosamund had
taken care about that; she had also taken care about many other little
things which most London housewives, perhaps, think unworthy of their
attention. Every day, for instance, she burnt lavender about the house,
and watched the sweet smoke in tiny wreaths curling up from the small
shovel, as she gently moved it to and fro, with a half smile of what she
called "rustic satisfaction." She laid lavender in the cupboards and in
the chests of drawers, and, when she bought flowers, chose by preference
cottage garden flowers, if she could get them, sweet williams, pansies,
pinks, wallflowers, white violets, stocks, Canterbury bells. Sometimes
she came home with wild flowers, and had once given a little dinner
with foxgloves for a table decoration. An orchid, a gardenia, even a
hyacinth, was never to be seen in the little house. Rosamund confessed
that hyacinths had a lovely name, and that they suggested spring, but
she added that they smelt as if they had always lived in hothouses, and
were quite ready to be friends with gardenias.

She opened her windows. In this she was almost too rigorous for her
maid-servants, who nevertheless adored her. "Plenty of warmth but plenty
of air," was her prescription for a comfortable and healthy house, "and
not too much or too many of anything." Dust, of course, was not to be
known of in her dwelling, but "blacks" were accepted with a certain
resignation as a natural chastening and a message from London.
"They aren't our fault, Annie," she had been known to observe to the
housemaid. "And dust can't be anything else, however you look at it, can
it?" And Annie said, "Well, no, ma'am!" and, when she came to think of
it, felt she had not been a liar in the moment of speaking.

Rosamund never "splashed," or tried to make a show in her house, and
she was very careful never to exceed their sufficient, but not large,
income; but the ordinary things, those things which of necessity come
into the scheme of everyday life, were always of the very best when she
provided them. Dion declared, and really believed, perhaps with reason,
that no tea was so fragrant, no bread and butter so delicious, no toast
so crisp, as theirs; no other linen felt so cool and fresh to the body
as the linen on the beds of the little house; no other silver glittered
so brightly as the silver on their round breakfast-table; no other
little white window curtains in London managed to look so perennially
fresh, and almost blithe, as the curtains which hung at their windows.
Rosamund and Annie might have conversations together on the subject of
"blacks," but Dion never saw any of these distressing visitants.
The mere thought of Rosamund would surely keep them at a more than
respectful distance.

She proved to be a mistress of detail, and a housekeeper whose
enthusiasm was matched by her competence. At first Dion had been rather
surprised when he followed from afar, as is becoming in a man, this
development. Before they settled down in London he had seen in Rosamund
the enthusiastic artist, the joyous traveler, the good comrade, the gay
sportswoman touched with Amazonian glories; he had known in her the deep
lover of pure beauty; he had divined in her something else, a little
strange, a little remote, the girl to whom the "Paradiso" was a
door opening into dreamland, the girl who escaped sometimes almost
mysteriously into regions he knew nothing of; but he had not seen in her
one capable of absolutely reveling in the humdrum. Evidently, then, he
had not grasped the full meaning of a genuine _joie de vivre_.

To everything she did Rosamund brought zest. She kept house as she sang
"The heart ever faithful," holding nothing back. Everything must be
right if she could get it right; and the husband got the benefit,
incidentally. Now and then Dion found himself mentally murmuring that
word. A great love will do such things unreasonably. For Rosamund's
_joie de vivre_, that gift of the gods, caused her to love and rejoice
in a thing for the thing's own sake, as it seemed, rather than for the
sake of some one, any one, who was eventually to gain by the thing.
Thus she cared for her little house with a sort of joyous devotion and
energy, but because it was "my little house" and deserved every care
she could give it. Rather as she had spoken of the small olive tree on
Drouva, of the Hermes of Olympia, even of Athens, she spoke of it, with
a sort of protective affection, as if she thought of it as a living
thing confided to her keeping. She possessed a faculty not very common
in women, a delight in doing a thing for its own sake, rather than for
the sake of some human being--perhaps a man. If she boiled an egg--she
went to the kitchen and did this sometimes--she seemed personally
interested in the egg, and keenly anxious to do the best by it; the
boiling must be a pleasure to her, but also to the egg, and it must,
if possible, be supremely well done. As the cook once said, after a
culinary effort by Rosamund, "I never seen a lady care for cooking and
all such-like as she done. If she as much as plucked a fowl, you'd swear
she loved every feather of it. And as to a roast, she couldn't hardly
seem to set more store by it if it was her own husband."

Such a spirit naturally made for comfort in a house, and Dion had never
before been so comfortable. Nevertheless--and he knew it with a keen
savoring of appreciation--there was a Spartan touch to be felt in the
little house. Comfort walked hand in hand with Rosamund, but so did
simplicity; she was what the maids called "particular," but she was not
luxurious; she even disliked luxury, connecting it with superfluity,
for which she had a feeling amounting almost to repulsion. "I detest the
sensation of sinking down in _things_," was a favorite saying of hers;
and the way she lived proved that she spoke the sheer truth.

All through the house, and all through the way of life in it, there
prevailed a "note" of simplicity, even of plainness. The odd thing,
perhaps, was that it pleased almost every one who visited the young
couple. A certain well-known man, noted as a Sybarite, clever, decadent
and sought after, once got into the house, he pretended by stealth,
and spent half an hour there in conversation with Rosamund. He came way
"acutely conscious of my profound vulgarity," as he explained later to
various friends. "Her house revealed to me the hideous fact that all the
best houses in London smack of cocotte-try; the trail of cushions and
liqueurs is over them all. Mrs. Leith's house is a vestal, and its lamp
is always trimmed." Daventry's comment on this was: "Trimmed--yes, but
trimmings--no!"

Even Esme Darlington highly approved of the "charming sobriety of No. 5
Little Market Street," although he had had no hand in its preparation,
no voice in the deciding of its colors, its stuffs, its rugs, or its
stair-rods. He was even heard to declare that "our dear Rosamund is
almost the only woman I know who has the precious instinct of reticence;
an instinct denied, by the way, even to that delightful and marvelous
creature Elizabeth Browning--_requiescat_."

The "charming sobriety" was shown in various ways; in a lack of those
enormous cushions which most women either love, or think necessary, in
all sitting-rooms; in the comparative smallness of such sofas as were to
be seen; in the moderation of depth in arm-chairs, and in the complete
absence of footstools. Then the binding of the many books, scattered
about here and there, and ranged on shelves, was "quiet"; there was no
scarlet and gold, or bright blue and gold; pictures were good but few;
not many rugs lay on the polished wooden floors, and there was no
litter of ornaments or bibelots on cabinets or tables. A couple of small
statuettes, copies of bronzes in the Naples Museum, and some bits of
blue-and-white china made their pleasant effect the more easily because
they had not to fight against an army of rivals. There was some good
early English glass in the small dining-room, and a few fine specimens
of luster ware made a quiet show in Dion's little den. Apart from the
white curtains, and outer curtains of heavier material, which hung at
all the windows, there were no "draperies." Overmantels, "cosy-corners,"
flung Indian shawls, "pieces" snatched from bazaars, and "carelessly"
hung over pedestals and divans found no favor in Rosamund's eyes.
There was a good deal of homely chintz about which lit up the rather
old-fashioned rooms, and colors throughout the house were rather soft
than hard, were never emphatic or designed to startle or impress.

Rosamund, indeed, was by far the most vivid thing in the house, and
some people--not males--said she had taken care to supply for herself
a background which would "throw her up." These people, if they believed
what they said, did not know her.

She had on the first floor a little sitting-room all to herself; in this
were now to be found the books which had been in her bedroom in Great
Cumberland Place; the charwoman's black tray with the cabbage rose,
the mug from Greenwich, the flesh-colored vase, the china cow, the toy
trombone, and other souvenirs of her girlhood to which Rosamund "held."
On the brass-railed shelf of the writing-table stood a fine photogravure
of the Hermes of Olympia with little Dionysos on his arm. Very often,
many times every day, Rosamund looked up at Hermes and the Child from
account books, letters or notes, and then the green dream of Elis fell
about her softly again; and sometimes she gazed beyond the Hermes, but
instead of the wall of the chamber she saw, set in an oblong frame, and
bathed in green twilight, a bit of the world of Pan, with a branch of
wild olive flickering across the foreground; or, now and then, she saw
a falling star, dropping from its place in the sky down towards a green
wilderness, and carrying a wish from her with it, a wish that was surely
soon to be granted. Her life in the little house had been a happy life
hitherto, but--she looked again at the little Dionysos on the arm of
Hermes, nestling against his shoulder--how much happier it was going to
be, how much happier! She was not surprised, for deep in her heart she
always expected happiness.

People had been delightful to her and to Dion. Indeed, they had flocked
to the small green door (the Elis door) of 5 Little Market Street in
almost embarrassing numbers. That was partly Mr. Darlington's fault.
Naturally Rosamund's and Bruce Evelin's friends came; and of course
Dion's relations and friends came. That would really have been enough.
Rosamund enjoyed, but was not at all "mad about," society, and had no
wish to give up the greater part of her time to paying calls. But
Mr. Darlington could not forbear from kind efforts on behalf of his
delightful young friends, that gifted and beautiful creature Rosamund
Leith, and her pleasant young husband. He, who found time for
everything, found time to give more than one "little party, just a few
friends, no more," specially for them; and the end of it was that
they found themselves acquainted with almost too many interesting and
delightful people.

At first, too, Rosamund continued to sing at concerts, but at the end of
July, after their return from Greece, when the London season closed,
she gave up doing so for the time, and accepted no engagements for the
autumn. Esme Darlington was rather distressed. He worked very hard in
the arts himself, and, having "launched" Rosamund, he expected great
things of her, and wished her to go forward from success to success.
Besides "the money would surely come in very handy" to two young
people as yet only moderately well off. He did not quite understand the
situation. Of course he realized that in time young married people
might have home interests, home claims upon them which might necessitate
certain changes of procedure. The day might come--he sincerely hoped it
would--when a new glory, possibly even more than one, would be added to
the delightful Rosamund's crown; but in the meanwhile surely the autumn
concerts need not be neglected. He had heard no hint as yet of any--h'm,
ha! He stroked his carefully careless beard. But he had left town in
August with his curiosity unsatisfied, leaving Rosamund and Dion behind
him. They had had their holiday, and had stayed steadily on in Little
Market Street through the summer, taking Saturday to Monday runs into
the country; more than once to the seacoast of Kent, where Bruce Evelin
and Beatrice were staying, and once to Worcestershire to Dion's mother,
who had taken a cottage there close to the borders of Warwickshire. The
autumn had brought people back to town, and it was in the autumn that
Rosamund withdrew from all contact with the hurly-burly of London. She
had no fears at all for her body, none of those sick terrors which some
women have as their time draws near, no premonitions of disaster or
presages of death, but she desired to "get ready," and her way of
getting ready was to surround her life with a certain stillness, to
build about it white walls of peace. Often when Dion was away in the
City she went out alone and visited some church. Sometimes she spent an
hour or two in Westminster Abbey; and on many dark afternoons she made
her way to St. Paul's Cathedral where, sitting a long way from the
choir, she listened to evensong. The beautiful and tenderly cool singing
of the distant boys came to her like something she needed, something to
which her soul was delicately attuned. One afternoon they and the men,
who formed the deeply melodious background from which their crystalline
voices seemed to float forward and upward, sang "The Wilderness" of
Wesley. Rosamund listened to it, thankful that she was alone, and
remembering many things, among them the green wilderness beneath the
hill of Drouva.

Very seldom she spoke to Dion about these excursions of hers. There was
something in her feeling for religion which loved reserve rather than
expression; she who was so forthcoming in many moments of her life, who
was genial and gay, who enjoyed laughter and was always at home with
humanity, knew very well how to be silent. There was a saying she cared
for, "God speaks to man in the silence;" perhaps she felt there was a
suspicion of irreverence in talking to any one, even to Dion, about
her aspiration to God. If, on his return home, he asked her how she had
passed the day, she often said only, "I've been very happy." Then he
said to himself, "What more can I want? I'm able to make her happy."

One windy evening in January, when an icy sleet was driving over the
town, as he came into the little hall, he found Rosamund at the foot of
the staircase, with a piece of mother's work in her hand, about to go
into the drawing-room which was on the ground floor of the house.

"Rose," he said, looking down at the little white something she was
holding, "do you think we shall both feel ever so much older in March?
It will be in March, won't it?"

"I think so," she answered, with a sort of deeply tranquil gravity.

"In March when we are parents?"

"Are you worrying about that?" she asked him, smiling now, but with, in
her voice, a hint of reproach.

"Worrying--no. But do you?"

"Let us go into the drawing-room," she said.

When they were there she answered him:

"Absolutely different, but not necessarily older. Feeling older must be
very like feeling old, I think--and I can't imagine feeling old."

"Because probably you never will."

"Have you had tea, Dion?"

"Yes, at the Greville. I promised I'd meet Guy there to-day. He spoke
about Beattie."

"Yes?"

"Do you think Beattie would marry him if he asked her?"

"I don't know."

She sat down in the firelight near the hearth, and bent a little over
her work on the tiny garment, which looked as if it were intended for
the use of a fairy. Dion looked at her head with its pale hair. As he
leaned forward he could see all the top of her head. The firelight made
some of her hair look quite golden, gave a sort of soft sparkle to the
curve of it about her broad, pure forehead.

"Guy's getting desperate," he said. "But he's afraid to put his fortune
to the test. He thinks even uncertainty is better than knowledge of the
worst."

"Of one thing I'm certain, Dion. Beattie doesn't love Guy Daventry."

"Oh well, then, it's all up."

Rosamund looked up from the little garment.

"I didn't say that."

"But if Beattie--but Beattie's the soul of sincerity."

"Yes, I know; but I think she might consent to marry Guy Daventry."

"But why?"

"I don't know exactly. She never told me. I just feel it."

"Oh, if you feel it, I'm sure it is so. But how awfully odd. Isn't it?"

"Yes, it really is rather odd in Beattie. Do you want Beattie to marry
Guy Daventry?"

"Of course I do. Don't you?"

"Dear Beattie! I want her to be happy. But I think it's very difficult,
even when one knows some one very, very well, to know just how she can
get happiness, through just what."

"Rose, have I made you happy?"

"Yes."

"As happy as you could be?"

"I think, perhaps, you will have--soon."

"Oh, you mean----?"

"Yes."

She went on stitching quietly. Her hands looked very contented. Dion
drew up a little nearer to the fire with a movement that was rather
brusk. It just struck him that his walk home in the driving sleet had
decidedly chilled his body.

"I believe I know what you mean about Beattie," he said, after a pause,
looking into the fire. "But do you think that would be fair to Guy?"

"I'm not quite sure myself what I mean, honestly, Dion."

"Well, let's suppose it. If it were so, would it be fair?"

"I think Beattie's so really good that Mr. Daventry, as he loves her,
could scarcely be unhappy with her."

Dion thought for a moment, then he said:

"Perhaps with Guy it wouldn't be unfair, but, you know, Rose, that sort
of thing wouldn't do with some men. Some men could never stand being
married for anything but the one great reason."

He did not explain what that reason was, and Rosamund did not ask. There
was a sort of wide and sweet tranquillity about her that evening. Dion
noticed that it seemed to increase upon her, and about her, as the days
passed by. She showed no sign of nervousness, had evidently no dread at
all of bodily pain. Either she trusted in her splendid health, or she
was so wrapped up in the thought of the joy of being a mother that
the darkness to be passed through did not trouble her; or perhaps--he
wondered about this--she was all the time schooling herself, looking up,
in memory, to the columns of the Parthenon. He was much more strung up,
much more restless and excitable than she was, but she did not seem to
notice it. Always singularly unconscious of herself she seemed at this
period to be also unobservant of those about her. He felt that she was
being deliberately egoistic for a great reason, that she was caring for
herself, soul and body, with a sort of deep and quiet intensity because
of the child.

"She is right," he said to himself, and he strove in all ways in his
power to aid her beautiful selfishness; nevertheless sometimes he felt
shut out; sometimes he felt as if already the unseen was playing truant
over the seen. He was conscious of the child's presence in the little
house through Rosamund's way of being before he saw the child. He
wondered what other women were like in such periods, whether Rosamund
was instinctively conforming to an ancient tradition of her sex, or
whether she was, as usual, strongly individualistic. In many ways she
was surely not like other women, but perhaps in these wholly natural
crises every woman resembled all her sisters who were traveling towards
the same sacred condition. He longed to satisfy himself whether this was
so or not, and one Saturday afternoon, when Rosamund was resting in her
little sitting-room with a book, and the Hermes watching over her, he
bicycled to Jenkins's gymnasium in the Harrow Road, resolved to put in
forty minutes' hard work, and then to visit his mother. Mrs. Leith and
Rosamund seemed to be excellent friends, but Dion never discussed his
wife with his mother. There was no reason why he should do so. On this
day, however, instinctively he turned to his mother; he thought that she
might help him towards a clearer knowledge of Rosamund.

Rosamund had long ago been formally made known to Bob Jenkins, Jim's
boxing "coach," who enthusiastically approved of her, though he had
never ventured to put his opinion quite in that form to Dion. Even
Jenkins, perhaps, had his subtleties, those which a really good heart
cannot rid itself of. Rosamund, in return, had made Dion known to her
extraordinary friend, Mr. Thrush of Abingdon Buildings, John's Court,
near the Edgware Road, the old gentleman who went to fetch his sin every
evening, and, it is to be feared, at various other times also, in a jug
from the "Daniel Lambert." Dion had often laughed over Rosamund's "cult"
for Mr. Thrush, which he scarcely pretended to understand, but Rosamund
rejoiced in Dion's cult for the stalwart Jenkins.

"I like that man," she said. "Perhaps some day----" She stopped there,
but her face was eloquent.

In his peculiar way Jenkins was undoubtedly Doric, and therefore
deserving of Rosamund's respect. Of Mr. Thrush so much could hardly be
said with truth. In him there were to be found neither the stern majesty
and strength of the Doric, nor the lightness and grace of the Ionic.
As an art product he stood alone, always wearing the top hat, a figure
Degas might have immortalized but had unfortunately never seen. Dion
knew that Mr. Thrush had once rescued Rosamund in a fog and had conveyed
her home, and he put the rest of the Thrush matter down to Rosamund's
genial kindness towards downtrodden and unfortunate people. He loved her
for it, but could not help being amused by it.

When Dion arrived at the gymnasium, Jenkins was giving a lesson to a
small boy of perhaps twelve years old, whose mother was looking eagerly
on. The boy, clad in a white "sweater," was flushed with the ardor of
his endeavors to punch the ball, to raise himself up on the bar till
his chin was between his hands, to vault the horse neatly, and to turn
somersaults on the rings. The primrose-colored hair on his small round
head was all ruffled up, perspiration streamed over his pink rosy
cheeks, his eyes shone with determination, and his little white teeth
were gritted as, with all the solemn intensity of childhood, he strove
to obey on the instant Jenkins's loud words of command. It was obvious
that he looked to Jenkins as a savage looks to his Tribal God. His
anxious but admiring mother was forgotten; the world was forgotten;
Jenkins and the small boy were alone in a universe of grip dumb-bells,
heavy weights, "exercisers," boxing-gloves, horizontal bars, swinging
balls and wooden "horses." Dion stood in the doorway and looked on till
the lesson was finished. It ended with a heavy clap on the small boy's
shoulders from the mighty paw of Jenkins, and a stentorian, "You're
getting along and no mistake, Master Tim!"

The face of Master Tim at this moment was a study. All the flags of
triumph and joy were hung out in it and floated on the breeze; a
soul appeared at the two windows shining with perfect happiness;
and, mysteriously, in all the little figure, from the ruffled
primrose-colored feathers of hair to the feet in the white shoes, the
pride of manhood looked forth through the glowing rapture of a child.

"What a jolly boy!" said Dion to Jenkins, when Master Tim and his mother
had departed. "It must be good to have a boy like that."

"I hope you'll have one some day, sir," said Jenkins, speaking heartily
in his powerful voice, but looking, for the moment, unusually severe.

He and Bert, his wife, had had one child, a girl, which had died of
quinsy, and they had never had another.

"Now I'm ready for you, sir!" he added, with a sort of outburst of
recovery. "I should like a round with the gloves to-day, if it's all the
same to you."

It was all the same to Dion, and, when he reached Queen Anne's Mansions
in the darkness of evening, he was still glowing from the exercise; the
blood sang through his veins, and his heart was almost as light as his
step.

Marion, the parlor-maid, let him in, and told him his mother was at
home. Dion put his hand to his lips, stole across the hall noiselessly,
softly opened the drawing-room door, and caught his mother unawares.

Whenever he came into the well-known flat alone, he had a moment of
retrogression, went back to his unmarried time, and was again, as for so
many years, in the intimate life of his mother. But to-day, as he opened
the door, he was abruptly thrust out of his moment. His mother was in
her usual place on the high-backed sofa near the fire. She was doing
nothing, was just sitting with her hands, in their wrinkled gloves,
folded in her lap, and her large, round blue eyes looking. Dion thought
of them as looking because they were wide open, but they were strangely
emptied of expression. All of his mother seemed to him for just the one
instant which followed on his entrance to be emptied, as if the woman he
had always known--loving, satirical, clever, kind, observant--had been
poured away. The effect upon him was one of indescribable, almost of
horrible, dreariness. Omar Khayyam, his mother's black pug, was not in
the room as usual, stretched out before the fire.

Even as Dion realized this, his mother was poured back into the round
face and plump figure beside the fire, and greeted him with the usual
almost saccharine sweet smile, and:

"Dee-ar, I wasn't expecting you to-day. How is the beloved one?"

"The beloved one" was Mrs. Leith's rendering of Rosamund.

"How particularly spry you look," she added. "I'm certain it's the
Jenkins paragon. You've been standing up to him. Now, haven't you?"

Dion acknowledged that he had, and added:

"But you, mother? How are you?"

"Quite wickedly well. I ought to be down with influenza like all
well-bred people,--Esme Darlington has it badly,--but I cannot compass
even one sneeze."

"Where's Omar?"

Mrs. Leith looked grave.

"Poor little chap, we must turn down an empty glass for him."

"What--you don't mean----?"

"Run over yesterday just outside the Mansions, and by a four-wheeler.
I'm sure he never expected that the angel of death would come for him in
a growler, poor little fellow."

"I say! Little Omar dead! What a beastly shame! Mother, I am sorry."

He sat down beside her; he was beset by a sensation of calamity. Oddly
enough the hammer of fate had never yet struck on him so definitely as
now with the death of a dog. But, without quite realizing it, he was
considering poor black Omar as an important element in his mother's
life, now abruptly withdrawn. Omar had been in truth a rather greedy,
self-seeking animal, but he had also been a companion, an adherent, a
friend.

"You must get another dog," Dion added quickly. "I'll find you one."

"Good of you, dee-ar boy! But I'm too old to begin on a new dog."

"What nonsense!"

"It isn't. I feel I'm losing my nameless fascination for dogs. A poodle
barked at me this afternoon in Victoria Street. One can't expect one's
day to last for ever, though, really, some Englishwomen seem to. But,
tell me, how is the beloved one?"

"Oh--to be sure! I wanted to talk to you about Rose."

The smile became very sweet and welcoming on Mrs. Leith's handsome round
face.

"There's nothing wrong, I'm sure. Your Rosamund sheds confidence in her
dear self like a light all round her."

"Nothing wrong--no. I didn't mean that."

Dion paused. Now he was with his mother he did not know how to explain
himself; his reason for coming began to seem, even to himself, a little
vague.

"It's a little difficult," he began at last, "but I've been wondering
rather about women who are as Rosamund is just now. D'you think all
women become a good deal alike at such times?"

"In spirit, do you mean?"

"Well--yes, of course."

"I scarcely know."

"I mean do they concentrate on the child a long while before it comes."

"Many smart women certainly don't."

"Oh, smart women! I mean women."

"A good definition, dee-ar. Well, lots of poor women don't concentrate
on the child either. They have far too much to do and worry about. They
are 'seeing to' things up till the very last moment."

"Then we must rule them out. Let's say the good women who have the
time."

"I expect a great many of them do, if the husband lets them."

"Ah!" said Dion rather sharply.

"There are a few husbands, you see, who get fidgety directly the
pedestal on which number one thinks himself firmly established begins to
shake."

"Stupid fools!"

"Eminently human stupid fools."

"Are they?"

"Don't you think so?"

"Perhaps. But then humanity's contemptible."

"Extra-humanity, or the attempt at it, can be dangerous."

"What do you mean exactly by that, mater?"

"Only that we have to be as we are, and can never really be, can only
seem to be, as we aren't."

"What a whipping I'm giving to myself just now!" was her thought, as she
finished speaking.

"Oh--yes, of course. That's true. I think--I think Rosamund's
concentrating on the child, in a sort of quiet, big way."

"There's something fine in that. But her doings are often touched with
fineness."

"Yes, aren't they? She doesn't seem at all afraid."

"I don't think she need be. She has such splendid health."

"But she may suffer very much."

"Yes, but something will carry her gloriously through all that, I
expect."

"And you think it's very natural, very usual, her--her sort of living
alone with the child before it is born?"

Mrs. Leith saw in her son's eyes an unmistakably wistful look at this
moment. It was very hard for her not to take him in her arms just then,
not to say, "My son, d'you suppose I don't understand it all--_all_?"
But she never moved, her hands lay still in her lap, and she replied:

"Very natural, quite natural, Dion. Your Rosamund is just being
herself."

"You think she's able to live with the child already?"

Mrs. Leith hesitated for a moment. In that moment certainly she felt a
strong, even an almost terrible inclination to tell a lie to her son.
But she answered:

"Yes, I do."

"That must be very strange," was all that Dion said just then; but a
little later on--he stayed with his mother longer than usual that day
because poor little Omar was dead--he remarked:

"D'you know, mater, I believe it's the right thing to be what's called a
thorough-paced egoist at certain moments, in certain situations."

"Perhaps it is," said his mother incuriously.

"I fancy there's a good deal of rot talked about egoism and that sort of
thing."

"There's a good deal of rot talked about most things."

"Yes, isn't there? And besides, how is one to know? Very often what
seems like egoism may not be egoism at all. As I grow older I often feel
how important it is to search out the real reasons for things."

"Sometimes they're difficult to find," returned his mother, with an
unusual simplicity of manner.

"Yes, but still----Well, I must be off."

He stood up and looked at the Indian rug in front of the hearth.

"When are you coming to see us?" he asked.

"Almost directly, dee-ar."

"That's right. Rosamund likes seeing you. Naturally she depends upon you
at such----" He broke off. "I mean, do come as often as you can."

He bent down and kissed his mother.

"By the way," he added, almost awkwardly, "about that dog?"

"What dog, dee-ar?"

"The dog I want to give you."

"We must think about it. Give me time. After a black pug one doesn't
know all in a moment what type would be the proper successor. You
remember your poor Aunt Binn?"

"Aunt Binn! Why, what did she do?"

"Gave Uncle Binn a hairless thing like a note of interrogation, that had
to sleep in a coating of vaseline, when his enormous sheep-dog died who
couldn't see for hair. She believed in the value of contrast, but
Uncle Binn didn't. It would have led to a separation but for the hectic
efforts of your aunt's friend, Miss Vine. When I've decided what type of
dog, I'll tell you."

Dion understood the negative and, in spite of his feeling of fitness,
went away rather uncomfortably. He couldn't forget the strange
appearance of that emptied woman whom he had taken unawares by the
fireside. If only his mother would let him give her another dog!

When he got home he found Beatrice sitting with Rosamund.

Dion had grown very fond of Beatrice. He had always been rather touched
and attracted by her plaintive charm, but since she had become his
sister-in-law he had learnt to appreciate also her rare sincerity and
delicacy of mind. She could not grip life, perhaps, could not mold it to
her purpose and desire, but she could do a very sweet and very feminine
thing, she could live, without ever being intrusive, in the life of
another. It was impossible not to see how "wrapped up" she was in
Rosamund. Dion had come to feel sure that it was natural to Beatrice to
lead her life in another's, and he believed that Rosamund realized this
and often let Beatrice do little things for her which, full of vigor and
"go" as she was, she would have preferred to do for herself.

"I've been boxing and then to see mother," he said, as he took
Beatrice's long narrow hand in his. "She sent her best love to you,
Rosamund."

"The dear mother!" said Rosamund gently.

Dion sat down by Beatrice.

"I'm quite upset by something that's happened," he continued. "You know
poor little Omar, Beattie?"

"Yes. Is he ill?"

"Dead. He was run over yesterday by a four-wheeler."

"Oh!" said Beatrice.

"Poor little dog," Rosamund said, again gently.

"When they picked him up--are you going, Rose?"

"Only for a few minutes. I am sorry. I'll write to the dear mother."

She went quietly out of the room. Dion sprang up to open the door for
her, but she had been sitting nearer to the door than he, and he was too
late; he shut it, however, and came slowly back to Beatrice.

"I wonder----" He looked at Beatrice's pale face and earnest dark eyes.
"D'you think Rosamund disliked my mentioning poor Omar's being killed?"

"No."

"But didn't she leave us rather abruptly?"

"I think perhaps she didn't want to hear any details. You were just
beginning to--"

"How stupid of me!"

"You see, Rosamund has the child to live for now."

"Yes--yes. What blunderers we men are, however much we try--"

"That's not a blame you ought to take," Beatrice interrupted, with
earnest gentleness. "You are the most thoughtful man I know--for a
woman, I mean."

Dion flushed.

"Am I? I try to be. If I am it's because--well, Beattie, you know what
Rose is to me."

"Yes, I know."

"Dearer and dearer every day. But nobody----Mother thinks a lot of her."

"Who doesn't? There aren't many Roses like ours."

"None. Poor mother! Beattie, d'you think she feels very lonely? You know
she's got heaps of friends--heaps."

"Yes."

"It isn't as if she knew very few people, or lived alone in the
country."

"No but I'm very sorry her little dog's dead."

"I want to give her another."

"It would be no use."

"But why not?"

"You see, little Omar was always there when you were living there."

"Well?"

"He was part of her life with you."

"Oh--yes."

Dion looked rather hard at Beatrice. In that moment he began to realize
how much of the intelligence of the heart she possessed, and how widely
she applied it. His application of his intelligence of the heart was, he
feared, much less widespread than hers.

"Go to see mother when you can, will you?" he said. "She's very fond of
you, I think."

"I'll go. I like going to her."

"And, Beattie, may I say something rather intimate? I'm your brother
now."

"Yes."

She was sitting opposite to him near the fire on a low chair. There was
a large shaded lamp in the room, but it was on a rather distant table.
He saw Beatrice's face by the firelight and her narrow thoroughbred
figure in a dark dress. And the firelight, he thought, gave to both face
and figure a sort of strange beauty that was sad, and that had something
of the strangeness and the beauty of those gold and red castles children
see in the fire. They glow--and that evening there was a sort of glow
in Beatrice; they crumble--and then there was a pathetic something in
Beatrice, too, which suggested wistful desires, perhaps faint hopes and
an ending of ashes.

"Would you marry old Guy if he asked you? Don't be angry with me."

"I'm not."

"Of course, we've all known for ages how much he cares for you. He spoke
to me about it to-day. He's desperately afraid of your refusing him. He
daren't put his fate to the test. Beattie--would you?"

A slow red crept over Beatrice's face. She put up one hand to guard
herself from the glow of the fire. For a moment she looked at Dion, and
he thought, "What a strange expression firelight can give to a face!"
Then she said:

"I can't tell you."

Her voice was husky.

"Beattie, you've got a cold!"

"Have I?"

She got up.

"I must go, Dion. I'll just see Rosamund for a minute."

As she left the room, she said:

"I'll go and see your mother to-morrow."

The door shut. Dion stood with one elbow resting on the mantelpiece and
looked down into the fire. He saw his mother sitting alone, a strange,
emptied figure; he saw Beatrice. And fire, which beautifies, or makes
romantic and sad everything gave to Beatrice the look of his mother. For
a moment his soul was full of questions about the two women.



CHAPTER II

"I've joined the Artists' Rifles," Dion said to Rosamund one day.

He spoke almost bruskly. Of late he had begun to develop a manner
which had just a hint of roughness in it sometimes. This manner was the
expression of a strong inward effort he was making. If, as his mother
believed, already Rosamund was able to live with the child, Dion's
solitary possession of the woman he loved was definitely over, probably
forever. Something within him which, perhaps, foolishly, rebelled
against this fact had driven him to seek a diversion; he had found it in
beginning to try to live for the child in the man's way. He intended to
put the old life behind him, and to march vigorously on to the new. He
called up Master Tim before him in the little white "sweater," with
the primrose-colored ruffled feathers of hair, the gritted white teeth,
small almost as the teeth of a mouse, the moist, ardent cheeks, and
the glowing eyes looking steadfastly to the Tribal God. He must be the
Tribal God to his little son, if the child were a son.

Rosamund did not seem surprised by Dion's abrupt statement, though he
had never spoken of an intention to join any Volunteer Corps. She knew
he was fond of shooting, and had been in camp sometimes when he was at a
public school.

"What's that?" she asked. "I've heard of it, but I thought it was a
corps for men who are painters, sculptors, writers and musicians."

"It was founded, nearly forty years ago, I believe, for fellows working
in the Arts, but all sorts of business men are let in now."

"Will it take up much time?"

"No; I shall have to drill a certain amount, and in summer I shall go
into camp for a bit, and of course, if a big war ever came, I could be
of some use."

"I'm glad you've joined."

"I thought you would be. I shall see a little less of you, I suppose,
but, after all, a husband can't be perpetually hanging about the house,
can he?"

Rosamund looked at him and smiled, then laughed gently.

"Dion, how absurd you are! In some ways you are only a boy still."

"Why, what to you mean?"

"A man who sticks to business as you do, hanging about the house!"

"You wouldn't like it if I did."

"No, because I should know it was doing you harm."

"And besides--do you realize how independent you are?"

"Am I?"

"For a woman I think you are extraordinarily independent."

She sat still for a minute, looking straight before her in an almost
curious stillness.

"I believe I know why perhaps I seem so," she said at length.

And then she quietly, and very naturally, turned the conversation into
another channel; she was a quieter Rosamund in those days of waiting
than the Rosamund unaffected by motherhood. That Rosamund had been
vigorous and joyous; this Rosamund was strongly serene. In all she was
and did at this time Dion felt strength; but it was shown chiefly in
stillness. She worked sometimes; she read a great deal sitting upstairs
in her own little room. One day Dion found her with a volume of
Tennyson; another day she was reading Shakespeare's "Henry the Fifth";
she had the "Paradiso" in hand, too, and the Greek Testament with the
English text in parallel columns. In the room there was a cottage piano,
and one evening, when Dion had been drilling and came back late, he
heard her singing. He stood still in the hall, after shutting softly the
door of the lobby, and listened to the warm and powerful voice of the
woman he loved. He could hear the words of the song, which was a setting
of "Lead, kindly Light." Rosamund had only just begun singing it when he
came into the hall; the first words he caught were, "The night is dark,
and I am far from home; lead thou me on." He thrust his hands into the
pockets of the black jacket he was wearing and did not move. He had
never before heard Rosamund sing any piece of music through without
seeing her while she was doing it; her voice seemed to him now different
from the voice he knew so well; perhaps because he was uninfluenced by
her appearance. That counted for much in the effect Rosamund created
when she sang to people. The thought went through Dion's mind, "Am I
really the husband of this voice?" It was beautiful, it was fervent,
but it was strange, or seemed strange to him as it came down through the
quiet house on this winter evening. For the first time, listening thus,
he was able imaginatively to realize something of what it must be
like to be a mystic, or rather, perhaps, to have within one a definite
tendency towards mysticism, a definite and ceaseless and governing
aspiration towards harmony with the transcendental order. When this
voice which he heard above him sang "The night is dark, and I am far
from home," he felt a sort of sharp comprehension of the real meaning of
homeless wandering such as he had certainly never experienced before. He
felt, too, that the spirit from which this voice proceeded could never
be at home in the ordinary way of ordinary people, could not be at home
even as he himself could be at home. The spirit behind this voice needed
something of which, till now, he had not consciously felt the need;
something peculiar, out of the way and remote--something very different
from human love and human comfort. Although he was musical, and could be
critical about a composition according to its lights, Dion did not think
about the music of this song _qua_ music--could not have said how good
he considered it to be. He knew only that this was not poor or insincere
music. But music sung in this peculiar way was only a means by which
the under part of a human being, that which has its existence deep down
under layers and layers of the things which commonly appear and are
known of, rose to the surface and announced itself.

The Artists' Rifles--and this!

When the voice was silent, Dion went slowly upstairs. The door of
Rosamund's little room was shut. He paused outside it, and stood looking
at it, the movable barrier of dark shining wood which divided him from
the voice. When he was ascending the stairs he had meant to go in to
Rosamund. But now he hesitated, and presently he turned away. He felt
that a greater barrier than the door was between them. He might open the
door easily enough, but the other barrier would remain. The life of the
body seemed to him just then an antagonist to the life of the soul.

"I'm on the lower plane," said Dion to himself that evening. "If it's a
boy, I shall have to look after his body; she'll take care of the rest.
Perhaps mothers always do, but not as she could and will."

From this moment he devoted himself as much as possible to his body,
almost, indeed, with the ardor of one possessed by a sort of mania.
The Artists' Corps took up part of his time; Jenkins another part; he
practised rifle shooting as diligently almost as if he expected to have
to take his place almost immediately in the field; he began to learn
fencing. Rosamund saw very little of him, but she made no comment. He
explained to her what he was doing.

"You see, Rose," he said to her once, "if it's a boy it will be my job
eventually to train him up to be first-class in the distinctively
man's part of life. No woman can ever do that. I mustn't let myself get
slack."

"You never would, I'm sure."

"I hope not. Still, lots of business men do. And I'm sitting about
three-quarters of my time. One does get soft, and the softer a chap gets
the less inclined he is to make the effort required of him, if he wants
to get hard. If I ever am to be the father of a growing-up son--when
they get to about sixteen, you know, they get awfully critical about
games and athletics, sport, everything of that kind--I should like to
be able to keep my end up thoroughly well with him. He'd respect me far
more then. I know exactly the type of fellow real boys look up to. It
isn't the intelligent softy, however brainy he may be; it's the man who
can do all the ordinary things superlatively well."

She smiled at him with her now curiously tranquil yellow-brown eyes, and
he thought he saw in them approval.

"I think few men would prepare as you do," she said.

"And how many women would prepare as you do?" he returned.

"I couldn't do anything else. But now I feel as if we were working
together, in a way."

He squeezed her hand. She let it lie motionless in his.

"But if it weren't a boy?" he said, struck by a sudden reaction of
doubt.

And the thought went, like an arrow, through him:

"What chance should I have then?"

"I know it will be a boy," she answered.

"Why? Not because you sleep north and south!" he exclaimed, with a
laughing allusion to the assertion of Herrick.

"I don't."

"I always thought the bed----"

"No, it's east and west."

"Fishermen say the dead sleep east and west."

"Are you superstitious?"

"I don't know. Perhaps, where you are concerned."

"Don't be. Superstition seems to me the opposite of belief. Just wait,
and remember, I _know_ it will be a boy."

One evening Dion went to Great Cumberland Place to dine with Bruce
Evelin and Beatrice, leaving Rosamund apparently in her usual health.
She was going to have "something on a tray" in her sitting-room, and he
went in there to say good-by to her just before he started. He found
her sitting by the fire, and looking at Hermes and the Child with steady
eyes. They were lit up rather faintly by a couple of wax candles placed
on the writing-table. The light from these candles and from the fire
made a delicate and soothing radiance in the room, which was plainly
furnished, and almost somber in color. A very dim and cloudy purple-blue
pervaded it, a very beautiful hue, but austere, and somehow suggestive
of things ecclesiastical. On a small, black oak table at Rosamund's
elbow two or three books were lying beside a bowl of dim blue glass
which had opalescent lights in it. This bowl was nearly full of water
upon which a water-lily floated. The fire on the hearth was small,
but glowing with red and gold. Dark curtains were drawn across the one
window which looked out at the back of the house. It was a frosty night
and windless.

Dion stood still for a moment on the threshold of the room after he had
opened the door.

"How quiet you are in here!" he said.

"This little room is always quiet."

"Yes, but to-night it's like a room to which some one has just said
'Hush!'"

He came in and shut the door quietly behind him.

"I've just a minute."

He came up to the fire.

"And so you were looking at him, our Messenger with winged sandals. Oh,
Rosamund, how wonderful it was at Olympia! I wonder whether you and I
shall ever see the Hermes together again. I suppose all the chances are
against it."

"I hope we shall."

"Do you? And yet--I don't know. It would be terrible to see him together
again--if things were much altered; if, for instance, one was less happy
and remembered----"

He broke off, came to the settee at right angles to the fire on which
she was sitting, and sat down beside her. At this moment--he did not
know why--the great and always growing love he had for her seemed
to surge forward abruptly like a tidal wave, and he was conscious of
sadness and almost of fear. He looked at Rosamund as if he were just
going to part from her, anxiously, and with a sort of greed of detail.

"Alone I would never go back to Elis," he said. "Never. What a power
things have if they are connected in our hearts with people. It's--it's
awful."

A clock chimed faintly.

"I must go."

He got up and stood for a moment looking down at the dear head loved so
much, at her brow.

"I don't know why it is," he said, "but this evening I hate leaving
you."

"But it's only for a little while."

There was a tap at the door.

"Ah! here's my tray."

The maid came in carrying a woman's meal, and Dion's strange moment was
over.

When he got to Great Cumberland Place, Daventry, who was to make a
fourth, had just arrived, and was taking off his coat in the hall. He
looked unusually excited, alert in an almost feverish way, which was
surprising in him.

"I'm in a case," he said, "a quite big case. Bruce Evelin's got it for
me. I'm going to be junior to Addington; Lewis & Lewis instruct me. What
d'you think of that?"

Dion clapped him on the shoulder.

"The way of salvation!"

"Where will it lead me?"

"To Salvation, of course."

"I'll walk home with you to-night, old Dion. I must yap across the Park
with you to Hyde Park Corner, and tell you all about the woman from
Constantinople."

They were going upstairs.

"The woman----?"

"My client, my client. My dear boy, this is no ordinary case"--he waved
a small hand ceremoniously--"it's a _cause celebre_ or I shouldn't have
bothered myself with it."

Lurby opened the drawing-room door.

"How's Rosamund?" was Beatrice's first question to Dion, as they shook
hands.

"All right. I left her just going to feed from a tray in her little
room."

"Rosamund always loved having a meal on a tray," said Bruce Evelin.
"She's a big child still. But enthusiasts never really grow up, luckily
for them."

"Dinner is served, sir."

"Daventry, will you take Beatrice?"

As Dion followed with Bruce Evelin, he said:

"So you've got Daventry a case!"

"Yes."

Bruce Evelin lowered his voice.

"He's a good fellow and a clever fellow, but he's got to work. He's been
slacking for years."

Dion understood. Bruce Evelin wished Beatrice to marry Daventry.

"He respects you tremendously, sir. If any one can make him work, you
can."

"I'm going to," returned Bruce Evelin, with his quiet force. "He's got
remarkable ability, and the slacker--well----"

He looked at Dion with his dark, informed eyes, in which knowledge of
the world and of men always seemed sitting.

"I can bear with bad energy almost more easily and comfortably than with
slackness."

During dinner, without seeming to, Dion observed and considered Beatrice
and Daventry, imagining them wife and husband. He felt sure Daventry
would be very happy. As to Beatrice, he could not tell. There was
always in Beatrice's atmosphere, or nearly always, a faint suggestion
of sadness which, curiously, was not disagreeable but attractive. Dion
doubted whether Daventry could banish it. Perhaps no one could, and
Daventry had, perhaps, that love which does not wish to alter, which
says, "I love you with your little sadness--keep it."

Daventry was exceptionally animated at dinner. The prospect of actually
appearing in court as counsel in a case had evidently worked upon him
like a powerful tonic. Always able to be amusing when he chose,
he displayed to-night a new something--was it a hint of personal
dignity?--which Dion had not hitherto found in him. "Dear old Daventry,"
the agreeable, and obviously clever, nobody, who was a sure critic of
others, and never did anything himself, who blinked at moments with a
certain feebleness, and was too fond of the cozy fireside, or the deep
arm-chairs of his club, had evidently caught hold of the flying skirts
of his self-respect, and was thoroughly enjoying his capture. He did
not talk very much to Beatrice, but it was obvious that he was at every
moment enjoying her presence, her attention; when she listened earnestly
he caught her earnestness and it seemed to help him; when she laughed,
in her characteristic delicate way,--her laugh seemed almost wholly of
the mind,--he beamed with a joy that was touching in a man of his type
because it was so unself-conscious. His affection for Beatrice had
performed the miracle of drawing him out of the prison of awareness in
which such men as he dwell. To-night he was actually unobservant. Dion
knew this by the changed expression of his eyes. Even Beatrice he was
not observing; he was just feeling what she was, how she was. For once
he had passed beyond the narrow portals and had left satire far behind
him.

When Beatrice got up to go to the drawing-room he opened the door for
her. She blushed faintly as she went out. When the door was shut, and
the three men were alone, Bruce Evelin said to Dion:

"Will you mind if Daventry and I talk a little shop to-night?"

"Of course not. But would you rather I went up and kept Beattie
company?"

"No; stay till you're bored, or till you think Beatrice is bored. Let us
light up."

He walked slowly, with his gently precise gait, to a cigar cabinet,
opened it, and told the young men to help themselves.

"And now for the Clarke case," he said.

"Is that the name of the woman from Constantinople?" asked Dion.

"Yes, Mrs. Beadon Clarke," said Daventry. "But she hates the Beadon and
never uses it. Beadon Clarke's trying to divorce her, and I'm on her
side. She's staying with Mrs. Chetwinde. Esme Darlington, who's an old
friend of hers, thinks her too unconventional for a diplomatist's wife."

Bruce Evelin had lighted his cigar.

"We mustn't forget that our friend Darlington has always run tame rather
than wild," he remarked, with a touch of dry satire. "And now, Daventry,
let us go through the main facts of the case, without, of course,
telling any professional secrets."

And he began to outline the Clarke case, which subsequently made a great
sensation in London.

It appeared that Mrs. Clarke had come first to him in her difficulty,
and had tried hard to persuade him to emerge from his retirement and to
lead for her defense. He had been determined in refusal, and had advised
her to get Sir John Addington, with Daventry as junior. This she had
done. Now Bruce Evelin was carefully "putting up" Daventry to every move
in the great game which was soon to be played out, a game in which a
woman's honor and future were at stake. The custody of a much-loved
child might also come into question.

"Suppose Addington is suddenly stricken with paralysis in the middle of
the case, you must be ready to carry it through triumphantly alone," he
observed, with quietly twinkling eyes, to Daventry.

"May I have a glass of your oldest brandy, sir?" returned Daventry,
holding on to the dinner-table with both hands.

The brandy was given to him and the discussion of the case continued. By
degrees Dion found himself becoming strongly interested in Mrs. Clarke,
whose name came up constantly. She was evidently a talented and a very
unusual woman. Perhaps the latter fact partially accounted for the
unusual difficulties in which she was now involved. Her husband,
Councilor to the British Embassy at Constantinople, charged her with
misconduct, and had cited two co-respondents,--Hadi Bey, a Turkish
officer, and Aristide Dumeny, a French diplomat,--both apparently men
of intellect and of highly cultivated tastes, and both slightly younger
than Mrs. Clarke. A curious fact in the case was that Beadon Clarke was
deeply in love with his wife, and had--so Dion gathered from a remark of
Bruce Evelin's--probably been induced to take action against her by
his mother, Lady Ermyntrude Clarke, who evidently disliked, and perhaps
honestly disbelieved in, her daughter-in-law. There was one child of
the marriage, a boy, to whom both the parents were deeply attached. The
elements of tragedy in the drama were accentuated by the power to love
possessed by accuser and accused. As Dion listened to the discussion
he realized what a driving terror, what a great black figure, almost
monstrous, love can be--not only the sunshine, but the abysmal darkness
of life.

Presently, in a pause, while Daventry was considering some difficult
point, Dion remembered that Beatrice was sitting upstairs alone. Her
complete unselfishness always made him feel specially chivalrous towards
her. Now he got up.

"It's tremendously interesting, but I'm going upstairs to Beattie," he
said.

"Ah, how subtle of you, my boy!" said Bruce Evelin.

"Subtle! Why?"

"I was just coming to the professional secrets."

Dion smiled and went off to Beattie. He found her working quietly,
almost dreamily, on one of those fairy garments such as he had seen
growing towards its minute full size in the serene hands of his
Rosamund.

"You too!" he said, looking down at the filmy white. "How good you are
to us, Beattie!"

He sat down.

"What's this in your lap?"

The filmy white had been lifted in the process of sewing, and a little
exquisitely bound white book was disclosed beneath it.

"May I look?"

"Yes, do."

Dion took the book up, and read the title, "The Kasidah of Haji Abdu
El-Yezdi."

"I never heard of this. Where did you get it?"

"Guy Daventry left it here by mistake yesterday. I must give it to him
to-night."

Dion opened the book, and saw on the title page: "Cynthia Clarke,
Constantinople, October 1896," written in a curiously powerful, very
upright caligraphy.

"It doesn't belong to Guy."

"No; it was lent to him by his client, Mrs. Clarke."

Dion turned some of the leaves of the book, began to read and was
immediately absorbed.

"By Jove, it's wonderful, it's simply splendid!" he said in a moment.
"Just listen to this:

     "True to thy nature, to thyself,
         Fame and disfame nor hope, nor fear;
     Enough to thee the still small voice
         Aye thundering in thine inner ear.

     From self-approval seek applause:
         What ken not men thou kennest thou!
     Spurn every idol others raise:
         Before thine own ideal bow."

He met the dark eyes of Beatrice.

"You care for that?"

"Yes, very much," she answered, in her soft and delicate voice.

"Beattie, I believe you live by that," he said, almost bruskly.

Suddenly he felt aware of a peculiar sort of strength in her, in her
softness, a strength not at all as of iron, mysterious and tenacious.

"Dear old Beattie!" he said.

Moisture had sprung into his eyes.

"How lonely our lives are," he continued, looking at her now with a sort
of deep curiosity. "The lives of all of us. I don't care who it is, man,
woman, child, he or she, every one's lonely. And yet----"

A doubt had surely struck him. He sat very still for a minute.

"When I think of Rosamund I can't think of her as lonely."

"Can't you?"

"No. Somehow it seems as if she always had a companion with her."

He turned a few more pages of Mrs. Clarke's book, glancing here and
there.

"Rosamund would hate this book," he said presently. "It seems thoroughly
anti-Christian. But it's very wonderful."

He put the book down.

"Dear Beattie! Guy cares very much for you."

"Yes, I know," said Beatrice, with a great simplicity.

"If he comes well out of this case, and feels he's on the road to
success, he'll be another man. He'll dare as a man ought to dare."

She went on sewing the little garment for Dion's child.

"I'll walk across the Park with you, old Dion," said Daventry that
night, as they left the house in Great Cumberland Place, "whether you're
going to walk home or whether you're not, whether you're in a devil of
a hurry to get back to your Rosamund, or whether you're in a mood for
friendship. What time is it, by the way?"

He was wrapped in a voluminous blue overcoat, with a wide collar,
immense lapels, and apparently only one button, and that button so
minute that it was scarcely visible to the naked eye. From somewhere he
extracted a small, abnormally thin watch with a gold face.

"Only twenty minutes to eleven. We dined early."

"You really wish to walk?"

"I not only wish to walk, I will walk."

The still glory of frost had surely fascinated London, had subdued the
rumbling and uneasy black monster; it seemed to Dion unusually quiet,
almost like something in ecstasy under the glittering stars of frost,
which shone in a sky swept clear of clouds by the hand of the lingering
winter. It was the last night of February, but it looked, and felt, like
a night dedicated to the Christ Child, to Him who lay on the breast of
Mary with cattle breathing above Him. As Dion gazed up at the withdrawn
and yet almost piercing radiance of the wonderful sky, instinctively he
thought of the watching shepherds, and of the coming of that Child who
stands forever apart from all the other children born of women into this
world. He wished Rosamund were with him to see the stars, and the frost
glistening white on the great stretches of grass, and the naked trees in
the mysterious and romantic Park.

"Shall we take the right-hand path and walk round the Serpentine?" said
Daventry presently.

"Yes. I don't mind. Rosamund will be asleep, I think. She goes to bed
early now."

"When will it be?"

"Very soon, I suppose; perhaps in ten days or so."

Daventry was silent. He wanted and meant to talk about his own affairs,
but he hesitated to begin. Something in the night was making him feel
very small and very great. Dion gave him a lead by saying:

"D'you mind my asking you something about the Clarke case?"

"Anything you like. I'll answer if I may."

"Do you believe Mrs. Clarke to be guilty or innocent?"

"Oh, innocent!" exclaimed Daventry, with unusual warmth.

"And does Bruce Evelin?"

"I believe so. I assume so."

"I noticed that, while I was listening to you both, he never expressed
any opinion, or gave any hint of what his opinion was on the point."

"I feel sure he thinks her innocent," said Daventry, still almost with
heat. "Not that it much matters," he added, in a less prejudiced voice.
"The point is, we must prove her to be innocent whether she is nor not.
I happen to feel positive she is. She isn't the least the siren type of
woman, though men like her."

"What type is she?"

"The intellectual type. Not a blue-stocking! God forbid! I couldn't
defend a blue-stocking. But she's a woman full of taste, who cares
immensely for fine and beautiful things, for things that appeal to the
eye and the mind. In that way, perhaps, she's almost a sensualist.
But, in any other way! I want you to know her. She's a very interesting
woman. Esme Darlington says her perceptions are exquisite. Mrs.
Chetwinde's backing her up for all she's worth."

"Then she believes her to be innocent too, of course."

"Of course. Come with me to Mrs. Chetwinde's next Sunday afternoon.
She'll be there."

"On a night like this, doesn't a divorce case seem preposterous?"

"Well, you have the tongue of the flatterer!"--he looked up--"But
perhaps it does, even when it's Mrs. Clarke's."

"Are you in love with Mrs. Clarke?"

"Deeply, because she's my first client in a _cause celebre_."

"Have you forgotten her book again?"

"Her book? 'The Kasidah'? I've got it here."

He tapped the capacious side pocket of his coat.

"You saw it then?" he added.

"Beattie had it when I went upstairs."

"I wonder what she made of it," Daventry said, with softness in his
voice. "Don't ever let Rosamund see it, by the way. It's anything
rather than Christian. Mrs. Clarke gets hold of everything, dives into
everything. She's got an unresting mind."

They had come to the edge of the Serpentine, on which there lay an
ethereal film of baby ice almost like frosted gauze. The leafless trees,
with their decoration of filigree, suggested the North and its peculiar
romance--nature trailing away into the mighty white solitudes where the
Pole star reigns over fields of ice.

"Hyde Park is bringing me illusions to-night," said Daventry. "That
water might be the Vistula. If I heard a wolf howling over there near
the ranger's lodge, I shouldn't be surprised."

A lifeguardsman, in a red cloak, and a woman drifted away over the frost
among the trees.

"I love Mrs. Clarke as a client, but perhaps I love her even more
because, through her, I hope to get hold of something I've--I've let
drop," continued Daventry.

"What's that?"

Daventry put his arm through Dion's.

"I don't know whether I can name it even to you; but it's something a
man of great intelligence, such as myself, should always keep in his
fist."

He paused.

"The clergy are apt to call it self-respect," he at length added, in a
dry voice.

Dion pressed his arm.

"Bruce Evelin wants you to marry Beatrice."

"He hasn't told you so?"

"No, except by taking the trouble to force you to work."

Daventry stood still.

"I'm going to ask her--almost directly."

"Come on, Guy, or we shall have all the blackbirds round us. Look over
there."

Not far off, among the trees, two slinking and sinister shadows of men
seemed to be intent upon them.

"Isn't it incredible to practise the profession of a blackmailer out of
doors on a night like this?" said Dion. "D'you remember when we were in
the night train coming from Burstal? You had a feather that night."

"Damn it! Why rake up--?"

"And I said how wonderful it would be if some day I were married to
Rosamund."

"Is it wonderful?"

"Yes."

"Very wonderful?"

"Yes."

"Children too!"

Daventry sighed.

"One wants to be worthy of it all," he murmured. "And then"--he laughed,
as if calling in his humor to save him from something--"the children, in
their turn, feel they would like to live up to papa. Dion, people can be
caught in the net of goodness very much as they can be caught in the net
of evil. Let us praise the stars for that."

They arrived at the bridge. The wide road, which looked to-night
extraordinarily clean, almost as if it had been polished up for the
passing of some delicate procession in the night, was empty. There were
no vehicles going by; the night-birds kept among the trees. The quarter
after eleven chimed from some distant church. Dion thought of Rosamund,
as he paused on the bridge, thought of himself as a husband yielding his
wife up to the solitude she evidently desired. He took Daventry for his
companion; she had the child for hers. There was suffering of a kind
even in a very perfect marriage, but what he had told Daventry was true;
it had been very wonderful. He had learnt a great deal in his marriage,
dear lessons of high-mindedness in desire, of purity in possession.
If Rosamund were to be cut off from him even to-night he had gained
enormously by the possession of her. He knew what woman can be, and
without disappointment; for he did not choose to reckon up those small,
almost impalpable things which, like passing shadows, had now and
then brought a faint obscurity into his life with Rosamund, as
disappointments. They came, perhaps, from himself. And what where they?
He looked out over the long stretch of unruffled water, filmed over with
ice near the shores, and saw a tiny dark object traveling through it
with self-possession and an air of purpose beneath the constellations;
some aquatic bird up to something, heedless of the approaching midnight
and the Great Bear.

"Look at that little beggar!" said Daventry. "And we don't know so very
much more about it all than he does. I expect he's a Muscovy duck, or
drake, if you're a pedant about genders."

"He's evidently full of purpose."

"Out in the middle of the ice-cold Serpentine. He's only a speck now,
like our world in space. Now I can't see him."

"I can."

"You're longer-sighted than I am. But, Dion, I'm seeing a longish way
to-night, farther than I've seen before. Love's a great business,
the greatest business in life. Ambition, and greed, and vanity, and
altruism, and even fanaticism, must give place when it's on hand, when
it harnesses its winged horses to a man's car and swings him away to the
stars."

"Ask her. I think she'll have you."

A star fell through the frosty clear sky. Dion remembered the falling
star above Drouva. This time he was swift with a wish, but it was not a
wish for his friend.

They reached Hyde Park Corner just before midnight and parted there.
Dion hailed a hansom, but Daventry declared with determination that he
was going to walk all the way home to Phillimore Gardens.

"To get up my case, to arrange things mentally," he explained. "Big
brains always work best at night. All the great lawyers toil when
the stars are out. Why should I be an exception? I dedicate myself to
Cynthia Clarke. She will have my undivided attention and all my deepest
solicitude."

"I know why."

"No, no."

He put one hand on the apron which Dion had already closed.

"No, really, you're wrong. I am deeply interested in Mrs. Clarke because
she is what she is. I want her to win because I'm convinced she's
innocent. Will you come to Mrs. Chetwinde's next Sunday and meet her?"

"Yes, unless Rosamund wants me."

"That's always understood."

The cab drove away, and the great lawyer was left to think of his case
under the stars.

When the cab turned the corner of Great Market Street, Westminster, and
came into Little Market Street, Dion saw in the distance before him two
large, staring yellow eyes, which seemed to be steadily regarding
him like the eyes of something on the watch. They were the lamps of a
brougham drawn up in front of No. 5. Dion's cabman, perforce, pulled up
short before the brown door of No. 4.

"A carriage in front of my house at this time of night!" thought Dion,
as he got out and paid the man.

He looked at the coachman and at the solemn brown horse between the
shafts, and instantly realized that this was the carriage of a doctor.

"Rosamund!"

With a thrill of anxiety, a clutch at his heart, he thrust his latchkey
into the door. It stuck; he could not turn it. This had never happened
before. He tried, with force, to pull the key out. It would not move.
He shook it. The doctor's coachman, he felt, was staring at him from
the box of the brougham. As he struggled impotently with the key his
shoulders began to tingle, and a wave of acute irritation flooded him.
He turned sharply round and met the coachman's eyes, shrewd, observant,
lit, he thought, by a flickering of sarcasm.

"Has the doctor been here long?" said Dion.

"Sir?"

"This is a doctor's carriage, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir. Doctor Mayson."

"Well, I say, has he been here long?"

"About an hour, sir, or a little more."

"Thanks."

Dion turned again and assaulted the latchkey.

But he had to ring the bell to get in. When the maid came, looking
excited, he said:

"I don't know what on earth's the matter with this key. I can't either
turn it or get it out."

"No, sir?"

The girl put her hand to the key, and without any difficulty drew it out
of the door.

"I don't know--I couldn't!"

The girl shut the door.

"What's the matter? Why's the doctor here? It isn't----?"

"Yes, sir," said the girl, with a sort of intensely feminine
significance. "It came on quite sudden."

"How long ago?"

"A good while, sir. I couldn't say exactly."

"But why wasn't I sent for?"

"My mistress wouldn't have you sent for, sir. Besides, we were expecting
you every moment."

"Ah! and I--and now it's past midnight."

He had quickly taken off his coat, hat and gloves. Now he ran up the
shallow steps of the staircase. There was a sort of tumult within him.
He felt angry, he did not know why. His whole body was longing to do
something strong, eager, even violent. He hated his latchkey, he hated
the long stroll in Hyde Park, the absurd delay upon the bridge, his
preoccupation with the Muscovy duck, or whatever bird it was, voyaging
over the Serpentine. Why had nothing told him not to lose a moment but
to hurry home? He remembered that he had been specially reluctant to
leave Rosamund that evening, that he had even said to her, "I don't know
why it is, but this evening I hate to leave you." Perhaps, then, he had
been warned, but he had not comprehended the warning. As he had looked
at the stars he had thought of the coming of the most wonderful Child
who had ever visited this earth. Perhaps then, too----He tried to
snap off his thought, half confusedly accusing himself of some sort of
blasphemy. At the top of the staircase he turned and looked down into
the hall.

"The nurse?"

"Sir?"

"Have you managed to get the nurse?"

"Yes, sir; she's been here some time."

At this moment Doctor Mayson opened the door of Rosamund's room and came
out upon the landing--a tall, rosy and rather intellectual-looking
man, with tranquil gray eyes, and hair thinning above the high knobby
forehead. Dion had never seen him before. They shook hands.

"I shouldn't go into your wife's room," said Doctor Mayson in a low bass
voice.

"Why? Doesn't she wish it?"

"She wished you very much to be in the house."

"Then why not send for me?"

"She was against it, I understand. And she doesn't wish any one to be
with her just now except the nurse and myself."

"When do you expect? . . ."

"Some time during the night. It's evidently going to be an easy
confinement. I'm just going down to send away my carriage. It's no use
keeping the horse standing half the night in this frost. I'm very fond
of horses."

"Fond of horses--are you?" said Dion, rather vacantly.

"Yes. Are you?"

The low bass voice almost snapped out the question.

"Oh, I dare say. Why not? They're useful animals. I'll come down with
you if I'm not to go into my wife's room."

He followed the doctor down the stairs he had just mounted. When the
carriage had been sent away, he asked Doctor Mayson to come into his den
for a moment. The pains of labor had come on unexpectedly, but were not
exceptionally severe; everything pointed to an easy confinement.

"Your wife is one of the strongest and healthiest women I have ever
attended," Doctor Mayson added; "superb health. It's a pleasure to see
any one like that. I look after so many neurotic women in London. They
give themselves up for lost when they are confronted with a perfectly
natural crisis. Mrs. Leith is all courage and self-possession."

"But then why shouldn't I see her?"

"Well, she seems to have an extraordinary sense of duty towards the
child that's coming. She thinks you might be less calm than she is."

"But I'm perfectly calm."

Doctor Mayson smiled.

"D'you know, it's really ever so much better for us men to keep right
out of the way in such moments as these. It's the kindest thing we can
do."

"Very well. I'll do it of course."

"I never go near my own wife when she's like this."

Dion stared into the fire.

"Have you many children?"

"Eleven," remarked the bass voice comfortably. "But I married very
young, before I left Guy's. Now I'll go up again. You needn't be the
least alarmed."

"I'm not," said Dion bruskly.

"Capital!"

And Doctor Mayson went off, not treading with any precaution. It was
quite obvious that his belief in his patient was genuine.

Eleven children! Well, some people were prepared to take any risks and
to face any responsibilities. Was it very absurd to find in the coming
of one child a tremendous event? Really, Doctor Mayson had almost
succeeded in making Dion feel a great fool. Just another child in the
world--crying, dribbling, feebly trying to grasp the atmosphere; another
child to cut its first tooth, with shrieks, to have whooping-cough,
chicken-pox, rose rash and measles; another child to eat of the fruit of
the tree; another child to combat and love and suffer and die. No,
damn it, the matter was important. Doctor Mayson and his rosy face were
unmeaning. He might have eleven, or a hundred and eleven children, but
he had no imagination.

Dion shut himself into his room, sat down in a big armchair, lit his
pipe and thought about the Clarke case. He had just told Doctor Mayson
a white lie. He was determined not to think about his Rosamund: he dared
not do that; so his mind fastened on the Clarke case. Almost ferociously
he flung himself upon it, called upon the unknown Mrs. Clarke, the woman
whom he had never seen to banish from him his Rosamund, to interpose
between her and him. For Rosamund was inevitably suffering, and if he
thought about that suffering his deep anxiety, his pity, his yearning
would grow till they were almost unendurable, might even lead his feet
to the room upstairs, the room forbidden to him to-night. So he called
to Mrs. Clarke, and at last, obedient to his insistent demand, she came
and did her best for him, came, he imagined, from Constantinople, to
keep him company in this night of crisis.

As Daventry had described her, as Bruce Evelin had, with casual
allusions and suggestive hints, built her up before Dion in the talk
after dinner that night, so she was now in the little room: a woman
of intellect and of great taste, with an intense love for, and fine
knowledge of, beautiful things: a woman who was almost a sensualist in
her adoration for fine and rare things.

"I detest the sensation of sinking down in things!"

Who had said that once with energy in Dion's hearing? Oh--Rosamund, of
course! But she must not be admitted into Dion's life in these hours of
waiting. Mrs. Clarke must be allowed to reign. She had come (in Dion's
imagination) all the way from the city of wood and of marble beside the
seaway of the Golden Horn, a serious, intellectual and highly cultivated
woman, whom a cruel fate--Kismet--was now about to present to the world
as a horrible woman. Pale, thin, rather melancholy she was, a reader of
many books, a great lover of nature, a woman who cared very much for
her one child. Why should Fate play such a woman such a trick? Perhaps
because she was very unconventional, and it is unwise for the bird which
sings in the cage of diplomacy to sing any but an ordinary song.

Daventry had dwelt several times on Mrs. Clarke's unconventionality;
evidently the defense meant to lay stress on it.

So now Dion sat with a pale, thin, unconventional woman, and she told
him about the life at Stamboul. She knew, of course, that he had hated
Constantinople. He allowed her to know that. And she pointed out to him
that he knew nothing of the wonderful city, upon which Russia breathes
from the north, and which catches, too, strange airs and scents and
murmurs of voices from distant places of Asia. What does the passing
tourist of a Pera hotel know about the great city of the Turks? Nothing
worth knowing. The roar of the voices of the Levant deafens his ears;
the glitter of the shop windows in the Grande Rue blinds his eyes. He
knows not the exquisite and melancholy charm, full of nuances and of the
most fragile and evanescent subtleties, which Constantinople holds for
those who know her and love her well.

The defense was evidently going to make much of Mrs. Clarke's passion
for the city on the Bosporus. Daventry had alluded to it more than once,
and Bruce Evelin had said, "Mrs. Clarke has always had an extraordinary
feeling for places. If her husband had accused her of a liaison with
Eyub, or of an unholy fancy for the forest of Belgrad, we might have
been in a serious difficulty. She had, I know, a regular romance once
with the Mosquee Verte at Brusa."

Evidently she was a woman whom ordinary people would be likely to
misunderstand. Dion sat in his arm-chair trying to understand her. The
effort would help him to forget, or to ignore if he couldn't forget,
what was going on upstairs in the little house. He pulled hard at his
pipe, as an aid to his mind; he sat alone for a long while with Mrs.
Clarke. Sometimes he looked across the Golden Horn from a bit of waste
ground in Pera, near to a small cemetery: it was from there, towards
evening, that he had been able to "feel" Stamboul, to feel it as an
unique garden city, held by the sea, wooden and frail, marble and
enduring. And somewhere in the great and mysterious city Mrs. Clarke had
lived and been adored by the husband who, apparently still adoring, was
now trying to get rid of her.

Sometimes Dion heard voices rising from the crowded harbor of the Golden
Horn. They crept up out of the mystery of the evening; voices from the
caiques, and from the boats of the fishermen, and from the big sailing
vessels which ply to the harbors of the East, and from the steamers at
rest near the Galata Bridge, and from the many craft of all descriptions
strung out towards the cypress-crowned hill of Eyub. And Mrs. Clarke,
standing beside him, began to explain to him in a low and hoarse voice
what these strange cries of the evening meant.

Daventry had mentioned that she had a hoarse voice.

At a little after three o'clock Dion sat forward abruptly in his chair
and listened intently. He fancied he had heard a faint cry. He waited,
surrounded by silence, enveloped by silence. There was a low drumming
in his ears. Mrs. Clarke had escaped like a phantom. Stamboul, with its
mosques, its fountains, its pigeons and its plane trees, had faded away.
The voices from the Golden Horn were stilled. The drumming in Dion's
ears grew louder. He stood up. He felt very hot, and a vein in his left
temple was beating--not fluttering, but beating hard.

He heard, this time really heard, a cry overhead, and then the muffled
sound of some one moving about; and he went to the door, opened it and
passed out into the hall. He did not go upstairs, but waited in the
hall until Doctor Mayson came down, looking as rosy and serene and
unconcerned as ever.

"Well, Mr. Leith," he said, "you're a father. I congratulate you. You
wife has got through beautifully."

"Yes?"

"By the way, it's a boy."

"Yes, of course."

Doctor Mayson looked genuinely surprised.

"Why 'of course'? I don't quite understand."

"She knew it was going to be a boy."

The doctor smiled faintly.

"Women often have strange fancies at such times. I mean before they are
confined."

"But you see she was right. It is a boy."

"Exactly," returned the doctor, looking at his nails.

Dion saw the star falling above the hill of Drouva.

Did the Hermes know?



CHAPTER III

On the following Sunday afternoon Dion was able to fulfil his promise
to Daventry. Rosamund and the baby were "doing beautifully"; he was not
needed at home, so he set out with Daventry, who came to fetch him, to
visit Mrs. Willie Chetwinde in Lowndes Square.

When they reached the house Daventry said:

"Now for Mrs. Clarke. She's really a wonderful woman, Dion, and she's
got a delicious profile."

"Oh, it's that--"

"No, it isn't."

He gently pushed Mrs. Chetwinde's bell.

As they went upstairs they heard a soft hum of voices.

"Mrs. Clarke's got heaps of people on her side," whispered Daventry.
"This is a sort of rallying ground for the defense."

"Where's her child? Here?"

"No, with some relations till the trial's over."

The butler opened the door, and immediately Dion's eyes rested on
Mrs. Clarke, who happened to be standing very near to it with Esme
Darlington. Directly Dion saw her he knew at whom he was looking.
Something--he could not have said what--told him.

By a tall pedestal of marble, on which was poised a marble statuette
of Echo,--not that Echo who babbled to Hera, but she who, after her
punishment, fell in love with Narcissus,--he saw a very thin, very pale,
and strangely haggard-looking woman of perhaps thirty-two talking to
Esme Darlington. At first sight she did not seem beautiful to Dion.
He was accustomed to the radiant physical bloom of his Rosamund. This
woman, with her tenuity, her pallor, her haunted cheeks and temples, her
large, distressed and observant eyes--dark hazel in color under brown
eyebrows drawn with a precise straightness till they neared the bridge
of the nose and there turning abruptly downwards, her thin and almost
white-lipped mouth, her cloudy brown hair which had no shine or sparkle,
her rather narrow and pointed chin, suggested to him unhealthiness, a
human being perhaps stricken by some obscure disease which had drained
her body of all fresh color, and robbed it of flesh, had caused to
come upon her something strange, not easily to be defined, which almost
suggested the charnel-house.

As he was looking at her, Mrs. Clarke turned slightly and glanced up at
the statue of Echo, and immediately Dion realized that she had beauty.
The line of her profile was wonderfully delicate and refined, almost
ethereal in its perfection; and the shape of her small head was
exquisite. Her head, indeed, looked girlish. Afterwards he knew that she
had enchanting hands--moving purities full of expressiveness--and slim
little wrists. Her expression was serious, almost melancholy, and in her
whole personality, shed through her, there was a penetrating refinement,
a something delicate, wild and feverish. She looked very sensitive and
at the same time perfectly self-possessed, as if, perhaps, she dreaded
Fate but could never be afraid of a fellow-creature. He thought:

"She's like Echo after her punishment."

On his way to greet Mrs. Chetwinde, he passed by her; as he did so she
looked at him, and he saw that she thoroughly considered him, with a
grave swiftness which seemed to be an essential part of her personality.
Then she spoke to Esme Darlington. Dion just caught the sound of her
voice, veiled, husky, but very individual and very attractive--a voice
that could never sing, but that could make of speech a music frail and
evanescent as a nocturne of Debussy's.

"Daventry's right," thought Dion. "That woman is surely innocent."

Mrs. Chetwinde, who was as haphazard, as apparently absent-minded and as
shrewd in her own house as in the houses of others, greeted Dion with a
vague cordiality. Her husband, a robust and very definite giant, with a
fan-shaped beard, welcomed him largely.

"Never appear at my wife's afternoons, you know," he observed, in a fat
and genial voice. "But to-day's exceptional. Always stick to an innocent
woman in trouble."

He lowered his voice in speaking the last sentence, and looked very
human. And immediately Dion was aware of a special and peculiar
atmosphere in Mrs. Chetwinde's drawing-room on this Sunday afternoon,
of something poignant almost, though lightly veiled with the sparkling
gossamer which serves to conceal undue angularities, something which
just hinted at tragedy confronted with courage, at the attempted stab
and the raised shield of affection. Here Mrs. Clarke was in sanctuary.
He glanced towards her again with a deepening interest.

"Canon Wilton's coming in presently," said Mrs. Chetwinde. "He's
preaching at St. Paul's this afternoon, or perhaps it's Westminster
Abbey--something of that kind."

"I've heard him two or three times," answered Dion, who was on very
good, though not on very intimate, terms with Canon Wilton. "I'd rather
hear him than anybody."

"In the pulpit--yes, I suppose so. I'm scarcely an amateur of sermons.
He's a volcano of sincerity, and never sends out ashes. It's all red-hot
lava. Have you met Cynthia Clarke?"

"No."

"She's over there, echoing my Echo. Would you like----?"

"Very much indeed."

"Then I'll--"

An extremely pale man, with long, alarmingly straight hair and wandering
eyes almost the color of silver, said something to her.

"Watteau? Oh, no--he died in 1721, not in 1722," she replied. "The only
date I can never remember is William the Conqueror. But of course you
couldn't remember about Watteau. It's distance makes memory. You're too
near."

"That's the fan painter, Murphy-Elphinston, Watteau's reincarnation,"
she added to Dion. "He's always asking questions about himself.
Cynthia--this is Mr. Dion Leith. He wishes----" She drifted away, not,
however, without dexterously managing to convey Mr. Darlington with her.

Dion found himself looking into the large, distressed eyes of Mrs.
Clarke. Daventry was standing close to her, but, with a glance at his
friend, moved away.

"I should like to sit down," said Mrs. Clarke.

"Here are two chairs----"

"No, I'd rather sit over there under the Della Robbia. I can see Echo
from there."

She walked very slowly and languidly, as if tired, to a large and low
sofa covered with red, which was exactly opposite to the statuette.
Dion followed her, thinking about her age. He supposed her to be about
thirty-two or thirty-three, possibly a year or two more or less. She was
very simply dressed in a gray silk gown with black and white lines in
it. The tight sleeves of it were unusually long and ended in points.
They were edged with some transparent white material which rested
against her small hands.

She sat down and he sat down by her, and they began to talk. Unlike Mrs.
Chetwinde, Mrs. Clarke showed that she was alertly attending to all that
was said to her, and, when she spoke, she looked at the person to whom
she was speaking, looked steadily and very unself-consciously. Dion
mentioned that he had once been to Constantinople.

"Did you care about it?" said Mrs. Clarke, rather earnestly.

"I'm afraid I disliked it, although I found it, of course, tremendously
interesting. In fact, I almost hated it."

"That's only because you stayed in Pera," she answered, "and went about
with a guide."

"But how do you know?"--he was smiling.

"Well, of course you did."

"Yes."

"I could easily make you love it," she continued, in an oddly impersonal
way, speaking huskily.

Dion had never liked huskiness before, but he liked it now.

"You are fond of it, I believe?" he said.

His eyes met hers with a great deal of interest.

He considered her present situation an interesting one; there was drama
in it; there was the prospect of a big fight, of great loss or great
gain, destruction or vindication.

In her soul already the drama was being played. He imagined her soul in
turmoil, peopled with a crowd of jostling desires and fears, and he was
thinking a great many things about her, and connected with her, almost
simultaneously--so rapidly a flood of thoughts seemed to go by in the
mind--as he put his question.

"Yes, I am," replied Mrs. Clarke. "Stamboul holds me very fast in its
curiously inert grip. It's a grip like this."

She held out her small right hand, and he put his rather large and
sinewy brown hand into it. The small hand folded itself upon his in a
curious way--feeble and fierce at the same time, it seemed--and held
him. The hand was warm, almost hot, and soft, and dry as a fire is
dry--so dry that it hisses angrily if water is thrown on it.

"Now, you are trying to get away," she said. "And of course you can,
but----"

Dion made a movement as if to pull away his hand, but Mrs. Clarke
retained it. How was that? He scarcely knew; in fact he did not know.
She did not seem to be doing anything definite to keep him, did not
squeeze or grip his hand, or cling to it; but his hand remained in hers
nevertheless.

"There," she said, letting his hand go. "That is how Stamboul holds. Do
you understand?"

Mrs. Chetwinde's vague eyes had been on them during this little episode.
Dion had had time to see that, and to think, "Now, at such a time, no
one but an absolutely innocent woman would do in public what Mrs. Clarke
is doing to me." Mrs. Chetwinde, he felt sure, full of all worldly
knowledge, must be thinking the very same thing.

"Yes," he said. "I think I do. But I wonder whether it could hold me
like that."

"I know it could."

"May I ask how you know?"

"Why not? Simply by my observation of you."

Dion remembered the swift grave look of consideration she had given to
him as he came into the room. Something almost combative rose up in him,
and he entered into an argument with her, in the course of which he
was carried away into the revelation of his mental comparison between
Constantinople and Greece, a comparison into which entered a moral
significance. He even spoke of the Christian significance of the
Hermes of Olympia. Mrs. Clarke listened to him with a very still, and
apparently a very deep, attention.

"I've been to Greece," she said simply, when he had finished.

"You didn't feel at all as I did, as I do?"

"You may know Greece, but you don't know Stamboul," she said quietly.

"If you had shown it to me I might feel very differently," Dion said,
with a perhaps slightly banal politeness.

And yet he did not feel entirely banal as he said it.

"Come out again and I will show it to you," she said.

She was almost staring at him, at his chest and shoulders, not at his
face, but her eyes still kept their unself-conscious and almost oddly
impersonal look.

"You are going back there?"

"Of course, when my case is over."

Dion felt very much surprised. He knew that Mrs. Clarke's husband was
accredited to the British Embassy at Constantinople; that the
scandal about her was connected with that city and with its
neighborhood--Therapia, Prinkipo, and other near places, that both the
co-respondents named in the suit lived there. Whichever way the case
went, surely Constantinople must be very disagreeable to Mrs. Clarke
from now onwards. And yet she was going back there, and apparently
intended to take up her life there again. She evidently either saw or
divined his surprise, for she added in the husky voice:

"Guilt may be governed by circumstances. I suppose it is full of alarms.
But I think an innocent woman who allows herself to be driven out of a
place she loves by a false accusation is merely a coward. But all this
is very uninteresting to you. The point is, I shall soon be settled down
again at Constantinople, and ready to make you see it as it really is,
if you ever return there."

She had spoken without hardness or any pugnacity; there was no defiance
in her manner, which was perfectly simple and straightforward.

"Your moral comparison between Constantinople and Greece--it isn't fair,
by the way, to compare a city with a country--doesn't interest me at
all. People can be disgusting anywhere. Greece is no better than
Turkey. It has a wonderfully delicate, pure atmosphere; but that doesn't
influence the morals of the population. Fine Greek art is the purest art
in the world; but that doesn't mean that the men who created it had only
pure thoughts or lived only pure lives. I never read morals into art,
although I'm English, and it's the old hopeless English way to do
that. The man who made Echo"--she turned her large eyes towards the
statuette--"may have been an evil liver. In fact, I believe he was. But
Echo is an exquisite pure bit of art."

Dion thought of Rosamund's words about Praxiteles as they sat before
Hermes. His Rosamund and Mrs. Clarke were mentally at opposite poles;
yet they were both good women.

"My friend Daventry would agree with you, I know," he said.

"He's a clever and a very dear little man. Who's that coming in?"

Dion looked and saw Canon Wilton. He told Mrs. Clarke who it was.

"Enid told me he was coming. I should like to know him."

"Shall I go and tell him so?"

"Presently. How's your baby? I'm told you've got a baby."

Dion actually blushed. Mrs. Clarke gazed at the blush, and no doubt
thoroughly understood it, but she did not smile, or look arch, or full
of feminine understanding.

"It's very well, thank you. It's just like other babies."

"So was mine. Babies are always said to be wonderful, and never are.
And we love ours chiefly because they aren't. I hate things with wings
growing out of their shoulders. My boy's a very naughty boy."

They talked about the baby, and then about Mrs. Clarke's son of ten;
and then Canon Wilton came up, shook hands warmly with Dion, and was
introduced by Mrs. Chetwinde to Mrs. Clarke.

Presently, from the other side of the room where he was standing with
Esme Darlington, Dion saw them in conversation; saw Mrs. Clarke's eyes
fixed on the Canon's almost fiercely sincere face.

"It's going to be an abominable case," murmured Mr. Darlington in Dion's
ear. "We must all stand round her."

"I can't imagine how any one could think such a woman guilty," said
Dion.

"It has all come about through her unconventionality." He pulled his
beard and lifted his ragged eyebrows. "It really is much wiser
for innocent people, such as Cynthia, to keep a tight hold on the
conventions. They have their uses. They have their place in the scheme.
But she never could see it, and look at the result."

"But then don't you think she'll win?"

"No one can tell."

"In any case, she tells me she's going back to live at Constantinople."

"Madness! Sheer madness!" said Mr. Darlington, almost piteously. "I
shall beg her not to."

Dion suppressed a smile. That day he had gained the impression that Mrs.
Clarke had a will of iron.

When he went up to say good-by to her, Daventry had already gone; he
said he had work to do on the case.

"May I wish you success?" Dion ventured to say, as he took her hand.

"Thank you," she answered. "I think you must go in for athletic
exercises, don't you?"

Her eyes were fixed on the breadth of his chest, and then traveled to
his strong, broad shoulders.

"Yes, I'm very keen on them."

"I want my boy to go in for them. It's so important to be healthy."

"Rather!"

He felt the Stamboul touch in her soft, hot hand. As he let it go, he
added:

"I can give you the address of a first-rate instructor if your boy ever
wants to be physically trained. I go to him. His name's Jenkins."

"Thank you."

She was still looking at his chest and shoulders. The expression of
distress in her eyes seemed to be deepening. But a tall man, Sir John
Killigrew, one of her adherents, spoke to her, and she turned to give
him her complete attention.

"I'll walk with you, if you're going," said Canon Wilton's strong voice
in Dion's ear.

"That's splendid. I'll just say good-by to Mrs. Chetwinde."

He found her by the tea-table with three or four men and two very smart
women. As he came up one of the latter was saying:

"It's all Lady Ermyntrude's fault. She always hated Cynthia, and she has
a heart of stone."

The case again!

"Oh, are you going?" said Mrs. Chetwinde.

She got up and came away from the tea-table.

"D'you like Cynthia Clarke?" she asked.

"Yes, very much. She interests me."

"Ah?"

She looked at him, and seemed about to say something, but did not speak.

"You saw her take my hand," he said, moved by a sudden impulse.

"Did she?"

"We were talking about Stamboul. She did it to show me----" He broke
off. "I saw you felt, as I did, that no one but a through and through
innocent woman could have done it, just now--like that, I mean."

"Of course Cynthia is innocent," Mrs. Chetwinde said, rather coldly and
very firmly. "There's Canon Wilton waiting for you."

She turned away, but did not go back to the tea-table; as Dion went out
of the room he saw her sitting down on the red sofa by Mrs. Clarke.

Canon Wilton and he walked slowly away from the house. The Canon, who
had some heart trouble of which he never spoke, was not allowed to walk
fast; and to-day he was tired after his sermon at the Abbey. He inquired
earnestly about Rosamund and the child, and seemed made happy by the
good news Dion was able to give him.

"Has it made all life seem very different to you?" he asked.

Dion acknowledged that it had.

"I was half frightened at the thought of the change which was coming,"
he said. "We were so very happy as we were, you see."

The Canon's intense gray eyes shot a glance at him, which he felt rather
than saw, in the evening twilight.

"I hope you'll be even happier now."

"It will be a different sort of happiness now."

"I think children bind people together more often than not. There are
cases when it's not so, but I don't think yours is likely to be one of
them."

"Oh, no."

"Is it a good-looking baby?"

"No, really it's not. Even Rosamund thinks that. D'you know, so far
she's marvelously reasonable in her love."

"That's splendid," said Canon Wilton, with a strong ring in his voice.
"An unreasonable love is generally a love with something rotten at its
roots."

Dion stood still.

"Oh, is that true really?"

The Canon paused beside him. They were in Eaton Square, opposite to St.
Peter's.

"I think so. But I hate anything that approaches what I call mania.
Religious mania, for instance, is abhorrent to me, and, I should think,
displeasing to God. Any mania entering into a love clouds that purity
which is the greatest beauty of love. Mania--it's detestable!"

He spoke almost with a touch of heat, and put his hand on Dion's
shoulder.

"Beware of it, my boy."

"Yes."

They walked on, talking of other things. A few minutes before they
parted they spoke of Mrs. Clarke.

"Did you know her before to-day?" asked the Canon.

"No. I'd never even seen her. How dreadful for her to have to face such
a case."

"Yes, indeed."

"The fact that she's innocent gives her a great pull, though. I realized
what a pull when I was having a talk with her."

"I don't know much about the case," was all that the Canon said. "I hope
justice will be done in it when it comes on."

Dion thought that there was something rather implacable in his voice.

"I don't believe Mrs. Clarke doubts that."

"Did she say so?" asked Canon Wilton.

"No. But I felt that she expected to win--almost knew she would win."

"I see. She has confidence in the result."

"She seems to have."

"Women often have more confidence in difficult moments than we men.
Well, here I must leave you."

He held out his big, unwavering hand to Dion.

"Good-by. God bless you both, and the child, whether it's plain or
not. One good thing's added to us when we start rather ill-favored; the
chance of growing into something well-favored."

He gripped Dion's hand and walked slowly, but powerfully, away.



CHAPTER IV

As Dion had said, the baby was an ordinary baby. "In looks," the nurse
remarked, "he favors his papa." Certainly in this early stage of his
career the baby had little of the beauty and charm of Rosamund. As his
head was practically bald, his forehead, which was wrinkled as if by
experience and the troubles of years, looked abnormally high. His face,
full of puckers, was rather red; his nose meant very little as yet; his
mouth, with perpetually moving lips, was the home of bubbles. His eyes
were blue, and looked large in his extremely small countenance, which
was often decorated with an expression of mild inquiry. This expression,
however, sometimes changed abruptly to a network of wrath, in which
every feature, and even the small bald head, became involved. Then the
minute feet made feeble dabs, or stabs, at the atmosphere; the tiny
fists doubled themselves and wandered to and fro as if in search of the
enemy; and a voice came forth out of the temple, very personal and very
intense, to express the tempest of the soul.

"Hark at him!" said the nurse. "He knows already what he wants and what
he _don't_ want."

And Rosamund, listening as only a mother can listen, shook her head over
him, trying to condemn the rage, but enjoying the strength of her
child in the way of mothers, to whom the baby's roar perhaps brings the
thought, "What a fine, bold man he'll be some day." If Rosamund had such
a thought the nurse encouraged it with her. "He's got a proud spirit
already, ma'am. He's not to be put upon. Have his way he will, and I
don't altogether blame him." Nor, be sure, did Rosamund altogether
blame the young varmint for anything. Perhaps in his tiny fisticuffs and
startlingly fierce cries she divined the Doric, in embryo, as it were;
perhaps when "little master" shrieked she thought of the columns of the
Parthenon.

But Dion told the truth to Canon Wilton when he had said that Rosamund
was marvelously reasonable, so far, in her love for her baby son. The
admirable sanity, the sheer healthiness of outlook which Dion loved in
her did not desert her now. To Dion it seemed that in the very calmness
and good sense of her love she showed its great depth, showed that
already she was thinking of her child's soul as well as of his little
body.

Dion felt the beginnings of a change in Rosamund, but he did not find
either her or himself suddenly and radically changed by the possession
of a baby. He had thought that perhaps as mother and father they would
both feel abruptly much older than before, even perhaps old. It was not
so. Often Dion gazed at the baby as he bubbled and cooed, sneezed with
an air of angry astonishment, stared at nothing with a look of shallow
surmise, or, composing his puckers, slept, and Dion still felt young,
even very young, and not at all like a father.

"I'm sure," he once said to Rosamund, "women feel much more like mothers
when they have a baby than men feel like fathers."

"I feel like a mother all over," she replied, bending above the child.
"In every least little bit of me."

"Then do you feel completely changed?"

"Completely, utterly."

Dion sat still for a moment gazing at her. She felt his look, perhaps,
for she lifted her head, and her eyes went from the baby to him.

"What is it, Rosamund? What are you considering?"

"Well----" She hesitated. "Perhaps no one could quite understand, but I
feel a sense of release."

"Release! From what?"

Again she hesitated; then she looked once more at the child almost as if
she wished to gain something from his helplessness. At last she said:

"Dion, as you've given me _him_, I'll tell you. Very often in the past
I've had an urgent desire some day to enter into the religious life."

"D'you--d'you mean to become a Roman Catholic and a nun?" he exclaimed,
feeling, absurdly perhaps, almost afraid and half indignant.

"No. I've never wished to change my religion. There are Anglican
sisterhoods, you know."

"But your singing!"

"I only intended to sing for a time. Then some day, when I felt quite
ready, I meant--"

"But you married me?" he interrupted.

"Yes. So you see I gave it all up."

"But you said it was the child which had brought you a sensation of
release!"

"Perhaps you have never been a prisoner of a desire which threatens to
dominate your soul forever," she said, quietly evading his point and
looking down, so that he could not see her eyes. "Look, he's waking!"

Surely she had moved abruptly and the movement had awakened the child.
She began playing with him, and the conversation was broken.

The Clarke trial came on in May, when Robin was becoming almost elderly,
having already passed no less than ten weeks in the midst of this wicked
world. On the day before it opened, Daventry made Dion promise to come
into court at least once to hear some of the evidence.

"A true friend would be there every day," he urged--"to back up his old
chum."

"Business!" returned Dion laconically.

"What's your real reason against it?"

"Well, Rosamund hates this kind of case. I spoke to her about it the
other day."

"What did she say?"

"That she was delighted you had something to do, and that she hoped, if
Mrs. Clarke were innocent, she'd win. She pities her for being dragged
through all this mud."

"Yes?"

"She said at the end that she hoped I wouldn't think her unsympathetic
if she neither talked about the case nor read about it. She hates
filling her mind with ugly details and horrible suggestions."

"I see."

"You know, Guy, Rosamund thinks--she's told me so more than once--that
the mind and the soul are very sensitive, and that--that they ought to
be watched over, and--and taken care of."

Dion looked rather uncomfortable as he finished. It was one thing to
speak of such matters with Rosamund, and quite another to touch on them
with a man, even a man who was a trusted friend.

"Perhaps you'd rather not come at all?"

"No, no. I'll come once. You know how keen I am on your making a good
start."

Daventry took him at his word, and got him a seat beside Mrs. Chetwinde
on the third day of the trial, when Mrs. Clarke's cross-examination,
begun on the previous day, was continued by Sir Edward Jeffson, Beadon
Clarke's leading counsel.

Dion told Rosamund where he was going when he left the house in the
morning.

"I hope it will go well for poor Mrs. Clarke," she said kindly, but
perhaps rather indifferently.

She had not looked at the reports of the case in the papers, and had not
discussed its progress with Dion. He was not sorry for that. It was a
horrible case, full of abominable allegations and suggestions such as
he would have hated to discuss with Rosamund. As he stood in the little
hall of their house, which was delicately scented with lavender and lit
by pale sunshine, bidding her good-by, he realized the impossibility of
such a woman as she was ever being "mixed up" in such a trial. Simply
that couldn't happen, he thought. Instinct would keep her far from every
suggestion of a possible impurity. He felt certain that Mrs. Clarke
was innocent, but, as he looked into Rosamund's honest brown eyes,
he thought that Mrs. Clarke must have been singularly imprudent. He
remembered how she had held his hand in Mrs. Chetwinde's drawing-room.
Wisdom and unwisdom; he compared them: the one was a builder up, the
other a destroyer of beauty--the beauty that is in every completely sane
and perfectly poised life.

"Rose," he said, leaning forward to kiss his wife, "I think you are very
wise."

"Why wise all of a sudden?" she asked, smiling.

"You keep the door of your life."

He glanced round at the little hall, simple, fresh, with a few white
roses in a blue pot, the pale sunshine lying on the polished floor of
wood, the small breeze coming in almost affectionately between snowy
curtains. Purity--everything seemed to whisper of that, to imply that;
simplicity ruling, complexity ruled out.

And then he was sitting in the crowded court, breathing bad air, hearing
foul suggestions, watching strained or hateful faces, surrounded by
people who were attracted by ugly things as vultures are attracted by
the stench of dead and decaying bodies. At first he loathed being there;
presently, however, he became interested, then almost fascinated by his
surroundings and by the drama which was being played slowly out in the
midst of them.

Daventry, in wig and gown, looked tremendously legal and almost severe
in his tense gravity. Sir John Addington, his leader, a man of great
fame, was less tense in his watchfulness, amazingly at his ease with the
Court, and on smiling terms with the President, who, full of worldly
and unworldly knowledge, held the balance of justice with an unwavering
firmness. The jury looked startlingly commonplace, smug and sleepy,
despite the variety of type almost inevitably presented by twelve human
beings. Not one of them looked a rascal; not one of them looked an
actively good man. The intense Englishness of them hit one in the face
like a well-directed blow from a powerful fist. And they had to give the
verdict on this complex drama of Stamboul! How much they would have
to tell their wives presently! Their sense of their unusual importance
pushed through the smugness heavily, like a bulky man in broadcloth
showing through a dull crowd.

Mrs. Clarke occasionally glanced at them with an air of almost
distressed inquiry, as if she had never seen such cabbages before, and
was wondering about their gray matter. Her life in Stamboul must have
effected changes in her. She looked almost exotic in this court, despite
the simplicity of her gown, her unpretending little hat; as if her mind,
perhaps, had become exotic. But she certainly did not look wicked. Dion
was struck again by the strong mentality of her and by her haggardness.
To him she seemed definitely a woman of mind, not at all an animal
woman. When he gazed at her he felt that he was gazing at mind rather
than at body. Just before she went into the box she met his eyes. She
stared at him, as if carefully and strongly considering him; then she
nodded. He bowed, feeling uncomfortable, feeling indeed almost a brute.

"She'll think I've come out of filthy curiosity," he thought, looking
round at the greedy faces of the crowd.

No need to ask why those faces were there.

He felt still more uncomfortable when Mrs. Clarke was in the
witness-box, and Sir Edward Jeffson took up the cross-examination which
he had begun late in the afternoon of the previous day.

Dion had very seldom been in a Court of Justice, and had never before
been in the Divorce Court. As the cross-examination of Mrs. Clarke
lengthened out he felt as if his clothes, and the clothes of all the
human beings who crowded about him, were being ruthlessly stripped off,
as if an ugly and abominable nakedness were gradually appearing. The
shame of it all was very hateful to him; and yet--yes, he couldn't deny
it--there was a sort of dreadful fascination in it, too.

The two co-respondents, Hadi Bey and Aristide Dumeny of the French
Embassy in Constantinople, were in court, sitting not far from Dion, to
whom Mrs. Chetwinde, less vague than, but quite as self-possessed as,
usual, pointed them out.

Both were young men. Hadi Bey, who of course wore the fez, was a fine
specimen of the smart, alert, cosmopolitan and cultivated Turk of modern
days. There was a peculiar look of vividness and brightness about him,
in his piercing dark eyes, in his red lips, in his healthy and manly
face with its rosy brown complexion and its powerful decided chin.
He had none of the sleepiness and fatalistic languor of the fat
hubble-bubble smoking Turk of caricature. The whole of him looked
aristocratic, energetic, perfectly poised and absolutely self-possessed.
Many of the women in court glanced at him without any distaste.

Aristide Dumeny was almost strangely different--an ashy-pale, dark-eyed,
thin and romantic-visaged man, stamped with a curious expression of pain
and fatalism. He looked as if he had seen much, dreamed many dreams,
and suffered not a little. There was in his face something slightly
contemptuous, as if, intellectually, he seldom gazed up at any man. He
watched Mrs. Clarke in the box with an enigmatic closeness of attention
which seemed wholly impersonal, even when she was replying to hideous
questions about himself. That he had an interesting personality was
certain. When his eyes rested on the twelve jurymen he smiled every so
faintly. It seemed to him, perhaps, absurd that they should have power
over the future of the woman in the witness-box.

That woman showed an extraordinary self-possession which touched dignity
but which never descended to insolence. Despite her obvious cleverness
and mental resource she preserved a certain simplicity. She did not pose
as a passionate innocent, or assume any forced airs of supreme virtue.
She presented herself rather as a woman of the world who was careless of
the conventions, because she thought of them as chains which prevented
free movement and were destructive of genuine liberty. She acknowledged
that she had been a great deal with Hadi Bey and Dumeny, that she had
often made long excursions with each of them on foot, on horseback, in
caiques, that she had had them to dinner, separately, on many occasions
in a little pavilion which stood at the end of her husband's garden and
looked upon the Bosporus. These dinners had frequently taken place when
her husband was away from home. Monsieur Dumeny was a good musician and
had sometimes sung and played to her till late in the night. Hadi Bey
had sometimes been her guide in Constantinople and had given to her the
freedom of his strange and mysterious city of Stamboul. With him she had
visited the mosques, with him she had explored the bazaars, with him
she had sunk down in the strange and enveloping melancholy of the vast
Turkish cemeteries which are protected by forests of cypresses. All this
she acknowledged without the least discomposure. One of her remarks to
the cross-examining counsel was this:

"You suggest that I have been very imprudent. I answer that I am not
able to live what the conventional call a prudent life. Such a life
would be a living death to me."

"Kindly confine yourself to answering my questions," retorted Counsel
harshly. "I suggest that you were far more than imprudent. I suggest
that when you and Hadi Bey remained together in that pavilion on
the Bosporus until midnight, until after midnight, you----" and then
followed another hideous accusation, which, gazing with her observant
eyes at the brick-red shaven face of her accuser, Mrs. Clarke quietly
denied. She never showed temper. Now and then she gave indications of a
sort of cold disgust or faint surprise. But there were no outraged
airs of virtue. A slight disdain was evidently more natural to the
temperament of this woman than any fierceness of protestation. Once when
Counsel said, "I shall ask the jury to infer"--something abominable,
Mrs. Clarke tranquilly rejoined:

"Whatever they infer it won't alter the truth."

Daventry moved his shoulders. Dion was certain that he considered this
remark ill-advised. The jury, however, at whom Mrs. Clarke gazed in the
short silence which followed, seemed, Dion thought, impressed by her
firmness. The luncheon interval prevented Counsel from saying anything
further just then, and Mrs. Clarke stepped down from the box.

"Isn't she wonderful?"

Dion heard this murmur, which did not seem to be addressed to any
particular person. It had come from Mrs. Chetwinde, who now got up and
went to speak to Mrs. Clarke. The whole court was in movement. Dion went
out to have a hasty lunch with Daventry.

"A pity she said that!" Daventry said in a low voice to Dion, hitching
up his gown. "Juries like to be deferred to."

"I believe she impressed them by her independence."

"Do you, though? She's marvelously intelligent. Perhaps she knows more
of men, even of jurymen, than I do."

At lunch they discussed the case. Daventry had had two or three chances
given to him by Sir John Addington, and thought he had done quite well.

"Do you think Mrs. Clarke will win?" said Dion.

"I know she's innocent, but I can't tell. She's so infernally
unconventional and a jury's so infernally conventional that I can't help
being afraid."

Dion thought of his Rosamund's tranquil wisdom.

"I think Mrs. Clarke's very clever," he said. "But I suppose she isn't
very wise."

"I'll tell you what it is, old Dion; she prefers life to wisdom."

"Well, but----" Dion Began.

But he stopped. Now he knew Mrs. Clarke a little better, from her own
evidence, he knew just what Daventry meant. He looked upon the life of
unwisdom, and he was able to feel its fascination. There were scents in
it that lured, and there were colors that tempted; in its night there
was music; about it lay mystery, shadows, and silver beams of the moon
shining between cypresses like black towers. It gave out a call to
which, perhaps, very few natures of men were wholly deaf. The unwise
life! Almost for the first time Dion considered it with a deep
curiosity.

He considered it more attentively, more curiously, during the afternoon,
when Mrs. Clarke's cross-examination was continued.

It was obvious that during this trial two women were being presented to
the judge and jury, the one a greedy and abominably secret and clever
sensualist, who hid her mania beneath a cloak of intellectuality, the
other a genuine intellectual, whose mental appetites far outweighed the
appetites of her body, who was, perhaps, a sensualist, but a sensualist
of the spirit and not of the flesh. Which of these two women was the
real Cynthia Clarke? The jury would eventually give their decision,
but it might not be in accordance with fact. Meanwhile, the horrible
unclothing process was ruthlessly proceeded with. But already Dion was
becoming accustomed to it. Perhaps Mrs. Clarke's self-possession helped
him to assimilate the nauseous food which was offered to him.

Beadon Clarke was in court, and had been pointed out to Dion, an
intellectual and refined-looking man, bald, with good features, and
a gentle, but now pained, expression; obviously a straight and
aristocratic fellow. Beside him sat his mother, that Lady Ermyntrude
who, it was said, had forced on the trial. She sat upright, her eyes
fixed on her daughter-in-law, a rather insignificant small woman,
not very well dressed, young looking, with hair done exactly in Queen
Alexandra's way, and crowned with a black toque.

Dion noticed that she had a very firm mouth and chin. She did not
look actively hostile as she gazed at the witness, but merely
attentive--deeply, concentratedly attentive. Mrs. Clarke never glanced
towards her.

Perhaps, whatever Lady Ermyntrude had believed hitherto, she was now
beginning to wonder whether her conception of her son's wife had been
a wrong one, was beginning to ask herself whether she had divined the
nature of the soul inhabiting the body which now stood up before her.

About an hour before the close of the sitting the heat in the court
became almost suffocating, and the Judge told Mrs. Clarke she might
continue her evidence sitting down. She refused this favor.

"I'm not at all tired, my lord," she said.

"She's made of iron," Mrs. Chetwinde murmured to Dion. "Though she
generally looks like a corpse. She was haggard even as a girl."

"Did you know her then?" he whispered.

"I've known her all my life."

Daventry wiped his brow with a large pocket-handkerchief, performing the
action legally. One of the jurymen, who was too fat, and had something
of the expression of a pug dog, opened his mouth and rolled slightly
in his seat. The cross-examination became with every moment more
disagreeable. Beadon Clarke never lifted his eyes from his knees. All
the women in court, except Mrs. Chetwinde and Mrs. Clarke, were looking
strangely alive and conscious. Dion had forgotten everything except
Stamboul and the life of unwisdom. Suppose Mrs. Clarke had lived the
life imputed to her by Counsel, suppose she really were a consummately
clever and astoundingly ingenious humbug, driven, as many human beings
are driven, by a dominating vice which towered over her life issuing
commands she had not the strength to resist, how had it profited her?
Had she had great rewards in it? Had she been led down strange ways
guided by fascination bearing the torch from which spring colored fires?
Good women sometimes, perhaps oftener than many people realize, look
out of the window and try to catch a glimpse of the world of the wicked
women, asking themselves, "Is it worth while? Is their time so much
better than mine? Am I missing--missing?" And they shut the window--for
fear. Far away, turning the corner of some dark alley, they have seen
the colored gleam of the torch.

Rosamund would never do that--would never even want to do that. She was
not one of the good women who love to take just a peep at evil "because
one ought to know something of the trials and difficulties of those less
fortunately circumstanced than oneself."

But, for the moment, Dion had quite forgotten his Rosamund. She was
in England, but he was in Stamboul, hearing the waters of the Bosporus
lapping at the foot of Mrs. Clarke's garden pavilion, while Dumeny
played to her as the moon came up to shine upon the sweet waters of
Asia; or sitting under the plane trees of the Pigeon Mosque, while Hadi
Bey showed her how to write an Arabic love-letter--to somebody in the
air, of course. In this trial he felt the fascination of Constantinople
as he had never felt it when he was in Constantinople; but he felt, too,
that only those who strayed deliberately from the beaten paths could
ever capture the full fascination of the divided city, which looks to
Europe and to Asia, and is set along the way of the sea.

Whether innocent or guilty, Mrs. Clarke had certainly done that. He
watched her with a growing interest. How very much she must know that he
did not know. Then he glanced at Hadi Bey, who still sat up alertly, who
still looked bright and vivid, intelligent, ready for anything, a man
surely with muscles of steel and a courageous robust nature, and at
Aristide Dumeny. Upon the latter his eyes rested for a long time.
When at last he again looked at Mrs. Clarke he had formed the definite
impression that Dumeny was corrupt--an interesting man, a clever,
probably a romantic as well as a cynical man, but certainly corrupt.

Didn't that tell against Mrs. Clarke?

She was now being questioned about a trip at night in a caique with Hadi
Bey down the sweet waters of Asia where willows lean over the stream.
Mrs. Chetwinde's pale eyes were fastened upon her. Beadon Clarke bent
his head a little lower as, in her husky voice, his wife said that
he knew of the expedition, had apparently smiled upon her
unconventionalities, knowing how entirely free she was from the ugly
bias towards vice attributed to her by Counsel.

Lady Ermyntrude Clarke shot a glance at her son, and her firm mouth
became firmer.

The willows bent over the sweet waters in the warm summer night; the
Albanian boatmen were singing.

"She must have had wonderful times!"

The whisper came from an unseen woman sitting just behind Dion. His mind
echoed the thought she had expressed. Now the Judge was rising from the
bench and bowing to the Court; Mrs. Clarke was stepping down from the
witness-box; Dumeny, his eyes half closed, was brushing his shining silk
hat with the sleeve of his coat; Beadon Clarke was leaning to speak to
his mother.

The Court was adjourned.

As Dion got up he felt the heat as if it were heat from a furnace. His
face and his body were burning.

"Come and speak to Cynthia, and take us to tea somewhere--can you?" said
Mrs. Chetwinde.

"Of course, with pleasure."

"Your Rosamund----?"

Her eyes were on him for a moment.

"She won't expect me at any particular time."

"Mr. Daventry can come too."

Dion never forgot their difficult exit from the court. It made him feel
ashamed for humanity, for the crowd which frantically pressed to stare
at a woman because perhaps she had done things which were considered
by all right-minded people to be disgusting. Mrs. Clarke and her little
party of friends had to be helped away by the police. When at length
they were driving away towards Claridge's Hotel, Dion was able once
more to meet the eyes of his companions, and again he was amazed at
the self-possession of Mrs. Clarke. Really she seemed as composed, as
completely mistress of herself, as when he had first seen her standing
near the statue of Echo in the drawing-room of Mrs. Chetwinde.

"You haven't been in court before to-day, have you?" she said to Dion.

"No."

"Why did you come to-day?"

"Well, I----" He hesitated. "I promised Mr. Daventry to come to-day."

"That was it!" said Mrs. Clarke, and she looked out of the window.

Dion felt rather uncomfortable as he spoke to Mrs. Chetwinde and left
further conversation with Mrs. Clarke to Daventry; but when they were
all in a quiet corner of the tearoom at Claridge's, a tea-table before
them and a band playing softly at a distance, he was more at his ease.
The composure of Mrs. Clarke perhaps conveyed itself to him. She spoke
of the case quite naturally, as a guilty woman surely could not possibly
have spoken of it--showing no venom, making no attack upon her accusers.

"It's all a mistake," she said, "arising out of stupidity, out of the
most widespread and, perhaps, the most pitiable and dangerous lack in
human nature."

"And what's that?" asked Daventry, rather eagerly.

"I expect you know."

He shook his head.

"Don't you?" she asked of Dion, spreading thinly some butter over a
piece of dry toast.

"I'm afraid I don't."

"Cynthia means the lack of power to read character, the lack of
psychological instinct," drifted from the lips of Mrs. Chetwinde.

"Three-quarters of the misunderstandings and miseries of the world come
from that," said Mrs. Clarke, looking at the now buttered toast. "If my
mother-in-law and my husband had any psychological faculty they would
never have mistaken my unconventionality, which I shall never give up,
for common, and indeed very vulgar, sinfulness."

"Confusing the pastel with the oleograph," dropped out Mrs. Chetwinde,
looking abstractedly at an old red woman in a turret of ostrich plumes,
who was spread out on the other side of the room before a plate of
cakes.

"You are sure Lady Ermyntrude didn't understand?" said Daventry, with a
certain sharp legality of manner.

"You mean that she might be wicked instead of only stupid?"

"Well, yes. I suppose it does come to that."

"Believe me, Mr. Daventry, she's a quite honest stupid woman. She
honestly thinks that I'm a horrible creature."

And Mrs. Clarke began to bite the crisp toast with her lovely teeth.
Mrs. Chetwinde's eyes dwelt on her for a brief instant with, Dion
thought, a rather peculiar look which he could not quite understand. It
had, perhaps, a hint of hardness, or of cold admiration, something of
that kind, in it.

"Tell me some more about the baby," was Mrs. Clarke's next remark,
addressed to Dion. "I want to get away for a minute into a happy
domestic life. And yours is that, I know."

How peculiarly haggard, and yet how young she looked as she said that!
She added:

"If the case ends as I feel sure it will, I hope your wife and I shall
get to know each other. I hear she's the most delightful woman in
London, and extraordinarily beautiful. Isn't she?"

"I think she is beautiful," Dion said simply.

And then they talked about Robin, while Mrs. Chetwinde and Daventry
discussed some question of the day. Before they parted Dion could not
help saying:

"I want to ask you something."

"Yes?"

"Why do you feel sure that the trial will end as it ought to end? Surely
the lack of the psychological instinct is peculiarly abundant--if a
lack can be abundant!"--he smiled, almost laughed, a little
deprecatingly--"in a British jury?"

"And so you think they're likely to go wrong in their verdict?"

"Doesn't it rather follow?"

She stared at him, and her eyes were, or looked, even more widely opened
than usual. After a long pause she said;

"You wish to frighten me."

She got up, and began to draw on her dove-colored Swedish kid gloves.

"Tippie," she said to Mrs. Chetwinde, "I must go home now and have a
little rest."

Only then did Dion realize how marvelously she was bearing a tremendous
strain. He began to admire her prodigiously.

When he said good-by to her under the great porch he couldn't help
asking:

"Are your nerves of steel?"

She leaned forward in the brougham.

"If your muscles are of iron."

"My muscles!" he said.

"Haven't you educated them?"

"Oh--yes."

"And perhaps I've educated my nerves."

Mrs. Chetwinde's spirited horses began to prance and show temper. Mrs.
Clarke sat back. As the carriage moved away, Dion saw Mrs. Chetwinde's
eyes fixed upon him. They looked at that moment not at all vague. If
they had not been her eyes, he would have been inclined to think them
piercing. But, of course, Mrs. Chetwinde's eyes could never be that.

"How does one educate one's nerves, Guy?" asked Dion, as the two friends
walked away.

"By being defendant in a long series of divorce cases, I should say."

"Has Mrs. Clarke ever been in another case of this kind?"

"Good heavens, no. If she had, even I couldn't believe in her innocence,
as I do now."

"Then where did she get her education?"

"Where do women get things, old Dion? It seems to me sometimes straight
from God, and sometimes straight from the devil."

Dion's mental comment on this was, "What about Mrs. Clarke?" But he did
not utter it.

Before he left Daventry, he was pledged to be in court on the last day
of the case, when the verdict would be given. He wished to go to the
court again on the morrow, but the thought of Rosamund decided him not
to do this; he would, he knew, feel almost ashamed in telling her that
the divorce court, at this moment, fascinated him, that he longed,
or almost longed, to follow the colored fires of a certain torch down
further shadowy alleys of the unwise life. He felt quite sure that
Mrs. Clarke was an innocent woman, but she had certainly been very
unconventional indeed in her conduct. He remembered the almost stern
strength in her husky voice when she had said "my unconventionality,
_which I shall never give up_." So even this hideous and widely
proclaimed scandal would not induce her to bow in the future before the
conventional gods. She really was an extraordinary woman. What would
Rosamund think of her? If she won her case she evidently meant to know
Rosamund. Of course, there could be nothing against that. If she
lost the case, naturally there could never be any question of such an
acquaintance; he knew instinctively that she would never suggest it.
Whatever she was, or was not, she was certainly a woman of the world.

That evening, when he reached home, he found Rosamund sitting in the
nursery in the company of Robin and the nurse. The window was partially
open. Rosamund believed in plenty of air for her child, and no
"cosseting"; she laughed to scorn, but genially, the nurse's prejudice
against "the night air."

"My child," she said, "must get accustomed to night as well as day,
Nurse--and the sooner the better." So now "Master Robin" was played upon
by a little wind from Westminster. He seemed in no way alarmed by it.
This evening he was serene, and when his father entered the room he
assumed his expression of mild inquiry, vaguely agitated his small
rose-colored fists, and blew forth a welcoming bubble.

Dion was touched at the sight.

"Little rogue!" he said, bending over Robin. "Little, little rogue!"

Robin raised his, as yet scarcely defined, eyebrows, stared tremendously
hard at the nursery atmosphere, pulled out his wet lips and gurgled, at
the same time wagging his head, now nicely covered with silky fair hair,
or down, whichever you chose to call it.

"He knows his papa, ma'am, and that he does, a boy!" said the nurse,
who approved of Dion, and had said below stairs that he was "as good a
husband as ever wore shoe-leather."

"Of course he does," said Rosamund softly. "Babies have plenty of
intelligence of a kind, and I think it's a darling kind."

Dion sat down beside her, and they both bent over Robin in the gathering
twilight, while the nurse went softly out of the room.

Dion had quite forgotten the Clarke case.



CHAPTER V

Three days later Daventry called in Little Market Street early, and
was shown into the dining-room where he found Rosamund alone at the
breakfast-table.

"Do forgive me for bursting in upon the boiled eggs," he said, looking
unusually excited. "I'm off almost directly to the Law Courts and I want
to take Dion with me. It's the last day of Mrs. Clarke's case. We expect
the verdict some time this evening. I dare say the court will sit late.
Where's Dion?"

"He's just coming down. We were both disturbed in the night, so we slept
later than usual."

"Disturbed? Burglars? Fire?"

"No; Robin's not at all well."

"I say! I'm sorry for that. What is it?"

"He's had a very bad throat and been feverish, poor little chap. But I
think he's better this morning. The doctor came."

"You'll never be one of the fussy mothers."

"I hope not," she said, rather gravely; "I'm not fond of them. Here's
Dion."

Daventry sat with them while they breakfasted, and Dion agreed to keep
his promise and go to the court.

"I told Uncle Biron I must be away from business to hear the
summing-up," he said. "I'll send a telegram to the office. Do you think
it will be all right for Mrs. Clarke?"

"She's innocent, but nobody can say. It depends so much on the
summing-up."

Dion glanced at Rosamund.

"You mustn't think I'm going to turn into an idler, Rose. This is a very
special occasion."

"I know. Mr. Daventry's first case."

"Haven't you followed it at all?" Daventry asked.

She shook her head.

"No, but I've been wished you well all the same."

When the two men got up to go, Dion said:

"Rosamund!"

"What is it?"

"If Mrs. Clarke wins and is completely exonerated, I think she would
like very much to make your acquaintance."

Rosamund looked surprised.

"What makes you think so?"

"Well, she said something to that effect the other day."

"She's a very interesting, clever woman," interposed Daventry, with
sudden warmth.

"I'm sure she is. We must see. It's very kind of her. Poor woman! What
dreadful anxiety she must be in to-day! You'll all be glad when it's
over."

When the two friends were out in the sunshine, walking towards the
Strand, Daventry said:

"Why is your wife against Mrs. Clarke?"

"She isn't. What makes you thinks so?"

"I'm quite sure she doesn't want to know her, even if she gets the
verdict."

"Well, of course all this sort of thing is--it's very far away from
Rosamund."

"You don't mean to say you doubt Mrs. Clarke?"

"No, but----"

"Surely if she's innocent she's as good as any other woman."

"I know, but----I suppose it's like this: there are different ways of
being good, and perhaps Mrs. Clarke's way isn't Rosamund's. In fact, we
know it isn't."

Daventry said nothing more on the subject; he began to discuss the case
in all its bearings, and presently dwelt upon the great power English
judges have over the decisions of juries.

"Mrs. Clarke gave her evidence splendidly on the whole," he said.
"And Hadi Bey made an excellent impression. My one fear is that fellow
Aristide Dumeny. You didn't hear him, but, of course, you read his
evidence. He was perfectly composed and as clever as he could be in the
box, but I'm sure, somehow, the jury were against him."

"Why?"

"I hardly know. It may be something in his personality."

"I believe he's a beast," said Dion.

"There!" exclaimed Daventry, wrinkling his forehead. "If the Judge
thinks as you do it may just turn things against us."

"Why did she make a friend of the fellow?"

"Because he's chock-full of talent and knowledge, and she loves both.
Dion, my boy, the mind can play the devil with us as well as the body.
But I hope--I hope for the right verdict. Anyhow I've done well, and
shall get other cases out of this. The odd thing is that Mrs. Clarke's
drained me dry of egoism. I care only to win for her. I couldn't bear to
see her go out of court with a ruined reputation. My nerves are all on
edge. If Mrs. Clarke loses, how d'you think she'll take it?"

"Standing up."

"I expect you're right. But I don't believe I shall take it standing.
Perhaps some women make us men feel for them more than they feel for
themselves. Don't look at me in court whatever you do."

They had arrived at the Law Courts. He hurried away.

Dion's place was again beside Mrs. Chetwinde, who looked unusually
alive, and whose vagueness had been swept away by something--anxiety
for her friend, perhaps, or the excitement of following day after day an
unusually emotional _cause celebre_.

Now, as Sir John Addington stood up to continue his speech on Mrs.
Clarke's behalf, begun on the previous day, Mrs. Chetwinde leaned
forward and fixed her eyes upon him, closing her fingers tightly on the
fan she had brought with her.

Sir John spoke with an earnestness and conviction which at certain
moments rose almost to passion, as he drew the portrait of a woman whose
brilliant mind and innocent nature had led her into the unconventional
conduct which her enemies now asserted were wickedness. Beadon Clarke's
counsel had suggested that Mrs. Clarke was an abominable woman,
brilliantly clever, exquisitely subtle, who had chosen as an
armor against suspicion a bold pretense of simplicity and harmless
unconventionality, but who was the prey of a hidden and ungovernable
vice. He, Sir John, ventured to put forward for the jury's careful
examination a very different picture. He made no secret of the fact
that, from the point of view of the ordinary unconventional man or
woman, Mrs. Clarke had often acted unwisely, and, with not too fine a
sarcasm, he described for the jury the average existence of "a careful
drab woman" in the watchful and eternally gossiping diplomatic world.
Then he contrasted with it the life led by Mrs. Clarke in the wonderful
city of Stamboul--a life "full of color, of taste, of interest, of
charm, of innocent, joyous and fragrant liberty. Which of us," he
demanded, "would not in our souls prefer the latter life to the
former? Which of us did not secretly long for the touch of romance,
of strangeness, of beauty, to put something into our lives which they
lacked? But we have not the moral courage to break our prison doors and
to emerge into the nobler world."

"The dull, the drab, the platter-faced and platter-minded people," he
said, in a passage which Dion was always to remember, "who go forever
bowed down beneath the heavy yoke of convention, are too often apt to
think that everything charming, everything lively, everything unusual,
everything which gives out, like sweet incense, a delicate aroma of
strangeness, must be, somehow, connected with wickedness. Everything
which deviates from their pattern must deviate towards the devil,
according to them; every step taken away from the beaten path must
be taken towards ultimate destruction. They have no conception of
intimacies between women and men cemented not by similar lusts
and similar vices, but by similar intellectual tastes and similar
aspirations towards beauty. In color such people always find blackness,
in gaiety wickedness, in liberty license, in the sacred intimacies
of the soul the hateful vices of the body. But you, gentlemen of the
jury----"

His appeal to the twelve in the box at this moment was, perhaps,
scarcely convincing. He addressed them as if, like Mrs. Clarke and
himself, they were enamored of the unwise life, which is only unwise
because we live in a world of censorious fools, and as if he knew it.
The strange thing was that the jury were evidently impressed if not
carried away, by his appeal. They sat forward, stared at Sir John as
if fascinated, and even began to assume little airs which were
almost devil-may-care. But when, with a precise and deliberately cold
acuteness, Sir John turned to the evidence adverse to his client, and
began to tear it to shreds, they stared less, frowned, and showed by
their expressions their efforts to be legal.

As soon as Sir John had finished his speech, the Court rose for the
luncheon interval.

"Are you going out?" said Mrs. Chetwinde to Dion. "I've brought some
horrible little sandwiches, and I shan't stir."

"I'm not hungry. I'll stay with you."

He sighed.

"What a crowd!" he said, looking over the sea of hot, staring faces.
"How horrid people look sometimes!"

"When they're feeling cruel."

She began to eat her sandwiches, which were tightly packed in a small
silver box.

"Isn't Mrs. Clarke coming to-day?" Dion asked.

"Yes. I expect her in a moment. Esme Darlington is bringing her."

"Mr. Darlington?"

"You're surprised?"

"Well, I should hardly have expected somehow that--I don't know."

"I do. But Esme Darlington's more of a man than he seems. And he's
thoroughly convinced of Cynthia's innocence. Here they are."

There was a stir in the crowd. Many women present rustled as they turned
in their seats; some stood up and craned forward; people in the gallery
leaned over, looking eagerly down; a loud murmur and a wide hiss of
whispering emphasized the life in the court. The tall, loose-limbed
figure of Esme Darlington, looking to-day singularly dignified and
almost impressive, pushed slowly forward, followed by the woman whose
social fate was so soon to be decided.

Mrs. Clarke glanced round over the many faces without any defiance as
she made her way with difficulty to a seat beside her solicitor. The
lack of defiance in her expression struck Dion forcibly. This woman did
not seem to be mentally on the defensive, did not seem to be wishing to
repel the glances, fierce with curiosity, which were leveled at her from
all sides. Apparently she had no fear at all of bristling bayonets. Her
haggard face was unsmiling, not cold, but intense with a sort of living
calm which was surely not a mask. She looked at Mrs. Chetwinde and at
Dion as she passed near to them, giving them no greeting except with her
large eyes which obviously recognized them. In a moment she was sitting
down between her solicitor and Esme Darlington.

"It will quite break Guy Daventry up if she doesn't get the verdict,"
said Dion in an uneven voice to Mrs. Chetwinde.

"Mr. Daventry?" she said, with an odd little stress of emphasis on the
name.

"Of course I should hate it too. Any man who feels a woman is
innocent--"

He broke off. She said nothing, and went on eating her little sandwiches
as if she rather disliked them.

"Mrs. Chetwinde, do tell me. I believe you've got an extraordinary
flair--will she win?"

"My dear boy, now how can I know?"

Dion felt very young for a minute.

"I want to know what you expect."

Mrs. Chetwinde closed the small silver box with a soft snap.

"I fully expect her to win."

"Because she's innocent?"

"Oh no. That's no reason in a world like this, unfortunately."

"But, then, why?"

"Because Cynthia always does get what she wants, or needs. She has quite
abnormal will-power, and will-power is _the_ conqueror. If I'm to tell
you the truth, I see only one reason for doubt, I don't say fear, as to
the result."

"Can you tell me what it is?"

"Aristide Dumeny."

At this moment the Judge returned to the bench. An hour later he began
to sum up.

He spoke very slowly and rather monotonously, and at first Dion thought
that he was going to be "let down" by this almost cruelly level finale
to a dramatic, sometimes even horrible, struggle between powerful
opposing forces. But presently he began to come under a new fascination,
the fascination of a cool and very clear presentation of undressed
facts. Led by the Judge, he reviewed again the complex life at
Constantinople, he followed again Mrs. Clarke's many steps away from the
beaten paths, he penetrated again through some of the winding ways into
the shadows of the unwise life. And he began to wonder a little and a
little to fear for the woman who was sitting so near to him waiting for
the end. He could not tell whether the Judge believed her to be innocent
or guilty, but he thought he could tell that the Judge considered her
indiscreet, too heedless of those conventions on which social relations
are based, too determined a follower after the flitting light of her own
desires. Presently the position of Beadon Clarke in the Constantinople
_menage_ was touched upon, and suddenly Dion found himself imagining how
it would be to have as his wife a Mrs. Clarke. Suppose Rosamund were
to develop the unconventional idiosyncrasies of a Cynthia Clarke? He
realized at once that he was not a Beadon Clarke; he could never stand
that sort of thing. He felt hot at the mere thought of his Rosamund
making night expeditions in caiques alone with young men--such, for
instance, as Hadi Bey; or listening alone at midnight in a garden
pavilion isolated, shaded by trees, to the music made by a Dumeny.

Dumeny! The Judge pronounced his name.

"I come now to the respondent's relation with the second co-respondent,
Aristide Dumeny of the French Embassy in Constantinople."

Dion leaned slightly forward and looked at Dumeny. Dumeny was sitting
bolt upright, and now, as the Judge mentioned his name, he folded his
arms, raised his long dark eyes, and gazed steadily at the bench. Did he
know that he was the danger in the case? If he did he did not show any
apprehension. His white face, typically French, with its rather long
nose, slightly flattened temples, faintly cynical and ironic lips
and small but obstinate chin, was almost sinister in its complete
immobility.

"He's certainly a corrupt beast," Dion said to himself. "But as
certainly he's an interesting, clever, knowledgeable beast."

Dumeny's very thick, glossy, and slightly undulating dark hair, growing
closely round his low forehead, helped to make him almost romantically
handsome, although his features were rather irregular. His white ears
were abnormally small, Dion noticed.

The Judge went with cold minuteness into every detail of Dumeny's
intimacy with Mrs. Clarke that had been revealed in the trial, and dwelt
on the link of music which, it was said, had held them together.

"Music stimulates the passions, and may, in highly sensitive persons,
generate impulses not easy to control, provided that the situation
in which such persons find themselves, when roused and stirred,
is propitious. It has been given in evidence that Monsieur Dumeny
frequently played and sang to the respondent till late in the night in
the pavilion which has been described to you. You have seen Monsieur
Dumeny in the box, and can judge for yourselves whether he was a man
likely to avail himself of any advantage his undoubted talents may have
given him with a highly artistic and musical woman."

There was nothing striking in the words, but to Dion the Judge's voice
seemed slightly changed as it uttered the last sentence. Surely a frigid
severity had crept into it, surely it was colored with a faint, but
definite, contempt. Several of the jury started narrowly at Aristide
Dumeny, and the foreman, with a care and precision almost ostentatious,
took a note.

The Judge continued his analysis of Mrs. Clarke's intimacy with Dumeny.
He was scrupulously fair; he gave full weight to the mutual attraction
which may be born out of common intellectual tastes--an attraction
possibly quite innocent, quite free from desire of anything but food for
the brain, the subtler emotions, and the soul "if you like to call
it so, gentlemen." But, somehow, he left upon the mind of Dion, and
probably upon the minds of many others, an impression that he, the
Judge, was doubtful as to the sheer intellectuality of Monsieur Dumeny,
was not convinced that he had reached that condition of moral serenity
and purification in which a rare woman can be happily regarded as a sort
of disembodied spirit.

When the Judge at length finished with Dumeny and Dumeny's relations
with Mrs. Clarke, Dion felt very anxious about the verdict. The Judge
had not succeeded in making him believe that Mrs. Clarke was a guilty
woman, but he feared that the jury had been made doubtful. It was
evident to him that the Judge had a bad opinion of Dumeny, and had
conveyed his opinion to the jury. Was the unwisdom of Mrs. Clarke to
prove her undoing? Esme Darlington was pulling his ducal beard almost
nervously. A faint hum went through the densely packed court. Mrs.
Chetwinde moved and used her fan for a moment. Dion did not dare to look
at Guy Daventry. He was realizing, with a sort of painful sharpness, how
great a change a verdict against Mrs. Clarke must make in her life.

Her boy, perhaps, probably indeed, would be taken from her. She had only
spoken to him casually about her boy, but he had felt that the casual
reference did not mean that she had a careless heart. The woman whose
hand had held his for a moment would be tenacious in love. He felt sure
of that, and sure that she loved her naughty boy with a strong vitality.

When the Judge had finished his task and the jury retired to consider
their verdict, it was past four o'clock.

"What do you think?" Dion said in a low voice to Mrs. Chetwinde.

"About the summing-up?"

"Yes."

"It has left things very much as I expected. Any danger there is lies in
Monsieur Dumeny."

"Do you know him?"

"Oh, yes. I stayed with Cynthia once in Constantinople. He took us
about."

She made no further comment on Monsieur Dumeny.

"I wonder whether the jury will be away long?" Dion said, after a
moment.

"Probably. I shan't be at all surprised if they can't agree. Then there
will be another trial."

"How appalling!"

"Yes, it wouldn't be very nice for Cynthia."

"I can't help wishing----"

He paused, hesitating.

"Yes?" said Mrs. Chetwinde, looking about the court.

"I can't help wishing Mrs. Clarke hadn't been unconventional in quite
such a public way."

A faint smile dawned and faded on Mrs. Chetwinde's lips and in her pale
eyes.

"The public method's often the safest in the end," she murmured.

Then she nodded to Esme Darlington, who presently got up and managed to
make his way to them. He, too, thought the jury would probably disagree,
and considered the summing-up rather unfavorable to Mrs. Clarke.

"People who live in the diplomatic world live in a whispering gallery,"
he said, bending down, speaking in an under-voice and lifting and
lowering his eyebrows. "I told Cynthia so when she married. I ventured
to give her the benefit of my--if I may say so--long and intimate
knowledge of diplomatic life and diplomatists. I said to her, 'Remember
you can _always_ be under observation.' Ah, well--one can only hope
the jury will take the right view. But how can we expect British
shopkeepers, fruit brokers, cigar merchants, and so forth to understand
a--really, one can only say--a wild nature like Cynthia's? It's a wild
mind--I'd say this before her!--in an innocent body, just that."

He pulled almost distractedly at his beard with bony fingers, and
repeated plaintively:

"A wild mind in an innocent body--h'm, ha!"

"If only Mr. Grundy can be brought to comprehension of such a
phenomenon!" murmured Mrs. Chetwinde.

It was obvious to Dion that his two friends feared for the result.

The Judge had left the bench. An hour passed by, and the chime of a
clock striking five dropped down coolly, almost frostily, to the hot and
curious crowd. Mrs. Clarke sat very still. Esme Darlington had returned
to his place beside her, and she spoke to him now and then. Hadi
Bey wiped his handsome rounded brown forehead with a colored silk
handkerchief; and Aristide Dumeny, with half-closed eyes, ironically
examined the crowd, whispered to a member of his Embassy who had
accompanied him into court, folded his arms and sat looking down. Beadon
Clarke's face was rigid, and a fierce red, like the red of a blush of
shame, was fixed on his cheeks. His mother had pulled a thick black veil
with a pattern down over her face, and was fidgeting perpetually with a
chain of small moonstones set in gold which hung from her throat to her
waist. Daventry, blinking and twitching, examined documents, used
his handkerchief, glanced at his watch, hitched his gown up on his
shoulders, looked at Mrs. Clarke and looked away.

Uneasiness, like a monster, seemed crouching in the court as in a lair.

At a quarter-past five, the Judge returned to the bench. He had received
a communication from the jury, who filed in, to say, through their
foreman, that they could not agree upon a verdict. A parley took
place between the foreman and the Judge, who made inquiry about their
difficulties, answered two questions, and finally dismissed them to
further deliberations, urging them strongly to try to arrive at an
unanimous conclusion.

"I am willing to stay here till nightfall," he said, in a loud and
almost menacing voice, "if there is any chance of a verdict."

The jury, looking weary, harassed and very hot, once more disappeared,
the Judge left the bench, and the murmuring crowd settled down to
another period of waiting.

To Dion it seemed that a great tragedy was impending. Already Mrs.
Clarke had received a blow. The fact that the jury had publicly
announced their disagreement would be given out to all the world by the
newspapers, and must surely go against Mrs. Clarke even if she got a
verdict ultimately.

"Do you think there is any chance still?" he said to Mrs. Chetwinde.

"Oh, yes. As I told you, Cynthia always manages to get what she wants."

"I shouldn't think she can ever have wanted anything so much as she
wants the right verdict to-day."

"I don't know that," Mrs. Chetwinde replied, with a rather disconcerting
dryness.

She was using her fan slowly and monotonously, as if, perhaps, she were
trying to make her mind calm by the repetition of a physical act.

"I'm sorry the foreman said they couldn't agree," Dion said, almost in
a whisper. "Even if the verdict is for Mrs. Clarke, I'm afraid that will
go against her."

"If she wins she wins, and it's all right. Cynthia's not the sort of
woman who cares much what the world thinks. The only thing that really
matters is what the world does; and if she gets the verdict the world
won't do anything--except laugh at Beadon Clarke."

A loud buzz of conversation rose from the court. Presently the light
began to fade, and the buzz faded with it; then some lights were turned
on, and there was a crescendo of voices. It was possible to see more
clearly the multitude of faces, all of them hot, nearly all of them
excited and expressive. A great many people were standing, packed
closely together and looking obstinate in their determined curiosity.
Most of them were either staring at, or were trying to stare at Mrs.
Clarke, who was now talking to her solicitor. Esme Darlington was
eating a meat lozenge and frowning, evidently discomposed by the jury's
dilemma. Lady Ermyntrude Clarke had lifted her veil and was whispering
eagerly to her son, bending her head, and emphasizing her remarks with
excited gestures which seemed to suggest the energy of one already
uplifted by triumph. Beadon Clarke listened with the passivity of a man
encompassed by melancholy, and sunk deep in the abyss of shame.
Aristide Dumeny was reading a letter which he held with long-fingered,
waxen-white hands very near to his narrow dark eyes. His close-growing
thick hair looked more glossy now that there was artificial light in
the court; from the distance its undulations were invisible, and it
resembled a cap of some heavy and handsome material drawn carefully down
over his head. Hadi Bey retained his vivid, alert and martial demeanor.
He was twisting his mustaches with a muscular brown hand, not nervously,
but with a careless and almost a lively air. Many women gazed at him
as if hypnotized; they found the fez very alluring. It carried their
thoughts to the East; it made them feel that the romance of the East was
not very far from them. Some of them wished it very near, and thought of
husbands in silk hats, bowlers, and flat caps of Harris tweed with
the dawning of a dull distaste. The woman just behind Dion was talking
busily to her neighbor. Dion heard her say:

"Some women always manage to have a good time. I wish I was one of them.
Dick is a dear, but still----" She whispered for a minute or two; then
out came her voice with, "There must be great chances for a woman in
the diplomatic world. I knew a girl who married an _attache_ and went
to Bucharest. You can have no idea what the Roumanians----" whisper,
whisper, whisper.

That woman was envying Mrs. Clarke, it seemed, but surely not envying
her innocence. Dion began to be conscious of faint breaths from the
furnace of desire, and suddenly he saw the gaunt and sickly-smiling head
of hypocrisy, like the flat and tremulously moving head of a serpent,
lifted up above the court. Only a little way off Robin, now better, but
still "not quite the thing," was lying in his cozy cot in the nursery of
No. 5 Little Market Street, with Rosamund sitting beside him. The window
to-day, for once, would probably be shut as a concession to Robin's
indisposition. A lamp would be burning perhaps. In fancy, Dion saw
Rosamund's head lit up by a gentle glow, her hair giving out little
gleams of gold, as if fire were caught in its meshes. How was it that
her head always suggested to him purity; and not only her purity but the
purity of all sweet, sane and gloriously vigorous women--those women
who tread firmly, nobly, in the great central paths of life? He did not
know, but he was certain that the head of no impure, of no lascivious
woman could ever look like his Rosamund's. That nursery, holding little
Robin and his mother in the lamplight, was near to this crowded court,
but it was very far away too, as far as heaven is from hell. It would be
good, presently, to go back to it.

Chime after chime dropped down frostily into the almost rancid heat of
the court. Time was sending its warning that night was coming to London.

An epidemic of fidgeting and of coughing seized the crowd, which was
evidently beginning to feel the stinging whip of an intense irritation.

"What on earth," said the voice of a man, expressing the thought which
bound all these brains together, "what on earth can the jury be up to?"

Surely by now everything for and against Mrs. Clarke must have been
discussed _ad nauseam_. Only the vainest of repetitions could be
occupying the time of the jury. People began positively to hate those
twelve uninteresting men, torn from their dull occupations to decide a
woman's fate. Even Mrs. Chetwinde showed vexation.

"This is really becoming ridiculous," she murmured. "Even twelve fools
should know when to give their folly a rest."

"I suppose there must be one or two holding out against all argument and
persuasion. Don't you think so?" said Dion, almost morosely.

"I dare say. I know a great deal about individual fools, but very little
about them in dozens. The heat is becoming unbearable."

She sighed deeply and moved in her seat, opening and shutting her fan.

"She must be enduring torment," muttered Dion.

"Yes; even Cynthia can hardly be proof against this intolerable delay."

Another dropping down of chimes: eight o'clock! A long murmur went
through the crowd. Some one said: "They're coming at last."

Every one moved. Instinctively Dion leant forward to look at Mrs.
Clarke. He felt very much excited and nervous, almost as if his own fate
were about to be decided. As he looked he saw Mrs. Clarke draw herself
up till she seemed taller than usual. She had a pair of gloves in
her lap, and she now began to pull one of these gloves on, slowly and
carefully, as if she were thinking about what she was doing. The jury
filed in looking feverish, irritable and battered. Three or four of them
showed piteous and injured expressions. Two others had the peculiar look
of obstinate men who have been giving free rein to their vice, indulging
in an orgy of what they call willpower. Their faces were, at the same
time, implacable and ridiculous, but they walked impressively. The Judge
was sent for. Two or three minutes elapsed before he came in. During
those minutes there was no coughing and scarcely any moving. The silence
in the court was vital. During it, Dion stared hard at the jury and
strove to read the verdict in their faces. Naturally he failed. No
message came from them to him.

The Judge came back to the bench, looking weary and harsh.

"Do you find that the respondent has been guilty or not guilty of
misconduct with the co-respondent, Hadi Bey?" said the clerk of the
court.

"We find that the respondent has not been guilty of misconduct with Hadi
Bey."

After a slight pause, speaking in a louder voice than before, the clerk
of the court said:

"Do you find that the respondent has been guilty or not guilty of
misconduct with the co-respondent, Aristide Dumeny?"

"We find that the respondent has not been guilty of misconduct with
Aristide Dumeny."

Dion saw the Judge frown.

Slight applause broke out in the court, but it was fitful and uncertain
and almost immediately died away.

Mrs. Chetwinde said in a low voice, almost as if to herself:

"Cynthia has got what she wants--again."

Then, after the formalities, the crowd was in movement; the weary and
excited people, their curiosity satisfied at last, began to melt away;
the young barristers hurried out, eagerly discussing the rights and
wrongs of the case; and Mrs. Clarke's adherents made their way to her to
offer her their congratulations.

Daventry was triumphant. He shook his client's hand, held it, shook
it again, and could scarcely find words to express his excitement and
delight. Even Esme Darlington's usual careful serenity was for the
moment obscured by an emotion eminently human, as he spoke into Mrs.
Clarke's ear the following words of a ripe wisdom:

"Cynthia, my dear, after this do take my advice and live as others live.
In a conventional world conventionality is the line of least resistance.
Don't turn to the East unless the whole congregation does it."

"I shall never forget your self-sacrifice in facing the crowd with me
to-day, dear Esme," was her answer. "I know how much it cost you."

"Oh, as to that, for an old friend--h'm, ha!"

His voice failed in his beard. He drew forth a beautiful Indian
handkerchief--a gift from his devoted friend the Viceroy of India--and
passed it over a face which looked unusually old.

Mrs. Chetwinde said:

"I expected you to win, Cynthia. It was stupid of the jury to be so
slow in arriving at the inevitable verdict. But stupid people are as
lethargic as silly ones are swift. How shall we get to the carriage? We
can't go out by the public exit. I hear the crowd is quite enormous, and
won't move. We must try a side door, if there is one."

Then Dion held Mrs. Clarke's hand, and looked down at her haggard but
still self-possessed face. It astonished him to find that she preserved
her earnestly observant expression.

"I'm very glad," was all he found to say.

"Thank you," she replied, in a voice perhaps slightly more husky than
usual. "I mean to stay on in London for some time. I've got lots of
things to settle"--she paused--"before I go back to Constantinople."

"But are you really going back?"

"Of course--eventually."

Her voice, nearly drowned by the noise of people departing from the
court, sounded to him implacable.

"You heard the hope of the Court that my husband and I would come
together again? Of course we never shall. But I'm sure I shall get hold
of Jimmy. I know my husband won't keep him from me." She stared at his
shoulders. "I want you to help me with Jimmy's physical education--I
mean by getting him to that instructor you spoke of."

"To be sure--Jenkins," he said, marveling at her.

"Jenkins--exactly. And I hope it will be possible for your wife and me
to meet soon, now there's nothing against it owing to the verdict."

"Thank you."

"Do tell her, and see if we can arrange it."

Dumeny at this moment passed close to them with his friend on his way
out of court. His eyes rested on Mrs. Clarke, and a faint smile went
over his face as he slightly raised his hat.

"Good-by," said Mrs. Clarke to Dion.

And she turned to Sir John Addington.

Dion made his way slowly out into the night, thinking of the unwise life
and of the smile on the lips of Dumeny.



CHAPTER VI

That summer saw, among other events of moment, the marriage of Beatrice
and Daventry, the definite establishment of Robin as a power in his
world, and the beginning of one of those noiseless contests which seem
peculiar to women, and which are seldom, if ever, fully comprehended in
all their bearings by men.

Beatrice, as she wished it, had a very quiet, indeed quite a
hole-and-corner wedding in a Kensington church, of which nobody had ever
heard till she was married in it, to the great surprise of its vicar,
its verger, and the decent widow woman who swept its pews for a moderate
wage. For their honeymoon she and Daventry disappeared to the Garden of
France to make a leisurely tour through the Chateaux country.

Meanwhile Robin, according to his nurse, "was growing something
wonderful, and improving with his looks like nothing I ever see before,
and me with babies ever since I can remember anything as you may say,
a dear!" His immediate circle of wondering admirers was becoming almost
extensive, including, as it did, not only his mother and father, his
nurse, and the four servants at No. 5 Little Market Street, but also
Mrs. Leith senior, Bruce Evelin--now rather a lonely man--and Mr. Thrush
of John's Court near the Edgware Road.

At this stage of his existence, Rosamund loved Robin reasonably but with
a sort of still and holy concentration, which gradually impinged upon
Dion like a quiet force which spreads subtly, affecting those in its
neighborhood. There was in it something mystical and, remembering her
revelation to him of the desire to enter the religious life which had
formerly threatened to dominate her, Dion now fully realized the truth
of a remark once made by Mrs. Chetwinde about his wife. She had called
Rosamund "a radiant mystic."

Now changes were blossoming in Rosamund like new flowers coming up in
a garden, and one of these flowers was a beautiful selfishness. So Dion
called it to himself but never to others. It was a selfishness surely
deliberate and purposeful--an unselfish selfishness, if such a thing can
be. Can the ideal mother, Dion asked himself, be wholly without it? All
that she is, perhaps, reacts upon the child of her bosom, the child who
looks up to her as its Providence. And what she is must surely be at
least partly conditioned by what she does and by all her way of life.
The child is her great concern, and therefore she must guard sedulously
all the gates by which possible danger to the child might strive to
enter in. This was what Rosamund had evidently made up her mind to do,
was beginning to do. Dion compared her with many of the woman of London
who have children and who, nevertheless, continue to lead haphazard,
frivolous, utterly thoughtless lives, caring apparently little more for
the moral welfare of their children than for the moral welfare of their
Pekinese. Mrs. Clarke had a hatred of "things with wings growing out of
their shoulders." Rosamund would probably never wish their son to have
wings growing out of his shoulders, but if he had little wings on his
sandals, like the Hermes, perhaps she would be very happy. With winged
sandals he might take an occasional flight to the gods. Hermes, of
course, was really a rascal, many-sided, and, like most many-sided
people and gods, capable of insincerity and even of cunning; but the
Hermes of Olympia, their Hermes, was the messenger purged, by Praxiteles
of very bit of dross--noble, manly, pure, serene. Little Robin bore at
present no resemblance to the Hermes, or indeed--despite the nurse's
statements--to any one else except another baby; but already it was
beginning mysteriously to be possible to foresee the great
advance--long clothes to short clothes, short clothes to knickerbockers,
knickerbockers to trousers. Robin would be a boy, a youth, a man, and
what Rosamund was might make all the difference in that Trinity. The
mystic who enters into religion dedicated her life to God. Rosamund
dedicated hers to her boy. It was the same thing with a difference. And
as the mystic is often a little selfish in shutting out cries of the
world--cries sometimes for human aid which can scarcely be referred from
the fellow-creature to God--so Rosamund was a little selfish, guided by
the unusual temperament which was housed within her. She shut out some
of the cries that she might hear Robin's the better.

Robin's sudden attack of illness during Mrs. Clarke's ordeal had been
overcome and now seemed almost forgotten. Rosamund had encountered the
small fierce shock of it with an apparent calmness and self-possession
which at the time had astonished Dion and roused his admiration. A baby
often comes hardly into the world and slips out of it with the terrible
ease of things fated to far-off destinies. During one night Robin
had certainly been in danger. Perhaps that danger had taught Rosamund
exactly how much her child meant to her. Dion did not know this; he
suspected it because, since Robin's illness, he had become much more
sharply aware of the depth of mother-love in Rosamund, of the hovering
wings that guarded the nestling. That efficient guarding implies
shutting out was presently to be brought home to him with a definiteness
leading to embarrassment.

The little interruptions a baby brings into the lives of a married
couple were setting in. Dion was sure that Rosamund never thought
of them as interruptions. When Robin grew much older, when he was in
trousers, and could play games, and appreciate his father's prowess
and God-given capacities in the gymnasium, on the tennis lawn, over the
plowland among the partridges, Dion's turn would come. Meanwhile, did
he actually love Robin? He thought he did. He was greatly interested in
Robin, was surprised by his abrupt manifestations and almost hypnotized
by his outbursts of wrath; when Robin assumed his individual look of
mild inquiry, Dion was touched, and had a very tender feeling at his
heart. No doubt all this meant love. But Dion fully realized that his
feeling towards Robin did not compare with Rosamund's. It was less
intense, less profound, less of the very roots of being. His love for
Robin was a shadow compared with the substance of his love for Rosamund.
How would Rosamund's two loves compare? He began to wonder, even
sometimes put to himself the questions, "Suppose Robin were to die,
how would she take it? And how would she take it if I were to die?" And
then, of course, his mind sometimes did foolish things, asked questions
beginning with, "Would she rather----?" He remembered his talks with
Rosamund on the Acropolis--talks never renewed--and compared the former
life without little Robin, with the present life pervaded gently, or
vivaciously, or almost furiously by little Robin. Among the mountains
and by the deep-hued seas of Greece he had foreseen and wondered about
Robin. Now Robin was here; the great change was accomplished. Probably
Rosamund and he, Dion, would never again be alone with their love. Other
children, perhaps, would come. Even if they did not, Robin would pervade
their lives, in long clothes, short skirts, knickerbockers, trousers. He
might, of course, some day choose a profession which would carry him to
some distant land: to an Indian jungle or a West African swamp. But by
that time his parents would be middle-aged people. And how would their
love be then? Dion knew that now, when Rosamund and he were still young,
both less than thirty, he would give a hundred Robins, even if they were
all his own Robins, to keep his one Rosamund. That was probably quite
natural now, for Robin was really rather inexpressive in the midst of
his most unbridled demonstrations. When he was calm and blew bubbles he
had charm; when he was red and furious he had a certain power; when he
sneezed he had pathos; when he slept the serenity of him might be felt;
but he would mean very much more presently. He would grow, and surely
his father's love for him would grow. But could it ever grow to the
height, the flowering height, of the husband's love for Rosamund? Dion
already felt certain that it never could, that it was his destiny to be
husband rather than parent, the eternal lover rather than the eternal
father. Rosamund's destiny was perhaps to be the eternal mother. She had
never been exactly a lover. Perhaps her remarkable and beautiful
purity of disposition had held her back from being that. Force, energy,
vitality, strong feelings, she had; but the peculiar something in which
body seems mingled with soul, in which soul seems body and body soul,
was apparently lacking in her. Dion had perhaps never, with full
consciousness, missed that element in her till Robin made his
appearance; but Robin, in his bubbling innocence, and almost absurd
consciousness of himself and of others, did many things that were not
unimportant. He even had the shocking impertinence to open his father's
eyes, and to show him truths in a bright light--truths which, till now,
had remained half-hidden in shadow; babyhood enlightened youth, the
youth persisting hardily because it had never sown wild oats. Robin did
not know that; he knew, in fact scarcely anything except when he wanted
nourishment and when he desired repose. He also knew his mother, knew
her mystically and knew her greedily, with knowledge which seemed of
God, and with an awareness whose parent was perhaps a vital appetite.
At other people he gazed and bubbled but with a certain infantile
detachment, though his nurse, of course, declared that she had never
known a baby to take such intelligent notice of all created things
in its neighborhood. "He knows," she asseverated, with the air of one
versed in mysteries, "he knows, does little master, who's who as well as
any one, and a deal better than some that prides themselves on this and
that, a little upsy-daisy-dear!"

Mrs. Leith senior paid him occasional visits, which Dion found just
the least bit trying. Since Omar had been killed, Dion had felt more
solicitous about his mother, who had definitely refused ever to have
another dog. If he had been allowed to give her a dog he would have felt
more easy about her, despite Beatrice's quiet statement of why Omar had
meant so much. As he might not do that, he begged his mother to come
very often to Little Market Street and to become intimate with Robin.
But when he saw her with Robin he was generally embarrassed, although
she was obviously enchanted with that gentleman, for whose benefit she
was amazingly prodigal of nods and becks and wreathed smiles. It was
a pity, he thought, that his mother was at moments so apparently
elaborate. He felt her elaboration the more when it was contrasted with
the transparent simplicity of Rosamund. Even Robin, he fancied, was
at moments rather astonished by it, and perhaps pushed on towards a
criticism at present beyond the range of his powers. But Mrs. Leith's
complete self-possession, even when immersed in the intricacies of a
baby-language totally unintelligible to her son, made it impossible to
give her a hint to be a little less--well, like herself when at No.
5. So he resigned himself to a faint discomfort which he felt sure was
shared by Rosamund, although neither of them ever spoke of it. But they
never discussed his mother, and always assumed that she was ideal both
as mother-in-law and grandmother. She was Robin's godmother and had
given him delightful presents. Bruce Evelin and Daventry were his
godfathers.

Bruce Evelin now lived alone in the large house in Great Cumberland
Place. He made no complaint of his solitude, which indeed he might be
said to have helped to bring about by his effective, though speechless,
advocacy of Daventry's desire. But it was obvious to affectionate eyes
that he sometimes felt rather homeless, and that he was happy to be in
the little Westminster home where such a tranquil domesticity reigned.
Dion sometimes felt as if Bruce Evelin were watching over that home in
a wise old man's way, rather as Rosamund watched over Robin, with a
deep and still concentration. Bruce Evelin had, he confessed, "a
great feeling" for Robin, whom he treated with quiet common sense as
a responsible entity, bearing, with a matchless wisdom, that entity's
occasional lapses from decorum. Once, for instance, Robin chose Bruce
Evelin's arms unexpectedly as a suitable place to be sick in, without
drawing down upon himself any greater condemnation than a quiet, "How
lucky he selected a godfather as his receptacle!"

And Mr. Thrush of John's Court? One evening, when he returned home, Dion
found that old phenomenon in the house paying his respects to Robin. He
was quite neatly dressed, and wore beneath a comparatively clean collar
a wisp of black tie that was highly respectable, though his top hat,
deposited in the hall, was still as the terror that walketh in darkness.
His poor old gray eyes were pathetic, and his long, battered old face
was gently benign; but his nose, fiery and tremendous as ever, still
made proclamation of his "failing." Dion knew that Mr. Thrush had
already been two or three times to see Robin, and had wondered about it
with some amusement. "Where will your cult for Mr. Thrush lead you?"
he had laughingly said to Rosamund. And then he had forgotten "the
phenomenon," as he sometimes called Mr. Thrush. But now, when he
actually beheld Mr. Thrush in his house, seated on a chair in the
nursery, with purple hands folded over a seedy, but carefully brushed,
black coat, he genuinely marveled.

Mr. Thrush rose up at his entrance, quite unself-conscious and
self-possessed, and as Dion, concealing his surprise, greeted the
visitor, Rosamund, who was showing Robin, remarked:

"Mr. Thrush has great ideas on hygiene, Dion. He quite agrees with us
about not wrapping children in cotton-wool."

"Your conceptions are Doric, too, in fact?" said Dion to Thrush, in the
slightly rough or bluff manner which he now sometimes assumed.

"I wouldn't go so far as to say exactly that, sir," said Mr. Thrush,
speaking with a sort of gentleness which was almost refined. "But
having been a chemist in a very good way of business--just off Hanover
Square--during the best years of my life, I have my views, foolish or
perhaps the reverse, on the question of infants. My motto, so far as I
have one, is, _Never cosset_."

He turned towards Robin, who, from his mother's arms, sent him a look of
mild inquiry, and reiterated, with plaintive emphasis, "_Never cosset!_"

"There, Dion!" said Rosamund, with a delicious air of genial
appreciation which made Mr. Thrush gently glow.

"And I'll go further," pursued that authority, lifting a purple hand
and moving his old head to give emphasis to his deliverance, "I'll
go further even than that. Having retired from the pharmaceutical
brotherhood I'll say this: If you can do it, avoid drugs. Chemists"--he
leaned forward and emphatically lowered his voice almost to a
whisper--"Chemists alone know what harm they do."

"By Jove, though, and do they?" said Dion heartily.

"Terrible, sir, terrible! Some people's insides that I know of--used to
know of, perhaps I should say--must be made of iron to deal with all the
medicines they put into 'em. Oh, keep your baby's inside free from all
such abominations!" (He loomed gently over Robin, who continued to stare
at him with an expression of placid interrogation.) "Keep it away from
such things as the Sampson Syrup, Mother Maybrick's infant tablets,
Price's purge for the nursery, Tinkler's tone-up for tiny tots, Ada
Lane's pills for the poppets, and above and before all, from Professor
Jeremiah T. Iplock's 'What baby wants' at two-and-sixpence the bottle,
or in tabloid form for the growing child, two-and-eight the box. Keep
his inside clear of all such, and you'll be thankful, and he'll bless
you both on his bended knees when he comes to know his preservation."

"He'll never have them, Mr. Thrush," said Rosamund, with a sober voice
and twinkling eyes. "Never."

"Bless you, ma'am, for those beautiful words. And now really I must be
going."

"You'll find tea in the housekeeper's room, Mr. Thrush, as usual," said
Rosamund.

"And very kind of you to have it there, I'm sure, ma'am!" the old
gentleman gallantly replied as he made his wavering adieux.

At the door he turned round to face the nursery once more, lifted one
hand in a manner almost apostolic, and uttered the final warning "_Never
cosset!_" Then he evaporated, not without a sort of mossy dignity, and
might be heard tremblingly descending to the lower regions.

"Rose, since when do we have a housekeeper's room?" asked Dion, touching
Robin's puckers with a gentle fore-finger.

"I can't call it the servants' hall to him, poor old man. And I like to
give him tea. It may wean him from----" An expressive look closed the
sentence.

That night, at last, Dion drew from her an explanation of her Thrush
cult. On the evening when Mr. Thrush had rescued her in the fog, as they
walked slowly to Great Cumberland Place, he had told her something of
his history. Rosamund had a great art in drawing from people the story
of their troubles when she cared to do so. Her genial and warm-hearted
sympathy was an almost irresistible lure. Mr. Thrush's present fate
had been brought about by a tragic circumstance, the death of his only
child, a girl of twelve, who had been run over by an omnibus in Oxford
Circus and killed on the spot. Left alone with a peevish, nagging wife
who had never suited him, or, as he expressed it, "studied" him in any
way, he had gone down the hill till he had landed near the bottom. All
his love had been fastened on his child, and sorrow had not strengthened
but had embittered him.

"But to me he seems a gentle old thing," Dion said, when Rosamund told
him this.

"He's very bitter inside, poor old chap, but he looks upon us as
friends. He's taken sorrow the wrong way. That's how it is. I'm trying
to get him to look at things differently, and Robin's helping me."

"Already!" said Dion, smiling, yet touched by her serious face.

"Yes. He's an unconscious agent. Poor old Mr. Thrush has never learnt
the lesson of our dear Greek tombs: farewell! He hasn't been able to say
that simply and beautifully, leaving all in other hands. And so he's the
poor old wreck we know. I want to get him out of it if I can. He came
into my life on a night of destiny too."

But she explained nothing more. And she left Dion wondering just how she
would receive a sorrow such as had overtaken Mr. Thrush. Would she be
able to submit as those calm and simple figures on the tombs which she
loved appeared to be submitting? Would she let what she loved pass away
into the shades with a brave and noble, "Farewell"? Would she take the
hand of Sorrow, that hand of steel and ice, as one takes the hand of a
friend--stern, terrible, unfathomed, never to be fathomed in this world,
but a friend? He wondered, but, loving her with that love which never
ceased to grow within him, he prayed that he might never know. She
seemed born to shed happiness and to be happy, and indeed he could
scarcely imagine her wretched.

It was after the explanation of Mr. Thrush's exact relation to Rosamund
that the silent contest began in the waning summer when London was
rather arid, and even the Thames looked hot between its sluggish banks
of mud.

After the trial of her divorce case was over, Mrs. Clarke had left
London and gone into the country for a little while, to rest in a small
house possessed by Esme Darlington at Hook Green, a fashionable part
of Surrey. At, and round about, Hook Green various well-known persons
played occasionally at being rural; it suited Mrs. Clarke very well to
stay for a time among them under Mr. Darlington's ample and eminently
respectable wing. She hated being careful, but even she, admonished by
Mr. Darlington, realized that immediately after emerging from the shadow
of a great scandal she had better play propriety for a time. It really
must be "playing," for, as had been proved at the trial, she was a
thoroughly proper person who hadn't troubled to play hitherto. So she
rested at Hook Green, till the season was over, with Miss Bainbridge, an
old cousin of Esme's; and Esme "ran down" for Saturdays and Sundays, and
"ran up" from Mondays to Saturdays, thus seeing something of the season
and also doing his chivalrous devoir by "poor dear Cynthia who had had
such a cruel time of it."

The season died, and Mr. Darlington then settled down for a while at
Pinkney's Place, as his house was called, and persuaded Mrs. Clarke to
lengthen her stay there till the end of August. He would invite a few of
the people likely to "be of use" to her under the present circumstances,
and by September things would be "dying down a little," with all the
shooting parties of the autumn beginning, and memories of the past
season growing a bit gray and moldy. Then Mrs. Clarke could do what she
liked "within reason, of course, and provided she gave Constantinople
a wide berth." This she had not promised to do, but she seldom made
promises.

Rosamund had expressed to Daventry her pleasure in the result of the
trial, but in the rather definitely detached manner which had always
marked her personal aloofness from the whole business of the deciding of
Mrs. Clarke's innocence or guilt. She had only spoken once again of the
case to Dion, when he had come to tell her the verdict. Then she had
said how glad she was, and what a relief it must be to Mrs. Clarke,
especially after the hesitation of the jury. Dion had touched on Mrs.
Clarke's great self-possession, and--Rosamund had begun to tell him
how much better little Robin was. He had not repeated to Rosamund Mrs.
Clarke's final words to him. There was no necessity to do that just
then.

Mrs. Clarke stayed at Hook Green till the end of August without
making any attempt to know Rosamund. By that time Dion had come to the
conclusion that she had forgotten about the matter. Perhaps she had
merely had a passing whim which had died. He was not sorry, indeed, he
was almost actively glad, for he was quite sure Rosamund had no wish to
make Mrs. Clarke's acquaintance. At the beginning of September, however,
when he had just come back to work after a month in camp which had
hardened him and made him as brown as a berry, he received the following
note:


"CLARIDGE'S HOTEL, 2 September, 1897

"DEAR Mr. LEITH,--What of that charming project of bringing about a
meeting between your wife and me? Esme Darlington is always talking of
her beauty and talent, and you know my love of the one and the other.
Beauty is the consolation of the world; talent the incentive to action
stirring our latent vitality. In your marriage you are fortunate; in
mine I have been unfortunate. You were very kind to me when things were
tiresome. I feel a desire to see your happiness. I'm here arranging
matters with my solicitor, and expect to be here off and on for several
months. Perhaps October will see you back in town, but if you happen
to be in this dusty nothingness now, you might come and see me one
day.--Yours with goodwill,

"CYNTHIA CLARKE

"P. S.--My husband and I are separated, of course, but I have my boy a
good deal with me. He will be up with me to-morrow. I very much want to
take him to that physical instructor you spoke of to me. I forget the
name. Is it Hopkins?"


As Dion read this note in the little house he felt the soft warm grip
of Stamboul. Rosamund and Robin were staying at Westgate till the end of
September; he would go down there every week from Saturday till Monday.
It was now a Monday evening. Four London days lay before him. He put
away the letter and resolved to answer it on the morrow. This he did,
explaining that his wife was by the sea and would not be back till the
autumn. He added that the instructor's name was not Hopkins but Jenkins,
and gave Mrs. Clarke the address of the gymnasium. At the end of his
short note he expressed his intention of calling at Claridge's, but did
not say when he would come. He thought he would not fix the day and the
hour until he had been to Westgate. On a postcard Mrs. Clarke thanked
him for Jenkins's address, and concluded with "Suggest your own day,
or come and dine if you like. Perhaps, as you're alone, you'll prefer
that.--C. C."

At Westgate Dion showed Rosamund Mrs. Clarke's letter. As she read it
he watched her, but could gather nothing from her face. She was looking
splendidly well and, he thought, peculiarly radiant. A surely perfect
happiness gazed bravely out from her mother's eyes, changed in some
mysterious way since the coming of Robin.

"Well?" he said, as she gave him back the letter.

"It's very kind of her. Esme Darlington turns us all into swans, doesn't
he? He's a good-natured enchanter. How thankful she must be that it's
all right about her boy. Oh, here's Robin! Robino, salute your father!
He's a hard-bitten military man, and some day--who knows?--he'll have
to fight for his country. Dion, look at him! Now isn't he trying to
salute?"

"And that he is, ma'am!" cried the ecstatic nurse. "He knows, a boy!
It's trumpets, sir, and drums he's after already. He'll fight some day
with the best of them. Won't he then, a marchy-warchy-umtums?"

And Robin made reply with active fists and feet and martial noises,
assuming alternate expressions of severe decision almost worthy of
a Field-Marshal, and helpless bewilderment that suggested a startled
puppy. He was certainly growing in vigor and beginning to mean a good
deal more than he had meant at first. Dion was more deeply interested
in him now, and sometimes felt as if Robin returned the interest,
was beginning to be able to assemble and concentrate his faculties at
certain moments. Certainly Robin already played an active part in the
lives of his parents. Dion realized that when, on the following Monday,
he returned to town without having settled anything with regard to Mrs.
Clarke. Somehow Robin had always intervened when Dion had drawn near to
the subject of the projected acquaintance between the woman who kept the
door of her life and the woman who, innocently, followed the flitting
light of desire. There were the evenings, of course, but somehow they
were not propitious for a discussion of social values. Although Robin
retired early, he was apt to pervade the conversation. And then Rosamund
went away at intervals to have a look at him, and Dion filled up
the time by smoking a cigar on the cliff edge. The clock struck
ten-thirty--bedtime at Westgate--before one had at all realized how late
it was getting; and it was out of the question to bother about things
on the edge of sleep. That would have made for insomnia. The question
of Mrs. Clarke could easily wait till the autumn, when Rosamund would
be back in town. It was impossible for the two women to know each other
when the one was at Claridge's and the other at Westgate. Things would
arrange themselves naturally in the autumn. Dion never said to himself
that Rosamund did not intend to know Mrs. Clarke, but he did say to
himself that Mrs. Clarke intended to know Rosamund.

He wondered a little about that. Why should Mrs. Clarke be so apparently
keen on making the acquaintance of Rosamund? Of course, Rosamund was
delightful, and was known to be delightful. But Mrs. Clarke must know
heaps of attractive people. It really was rather odd. He decidedly
wished that Mrs. Clarke hadn't happened to get the idea into her head,
for he didn't care to press Rosamund on the subject. The week passed,
and another visit to Westgate, and he had not been to Claridge's. In the
second week another note came to him from Mrs. Clarke.


"CLARIDGE'S, ETC.

"DEAR Mr. LEITH,--I'm enchanted with Jenkins. He's a trouvaille. My
boy goes every day to the 'gym,' as he calls it, and is getting on
splendidly. We are both grateful to you, and hope to tell you so. Come
whenever you feel inclined, but only then. I love complete liberty too
well ever to wish to deprive another of it--even if I could. How wise of
your wife to stay by the sea. I hope it's doing wonders for the baby who
(mercifully) isn't wonderful.--Yours sincerely,

"CYNTHIA CLARKE"


After receiving this communication Dion felt that he simply must go
to see Mrs. Clarke, and he called at the hotel and asked for her about
five-thirty on the following afternoon. She was out, and he left his
card, feeling rather relieved. Next morning he had a note regretting she
had missed him, and asking him, "when" he came again, to let her know
beforehand at what time he meant to arrive so that she might be in. He
thanked her, and promised to do this, but he did not repeat his visit.
By this time, quite unreasonably he supposed, he had begun to feel
decidedly uncomfortable about the whole affair. Yet, when he considered
it fully and fairly, he told himself that he was a fool to imagine that
there could be anything in it which was not quite usual and natural.
He had been sympathetic to Mrs. Clarke when she was passing through
an unpleasant experience; he was Daventry's good friend; he was also a
friend of Mrs. Chetwinde and of Esme Darlington; naturally, therefore,
Mrs. Clarke was inclined to number him among those who had "stuck to
her" when she was being cruelly attacked. Where was the awkwardness in
the situation? After denying to himself that there was any awkwardness
he quite suddenly and quite clearly realized one evening that such
denial was useless. There was awkwardness, and it arose simply from
Rosamund's passive resistance to the faint pressure--he thought it
amounted to that--applied by Mrs. Clarke. This it was which had given
him, which gave him still, a sensation obscure, but definite, of
contest.

Mrs. Clarke meant to know Rosamund, and Rosamund didn't mean to know
Mrs. Clarke. Well, then, the obvious thing for him to do was to keep out
of Mrs. Clarke's way. In such a matter Rosamund must do as she liked.
He had no intention of attempting to force upon her any one, however
suitable as an acquaintance or even as a friend, whom she didn't want
to know. He loved her far too well to do that. He decided not to mention
Mrs. Clarke again to Rosamund when he went down to Westgate; but somehow
or other her name came up, and her boy was mentioned, too.

"Is he still with his mother?" Rosamund asked.

"Yes. He's nearly eleven, I believe. She takes him to Jenkins for
exercise. She's very fond of him, I think."

After a moment of silence Rosamund simply said, "Poor child!" and then
spoke of something else, but in those two words, said as she had said
them, Dion thought he heard a definite condemnation of Mrs. Clarke. He
began to wonder whether Rosamund, although she had not read a full, or,
so far as he knew, any account of the case in the papers, had somehow
come to know a good deal about the unwise life of Constantinople.
Friends came to see her in London; she knew several people at Westgate;
report of a _cause celebre_ floats in the air; he began to believe she
knew.

At the end of September, just before Rosamund was to return to London
for the autumn and winter, Mrs. Clarke wrote to Dion again.


"CLARIDGE'S, 28 September, 1897

"DEAR Mr. LEITH,--I'm so sorry to bother you, but I wonder whether
you can spare me a moment. It's about my boy. He seems to me to have
strained himself with his exercises. Jenkins, as you probably know, has
gone away for a fortnight's holiday, so I can't consult him. I feel a
little anxious. You're an athlete, I know, and could set me right in a
moment if I'm making a fuss about nothing. The strain seems to be in the
right hip. Is that possible?--Yours sincerely,

"CYNTHIA CLARKE"


Dion didn't know how to refuse this appeal, so he fixed an hour, went
to Claridge's, and had an interview with Mrs. Clarke and her son,
Jimmy Clarke. When he went up to her sitting-room he felt rather
uncomfortable. He was thinking of her invitation to dinner, and to call
again, of his lack of response. She must certainly be thinking of
them, too. But when he was with her his discomfort died away before her
completely natural and oddly impersonal manner. Dinners, visits, seemed
far away from her thoughts. She was apparently concentrated on her boy,
and seemed to be thinking of him, not at all of Dion. Had Dion been a
vain man he might have been vexed by her indifference; as he was not
vain, he felt relieved, and so almost grateful to her. Jimmy,
too, helped to make things go easily. The young rascal, a sturdy,
good-looking boy, with dark eyes brimming over with mischief, took
tremendously to Dion at first sight.

"I say," he remarked, "you must be jolly strong! May I?"

He felt Dion's biceps, and added, with a sudden profound gravity:

"Well, I'm blowed! Mater, he's almost as hard as Jenkins."

His mother gave Dion a swift considering look, and then at once began
to consult him about Jimmy's hip. The visit ended with an application by
Dion of Elliman's embrocation, for which one of the hotel page-boys was
sent to the nearest chemist.

"I say, mind you come again, Mr. Leith!" vociferated Jimmy, when Dion
was going. "You're better than doctors, you know."

Mrs. Clarke did not back up her son's frank invitation. She only thanked
Dion quietly in her husky voice, and bade him good-by with an "I know
how busy you must be, and how difficult you must find it ever to pay a
call. You've been very good to us." At the door she added, "I've never
seen Jimmy take so much to anyone as to you." As Dion went down the
stairs something in him was gently glowing. He was glad that young
rascal had taken to him at sight. The fact gave him confidence when he
thought of Robin and the future.

It occurred to him, as he turned into the Greville Club, that Mrs.
Clarke had not once mentioned Rosamund during his visit.



CHAPTER VII

When Rosamund, Robin and the nurse came back to London on the last day
of September, Beatrice and Daventry were settled in their home. They
had taken a flat in De Lorne Gardens, Kensington, high up on the seventh
floor of a big building, which overlooked from a distance the trees of
Kensington Gardens. Their friends soon began to call on them, and one
of the first to mount up in the lift to their "hill-top," as Daventry
called their seventh floor, was Mrs. Clarke. A few nights after her
call the Daventrys dined in Little Market Street, and Daventry, whose
happiness had raised him not only to the seventh-floor flat, but also
to the seventh heaven, mentioned that she had been, and that they
were going to dine with her at Claridge's on the following night. He
enlarged, almost with exuberance, upon her _savoir-vivre_, her knowledge
and taste, and said Beattie was delighted with her. Beatrice did not
deny it. She was never exuberant, but she acknowledged that she had
found Mrs. Clarke attractive and interesting.

"A lot of the clever ones are going to-morrow," said Daventry. He
mentioned several, both women and men, among them a lady who was famed
for her exclusiveness as well as for her brains.

Evidently Mrs. Chetwinde had been speaking by the book when she had said
at the trial, "If she wins, she wins, and it's all right. If she
gets the verdict, the world won't do anything, except laugh at Beadon
Clarke." No serious impression had apparently been left upon society by
the first disagreement of the jury. The "wild mind in the innocent body"
had been accepted for what it was. And perhaps now, chastened by a sad
experience, the wild mind was on the way to becoming tame. Dion wondered
if it were so. After dinner he was undeceived by Daventry, who told him
over their cigars that Mrs. Clarke was positively going back to live in
Constantinople, and had already taken a flat there, "against every one's
advice." Beadon Clarke had got himself transferred, and was to be sent
to Madrid, so she wouldn't run against him; but nevertheless she was
making a great mistake.

"However," Daventry concluded, "there's something fine about her
persistence; and of course a guilty woman would never dare to go back,
even after an acquittal."

"No," said Dion, thinking of the way his hand had been held in Mrs.
Chetwinde's drawing-room. "I suppose not."

"I wonder when Rosamund will get to know her," said Daventry, with
perhaps a slightly conscious carelessness.

"Never, perhaps," said Dion, with equal carelessness. "Often one
lives for years in London without knowing, or even ever seeing, one's
next-door neighbor."

"To be sure!" said Daventry. "One of London's many advantages, or
disadvantages, as the case may be."

And he began to talk about Whistler's Nocturnes. Dion had never
happened to tell Daventry about Jimmy Clarke's strained hip and his own
application of Elliman's embrocation. He had told Rosamund, of course,
and she had said that if Robin ever strained himself she should do
exactly the same thing.

That night, when the Daventrys had gone, Dion asked Rosamund whether
she thought Beattie was happy. She hesitated for a moment, then she said
with her usual directness:

"I'm not sure that she is, Dion. Guy is a dear, kind, good husband to
her, but there's something homeless about Beattie somehow. She's living
in that pretty little flat in De Lorne Gardens, and yet she seems to
me a wanderer. But we must wait; she may find what she's looking for. I
pray to God that she will."

She did not explain; he guessed what she meant. Had she, too, been a
wanderer at first, and had she found what she had been looking for?
While Rosamund was speaking he had been pitying Guy. When she had
finished he wondered whether he had ever had cause to pity some one
else--now and then. Despite the peaceful happiness of his married life
there was a very faint coldness at, or near to, his heart. It came upon
him like a breath of frost stealing up out of the darkness to one who,
standing in a room lit and warmed by a glowing fire, opens a window and
lets in for a moment a winter night. But he shut his window quickly, and
he turned to look at the fire and to warm his hands at its glow.

Mrs. Clarke rapidly established a sort of intimacy with the Daventrys.
As Daventry had helped to fight for her, and genuinely delighted in her
faculties, this was very natural; for Beatrice, unlike Rosamund, was
apt to take her color gently from those with whom she lived, desiring to
please them, not because she was vain and wished to be thought charming,
but because she had an unusually sweet disposition and wished to
be charming. She was sincere, and if asked a direct question always
returned an answer that was true; but she sometimes fell in with an
assumption from a soft desire to be kind. Daventry quite innocently
assumed that she found Mrs. Clarke as delightful as he did. Perhaps
she did; perhaps she did not. However it was, she gently accepted Mrs.
Clarke as a friend.

Dion, of course, knew of this friendship; and so did Rosamund. She never
made any comment upon it, and showed no interest in it. But her life
that autumn was a full one. She had Robin; she had the house to
look after, "my little house"; she had Dion in the evenings; she had
quantities of friends and acquaintances; and she had her singing. She
had now definitely given up singing professionally. Her very short
career as an artist was closed. But she had begun to practise diligently
again, and showed by this assiduity that she loved music not for
what she could gain by it, but for its own sake. Of her friends and
acquaintances she saw much less than formerly. Many of them complained
that they never could get a glimpse of her now, that she shut them
out, that "not at home" had become a parrot-cry on the lips of her
well-trained parlor-maid, that she cared for nobody now that she had
a husband and a baby, that she was self-engrossed, etc., etc. But they
could not be angry with her; for if they did happen to meet her, or if
she did happen to be "at home" when they called, they always found
her the genial, radiant, kind and friendly Rosamund of old; full,
apparently, of all the former interest in them and their doings,
eager to welcome and make the most of their jokes and good stories,
sympathetic towards their troubles and sorrows. To Dion she once said
in explanation of her withdrawal from the rather bustling life which
keeping up with many friends and acquaintances implies:

"I think one sometimes has to make a choice between living deeply in the
essentials and just paddling up to one's ankles in the non-essentials.
I want to live deeply if I can, and I am very happy in quiet. I can hear
only in peace the voices that mean most to me."

"I remember what you said to me once in the Acropolis," he answered.

"What was that?"

"You said, 'Oh, Dion, if you knew how something in me cares for
freshness and for peace.'"

"You remember my very words!"

"Yes."

"Then you understand?"

"And besides," he said slowly, and as if with some hesitation, "you used
to long for a very quiet life, for the religious life; didn't you?"

"Once, but it seems such ages ago."

"And yet Robin's not a year old yet."

She looked at him with a sudden, and almost intense, inquiry; he was
smiling at her.

"Robino maestro di casa!" he added.

And they both laughed.

Towards the end of November one day Daventry said to Dion in the
Greville Club:

"Beatrice is going to give a dinner somewhere, probably at the Carlton.
She thought of the twenty-eighth. Are Rosamund and you engaged that
night? She wants you, of course."

"No. We don't go out much. Rose is an early rooster, as she calls it."

"Then the twenty-eighth would do capitally."

"Shall I tell Rose?"

"Yes, do. Beattie will write too, or tell Rosamund when she sees her."

"Whom are you going to have?"

"Oh, Mrs. Chetwinde for one, and--we must see whom we can get. We'll try
to make it cheery and not too imbecile."

As Daventry was speaking, Dion felt certain that the dinner had an
object, and he thought he knew what that object was. But he only said:

"It's certain to be jolly, and I always enjoy myself at the Carlton."

"Even with bores?" said Daventry, unable to refrain from pricking a
bubble, although he guessed the reason why Dion had blown it.

"Anyhow, I'm sure you won't invite bores," said Dion, trying to preserve
a casual air, and wishing, for the moment, that he and his friend were
densely stupid instead of quite intelligent.

"Pray that Beattie and I may be guided in our choice," returned
Daventry, going to pick up the "Saturday Review."

Rosamund said of course she would go on the twenty-eighth and help
Beattie with her dinner. She had accepted before she asked who were
the invited guests. Beattie, who was evidently quite guileless in the
matter, told her at once that Mrs. Clarke was among them. Rosamund said
nothing, and appeared to be looking forward to the twenty-eighth. She
even got a new gown for it, and Dion began to feel that he had made a
mistake in supposing that Rosamund had long ago decided not to know Mrs.
Clarke. He was very glad, for he had often felt uncomfortable about Mrs.
Clarke, who, he supposed, must have believed that his wife did not wish
to meet her, as her reiterated desire to make Rosamund's acquaintance
had met with no response. She had, he thought, shown the tact of a lady
and of a thorough woman of the world in not pressing the point, and in
never seeking to continue her acquaintance, or dawning friendship, with
him since his wife had come back to town. He felt a strong desire now
to be pleasant and cordial to her, and to show her how charming and
sympathetic his Rosamund was. He looked forward to this dinner as he
seldom looked forward to any social festivity.

On the twenty-sixth of November Robin had a cold! On the twenty-seventh
it was worse, and he developed a little hard cough which was rather
pathetic, and which seemed to surprise and interest him a good deal.
Rosamund was full of solicitude. On the night of the twenty-seventh she
said she would sit up with Robin. The nurse protested, but Rosamund was
smilingly firm.

"I want you to have a good night, Nurse," she said. "You're too devoted
and take too much out of yourself. And, besides, I shouldn't sleep.
I should be straining my ears all the time to hear whether my boy was
coughing or not."

Nurse had to give in, of course. But Dion was dismayed when he heard of
the project.

"You'll be worn out!" he exclaimed.

"No, I shan't But even if I were it wouldn't matter."

"But I want you to look your radiant self for Beattie's dinner."

"Oh--the dinner!"

It seemed she had forgotten it.

"Robin comes first," she said firmly, after a moment of silence.

And she sat up that night in an arm-chair by the nursery fire,
ministering at intervals to the child, who seemed impressed and
heartened in his coughings by his mother's presence.

On the following day she was rather tired, the cough was not abated, and
when Dion came back from business he learnt that she had telegraphed to
Beattie to give up the dinner. He was very much disappointed. But she
did really look tired; Robin's cough was audible in the quiet house; the
telegram had gone, and of course there was nothing more to be done. Dion
did not even express his disappointment; but he begged Rosamund to go
very early to bed, and offered to sleep in a separate room if his return
late was likely to disturb her. She agreed that, perhaps, that would be
best. So, at about eleven-thirty that night, Dion made his way to their
spare room, walking tentatively lest a board should creak and awaken
Rosamund.

Everybody had missed her and had made inquiries about her, except Mrs.
Clarke and Daventry. The latter had not mentioned her in Dion's hearing.
But he was very busy with his guests. Mrs. Clarke had apparently not
known that Rosamund had been expected at the dinner, for when Dion, who
had sat next her, had said something about the unfortunate reason for
Rosamund's absence, Mrs. Clarke had seemed sincerely surprised.

"But I thought your wife had quite given up going out since her child
was born?" she had said.

"Oh no. She goes out sometimes."

"I had no idea she did. But now I shall begin to be disappointed and to
feel I've missed something. You shouldn't have told me."

It was quite gravely and naturally said. As he went into the spare room,
Dion remembered the exact tone of Mrs. Clarke's husky voice in speaking
it, the exact expression in her eyes. They were strange eyes, he
thought, unlike any other eyes he had seen. In them there was often a
look that seemed both intent and remote. Their gaze was very direct but
it was not piercing. There was melancholy in the eyes but there was no
demand for sympathy. When Dion thought of the expression in Rosamund's
eyes he realized how far from happiness, and even from serenity, Mrs.
Clarke must be, and he could not help pitying her. Yet she never posed
as _une femme incomprise_, or indeed as anything. She was absolutely
simple and natural. He had enjoyed talking to her. Despite her gravity
she was, he thought, excellent company, a really interesting woman
and strongly individual. She seemed totally devoid of the little
tiresomenesses belonging to many woman--tiresomenesses which spring out
of vanity and affectation, the desire of possession, the uneasy wish to
"cut out" publicly other women. Mrs. Clarke would surely never
"manage" a man. If she held a man it would be with the listless and yet
imperative grip of Stamboul. The man might go if he would, but--would he
want to go?

In thinking of Mrs. Clarke, Dion of course always considered her with
the detached spectator's mind. No woman on earth was of real importance
to him except Rosamund. His mother he did not consciously count among
women. She was to him just the exceptional being, the unique and homely
manifestation a devoted mother is to the son who loves her without
thinking about it; not numbered among women or even among mothers. She
stood to him for protective love unquestioning, for interest in him and
all his doings unwavering, for faith in his inner worth undying, for the
Eternities without beginning or ending; but probably he did not know it.
Of Rosamund, what she was, what she meant in his life, he was intensely,
even secretly, almost savagely conscious. In Mrs. Clarke he was more
interested than he happened to be in any of the women who dwelt in the
great world of those whom he did not love and never could love.

Had the dinner-party he had just been to been arranged by Daventry in
order that Rosamund and Mrs. Clarke might meet in a perfectly natural
way? If so, it must have been Daventry's idea and not Mrs. Clarke's.
Dion had a feeling that Daventry had been vexed by Rosamund's defection.
He knew his friend very well. It was not quite natural that Daventry
had not mentioned Rosamund. But why should Daventry strongly wish Mrs.
Clarke and Rosamund to meet if Mrs. Clarke had not indicated a desire to
know Rosamund? Daventry was an enthusiastic adherent of Mrs. Clarke's.
He had, Dion knew, a chivalrous feeling for her. Having helped to win
her case, any slight put upon her would be warmly resented by him.

Had Rosamund put upon her a slight? Had she deliberately avoided the
dinner?

Dion was on the point of getting into the spare-room bed when he asked
himself that question. As he pulled back the clothes he heard a dry
little sound. It was Robin's cough. He stole to the door and opened it.
As he did so he saw the tail of Rosamund's dressing-gown disappearing
over the threshold of the nursery. The nursery door shut softly behind
her, and Dion got into bed feeling heartily ashamed of his suspicion.
How low it was to search for hidden motives in such a woman as Rosamund.
He resolved never to do that again. He lay in bed listening, but he did
not hear Robin's cough again, and he wondered if the child was already
old enough to be what nurses call "artful," whether he had made use of
his little affliction to get hold of his providence in the night.

What a mystery was the relation of mother and little child! He lay for
a long while musing about it. Why hadn't he followed Rosamund over the
threshold of the nursery just now? The mystery had held him back.

Was it greater than the mystery of the relation of man to woman in a
love such as his for Rosamund? He considered it, but he was certain that
he could not fathom it. No man, he felt sure, knew or ever could know
how a mother like Rosamund, that is an intensely maternal mother,
regarded her child when he was little and dependent on her; how she
loved him, what he meant to her. And no doubt the gift of the mother to
the child was subtly reciprocated by the child. But just how?

Dion could not remember at all what he had felt, or how he had regarded
his mother when he was nine months old. Presently he recalled Hermes and
the child in that remote and hushed room hidden away in the green wilds
of Elis; he even saw them before him--saw the beautiful face of the
Hermes, saw the child's stretched-out arm.

Elis! He had been wonderfully happy there, far away in the smiling
wilderness. Would he ever be there again? And, if fate did indeed lead
his steps thither, would he again be wonderfully happy? Of one thing he
was certain; that he would never see Elis, would never see Hermes and
the child again, unless Rosamund was with him. She had made the green
wilderness to blossom as the rose. She only could make his life to
blossom. He depended upon her terribly--terribly. Always that love of
his was growing. People, especially women, often said that the love of
a man was quickly satisfied, more quickly than a woman's, that the
masculine satisfaction was soon followed by satiety. Love such as that
was only an appetite, a species of lust. Such a woman as Rosamund could
not awaken mere lust. For her a man might have desire, but only the
desire that every great love of a man for a woman encloses. And how
utterly different that was from physical lust.

He thought of the maidens upholding the porch of the Erechtheion. His
Rosamund descended from them, was as pure, as serene in her goodness, as
beautiful as they were.

In thinking of the beloved maidens he did not think of them as marble.

Before he went to sleep Dion had realized that, since Rosamund was
awake, the reason for his coming to the spare room did not exist.
Nevertheless he did not go to their bedroom that night. Robin's little
dry cough still sounded in his ears. To-night was Robin's kingdom.

In a day or two Robin was better, in a week he was perfectly well. If
he had not chanced to catch cold, would Rosamund have worn that new
evening-gown at the Carlton dinner?

On that question Dion had a discussion with Daventry which was
disagreeable to him. One day Daventry, who had evidently been, in
silence, debating whether to speak or not, said to him:

"Oh, Dion, d'you mind if I use a friend's privilege and say something I
very much want to say, but which you mayn't be so keen to hear?"

"No, of course not. We can say anything to each other."

"Can we? I'm not sure of that--now."

"What d'you mean?"

"Oh, well--anyhow, this time I'll venture. Why did Rosamund throw us
over the other night at almost the last moment?"

"Because Robin was ill."

"He's quite well now."

"Why not. It's ten days ago."

"He can't have been so very ill."

"He was ill enough to make Rosamund very anxious. She was up with him
the whole night before your dinner; and not only that, she was up again
on the night of the dinner, though she was very tired."

"Well, coming to our dinner wouldn't have prevented that--only eight
till ten-thirty."

"I don't think, Guy, you at all understand Rosamund's feeling for
Robin," said Dion, with a sort of dry steadiness.

"Probably not, being a man."

"Perhaps a father can understand better."

"Better? It seems to me one either does understand a thing or one
doesn't understand it."

There was a not very attractive silence which Daventry broke by saying:

"Then you think if Beattie and I give another dinner at the Carlton--a
piece of reckless extravagance, but we are made on entertaining!--Robin
won't be ill again?"

"Another dinner? You'll be ruined."

"I've got several more briefs. Would Robin be ill?"

"How the deuce can any one know?"

"I'll hazard a guess. He would be ill."

Dion reddened. There was sudden heat not only in his cheeks but also
about his heart.

"I didn't know you were capable of talking such pernicious rubbish!" he
said.

"Let's prove whether it's rubbish or not. Beattie will send Rosamund
another dinner invitation to-morrow, and then we'll wait and see what
happens to Robin's health."

"Guy, I don't want to have a quarrel with you."

"A quarrel? What about?"

"If you imply that Rosamund is insincere, is capable of acting a part,
we shall quarrel. Robin was really ill. Rosamund fully meant to go to
your dinner. She bought a new dress expressly for it."

"Forgive me, old Dion, and please don't think I was attacking Rosamund.
No. But I think sometimes the very sweetest and best women do have their
little bit of insincerity. To women very often the motive seems of more
importance than the action springing from it. I had an idea that perhaps
Rosamund was anxious not to hurt some one's feelings."

"Whose?"

After a slight hesitation Daventry said:

"Mrs. Clarke's."

"Did Mrs. Clarke know that Rosamund accepted to go to your dinner?"
asked Dion abruptly, and with a forcible directness that put the not
unastute Daventry immediately on his guard.

"What on earth has that to do with it?"

"Everything, I should think. Did she?"

"No," said Daventry.

"Then how could--?" Dion began. But he broke off, and added more
quietly:

"Why are you so anxious that Rosamund should know Mrs. Clarke?"

"Well, didn't Mrs. Clarke ages ago express a wish to know Rosamund if
the case went in her favor?"

"Oh, I--yes, I fancy she did. But she probably meant nothing by it, and
has forgotten it."

"I doubt that. A woman who has gone through Mrs. Clarke's ordeal is
generally hypersensitive afterwards."

"But she's come out splendidly. Everybody believes in her. She's got her
child. What more can she want?"

"As she's such a great friend of ours I think it must seem very odd to
her not knowing Rosamund, especially as she's good friends with you.
D'you mind if we ask Rosamund to meet her again?"

"You've done it once. I should leave things alone. Mind, Rosamund has
never told me she doesn't want to know Mrs. Clarke."

"That may be another example of her goodness of heart," said Daventry.
"Rosamund seldom or never speaks against people. I'll tell you the
simple truth, Dion. As I helped to defend Mrs. Clarke, and as we won
and she was proved to be an innocent woman, and as I believe in her and
admire her very much, I'm sensitive for her. Perhaps it's very absurd."

"I think it's very chivalrous."

"Oh--rot! But there it is. And so I hate to see a relation of my own--I
count Rosamund as a relation now--standing out against her."

"There's no reason to think she's doing that."

An expression that seemed to be of pity flitted over Daventry's
intelligent face, and he slightly raised his eyebrows.

"Anyhow, we won't bother you with another dinner invitation," he said.

And so the conversation ended.

It left with Dion an impression which was not pleasant, and he could not
help wondering whether, during the conversation, his friend had told him
a direct and deliberate lie.

No more dinners were given by Beattie and Daventry at the Carlton.
Robin's health continued to be excellent. Mrs. Clarke was never
mentioned at 5 Little Market Street, and she gave to the Leiths no sign
of life, though Dion knew that she was still in London and was going to
stay on there until the spring. He did not meet her, although she knew
many of those whom he knew. This was partly due, perhaps, to chance; but
it was also partly due to deliberate action by Dion. He avoided going to
places where he thought he might meet her: to Esme Darlington's, to Mrs.
Chetwinde's, to one or two other houses which she frequented; he even
gave up visiting Jenkins's gymnasium because he knew she continued to
go there regularly with Jimmy Clarke, whom, since the divorce case, with
his father's consent, she had taken away from school and given to the
care of a tutor. All this was easy enough, and required but little
management on account of Rosamund's love of home and his love of what
she loved. Since Robin's coming she had begun to show more and more
plainly her root-indifference to the outside pleasures and attractions
of the world, was becoming, Dion thought, week by week, more cloistral,
was giving the rein, perhaps, to secret impulses which marriage had
interfered with for a time, but which were now reviving within her.
Robin was a genuine reason, but perhaps also at moments an excuse. Was
there not sometimes in the quiet little house, quiet unless disturbed by
babyhood's occasional outbursts, a strange new atmosphere, delicate and
subdued, which hinted at silent walks, at twilight dreamings, at slowly
pacing feet, bowed heads and wide-eyed contemplation? Or was all this
a fancy of Dion's, bred in him by Rosamund's revelation of an old and
haunting desire? He did not know; but he did know that sometimes, when
he heard her warm voice singing at a little distance from him within
their house, he thought of a man's voice, in some dim and remote chapel
with stained-glass windows, singing an evening hymn in the service of
Benediction.

In the midst of many friends, in the midst of the enormous City,
Rosamund effected, or began to effect, a curiously intent withdrawal,
and Dion, as it were, accompanied her; or perhaps it were truer to say,
followed after her. He loved quiet evenings in his home, and the love of
them grew steadily upon him. To the occasional protests of his friends
he laughingly replied:

"The fact is we're both very happy at home. We're an unfashionable
couple."

Bruce Evelin, Esme Darlington and a few others, including, of course,
Dion's mother and the Daventrys, they sometimes asked to come to them.
Their little dinners were homely and delightful; but Mr. Darlington
often regretted plaintively their "really, if I may say so, almost too
definite domesticity." He even said to certain intimates:

"I know the next thing we shall hear of will be that the Leiths have
decided to bury themselves in the country. And Dion Leith will wreck his
nerves by daily journeys to town in some horrid business train."

At the beginning of January, however, there came an invitation which
they decided to accept. It was to an evening party at Mrs. Chetwinde's,
and she begged Rosamund to be nice to her and sing at it.

"Since you've given up singing professionally one never hears you at
all," she wrote. "I'm not going to tell the usual lie and say I'm only
having a few people. On the contrary, I'm asking as many as my house
will hold. It's on January the fifteenth."

It happened that the invitation arrived in Little Market Street by the
last post, and that, earlier in the day, Daventry had met Dion in the
Club and had casually told him that Mrs. Clarke was spending the whole
of January in Paris, to get some things for the flat in Constantinople
which she intended to occupy in the late spring. Rosamund showed Dion
Mrs. Chetwinde's note.

"Let's go," he said at once.

"Shall we? Do you like these crowds? She says 'as many as my house will
hold.'"

"All the better. There'll be all the more to enjoy the result of your
practising. Do say yes."

His manner was urgent. Mrs. Clarke would be in Paris. This party was
certainly no ingenuity of Daventry's.

"We mustn't begin to live like a monk and a nun," he exclaimed. "We're
too young and enjoy life too much for that."

"Do monks and nuns live together? Since when?" said Rosamund, laughing
at him.

"Poor wretches! If only they did, how much--!"

"Hush!" she said, with a smiling pretense of thinking of being shocked
presently.

She went to the writing-table.

"Very well, then, we'll go if you want to."

"Don't you?" he asked, following her.

She had sat down and taken up a pen. Now she looked up at him with her
steady eyes.

"I'm sure I shall enjoy it when I'm there," she answered. "I generally
enjoy things. You know that. You've seen me among people so often."

"Yes. One would think you reveled in society if one only knew you in
that phase."

"Well, I don't _really_ care for it one bit. I can't, because I never
miss it if I don't have it."

"I believe you _really_ care for very few things and for very few
people," he said.

"Perhaps that's true about people."

"How many people, I wonder?"

"I don't think one always knows whom one cares for until something
happens."

"Something?"

"Until one's threatened with loss, or until one actually does lose
somebody one loves. I"--she hesitated, stretched out her hand, and drew
some notepaper out of a green case which stood on the table--"I had
absolutely no idea what I felt for my mother until she died. She died
very suddenly."

Tears rushed to her eyes and her whole face suddenly reddened.

"Then I knew!" she said, in a broken voice.

Dion had never before seen her look as she was looking now.

For a moment he felt almost as if he were regarding a stranger. There
was a sort of heat of anger in the face, which looked rebellious in its
emotion; and he believed it was the rebellion in her face which made him
realize how intensely she had been able to love her mother.

"Now I must write to Mrs. Chetwinde," she said, suddenly bending over
the notepaper, "and tell her we'll come, and I'll sing."

"Yes."

He stood a moment watching the moving pen. Then he bent down and just
touched her shoulder with a great gentleness.

"If you knew what I would do to keep every breath of sorrow out of your
life!" he said, in a low voice.

Without looking up she touched his hand.

"I know you would. You could never bring sorrow into my life."

From that day Dion realized what intensity of feeling lay beneath
Rosamund's serene and often actively joyous demeanor. Perhaps she cared
for very few people, but for those few she cared with a force surely
almost abnormal. Her mother had now been dead for many years; never
before had Rosamund spoken of her death to him. He understood the reason
of that silence now, and from that day the desire to keep all sorrow
from her became almost a passion in him. He even felt that its approach
to her, that its cold touch resting upon her, would be a hateful and
almost unnatural outrage. Yet he saw all around him people closely
companioned by sorrow and did not think that strange. Sorrow even
approached very near to Rosamund and to him in that very month of
January, for Beatrice had a miscarriage and lost her baby. She said very
little about it, but Dion believed that she was really stricken to the
heart. He was very fond of Beatrice, he almost loved her; yet her sorrow
was only a shadow passing by him, not a substance pressing upon him. And
that fact, which he realized, made him know how little even imagination
and quiet affection can help men feel the pains of others. The heart
knoweth only its own bitterness and the bitterness of those whom it
deeply and passionately loves.



CHAPTER VIII

On January the fifteenth Rosamund put on the gown which had been bought
for the Carlton dinner but not worn at it.

Although she had not really wanted to go to Mrs. Chetwinde's party she
looked radiantly buoyant, and like one almost shining with expectation,
when she was ready to start for Lowndes Square.

"You ought to go out every night," Dion said, as he put her cloak over
her shoulders.

"Why?"

"To enjoy and to give enjoyment. Merely to look at you would make the
dullest set of people in London wake up and scintillate. Don't tell me
you're not looking forward to it, because I couldn't believe you."

"Now that the war-paint is on I confess to feeling almost eager for the
fray. How nicely you button it. You aren't clumsy."

"How could I be clumsy in doing something for you? Where's your music?"

"In my head. Jennie will meet us there."

Jennie was Rosamund's accompanist, a clever Irish girl who often came to
Little Market Street to go through things with Rosamund.

"It will be rather delightful singing to people again," she added in a
joyous voice as they got into the hired carriage. "I hope I've really
improved."

"How you love a thing for itself!" he said, as they drove off.

"I think that's the only way to love."

"Of course it is. You know the only way to everything beautiful and
sane. What I have learnt from you!"

"Dion," she said, in the darkness, "I think you are rather a dangerous
companion for me."

"How can I be?"

"I'm not at all a piece of perfection. Take care you don't teach me to
think I am."

"But you're the least conceited--"

"Hush, you encourager of egoism!" she interrupted seriously.

"I'm afraid you'll find a good many more at Mrs. Chetwinde's."

Dion thought he had been a true prophet half an hour later when, from a
little distance, he watched and listened while Rosamund was singing her
first song. Seeing her thus in the midst of a crowd he awakened to the
fact that Robin had changed her very much. She still looked splendidly
young but she no longer looked like a girl. The married woman and the
mother were there quite definitely. Even he fancied that he heard them
in her voice, which had gained in some way, perhaps in roundness,
in mellowness. This might be the result of study; he was inclined to
believe it the result of motherhood. She was wearing ear-rings--tiny,
not long drooping things, they were green, small emeralds; and he
remembered how he had loved her better when he saw her wearing ear-rings
for the first time in Mr. Darlington's drawing-room. How definite she
was in a crowd. Crowds effaced ordinary people, but when Rosamund was
surrounded she always seemed to be beautifully emphasized, to be made
more perfectly herself. She did not take, she gave, and in giving showed
how much she had.

She was giving now as she sang, "Caro mio ben."

Towards the end of the song, when Dion was deeply in it and in her who
sang it, he was disturbed by a woman's whisper coming from close behind
him. He did not catch the beginning of what was communicated, but he did
catch the end. It was this: "Over there, the famous Mrs. Clarke."

But Mrs. Clarke was in Paris. Daventry had told him so. Dion looked
quickly about the large and crowded room, but could not see Mrs.
Clarke. Then he glanced behind him to see the whisperer, and beheld a
hard-faced, middle-aged and very well-known woman--one of those women
who, by dint of perpetually "going about," become at length something
less than human. He was quite sure Mrs. Brackenhurst would not make
a mistake about anything which happened at a party. She might fail to
recognize her husband, if she met him about her house, because he was
so seldom there; she would not fail to recognize the heroine of a
resounding divorce case. Mrs. Clarke must certainly have returned from
Paris and be somewhere in that room, listening to Rosamund and probably
watching her. Dion scarcely knew whether this fact made him sorry or
glad. He did know, however, that it oddly excited him.

When "Caro mio ben" was ended people began to move. Rosamund was
surrounded and congratulated, and Dion saw Esme Darlington bending to
her, half paternally, half gallantly, and speaking to her emphatically.
Mrs. Chetwinde drifted up to her; and three or four young men hovered
near to her, evidently desirous of putting in a word. The success of
her leaped to the eye. Dion saw it and glowed. But the excitement in him
persisted, and he began to move towards the far side of the great room
in search of Mrs. Clarke. If she had just come in she would probably
be near the door by which the pathetic Echo stood on her pedestal of
marble, withdrawn in her punishment, in her abasement beautiful and
wistful. How different was Rosamund from Echo! Dion looked across at her
joyous and radiant animation, as she smiled and talked almost with the
eagerness and vitality of a child; and he had the thought, "How goodness
preserves!" Women throng the secret rooms of the vanity specialists,
put their trust in pomades, in pigments, in tinctures, in dyes; and the
weariness and the sin become lustrous, perhaps, but never are hidden
or even obscured. His Rosamund trusted in a wholesome life, with air
blowing through it, with sound sleep as its anodyne, with purity on
guard at its door; and radiance and youth sparkled up in her like
fountain spray in the sunshine. And the wholesomeness of her was a lure
to the many even in a drawing-room of London. He saw powdered women,
women with darkened eyebrows, and touched-up lips, and hair that had
forgotten long ago what was its natural color, looking at her, and
he fancied there was a dull wonder in their eyes. Perhaps they were
thinking: "Yes, that's the recipe--being gay in goodness!" And perhaps
some of them were thinking, too: "We've lost the power to follow that
recipe, if we ever had it." Poor women! With a sort of exultation he
pitied them and their husbands. A chord was sounded on the piano. He
stood still. The loud buzz of conversation died down. Was Rosamund
going to sing again so soon? Perhaps some one had begged for something
specially beloved. Jennie was playing a soft prelude as a gentle warning
to a few of those who seem ever to find silence a physical difficulty.
She stopped, and began to play something Dion did not know, something
very modern in its strange atmospheric delicacy, which nevertheless
instantly transported him to Greece. He was there, even before Rosamund
began to sing in a voice that was hushed, in a far-off voice, not
antique, but the voice of modernity, prompted by a mind looking away
from what is near to what is afar and is deeply desired.

     "A crescent sail upon the sea,
     So calm and fair and ripple-free
     You wonder storms can ever be;

     A shore with deep indented bays,
     And o'er the gleaming water-ways
     A glimpse of Islands in the haze;

     A faced bronzed dark to red and gold,
     With mountain eyes that seem to hold
     The freshness of the world of old;

     A shepherd's crook, a coat of fleece,
     A grazing flock--the sense of peace,
     The long sweet silence--this is Greece."

The accompaniment continued for a moment alone, whispering remoteness.
Then, like a voice far off in a blue distance, there came again from
Rosamund, more softly and with less pressure:

              "----The sense of peace,
     The long sweet silence--this is Greece!
                  This is Greece!"

It was just then that Dion saw Mrs. Clarke. She had, perhaps, been
sitting down; or, possibly, some one had been standing in front of her
and had hidden her from him; for she was not far off, and he wondered
sharply why he had not seen her till now, why, till now, she had
refrained from snatching him away from his land of the early morning.
There was to him at this moment something actually cruel and painful in
her instant suggestion of Stamboul. Yet she was not looking at him, but
was directing upon Rosamund her characteristic gaze of consideration,
in which there was a peculiar grave thoroughness. A handsome, fair
young man, with a very red weak mouth, stood close to her. Echo was
just beyond. Without speaking, Mrs. Clarke continued looking at Rosamund
intently, when the music evaporated, and Greece faded away into the
shining of that distance which hides our dreams. And Dion noted again,
with a faint creeping of wonder and of doubt, the strange haggardness of
her face, which, nevertheless, he had come to think almost beautiful.

The fair young man spoke to her, bending and looking at her eagerly.
She turned her head slowly, and as if reluctantly towards him, and
was evidently listening to what he said, listening with that apparent
intentness which was characteristic of her. She was dressed in black
and violet, and wore a large knot of violets in her corsage. Round her
throat was clasped an antique necklace of dull, unshining gold, and
dim purple stones, which looked beautiful, but almost weary with
age. Perhaps they had lain for years in some dim bazaar of Stamboul,
forgotten under heaps of old stuffs. Dion thought of them as slumbering,
made drowsy and finally unconscious by the fumes of incense and the
exhalations from diapered perfume vials. As he looked at Mrs. Clarke,
the bare and shining vision of Greece, evoked by the song Rosamund had
just been singing, faded; the peculiar almost intellectually delicate
atmosphere of Greece was gone; and he saw for a moment the umber mystery
of Stamboul, lifted under tinted clouds of the evening beyond the waters
of the Golden Horn; the great rounded domes and tapering speary minarets
of the mosques, couchant amid the shadows and the trailing and gauzy
smoke-wreaths, a suggestion of dense masses of cypresses, those trees of
the night which only in the night can be truly themselves, guarding the
innumerable graves of the Turkish cemeteries.

From that moment he connected Mrs. Clarke in his mind with the cypress.
Surely she must have spent very many hours wandering in those enormous
and deserted gardens of the dead, where the very dust is poignant,
and the cries of the sea come faintly up to Allah's children crumbling
beneath the stone flowers and the little fezes of stone. Mrs. Clarke
must love the cypress, for about her there was an atmosphere which
suggested dimness and the gathering shadows of night.

Greece and Stamboul, the land of the early morning and the wonder-city
of twilight; Rosamund and Mrs. Clarke, standing there for a moment, in
the midst of the shifting crowd, Dion traveled, compared, connected and
was alone in the soul's solitude.

Then Mrs. Chetwinde spoke to him, and he saw Bruce Evelin in the
distance going towards Rosamund.

Mrs. Chetwinde told him that Rosamund had made a great advance.

"Now that she's given up singing professionally she's singing better
than ever. That Grecian song is the distilled essence of Greece felt in
our new way. For we've got our new way of feeling things. Rosamund tells
us she repeated the words to Jennie Stileman, and Jennie had them set
by a young Athenian who's over here studying English. He catches the
butterfly, lets it flutter for a moment in his hand and go. He doesn't
jab a pin into it as our composers would. Oh, there's Cynthia! I hope
she heard the last thing."

"Yes, she did."

"Ah?"

"I thought Mrs. Clarke was spending January in Paris."

"She came back to-day, and sent round to ask if she might come."

Mrs. Chetwinde wandered away, insouciant and observant as ever. Even at
her own parties she always had an air of faintly detached indifference,
never bothered about how "it" was "going." If it chose to stop it could,
and her guests must put up with it.

When she left him Dion hesitated. Mrs. Clarke had just seen him and sent
him a grave nod of recognition. Should he go to her? But the fair young
man was still at her side, was still, with his weak red mouth, talking
into her ear. Dion felt a strange distaste as he saw those moving lips
under the brushed-up, almost ridiculously small, golden mustache; and
just as he was conscious of this distaste Mrs. Clarke got rid of the
young man, and spoke to a woman. Then she moved forward slowly. Mr.
Chetwinde spoke to her, moving his ample fan-shaped beard, which always
looked Assyrian, though he was profoundly English and didn't know it.
She drew nearer to Dion as she answered Mr. Chetwinde, but in a wholly
unconscious manner. To-night she looked more haggard even than usual,
no doubt because of the journey from Paris. But Mrs. Chetwinde had once
said of her: "Cynthia is made of iron." Could that be true? She was
quite close to Dion now, and he was aware of a strange faint perfume
which reminded him of Stamboul; and he realized here in Lowndes Square
that Stamboul was genuinely fascinating, was much more fascinating than
he had realized when he was in it.

Mrs. Clarke passed him without looking at him, and he felt sure quite
unconscious of his nearness to her. Evidently she had forgotten all
about him. Just after she had gone by he decided that of course he ought
to go and speak to her, and that to-night he must introduce Rosamund
to her. Not to do so would really be rude. Daventry was not there to be
chivalrous. The illness of Beattie, and doubtless his own distress at
the loss of his unborn child, had kept him away. Dion thought that he
would be unchivalrous if he now neglected to make a point of speaking to
Mrs. Clarke and of introducing his wife to her.

Having made up his mind on this he turned to follow Mrs. Clarke, and at
once saw that Esme Darlington, that smoother of difficult social places,
was before him. A little way off he saw Mr. Darlington, with Rosamund
well but delicately in hand, making for Mrs. Clarke somewhat with
the gait of Agag. In a moment the thing was done. The two women were
speaking to each other, and Rosamund had sent to Mrs. Clarke one of her
inquiring looks. Then they sat down together on that red sofa to which
Mrs. Clarke had led Dion for his first conversation with her. Esme
Darlington remained standing before it. The full acquaintance was joined
at last.

Were they talking about the baby? Dion wondered, as for a moment he
watched them, forgetting his surroundings. Rosamund was speaking with
her usual swift vivacity. At home she was now often rather quiet,
moving, Dion sometimes thought, in an atmosphere of wide serenity; but
in society she was always full of sunshine and eager life. Something
within her leaped up responsively at the touch of humanity, and to-night
she had just been singing, and the whole of her was keenly awake. The
contrast between her and Mrs. Clarke was almost startling: her radiant
vitality emphasized Mrs. Clarke's curious, but perfectly natural,
gravity; the rose in her cheeks, the yellow in her hair, the gaiety
in her eyes, drew the attention to Mrs. Clarke's febrile and tense
refinement, which seemed to have worn her body thin, to have drained
the luster out of her hair, to have fixed the expression of observant
distress in her large and fearless eyes. Animal spirits played through
Rosamund to-night; from Mrs. Clarke they were absent. Her haggard
composure, confronting Rosamund's pure sparkle, suggested the comparison
of a hidden and secret pool, steel colored in the depths of a sunless
forest, with a rushing mountain stream leaping towards the sea in a
tangle of sun-rays. Dion realized for the first time that Mrs. Clarke
never laughed, and scarcely ever smiled. He realized, too, that she
really was beautiful. For Rosamund did not "kill" her; her delicacy of
line and colorless clearness stood the test of nearness to Rosamund's
radiant beauty. Indeed Rosamund somehow enhanced the peculiarly
interesting character of Mrs. Clarke's personality, which was displayed,
but with a sort of shadowy reticence, in her physique, and at the same
time underlined its melancholy. So might a climbing rose, calling to the
blue with its hundred blossoms, teach something of the dark truth of the
cypress through which its branches are threaded.

But Mrs. Clarke would certainly never be Rosamund's stairway towards
heaven.

Some one he knew spoke to Dion, and he found himself involved in a long
conversation; people moving hid the two women from him, but presently
the piano sounded again, and Rosamund sang that first favorite of hers
and of Dion's, the "Heart ever faithful," recalling him to a dear day
at Portofino where, in a cozy room, guarded by the wintry woods and the
gray sea of Italy, he had felt the lure of a faithful spirit, and known
the basis of clean rock on which Rosamund had built up her house of
life. Bruce Evelin stood near to him while she sang it now, and once
their eyes met and exchanged affectionate thoughts of the singer, which
went gladly out of the gates eager to be read and understood.

When the melody of Bach was finished many people, impelled thereto by
the hearty giant whom Mrs. Chetwinde had most strangely married, went
downstairs to the black-and-white dining-room to drink champagne and eat
small absurdities of various kinds. A way was opened for Dion to Mrs.
Clarke, who was still on the red sofa. Dion noticed the fair young man
hovering, and surely with intention in his large eyes, in the middle
distance, but he went decisively forward, took Mrs. Clarke's listless
yet imperative hand, and asked her if she would care to go down with
him.

"Oh no; I never eat at odd times."

"Do you ever eat at all?"

"Yes, at my chosen moments. Do find another excuse."

"For going to eat?"

"Or drink."

His reply was to sit down beside her. Mrs. Chetwinde's dining-room was
large. People probably knew that, for the drawing-room emptied slowly.
Even the fair young man went away to seek consolation below. Rosamund
had descended with Bruce Evelin and Esme Darlington. There was a
pleasant and almost an intimate hush in the room.

"I heard you were to be in Paris this month," Dion said.

"I came back to-day."

"Aren't you tired?"

"No. I want to speak to you about Jimmy, if you don't mind."

"Please do," said Dion rather earnestly, struck by a sort of little pang
as he remembered the boy's urgent insistence that his visitor was to
come again soon.

"I'm not quite satisfied with his tutor."

She began to ask Dion's advice with regard to the boy's bringing up,
explaining that her husband had left that matter in her hands.

"He's very sorry and ashamed now, poor man, about his attacks on me, and
tries to make up from a distance by trusting me completely with Jimmy. I
don't bear him any malice, but of course the link between us is smashed
and can't ever be resoldered. I'm asking you what I can't ask him
because he's a weak man."

The implication was obvious and not disagreeable to Dion. He gave
advice, and as he did so thought of Robin at ten.

Mrs. Clarke was a remarkably sensible woman, and agreed with his views
on boys, and especially with his theory, suddenly discovered in the
present heat of conversation, that to give them "backbone" was of even
more importance than to develop their intellectual side. She spoke of
her son in a way that was almost male.

"He mustn't be small," she said, evidently comprehending both soul and
body in the assertion. "D'you know Lord Brayfield who was talking to me
just now?"

"You mean a fair man?"

"Yes, with a meaningless mouth. Jimmy mustn't grow up into anything of
that kind."

The conversation took a decidedly Doric turn as Mrs. Clarke developed
her ideas of what a man ought to be. In the midst of it Dion remembered
Dumeny, and could not help saying:

"But that type"--they had been speaking of what he considered to be
Rosamund's type of man, once described by her as "a strong soul in a
strong body, and a soft heart but not a softy's heart"--"is almost the
direct opposite of the artistic type of man, isn't it?"

Her large eyes looked "Well?" at him, but she said nothing.

"I thought you cared so very much for knowledge and taste in a man."

"So I do. But Jimmy will never have knowledge and taste. He's the
boisterous athletic type."

"And you're glad?"

"Not sorry, at any rate. He'll just be a thorough man, if he's brought
up properly, and that will do very well."

"I think you're very complex," Dion said, still thinking of Dumeny.

"Because I make friends in so many directions?"

"Well--yes, partly," he answered, wondering if she was reading his
thought.

"Jimmy's not a friend but my boy. I know very well Monsieur Dumeny, for
instance, whom you saw, and I dare say wondered about, at the trial; but
I couldn't bear that my boy should develop into that type of man. You'll
say I am a treacherous friend, perhaps. It might be truer to say I was
born acquisitive and too mental. I never really liked Monsieur Dumeny;
but I liked immensely his musical talent, his knowledge, his sure taste,
and his power of making almost everything flower into interestingness.
Do you know what I mean? Some people take light from your day; others
add to its light and paint in wonderful shadows. If I went to the
bazaars alone they were Eastern shops; if I went with Dumeny they were
the Arabian Nights. Do you understand?"

"Yes."

"The touch of his mind on a thing gave it life. It stirred. One could
look into its heart and see the pulse beating. I care to do that, so I
cared to go about with Monsieur Dumeny. But one doesn't love people for
that sort of thing. In the people one loves one needs character, the
right fiber in the soul. You ought to know that."

"Why?" he asked, almost startled.

"I was introduced to your wife just now."

"Oh!"

There was a pause. Then Dion said:

"I'm glad you have met."

"So am I," said Mrs. Clarke, in a voice that sounded more husky even
than usual. "She sang that Greek song quite beautifully. I've just been
telling her that I want to show her some curious songs I have heard in
Turkey, and Asia Minor, at Brusa. There was one man who used to sing to
me at Brusa outside the Mosquee Verte. Dumeny took down the melody for
me."

"Did you like the 'Heart ever faithful'?"

"Of course it's excellent in that sledge-hammer sort of way, a superb
example of the direct. Stamboul is very indirect. Perhaps it has colored
my taste. It's full of mystery. Bach isn't mysterious, except now and
then--in rare bits of his passion music, for instance."

"I wonder if my wife could sing those Turkish songs."

"We must see. She sang that Greek song perfectly."

"But she's felt Greece," said Dion. "And I think there's something in
her that----"

"Yes?"

"I only mean," he said, with reserve in his voice, "that I think there's
something of Greece in her."

"She's got a head like a Caryatid."

"Yes," he said, with much less reserve. "Hasn't she?"

Mrs. Clarke had paid his Rosamund two noble compliments, he thought; and
he liked her way of payment, casual yet evidently sincere, the simple
utterance of two thoughts in a mind that knew. He felt a sudden glow of
real friendship for her, and, on the glow as it were, she said:

"Jimmy's quite mad about you."

"Still?" he blurted out, and was instantly conscious of a false step.

"He's got an extraordinary memory for a biceps, and then Jenkins talks
about you to him."

As they went on talking people began coming up from the black-and-white
dining-room. Dion said he would come to see Jimmy again, would visit the
gymnasium in the Harrow Road one day when Jimmy was taking his lesson.
Did Jimmy ever go on a Saturday? Yes, he was going next Saturday at
four. Dion would look in next Saturday. Now Mrs. Clarke and Rosamund had
met, and Mrs. Clarke evidently admired Rosamund in two ways, Dion felt
quite different about his acquaintance with her. If it had already been
agreed that Mrs. Clarke should show Rosamund Turkish songs, there was
no need for further holding back. The relief which had come to him made
Dion realize how very uncomfortable he had been about Mrs. Clarke in
the immediate past. He was now thoroughly and cordially at his ease with
her. They talked till the big drawing-room was full again, till Rosamund
reappeared in the midst of delightful friends; talked of Jimmy's future,
of the new tutor who must be found,--a real man, not a mere bloodless
intellectual,--and, again, of Constantinople, to which Mrs. Clarke would
return in April, against the advice of her friends, and in spite of Esme
Darlington's almost frantic protests, "because I love it, and because I
don't choose to be driven out of any place by liars." Her last remark to
him, and he thought it very characteristic of her, was this:

"Liberty's worth bitterness. I would buy it at the price of all the
tears in my body."

It was, perhaps, also very characteristic that she made the statement
with a perfectly quiet gravity which almost concealed the evidently
tough inflexibility beneath.

And then, when people were ready to go, Rosamund sung Brahm's
"Wiegenlied."

Dion stood beside Bruce Evelin while Rosamund was singing this. She sang
it with a new and wonderful tenderness which had come to her with Robin,
and in her face, as she sang, there was a new and wonderful tenderness.
The meaning of Robin in Rosamund's life was expressed to Dion by
Rosamund in this song as it had never been expressed before. Perhaps
it was expressed also to Bruce Evelin, for Dion saw tears in his eyes
almost brimming over, and his face was contracted, as if only by a
strong, even a violent, effort he was able to preserve his self-control.

As people began to go away Dion found himself close to Esme Darlington.

"My dear fellow," said Mr. Darlington, with unusual abandon, "Rosamund
has made a really marvelous advance--marvelous. In that 'Wiegenlied' she
reached high-water mark. No one could have sung it more perfectly. What
has happened to her?"

"Robin," said Dion, looking him full in the face, and speaking with
almost stern conviction.

"Robin?" said Mr. Darlington, with lifted eyebrows.

Then people intervened.

In the carriage going home Rosamund was very happy. She confessed to the
pleasure her success had given her.

"I quite loved singing to-night," she said. "That song about Greece was
for you."

"I know, and the 'Wiegenlied' was for Robin."

"Yes," she said.

She was silent; then her voice came out of the darkness:

"For Robin, but he didn't know it."

"Some day he will know it."

Not a word was said about Mrs. Clarke that night.

On the following day, however, Dion asked Rosamund how she had liked
Mrs. Clarke.

"I saw you talking to her with the greatest animation."

"Was I?" said Rosamund.

"And she told me it had been arranged that she should--no, I don't mean
that; but she said she wanted to show you some wonderful Turkish songs."

"Did she? What a beautiful profile she has!"

"Ah, you noticed that!"

"Oh yes, directly."

"Didn't she mention the Turkish songs?"

"I believe she did, but only in passing, casually. D'you know, Dion,
I've got an idea that Greece is our country, not Turkey at all. You hate
Constantinople, and I shall never see it, I'm sure. We are Greeks, and
Robin has to be a Greek, too, in one way--a true Englishman, of course,
as well. Do you remember the Doric boy?"

And off went the conversation to the hills of Drouva, and never came
back to Turkey.

When Friday dawned Dion thought of his appointment for Saturday
afternoon at the gymnasium in the Harrow Road, and began to wish he had
not made it. Rosamund had not mentioned Mrs. Clarke again, and he began
to fear that she had not really liked her, although her profile was
beautiful. If Rosamund had not liked Mrs. Clarke, his cordial enthusiasm
at Mrs. Chetwinde's--in retrospect he felt that his attitude and manner
must have implied that--had been premature, even, perhaps, unfortunate.
He wished he knew just what impression Mrs. Clarke had made upon
Rosamund, but something held him back from asking her. He had asked her
already once, but somehow the conversation had deviated--was it to Mrs.
Clarke's profile?--and he had not received a direct answer. Perhaps that
was his fault. But anyhow he must go to the gymnasium on the morrow.
To fail in doing that after all that had happened, or rather had not
happened, in connexion with Mrs. Clarke would be really rude. He did
not say anything about the gymnasium to Rosamund on Friday, but on the
Saturday he told her what had been arranged.

"Her son, Jimmy Clarke, has taken a boyish fancy to me, it seems. I said
I'd look in and see his lesson just for once."

"Is he a nice boy?"

"Yes, first-rate, I should think, rather a pickle, and likely to develop
into an athlete. The father is awfully ashamed now of what he did--that
horrible case, I mean--and is trying to make up for it."

"How?" said Rosamund simply.

"By giving her every chance with the boy."

"I'm glad the child likes you."

"I've only seen him once."

"Twice won't kill his liking," she returned affectionately.

And then she went out of the room. She always had plenty to do. Small
though he was, Robin was a marvelous consumer of his mother's time.

When Dion got to the gymnasium Mrs. Clarke and Jimmy were already there,
and Jimmy, in flannels and a white sweater, his dark hair sticking up in
disorder, and his face scarlet with exertion, was performing feats with
an exerciser fixed to the wall, while Mrs. Clarke, seated on a hard
chair in front of a line of heavy weights and dumb-bells, was looking
on with concentrated attention. Jenkins was standing in front of
Jimmy, loudly directing his movements with a stentorian:
"One--two--one--two--one--two! Keep it up! No slackening! Put some guts
into it, sir! One--two--one--two!"

As Dion came in Mrs. Clarke looked round and nodded; Jimmy stared,
unable to smile because his mouth and lower jaw were working, and he had
no superfluous force to spare for polite efforts; and Jenkins uttered a
gruff, "Good day, sir."

"How are you, Jenkins?" returned Dion, in his most off-hand manner.

Then he jerked his hand at Jimmy with an encouraging smile, went over to
Mrs. Clarke, shook her hand and remained standing beside her.

"Do you think he's doing it well?" she murmured, after a moment.

"Stunningly."

"Hasn't he broadened in the chest?"

"Rather!"

She looked strangely febrile and mental in the midst of the many
appliances for developing the body. Rosamund, with her splendid physique
and glowing health, would have crowned the gymnasium appropriately,
have looked like the divine huntress transplanted to a modern city
where still the cult of the body drew its worshipers. The Arcadian
mountains--Olympia in Elis,--Jenkins's "gym" in the Harrow
Road--differing shrines but the cult was the same. Only the conditions
of worship were varied. Dion glanced down at Mrs. Clarke. Never had she
seemed more curiously exotic. Yet she did not look wholly out of place;
and it occurred to him that a perfectly natural person never looks
wholly out of place anywhere.

"Face to the wall, sir!" cried Jenkins.

Jimmy found time for a breathless and half-inquiring smile at Dion as he
turned and prepared for the most difficult feat.

"His jaw always does something extraordinary in this exercise," said
Mrs. Clarke. "It seems to come out and go in again with a click. Jenkins
says it's because Jimmy gets his strength from there."

"I know. Mine used to do just the same."

"Jimmy doesn't mind. It amuses him."

"That's the spirit!"

"He finishes with this."

"Already?" said Dion, surprised.

"You must have been a little late. How did you come?"

"On my bicycle. I had a puncture. That must have been it. And there was
a lot of traffic."

"Keep it up, sir!" roared Jenkins imperatively. "What's the matter with
that left arm?"

Click went Jimmy's lower jaw.

"Dear little chap!" muttered Dion, full of sympathetic interest. "He's
doing splendidly."

"You really think so?"

"Couldn't be better."

"You understand boys?"

"Better than I understand women, I expect," Dion returned, with a sudden
thought of Rosamund at home and the wonderful Turkish songs Mrs. Clarke
wished to show to her.

Mrs. Clarke said nothing, and just at that moment Jenkins announced:

"That'll do for to-day, sir."

In a flood of perspiration Jimmy turned round, redder than ever, his
chest heaving, his mouth open, and his eyes, but without any conceit,
asking for a word of praise from Dion, who went to clap him on the
shoulder.

"Capital! Hallo! What muscles we're getting! Eh, Jenkins?"

"Master Jimmy's not doing badly, sir. He puts his heart into it. That I
must say."

Jimmy shone through the red and the perspiration.

"He sticks it," continued Jenkins, in his loud voice. "Without grit
there's nothing done. That's what I always tell my pupils."

"I say"--began Jimmy, at last finding a small voice--"I say, Mr. Leith,
you haven't hurried over it."

"Over what?"

"Letting me see you again. Why, it's--"

"Run along to the bath, sir. You've got to have it before you cool
down," interposed the merciless Jenkins.

And Jimmy made off with an instant obedience which showed his private
opinion of the god who was training him.

When he was gone Jenkins turned to Dion and looked him over.

"Haven't seen much of you, sir, lately," he remarked.

"No, I've been busy," returned Dion, feeling slightly uncomfortable as
he remembered that the reason for his absence from the Harrow Road was
listening to the conversation.

"Going to have a round with the gloves now you are here, sir?" pursued
Jenkins.

Dion looked at Mrs. Clarke.

"Well, I hadn't thought of it," he said, rather doubtfully.

"Just as you like, sir."

"Do, Mr. Leith," said Mrs. Clarke, getting up from the hard chair, and
standing close to the medicine ball with her back to the vaulting-horse.
"Jimmy and I are going in a moment. You mustn't bother about us."

"Well, but how are you going home?"

"We shall walk. Of course have your boxing. It will do you good."

"You're right there, ma'am," said Jenkins, with a sort of stern
approval. "Mr. Leith's been neglecting his exercises lately."

"Oh, I've been doing a good deal in odd times with the Rifle Corps."

"I don't know anything about that, sir."

"All right, I'll go and change," said Dion, who always kept a singlet
and flannels at the gymnasium. "Then----" he turned to Mrs. Clarke as if
about to say good-by.

"Oh, Jimmy will want to see you for a moment after his bath. We'll say
good-by then."

"Yes, I should like to see him," said Dion, and went off to the dressing
cubicles.

When he returned ready for the fray, with his arms bared to the
shoulder, he found Jimmy, in trousers and an Eton jacket, with still
damp hair sleeked down on his head, waiting with his mother, but not to
say good-by.

"We aren't going," he announced, in a voice almost shrill with
excitement, as Dion came into the gymnasium. "The mater was all for a
trot home, but Jenkins wishes me to stay. He says it'll be a good lesson
for me. I mean to be a boxer."

"Why not?" observed the great voice of Jenkins. "It's the best sport in
the world bar none."

"There!" said Jimmy. "And if I can't be anything else I'll be a bantam,
that's what I'll be."

"Oh, you'll grow, sir, no doubt. We may see you among the heavy-weights
yet."

"What's Mr. Leith? Is he a heavy-weight?" vociferated Jimmy. "Just look
at his arms."

"You'll see him use them in a minute," observed Jenkins, covering Dion
with a glance of almost grim approval, "and then you can judge for
yourself."

"You can referee us, Jimmy," said Dion, smiling, as he pulled on the
gloves.

"I say, by Jove, though!" said Jimmy, looking suddenly overwhelmed and
very respectful.

He shook his head and blushed, then abruptly grinned.

"The mater had better do that."

They all laughed except Mrs. Clarke. Even Jenkins unbent, and his
bass "Ha ha!" rang through the large vaulted room. Mrs. Clarke smiled
faintly, scarcely changing the expression of her eyes. She looked
unusually intent and, when the smile was gone, more than usually grave.

"I hope you don't mind our staying just for a few minutes," she said to
Dion. "You see what he is!"

She looked at her boy, but not with deprecation.

"Of course not, but I'm afraid it will bore you."

"Oh no, it won't. I like to see skill of any kind."

She glanced at his arms.

"I'll get out of your way. Come, Jimmy!"

She took him by the arm and went back to the hard chair, while Dion and
Jenkins in the middle of the floor stood up opposite to one another.

"Have you got a watch, Master Jimmy?" said Jenkins, looking over his
shoulder at his pupil.

"Rather!" piped Jimmy.

"Well, then, you'd better time us if you don't referee us."

Jimmy sprang away from his mother.

"Keep out of our road, or you may chance to get a kidney punch that'll
wind you. Better stand here. That's it. Three-minute rounds. Keep your
eye on the watch."

"Am I to say 'Go'?" almost whispered Jimmy, tense with a fearful
importance such as Caesar and Napoleon never felt.

"Who else? You don't expect us to order ourselves about, do you?"

After a pause Jimmy murmured, "No" in a low voice. So might a mortal
whisper a reply when interrogated from Olympus as to his readiness to be
starter at a combat of the immortal gods.

"Now, then, watch in hand and no favoritism!" bellowed Jenkins, whose
sense of humor was as boisterous as his firmness was grim. "Are we
ready?"

Dion and he shook hands formally and lifted their arms, gazing at each
other warily. Mrs. Clarke leaned forward in the chair which stood among
the dumb-bells. Jimmy perspired and his eyes became round. He had his
silver watch tight in his right fist. Jenkins suddenly turned his head
and stared with his shallow and steady blue eyes, looking down from
Olympus upon the speck of a mortal far below.

"Go!" piped Jimmy, in the voice of an ardent, but awestruck mouse.

Homeric was that combat in the Harrow Road; to its starter and
timekeeper a contest of giants, awful in force, in skill, in agility, in
endurance. Dion boxed quite his best that day, helped by his gallery. He
fought to win, but he didn't win. Nobody won, for there was no knock-out
blow given and taken, and, when appealed to for a decision on points,
Jimmy, breathing stertorously from excitement, was quite unable to give
the award. He could only stare at the two glorious heroes before him and
drop the silver watch, glass downwards of course, on the floor, where
its tinkle told of destruction. Later on, when he spoke, he was able to
say:

"By Jove!" which he presently amplified into, "I say, mater, by
Jove--eh, wasn't it, though?"

"Not so bad, sir!" said Jenkins to Dion, after the latter had taken the
shower bath. "You aren't as stale as I expected to find you, not near as
stale. But I hope you'll keep it up now you've started with it again."

And Dion promised he would, put his bicycle on the top of a fourwheeler,
sent it off to Westminster, and walked as far as Claridge's with Mrs.
Clarke and Jimmy.

The boy made him feel tremendously intimate with Mrs. Clarke. The
hero-worship he was receiving, the dancing of the blood through his
veins, the glow of hard exercise, the verdict of Jenkins on his physical
condition--all these things combined spurred him to a joyous exuberance
in which body and mind seemed to run like a matched pair of horses in
perfect accord. Although not at all a conceited man, the feeling that
he was being admired, even reverenced, was delightful to him, and warmed
his heart towards the jolly small boy who kept along by his side through
the busy streets. He and Jimmy talked in a comradely spirit, while
Mrs. Clarke seemed to listen like one who has things to learn. She was
evidently a capital walker in spite of her delicate appearance. To-day
Dion began to believe in her iron health, and, in his joy of the body,
he liked to think of it. After all delicacy, even in a woman, was a
fault--a fault of the body, a sort of fretful imperfection.

"Are you strong?" he said to her, when Jimmy's voice ceased for a moment
to demand from him information or to pour upon him direct statement.

"Oh yes. I've never been seriously ill in my life. Don't I look strong?"
she asked.

"I don't think you do, but I feel as if you are."

"It's the wiry kind of strength, I suppose."

"The mater's a stayer," quoth Jimmy, and forthwith took up the wondrous
tale with his hero, who began to consult him seriously on the question
of "points."

"If you'd had to give a decision, Jimmy, which of us would have got it,
Jenkins or I?"

Jimmy looked very grave and earnest.

"It's jolly difficult to tell a thing like that, isn't it?" he said,
after a longish pause. "You see, you're both so jolly strong, aren't
you?"

His dark eyes gazed at the bulk of Dion.

"Well, which is the quicker?" demanded Dion.

But Jimmy was not to be drawn.

"I think you're both as quick as--as cats," he returned diplomatically,
seeking anxiously for the genuine sporting comparison that would be
approved at the ring-side. "Don't you, mater?"

Mrs. Clarke huskily agreed. They were now nearing Claridge's, and Jimmy
was insistent that Dion should come in and have a real jam tea with
them.

"Do, Mr. Leith, if you have the time," said Mrs. Clarke, but without any
pressure.

"The strawberry they have is ripping, I can tell you!" cried Jimmy, with
ardor.

But Dion refused. Till he was certain of Rosamund's attitude he felt he
simply couldn't accept Mrs. Clarke's hospitality. He was obliged to get
home that day. Mrs. Clarke did not ask why, but Jimmy did, and had to
be put off with an evasion, the usual mysterious "business," which, of
course, a small boy couldn't dive into and explore.

Dion thought Mrs. Clarke was going to say good-by without any mention of
Rosamund, but when they reached Claridge's she said:

"Your wife and I didn't decide on a day for the Turkish songs. You
remember I mentioned them to you the other night? I can't recollect
whether she left it to me to fix a time, or whether I left it to her.
Can you find out? Do tell her I was stupid and forgot. Will you?"

Dion said he would.

"I think they'll interest her. Now, Jimmy!"

But Jimmy hung on his god.

"I say, you'll come again now! You promise!"

What could Dion do?

"You put your honor into it?" pursued Jimmy, with desperate earnestness.
"You swear?"

"If I swear in the open street the police will take me up," said Dion
jokingly.

"Not they! One from the shoulder from you and I bet they lose enough
claret to fill a bucket. You've given your honor, hasn't he, mater?"

"Of course we shall see him again," said Mrs. Clarke, staring at Dion.

"What curious eyes she has!" Dion thought, as he walked homeward.

Did they ever entirely lose their under-look of distress?



CHAPTER IX

That evening Dion told Rosamund what Mrs. Clarke had said when he parted
from her at Claridge's.

"I promised her I'd find out which it was," he added. "Do you remember
what was said?"

After a minute of silence, during which Rosamund seemed to be
considering something, she answered:

"Yes, I do."

"Which was it?"

"Neither, Dion. Mrs. Clarke has made a mistake. She certainly spoke of
some Turkish songs for me, but there was never any question of fixing a
day for us to try them over together."

"She thinks there was."

"It's difficult to remember exactly what is said, or not said, in the
midst of a crowd."

"But you remember?"

"Yes."

"Then you'd rather not try them over?"

"After what you've told me about Constantinople I expect I should be
quite out of sympathy with Turkish music," she answered, lightly and
smiling. "Let us be true to our Greek ideal."

She seemed to be in fun, but he detected firmness of purpose behind the
fun.

"What shall I say to Mrs. Clarke?" he asked.

"I should just leave it. Perhaps she'll forget all about it."

Dion was quite sure that wouldn't happen, but he left it. Rosamund had
determined not to allow Mrs. Clarke to be friends with her. He wished
very much it were otherwise, not because he really cared for Mrs.
Clarke, but because he liked her and Jimmy, and because he hated the
idea of hurting the feelings of a woman in Mrs. Clarke's rather unusual
situation. He might, of course, have put his point of view plainly to
Rosamund at once. Out of delicacy he did not do this. His great love for
Rosamund made him instinctively very delicate in all his dealings with
her; it told him that Rosamund did not wish to discuss her reasons for
desiring to avoid Mrs. Clarke. She had had them, he believed, before
Mrs. Clarke and she had met. That meeting evidently had not lessened
their force. He supposed, therefore, that she had disliked Mrs. Clarke.
He wondered why, and tried to consider Mrs. Clarke anew. She was
certainly not a disagreeable woman. She was very intelligent,
thoroughbred, beautiful in a peculiar way,--even Rosamund thought
that,--ready to make herself pleasant, quite free from feminine malice,
absolutely natural, interested in all the really interesting things.
Beattie liked her; Daventry rejoiced in her; Mrs. Chetwinde was her
intimate friend; Esme Darlington had even made sacrifices for her; Bruce
Evelin----

There Dion's thought was held up, like a stream that encounters a
barrier. What did Bruce Evelin think of Mrs. Clarke? He had not gone
to the trial. But since he had retired from practise at the Bar he had
never gone into court. Dion had often heard him say he had had enough
of the Law Courts. There was no reason why he should have been drawn
to them for Mrs. Clarke's sake, or even for Daventry's. But what did he
think of Mrs. Clarke? Dion resolved to tell him of the rather awkward
situation which had come about through his own intimacy--it really
amounted to that--with Mrs. Clarke, and Rosamund's evident resolve to
have nothing to do with her.

One day Dion went to Great Cumberland Place and told Bruce Evelin all
the facts, exactly what Mrs. Clarke had said and done, exactly what
Rosamund had said and done. As he spoke it seemed to him that he was
describing a sort of contest, shadowy, perhaps, withdrawn and full of
reserves, yet definite.

"What do you think of it?" he said, when he had told the comparatively
little there was to tell.

"I think Rosamund likes to keep her home very quiet, don't you?"

"Yes, I do."

"Even her friends complain that she shuts them out."

"I know they do."

"She may not at all dislike Mrs. Clarke. She may simply not wish to add
to her circle of friends."

"The difficulty is, that Mrs. Clarke is such friends with Beattie and
Guy, and that I've got to know her quite well. Then there's her boy;
he's taken a fancy to me. If Mrs. Clarke and Rosamund could just
exchange calls it would be all right, but if they don't it really looks
rather as if Rosamund--well, as if she thought the divorce case had left
a slur on Mrs. Clarke. What I mean is, that I feel Mrs. Clarke will take
it in that way."

"She may, of course."

"I wonder why she is so determined to make friends with Rosamund,"
blurted out Dion abruptly.

"You think she is determined?" said Bruce Evelin quietly.

"Yes. Telling you had made me feel that quite plainly."

"Anyhow, she'll be gone back to Constantinople in April, and then your
little difficulty will come to an end automatically."

Dion looked rather hard at Bruce Evelin. When he spoke to Rosamund of
Mrs. Clarke, Rosamund always seemed to try for a gentle evasion. Now
Bruce Evelin was surely evading the question, and again Mrs. Clarke was
the subject of conversation. Bruce Evelin was beginning to age rather
definitely. He had begun to look older since Beattie was married. But
his dark eyes were still very bright and keen, and one could not be
with him for even a few minutes without realizing that his intellect was
sharply alert.

"Isn't it strange that she should go back to live in Constantinople?"
Dion said.

"Yes. Not many women in her position would do it."

"And yet there's reason in her contention that an innocent woman who
allows herself to be driven away from the place she lived in is a bit of
a coward."

"Beadon Clarke's transferred to Madrid, so Mrs. Clarke's reason--it was
a diplomatic one--for living in Constantinople falls to the ground."

"Yes, that's true. But of course her husband and she have parted.

"Naturally. So she has the world to choose from."

"For a home, you mean? Yes. It's an odd choice, Constantinople. But
she's not an ordinary woman."

"No, I suppose not," said Bruce Evelin.

Again Dion was definitely conscious of evasion. He got up to go away,
feeling disappointed.

"Then you advise me to do nothing?" he said.

"What about, my boy?"

"About Mrs. Clarke."

"What could you do?"

Dion was silent.

"I think it's better to let women settle these little things among
themselves. They have a deep and comprehensive understanding of trifles
which we mostly lack. How's Robin?"

Robin again! Was he always to be the buffer between 5 Little Market
Street and Mrs. Clarke?

"He's well and tremendously lively, and I honestly think he's growing
better looking."

"Dear little chap!" said Bruce Evelin, with a very great tenderness in
his voice. "Dion, we shall have to concentrate on Robin."

Dion looked at him with inquiry.

"Poor Beattie, I don't think she'll have a child."

"Beattie! Not ever?"

"I'm afraid not."

Dion was shocked and startled.

"But I haven't heard a word--" he began.

"No. Both Beattie and Guy feel it terribly. I had a talk with Beattie's
doctor to-day."

"How dreadful! I'm sorry. But----" He paused.

He didn't like to ask intimate questions about Beattie.

"I'm afraid it is so," said Bruce Evelin. "You must let us all have a
share in your Robin."

He spoke very quietly, but there was a very deep, even intense, feeling
in his voice.

"Poor Beattie!" Dion said.

And that, too, was an evasion.

He went away from Great Cumberland Place accompanied by a sense of
walking, not perhaps in darkness, but in a dimness which was not
delicately beautiful like the dimness of twilight, but was rather akin
to the semi-obscurity of fog.

Not a word more was said about Mrs. Clarke between Rosamund and Dion,
and the latter never let Mrs. Clarke know about the Turkish songs, never
fulfilled his undertaking to go and see Jimmy again. In a contest
he could only be on Rosamund's side. The whole matter seemed to him
unfortunate, even almost disagreeable, but, for him, there could be no
question as to whether he wished Rosamund's or Mrs. Clarke's will to
prevail. Whatever Rosamund's reason was for not choosing to be friends
with Mrs. Clark he knew it was not malicious or petty. Perhaps she
had made a mistake about Mrs. Clarke. If so it was certainly an honest
mistake. It was when he thought of his promise to Jimmy that he felt
most uncomfortable about Rosamund's never expressed decision. Jimmy had
a good memory. He would not forget. As to Mrs. Clarke, of course she now
fully understood that Mrs. Dion Leith did not want to have anything
to do with her. She continued to go often to Beattie and Daventry,
consolidated her friendship with them. But Dion never met her in
De Lorne Gardens. From Daventry he learnt that Mrs. Clarke had been
extraordinarily kind to Beattie when Beattie's expectation of motherhood
had faded away. Bruce Evelin's apprehension was well founded. For
reasons which Daventry did not enter into Beattie could never now hope
to have a child. Daventry was greatly distressed about it, but rather
for Beattie's sake than for his own.

"I married Beattie because I loved her, not because I wanted to become a
father," he said.

After a long pause he added, almost wistfully.

"As to Beattie's reasons for marrying me, well, Dion, I haven't asked
what they were and I never shall. Women are mysterious, and I believe
it's wisdom on our part not to try to force the locks and look into
the hidden chambers. I'll do what I can to make up to Beattie for this
terrible disappointment. It won't be nearly enough, but that isn't my
fault. Rosamund and you can help her a little."

"How?"

"She--she's extraordinarily fond of Robin."

"Extraordinarily?" said Dion, startled almost by Daventry's peculiar
emphasis on the word.

"Yes. Let her see a good deal of Robin if you can. Poor Beattie! She'll
never have a child of her own to live in."

Dion told Rosamund of this conversation, and they agreed to encourage
Beattie to come to Little Market Street as often as possible.
Nevertheless Beattie did not come very often. It was obvious that she
adored Robin, who was always polite to her; but perhaps delicacy of
feeling kept her from making perpetual pilgrimages to the shrine before
which an incense not hers was forever ascending; or perhaps she met
a gaunt figure of Pain in the home of her sister. However it was, her
visits were rather rare, and no persuasion availed to make her come
oftener. At this time she and Dion's mother drew closer together, The
two women loved and understood each other well. Perhaps between them
there was a link of loneliness, or perhaps there was another link.

Early in April Dion received one morning the following letter:


"CLARIDGE'S HOTEL 6 April

"DEAR MR. LEITH,--I feel pretty rotten about you. I thought when once
a clever boxer gave his honor on a thing it was a dead cert. The mater
wouldn't let me write before, though I've been at her over it every day
for weeks. But now we're going away, so she says I may write and just
tell you. If you want to say good-by could you telephone, she says.
P'raps you don't. P'raps you've forgotten us. I can tell you Jenkins is
sick about it all and your never going to the Gim. He said to me to-day,
'I don't know what's come over Mr. Leith.' No more do I. The mater says
you're a busy man and have a kid. I say a true friend is never too
busy to be friendly. I really do feel rotten over it, and now we are
going.--Your affectionate JIMMY."


Dion showed Rosamund the letter, and telephoned to say he would call on
the following day. Jimmy's voice answered on the telephone and said:

"I say, you have been beastly to us. The mater says nothing, but we
thought you liked us. Jenkins says that between boxers there's always
a--"

At this point Jimmy was cut off in the flow of his reproaches.

On arriving at Claridge's Dion found Jimmy alone. Mrs. Clarke was out
but would return in a moment. Jimmy received his visitor not stiffly but
with exuberant and vociferous reproaches, and vehement demands to know
the why and wherefore of his unsportsmanlike behavior.

"I've ordered you a real jam tea all the same," he concluded, with a
magnanimity which did him honor, and which, as he was evidently aware,
proved him to be a true sportsman.

"You're a trump," said Dion, pulling the boy down beside him on a sofa.

"Oh, well--but I say, why didn't you come?"

He stared with the mercilessly inquiring eyes of boyhood.

"I don't think I ever said on my honor that I would come."

"But you did. You swore."

"No. I was afraid of the policeman."

"I say, what rot! As if you could be afraid of any one! Why, Jenkins
says you're the best pupil he's ever had. Why didn't you? Don't you like
us?"

"Of course I do."

"The mater says you're married, and married men have no time to bother
about other people's kids. Is that true?"

"Well, of course there's a lot to be done in London, and I go to
business every day."

"You've got a kid, haven't you?"

"Yes!"

"It's a boy, isn't it?"

"Yes."

"I say, how old is it?"

"A year and a month old, or a little over."

Jimmy's face expressed satire.

"A year and a month!" he repeated. "Is that all? Then it can't be much
good yet, can it?"

"It can't box or do exercise as you can. You are getting broad."

"Rather! Box? I should think not! A kid of a year old boxing! I should
like to see it with Jenkins."

He begin to giggle. By the time Mrs. Clarke returned and they sat down
to the real jam tea, the ice was in fragments.

"I believe you were right, mater, and it was all the kid that prevented
Mr. Leith from sticking to his promise," Jimmy announced, as he helped
Dion to "the strawberry," with a liberality which betokened an affection
steadfast even under the stress of blighting circumstances.

"Of course I was right," returned his mother gravely.

Dion was rather glad that she looked away from him as she said it.

Her manner to him was unchanged. Evidently she was a woman not quick to
take offense. He liked that absence of all "touchiness" from her, and
felt that a man could rest comfortably on her good breeding. But this
very good breeding increased within him a sense of discomfort which
amounted almost to guilt. He tried to smother it by being very jolly
with Jimmy, to whom he devoted most of his attention. When tea was over
Mrs. Clarke said to her son:

"Now, Jimmy, you must go away for a little while and let me have a talk
with Mr. Leith."

"Oh, mater, that's not fair. Mr. Leith's my pal. Aren't you, Mr. Leith?
Why, even Jenkins says--"

"I should rather think so. Why--"

"You shall see Mr. Leith again before he goes."

He looked at his mother, suddenly became very grave, and went slowly out
of the room. It was evident to Dion that Mrs. Clarke knew how to make
people obey her when she was in earnest.

As soon as Jimmy had gone Mrs. Clarke rang for the waiter to take away
the tea-table.

"Then we shan't be bothered," she remarked. "I hate people coming in and
out when I'm trying to have a quiet talk."

"So do I," said Dion.

The waiter rolled the table out gently and shut the door.

Mrs. Clarke sat down on a sofa.

"Do light a cigar," she said. "I know you want to smoke, and I'll have a
cigarette."

She drew out of a little case which lay on a table beside her a Turkish
cigarette and lit it, while Dion lighted a cigar.

"So you're really going back to Constantinople?" he began. "Are you
taking Jimmy with you?"

"Yes, for a time. My husband raises no objection. In a year I shall send
Jimmy to Eton. Lady Ermyntrude is furious, of course, and has tried to
stir up my husband. But her influence with him is dead. He's terribly
ashamed at what she made him do."

"The action?"

"Yes. It was she who made him think me guilty against his real inner
conviction. Now, poor man, he realizes that he dragged me through the
dirt without reason. He's ashamed to show his face in the Clubs, and
nearly resigned from diplomacy. But he's a valuable man, and they've
persuaded him to go to Madrid."

"Why go back to Constantinople?"

"Merely to show I'm not afraid to and that I won't be driven from my
purpose by false accusations."

"And you love it, of course."

"Yes. My flat will be charming, I think. Some day you'll see it."

Dion was silent in surprise.

"Don't you realize that?" she asked, staring at him.

"I think it very improbable that I shall ever go back to
Constantinople."

"And I'm sure you will."

"Why are you sure?"

"That I can't tell you. Why is one sometimes sure that certain things
will come about?"

"Do you claim to be psychic?" said Dion.

"I never make verbal claims. Now about Jimmy."

She discussed for a little while seriously her plans for the boy's
education while he stayed with her. She had found a tutor, a young
Oxford man, who would accompany them to Turkey, but she wanted Dion's
advice on certain points. He gave it, wondering all the time why she
consulted him after his neglect of her and of her son, after his
failure to accept invitations and to fulfil pledges (or to stick to the
understandings which were almost pledges), after the tacit refusals of
Rosamund. Did it not show a strange persistence, even a certain lack of
pride in her? Perhaps she heard the haunting questions which he did not
utter, for she suddenly turned from the topic of the boy and said:

"You're surprised at my bothering you with all this when we really know
each other so slightly. It is unconventional; but I shall never learn
the way to conventionality in spite of all poor Esme's efforts to
shepherd me into the path he thinks narrow and I find broad--a way that
leads to destruction. I feel you absolutely understand boys, and know by
instinct the best way with them. That's why I _still_ come to you."

She paused. She had deliberately driven home her meaning by a stress on
one word. Now she sat looking at him, with a wide-eyed and deeply
grave fixity, as if considering what more she should say. Dion murmured
something about being very glad if he could help her in any way with
regard to Jimmy.

"You can be conventional," she remarked. "Well, why not? Most English
people are perpetually playing for safety."

"I wish you wouldn't go back to Constantinople," said Dion.

"Why?"

"I believe it's a mistake. It seems to me like throwing down a defiance
to your world."

"But I never play for safety."

"But think of the danger you've passed through."

The characteristic distressed look deepened in her eyes till they seemed
to him tragic. Nevertheless, fearlessness still looked out of them.

"What shall I gain by doing that?" she asked.

"Esme Darlington once said you were a wild mind in an innocent body. I
believe he was right. But it seems to me that some day your wild mind
may get you into danger again and that perhaps you won't escape from it
unscathed a second time."

"How quiet and safe it must be at Number 5!" she rejoined, without any
irony.

"You wouldn't care for that sort of life. You'd find it humdrum," said
Dion, with simplicity.

"You never would," she said, still without irony, without even the hint
of a sneer. "And the truth is that the humdrum is created not by a way
of living but by those who follow it. Your wife and the humdrum could
never occupy the same house. I shall always regret that I didn't see
something of her. Do give her a cordial 'au revoir' from me. You'll hear
of me again. Don't be frightened about me in your kind of chivalrous
heart. I am grateful to you for several things. I'm not going to give
the list now. That would either bore you, or make you feel shy. Some
day, perhaps, I shall tell you what they are, in a caique on the sweet
waters of Asia or among the cypresses of Eyub."

With the last sentence she transported Dion, as on a magic carpet, to
the unwise life. Her husky voice changed a little; her face changed
a little too; the one became slower and more drowsy; the other less
haggard and fixed in its expression of distress. This woman had her
hours of happiness, perhaps even of exultation. For a moment Dion
envisaged another woman in her. And when he had bidden her good-by, and
had received the tremendous farewells of Jimmy, he realized that she had
made upon him an impression which, though soft, was certainly deep. He
thought of how a cushion looks when it lies on a sofa in an empty room,
indented by the small head of a woman who has been thinking, thinking
alone. For a moment he was out of shape, and Mrs. Clarke had made him
so.

In the big hall, as he passed out, he saw Lord Brayfield standing in
front of the bureau speaking to the hall porter.

"Some day, perhaps, I shall tell you what they are, in a caique on the
sweet waters of Asia or among the cypresses of Eyub."

Dion smiled as he recalled Mrs. Clarke's words, which had been spoken
fatalistically. Then his face became very grave.

Suddenly there dawned upon him, like a vision in the London street, one
of the vast Turkish cemeteries, dusty, forlorn, disordered, yet full
of a melancholy touched by romance; and among the thousands of graves,
through the dark thickets of cypresses, he was walking with Mrs. Clarke,
who looked exactly like Echo.

A newsboy at the corner was crying his latest horror--a woman found
stabbed in Hyde Park. But to Dion his raucous and stunted voice sounded
like a voice from the sea, a strange and sad cry lifted up between
Europe and Asia.



BOOK III -- LITTLE CLOISTERS



CHAPTER I

More than a year and a half passed away, and in the autumn of 1899 the
Boer War broke out and the face of England was changed; for the heart of
England began to beat more strongly than usual, and the soul of England
was stirred. The winter came, and in many Englishmen a hidden conflict
began; in their journey through life they came abruptly to a parting of
the ways, stood still and looked to the right and the left, balancing
possibilities, searching their natures and finding within them strange
hesitations, recoils, affirmations, determined nobilities.

Dion had followed the events which led up to the fateful decision of
Wednesday, October the eleventh, with intense interest. As the October
days drew on he had felt the approach of war. It came up, this footfall
of an enemy, it paced at his side. Would he presently be tried by this
enemy, would it test him and find out exactly what metal he was made of?
He wondered, but from the moment when the first cloud showed itself on
the horizon he had a presentiment that this distant war was going to
have a strong effect on his life.

On the afternoon of October the eleventh he walked slowly home from
the City alone. There was excitement in the air. The voices of the
newsvendors sounded fateful in his ears; the faces of the passers-by
looked unusually eager and alert. As he made his way through the crowd
he did not debate the rights and wrongs of the question about to
be decided between Briton and Boer. His mind avoided thoughts about
politics. For him, perhaps strangely, the issue had already narrowed
down to a personal question: "What is this war going to mean to me?"

He asked himself this; he put the question again and again. Nevertheless
it was answered somewhere within him almost as soon as it was put. If
there came a call for volunteers he would be one of the many who would
answer it. The call might not come, of course; the war might be short, a
hole-and-corner affair soon ended. He told himself that, and, as he did
so, he felt sure that the call would come.

He knew he would not hold back; but he knew also that his was not the
eagerness to go of the man assumed by journalists to be the typical
Englishman. He was not mad to plunge into the great game, reckless of
the future and shouting for the fray. He was not one of the "hard-bitten
raw-boned men with keen eyes and ready for anything" beloved of the
journalists, who loom so large in the public eye when "big things are
afoot." On that autumn evening, as he walked homeward, Dion knew the
bunkum that is given out to the world as truth, knew that brave men have
souls undreamed of in newspaper offices. He perceived the figure of
war just then as a figure terribly austere, grim, cold, harsh--a figure
stripped of all pleasant flesh and sweet coloring, of all softness and
warm humanity. It accompanied him like an iron thing which nevertheless
was informed with life. Joy withered beside it, yet it had the power to
make things bloom. Already he knew that as he had not known it before.

In the crowded Strand the voices of the newsvendors were insistently
shrill, raucous, almost fierce. As he heard them he faced tests. Many
things were going to be put to the test in the almost immediate future.
Among them perhaps would be Rosamund's exact feeling for him.

Upon the hill of Drouva they had slept in the same tent, husband and
wife, more than three years ago; in green and remote Elis they had sat
together before the Hermes, hidden away from the world and hearing
the antique voices; in Westminster Robin was theirs; yet this evening,
facing in imagination the tests of war, Dion knew that Rosamund's exact
feeling for him was still a secret from him. If he went to South Africa
that secret must surely be revealed. Rosamund would inevitably find out
then the nature of her feeling for him, how much she cared, and even if
she did not tell him how much she cared he would know, he could not help
knowing.

He knew with a terrible thoroughness this evening how much he cared for
her.

He considered Robin.

Robin was now more than two and a half years old; a personage in a
jersey and minute knickerbockers, full of dancing energy and spirits,
full of vital interest in the smaller problems of life. He was a fidget
and he was a talker. Out of a full mind he poured forth an abundant
stream of words, carelessly chosen at times, yet on the whole apt to
the occasion. His intelligence was marked, of course,--what very young
child's is not?--and he had inherited an ample store of the _joie de
vivre_ which distinguished his mother. The homeliness of feature which
had marked him out in the baldhead stage of his existence had given
place to a dawning of what promised to be later on distinct good looks.
Already he was an attractive-looking child, with a beautiful mouth, a
rather short and at present rather snub nose, freckled on the bridge,
large blue eyes, and a forehead, temples and chin which hinted at
Rosamund's. His hair was now light brown, and had a bold, almost an
ardent, wave in it. Perhaps Robin's most marked characteristic at this
time was ardor. Occasionally the mildly inquiring expression which Dion
had been touched by in the early days came to his little face. He could
be very gentle and very clinging, and was certainly sensitive. Often
imagination, in embryo as it were, was shown by his eyes. But ardor
informed and enveloped him, he swam in ardor and of ardor he was all
compact. Even the freckles which disfigured, or adorned, the bridge of
his nose looked ardent. Rosamund loved those freckles in a way she could
never have explained, loved them with a strength and tenderness which
issued from the very roots of her being. To her they were Robin, the
dearest part of the dearest thing on earth. Many of her kisses had gone
to those little freckles.

Dion might have to part not only from Rosamund but also from Robin.

He had become very fond of his little son. The detachment which had
perhaps marked his mental attitude to the baby did not mark his
mental attitude to the boy. In the Robin of to-day, the jerseyed and
knickerbockered person, with the incessantly active legs, the eager
eyes, the perpetually twittering voice, Dion was conscious of the spirit
of progress. Already he was able to foresee the small school-boy, whom
only a father could properly help and advise in regard to many aspects
of the life ahead; already he was looking forward to the time when he
could take a hand in the training of Robin. It would be very hard to go
away from that little bit of quicksilver, very hard indeed.

But the thought which made his heart sink, which brought with it almost
a sensation of mortal sickness to his soul, was the thought of parting
from Rosamund. As he walked down Parliament Street he imagined the
good-by to her on the eve of sailing for South Africa. That acute moment
might never come. This evening he felt it on the way. Whatever happened
it would be within his power to stay with Rosamund, for there was no
conscription in England. If he went to South Africa then the action
of leaving her would be deliberate on his part. Was there within him
something that was stronger than his love for her? There must be, he
supposed, for he knew that if men were called for, and if Rosamund
asked, or even begged him not to go, he would go nevertheless.

Vaporous Westminster, dark and leaning to the great river, for how long
he had not seen it, or realized what it meant to him! Custom had blinded
his eyes and had nearly closed his mind to it. The day's event had
given him back sight and knowledge. This evening his familiarity with
Westminster bred in him intensity of vision and apprehension. It seemed
to him that scales had fallen from his eyes, that for the first time
he really saw Parliament Street, the Houses of Parliament, Westminster
Bridge, the river. The truth was, that for the first time he really
felt them, felt that he belonged to them and they to him, that their
blackness in the October evening was part of the color of him, that the
Westminster sounds, chimes, footfalls, the dull roar of traffic, human
voices from street, from bridge, from river, harmonized with the voices
in him, in the very depths of him. This was England, this closeness,
this harmony of the outer to and with the inner, this was England saying
to one of her sons, "You belong to me and I to you." The race spoke and
the land, they walked with Dion in the darkness.

For he did not go straight home. He walked for a long time beside the
river. By the river he kissed Robin and he said good-by to Rosamund,
by the river he climbed upon the troopship, and he saw the fading of
England on the horizon, and he felt the breath of the open sea. And
in the midst of a crowd of men going southward he knew at last what
loneliness was. The lights that gleamed across the river were the last
lights of England that he would see for many a day, perhaps forever;
the chime from the clock-tower was the last of the English sounds. He
endured in imagination a phantom bitterness of departure which seemed
abominably real; then suddenly he was recalled from a possible future to
the very definite present.

He met by the river two men, sleek people in silk hats, with plump
hands--hands which looked as if they were carefully fed on very
nutritious food every day by their owners--warmly covered. As they
passed him one of those know-alls said to the other:

"Oh, it'll only be a potty little war. What can a handful of peasants do
against our men? I'll lay you five to one in sovereigns two months will
see it out."

"I dare say you will," returned the other, in a voice that was surely
smiling, "but I won't take you."

"By Jove, what a plunger I am!" thought Dion. "Racing ahead like a horse
that's lost his wits. Ten to one they'll never want volunteers."

But Westminster still looked exceptional, full of the inner meaning, and
somewhere within him a voice still said, "You will go." Nevertheless he
was able partly to put off his hybrid feeling, half-dread, half-desire.
The sleek people in the silk hats had made their little effect on the
stranger. "The man in the street is often right," Dion said to himself;
though he knew that the man in the street is probably there, and remains
there, because he is so often wrong.

When he reached Little Market Street Dion told Rosamund there would
be war in South Africa, but he did not even hint at his thought that
volunteers might be called for, at his intention, if they were, to offer
himself. To do that would not only be absurdly premature, but might
even seem slightly bombastic, an uncalled-for study in heroics. He kept
silence. The battles of Ladysmith, of Magersfontein, of Stormberg, of
Colenso, unsettled the theories of sleek people in silk hats. England
came to a very dark hour when Robin was playing with a new set of bricks
which his Aunt Beattie had given him. Dion began to understand the
rightness of his instinct that evening by the river, when Westminster
had spoken to him and England had whispered in his blood. As he had
thought of things, so they were going to be. The test was very great. It
was as if already it stood by him, a living entity, and touched him
with an imperious hand. Sometimes he looked at Rosamund and saw great
stretches of sea rolling under great stretches of sky. The barrier! How
would he be able to bear the long separation from Rosamund? The habit of
happiness in certain circumstances can become the scourge of a man. Men
who were unhappy at home could go to war with a lighter heart than he.

Just before Christmas the call for men came, and in Dion a hesitation
was born. Should he go and offer himself at once without telling
Rosamund, or should he tell her what he wished to do and ask her
opinion? Suppose she were against his going out? He could not ask her
advice if he was not prepared to take it. What line did he wish her
to take? By what course of action would such a woman as Rosamund prove
depth of love? Wouldn't it be natural for a woman who loved a man
to raise objections to his going out to fight in a distant country?
Wouldn't she prove her love by raising objections? On the other hand,
wouldn't a woman who loved a man in the greatest way be driven by the
desire to see him rise up in an emergency and prove his manhood at
whatever cost to her?

Dion wanted one thing of Rosamund at this moment, wanted it terribly,
with longing and with fear,--the proof absolute and unhesitating of her
love for him.

He decided to volunteer without telling her before hand that he meant to
do so. He told no one of his intention except his Uncle Biron, whom he
was obliged to consult as they were partners in business.

"You're right, my boy," said his uncle. "We'll get on as best we can
without you. We shall miss you, of course. Since you've been married
your energy has been most praiseworthy, but, of course, the nation comes
before the firm. What does your mother say?"

Dion was struck with a sense of wonder by this question. Why didn't his
uncle ask him what Rosamund had said?

"I haven't spoken to her," he answered.

"She'll wish you to go in spite of all," said his uncle gravely.

"I haven't even spoken to Rosamund of my intention to enlist."

His uncle looked surprised, even for a moment astonished, but he only
said:

"She's rather on heroic lines, I should judge. There's something
spacious in her nature."

"Yes," said Dion.

He pledged his uncle to silence. Then they talked business.

From that moment Dion wondered how his mother would take his decision.
That he had not wondered before proved to himself the absorbing
character of his love for his wife. He loved his mother very much, yet,
till his uncle had spoken about her in the office, he had only thought
about Rosamund in connection with his decision to enlist. The very
great thing had swallowed up the big thing. There is something ruthless,
almost at moments repellent, in the very great thing which rules in a
man's life. But his mother would never know.

That was what he said to himself, unconscious of the fact that his
mother had known and had lived alone with her knowledge for years.

He offered himself for service in South Africa with the City Imperial
Volunteers. The doctor passed him. He was informed that he would be
sworn in at the Guildhall on 4th January. The great step was taken.

Why had he taken it without telling Rosamund he was going to take it?

As he came out into the dark winter evening he wondered about that
almost vaguely. He must have had a driving reason, but now he did not
know what it was. How was Rosamund going to take it? Suddenly he felt
guilty, as if he had done her a wrong. They were one flesh, and in such
a vital matter he had not consulted her. Wasn't it abominable?

As soon as he was free he went straight home.

This time, as he walked homeward, Dion held no intercourse with
Westminster. If he heard the chimes, the voices, the footfalls, he was
not conscious of hearing them; if he saw the vapors from the river,
the wreaths of smoke from the chimneys, the lights gleaming in the near
houses and far away across the dark mystery of the water, he did not
know that he saw them. In himself he was imprisoned, and against the
great city in which he walked he had shut the doors.

He arrived at his house and put his hand in his pocket to get his
latch-key. Before he was able to draw it forth the green door was opened
and Beatrice came out.

"Dion!" she said, startled.

"You nearly ran over me!"

"What is it?" she asked. "What have you done?"

"But--"

"I know!" she interrupted.

She put out her hand and took hold of his coat sleeve. The action was
startlingly impulsive in Beatrice, who was always so almost plaintive,
so restrained, so dim.

"But you can't!"

"I do. You are going to South Africa."

He said nothing. How could he tell Beatrice before he told Rosamund?

"When are you going?"

"Is Rosamund in the house, Beattie?" he asked, very gently.

Beatrice flushed deeply, painfully, and took her hand from his sleeve.

"Yes. I've been playing with Robin, building castles with the new
bricks. Good-by, Dion."

She went past him and down the small street rather quickly. He stood for
a moment looking after her; then he turned into the house. As he shut
the door he heard a chord struck on the piano upstairs in Rosamund's
sitting-room. He took off his coat and hat and came into the little
hall. As he did so he heard Rosamund's voice beginning to sing Brahms's
"Wiegenlied" very softly. He guessed that she was singing to an audience
of Robin. The bricks had been put away after the departure of Aunt
Beattie, and now Robin was being sung towards sleep. How often would he
be sung to by Rosamund in the future when his father would not be there
to listen!

Robin was going to have his mother all to himself, and Rosamund was
going to have her little son all to herself. But they did not know that
yet. The long months of their sacred companionship stretched out before
the father as he listened to the lullaby, which he could only just hear.
Rosamund had mastered the art of withdrawing her voice and yet keeping
it perfectly level.

When the song was finished, whispered away into the spaces where music
disperses to carry on its sweet mission, Dion went up the stairs, opened
the door of Rosamund's room, and saw something very simple, and, to him,
very memorable. Rosamund had turned on the music-stool and put her
right arm round Robin, who, in his minute green jersey and green
knickerbockers, stood leaning against her with the languid happiness and
half-wayward demeanor of a child who has been playing, and who already
feels the soothing influence of approaching night with its gift of
profound sleep. Robin's cheeks were flushed, and in his blue eyes there
was a curious expression, drowsily imaginative, as if he were welcoming
dreams which were only for him. With a faint smile on his small rosy
lips he was listening while Rosamund repeated to him in English the
words of the song she had just been singing. Dion heard her say:

     "Sink to slumber, good-night,
     And angels of light
     With love you shall fold
     As the Christ Child of old."

"There's Fa!" whispered Robin, sending to Dion a semi-roguish look.

Dion held up his hand and formed "Hush!" with his lips. Rosamund
finished the verse:

     "While the stars dimly shine
     May no sorrow be thine."

She bent and kissed Robin on the top of his head just in the middle,
choosing the place, and into his hair she breathed a repetition of the
last words, "May no sorrow be thine."

And Dion was going to the war.

Robin slipped from his mother's arm gently and came to his father.

"'Allo, Fa!" he observed confidentially.

Dion bent down.

"Hallo, Robin!"

He picked the little chap up and gave him a kiss. What a small bundle
of contentment Robin was at that moment. In South Africa Dion often
remembered just how Robin had felt to him then, intimate and a mystery,
confidential, sleepy with happiness, a tiny holder of the Divine, a
willing revelation and a soft secret. So much in so little!

"You've been playing with Aunt Beattie."

Robin acknowledged it.

"Auntie's putty good at bricks."

"Did you meet Beattie, Dion?" asked Rosamund.

"On the doorstep."

He thought of Beattie's question. There was no question in Rosamund's
face. But perhaps his own face had changed.

A tap came to the door.

"Master Robin?" said nurse, in a voice that held both inquiry and an
admonishing sound.

When Robin had gone off to bed, walking vaguely and full of the
forerunners of dreams, Dion knew that his hour had come. He felt a sort
of great stillness within him, stillness of presage, perhaps, or of
mere concentration, of the will to be, to do, to endure, whatever
came. Rosamund shut down the lid of the piano and came away from the
music-stool. Dion looked at her, and thought of the maidens of the porch
and of the columns of the Parthenon.

"Rosamund," he said,--that stillness within him forbade any preparation,
any "leading up,"--"I've joined the City Imperial Volunteers."

"The City Imperial Volunteers?" she said.

He knew by the sound of her voice that she had not grasped the meaning
of what he had done. She looked surprised, and a question was in her
brown eyes.

"Why? What are they? I don't understand. And the Artists' Rifles?"

"I've got my transfer from them. I've joined for the war."

"The war? Do you mean----?"

She came up to him, looking suddenly intent.

"Do you mean you have volunteered for active service in South Africa?"

"Yes."

"Without consulting me?"

Her whole face reddened, almost as it had reddened when she spoke to him
about the death of her mother.

"Yes. I haven't signed on yet, but the doctor has passed me. I'm to be
sworn in at the Guildhall on the fourth, I believe. We shall sail very
soon, almost directly, I suppose. They want men out there."

He did not know how bruskly he spoke; he was feeling too much to know.

"I didn't think you could do such a thing without speaking to me first.
My husband, and you----!"

She stopped abruptly, as if afraid of what she might say if she went on
speaking. Two deep lines appeared in her forehead. For the first time in
his life Dion saw an expression of acute hostility in her eyes. She had
been angry, or almost angry with him for a moment in Elis, when he broke
off the branch of wild olive; but she had not looked like this. There
was something piercing in her expression that was quite new to him.

"I felt I ought to do it," he said dully.

"Did you think I should try to prevent you?"

"No. I scarcely knew what I thought."

"Have you told your mother?"

"No. I had to tell Uncle Biron because of the business. Nobody else
knows."

And then suddenly he remembered Beattie.

"At least I haven't told any one else."

"But some one else does know--knew before I did."

"I saw Beattie just now, as I said. I believe she guessed. I didn't tell
her."

"But how could she guess such a thing if you gave her no hint?"

"That's just what I have been wondering."

Rosamund was silent. She went away from him and stood by the fire,
turning her back to him. He waited for a moment, then he went to the
hearth.

"Don't you think perhaps it's best for a man to decide such a thing
quite alone? It's a man's job, and each man must judge for himself what
he ought to do in such a moment. If you had asked me not to go I should
have felt bound to go all the same."

"But I should have said 'Go.' Then you never understood me in Greece?
All our talks told you nothing about me? And now Robin is here--you
thought I should ask you not to go!"

She turned round. She seemed almost passionately surprised.

"Perhaps--in a way--I wished to think that."

"Why? Did you wish to despise me?"

"Rosamund! As if I could ever do that."

"If you did a despicable thing I should despise you."

"Don't! I haven't much more time here."

"I never, never shall be able to understand how you could do this
without telling me beforehand that you were going to do it."

"It wasn't from any want of respect or love for you."

"I can't talk about it any more just now."

The flush on her face deepened. She turned and went out of the room.

Dion was painfully affected. He had never before had a serious
disagreement with Rosamund. It was almost intolerable to have one now
on the eve of departure from her. He felt like one who had committed an
outrage out of the depths of a terrible hunger, a hunger of curiosity.
He knew now why he had volunteered for active service without consulting
Rosamund. Obscurely his nature had spoken, saying, "Put her to the test
and make the test drastic." And he had obeyed the command. He had wanted
to know, to find out suddenly, in a moment, the exact truth of years.
And now he had roused a passion of anger in Rosamund.

Her anger wrapped him in pain such as he had never felt till now.

The house seemed full of menace. In the little room the atmosphere was
changed. He looked round it and his eyes rested on the Hermes. He went
up to it and stood before it.

Instantly he felt again the exquisite calm of Elis. The face of the
Hermes made the thought of war seem horrible and ridiculous. Men had
learnt so much when Praxiteles created his Hermes, and they knew so
little now. The enigma of their violence was as great as the enigma of
the celestial calm which the old Greeks had perpetuated to be forever
the joy and the rest of humanity. And he, Dion, was going to take an
active part in violence. The unchanging serenity of the Hermes, which
brought all Elis before him, with its green sights and its wonderful
sounds, of the drowsy insects in the sunshine, of the sheep-bells, and
of the pines whose voices hold within them all the eternal secrets,
increased the intensity of his misery. He realized how unstable are the
foundations of human happiness, and his house of life seemed crumbling
about him.

Presently he went downstairs to his room and wrote letters to his mother
and to Bruce Evelin, telling them what he had done.

When he had directed and stamped these letters he thought of Beattie
and Guy. Beattie knew. What was it which had led her so instantly to
a knowledge denied to Rosamund? Rosamund had evidently not noticed any
difference in him when he came in that evening. But, to be sure, Robin
had been there.

Robin had been there.

Dion sat before the writing-table for a long while doing nothing. Then
a clock struck. He had only half an hour to spare before dinner would be
ready. Quickly he wrote a few words to Beattie:


"MY DEAR BEATTIE,--You were right. I have volunteered for active service
and shall soon be off to South Africa. I don't know yet exactly when we
shall start, but I expect they'll hurry us off as quickly as they can.
Men are wanted out there badly. Lots of fellows are coming forward.
I'll tell you more when I see you again. Messages to Guy.--Yours
affectionately,

"DION"


It was not an eloquent letter, but Beattie would understand. Beattie was
not a great talker but she was a great understander. He went out to put
the three letters into the pillar-box. Then he hurried upstairs to his
dressing-room. For the first time in his life he almost dreaded spending
an evening alone with Rosamund.

He did not see her till he came into the drawing-room. As he opened the
door he saw her sitting by the fire reading, in a dark blue dress.

"I'm afraid I'm late," he said, as he walked to the hearth. "I wrote to
mother, Beattie and godfather to tell them what I was going to do."

"What you had done," she said quietly, putting down the book.

"I haven't actually been sworn in yet, but of course it is practically
the same thing."

He looked at her almost surreptitiously. She was very grave, but there
was absolutely nothing hostile or angry in her expression or manner.
They went into the dining-room, and talked together much as usual during
dinner. As soon as dinner was over, and the parlor-maid had gone out,
having finished her ministrations, which to Dion that night had seemed
innumerable and well-nigh unbearable, he said:

"I'm dreadfully sorry about to-day. I did the wrong thing in
volunteering without saying anything to you. Of course you were hurt and
startled----"

He looked at her and paused.

"Yes, I was. I couldn't help it, and I don't think you ought to have
done what you did. But you have made a great sacrifice--very great. I
only want to think of that, Dion, of how much you are giving up, and of
the cause--our cause."

She spoke very earnestly and sincerely, and her eyes looked serious and
very kind.

"Don't let us go back to anything sad, or to any misunderstanding now,"
she continued. "You are doing an admirable thing, and I shall always be
glad you had the will to do it, were able to do it. Tell me everything.
I want to live in your new life as much as I can. I want you to feel me
in it as much as you can."

"She has prayed over it. While I was writing my letters she was praying
over it."

Suddenly Dion knew this as if Rosamund had opened her heart to him and
had told it. And immediately something which was like a great light
seemed not only to illumine the present moment but also to throw a
piercing ray backwards upon all his past life with Rosamund. In the
light of this ray he discerned a shadowy something, which stood between
Rosamund and him, keeping them always apart. It was a tremendous
Presence; his feeling was that it was the Presence of God. Abruptly he
seemed to be aware that God had always stood, was standing now, between
him and his wife. He remembered the words in the marriage service,
"Those whom God hath joined together let no man put asunder." "But God,"
he thought, "did not join us. He stood between us always. He stands
between us now." It was an awful thought. It was like a great blasphemy.
He was afraid of it. And yet he now felt that it was an old, old thought
in his mind which only now had he been able to formulate. He had known
without knowing consciously, but now he consciously knew.

He took care at this moment not to look at Rosamund. If he looked,
surely she would see in his eyes his terrible thought, the thought he
was going to carry with him to South Africa. Making a great effort
he began to tell her all that he knew about the C.I.V. They discussed
matters in a comradely spirit. Rosamund said many warm-hearted things,
showed herself almost eagerly solicitous. They went up to sit by the
fire in her little room. Dion smoked. They talked for a long time. Had
any one been there to listen he would probably have thought, "This man
has got the ideal wife. She's a true comrade as well as a wife." But
all the time Dion kept on saying to himself, "This is the result of her
prayers before dinner. She is being good." Only when it was late, past
their usual hour for going to bed, did he feel that the strong humanity
in Rosamund had definitely gained ground, that she was being genuinely
carried away by warm impulses connected with dear England, our men, and
with him.

When they got up at last to go to bed she exclaimed:

"I shall always love what you have done, Dion. You know that."

"But not the way of my doing it!" trembled on his lips.

He did not say it, however. Why lead her back even for a moment to
bitterness?

That night he lay with his thoughts, and in the darkness the ray was
piercing bright and looked keen like a sharpened sword.



CHAPTER II

On the fourth of January Dion and about nine hundred other men were
sworn in at the Guildhall; on January the seventeenth, eight hundred
of them, including Dion, were presented with the Freedom of the City
of London; on the nineteenth they were equipped and attended a farewell
service at St. Paul's Cathedral, after which they were entertained at
supper, some at Gray's Inn and some at Lincoln's Inn; on the twentieth
they entrained for Southampton, from which port they sailed in the
afternoon for South Africa. Dion was on board of the "Ariosto."

Strangely, perhaps, he was almost glad when the ship cast off and the
shores of England faded and presently were lost beyond the horizon line.
He was alone now with his duty. Life was suddenly simplified. It was
better so. In the last days he had often felt confused, beset, had often
felt that he was struggling in a sea of complications which threatened
to overwhelm him. There had been too much to do and there had been too
much to endure; he had been obliged to be practical when he was feeling
intensely emotional. The effort to dominate and to conceal his emotion
had sometimes almost exhausted him in the midst of all he had had to
do. He had come to the knowledge of the fact that it is the work of the
spirit which leaves the whole man tired. He was weary, not from hard
energies connected with his new profession, not from getting up at
dawn, marching through dense crowds of cheering countrymen, traveling,
settling in on shipboard, but from farewells. He looked back now upon a
sort of panorama of farewells, of partings from his mother, his uncle,
Bruce Evelin, Guy, Beatrice, Robin, Rosamund.

Quite possibly all these human companions had vanished out of his life
for ever. It was a tremendous thought, upon which he was resolved not to
dwell lest his courage and his energies might be weakened.

Through good-bys a man may come to knowledge, and Dion had, in these
last few days, gone down to the bedrock of knowledge concerning some of
those few who were intimately in his life--knowledge of them and also
of himself. Nobody had traveled to Southampton to see him off. He had a
very English horror of scenes, and had said all his good-bys in private.
With Bruce Evelin he had had a long talk; they had spoken frankly
together about the future of Rosamund and Robin in the event of his not
coming back. Dion had expressed his views on the bringing up of the boy,
and, in doing so had let Bruce Evelin into secrets of Greece. The father
did not expect, perhaps did not even desire, that the little son should
develop into a paragon, but he did desire for Rosamund's child the
strong soul in the strong body, and the soft heart that was not a
softy's heart.

In that conversation Bruce Evelin had learnt a great deal about Dion.
They had spoken of Rosamund, perhaps more intimately than they had ever
spoken before, and Dion had said, "I'm bothering so much about Robin
partly because her life is bound up with Robin's."

"Several lives are bound up with that little chap's," Bruce Evelin had
said.

And a sudden sense of loneliness had come upon Dion. But he had only
made some apparently casual remark to the effect that he knew Bruce
Evelin would do his best to see that Robin came to no harm. No absurd
and unnecessary promises had been exchanged between the old and the
young man. Their talk had been British, often seemingly casual, and
nearly always touched with deep feeling. It had not opened to Dion new
vistas of Bruce Evelin. For a long time Dion had felt that he knew
Bruce Evelin. But it had given him a definite revelation of the strong
faithfulness, the tenacity of faithfulness in friendship, which was
perhaps the keynote of Bruce Evelin's character.

The parting from Guy had been less eventful. Nevertheless it had helped
to get rid of certain faint misunderstandings which neither of the
friends had ever acknowledged. Since the Mrs. Clarke episode Dion had
been aware that Guy's feeling towards him had slightly changed. They
were such old and tried friends that they would always care for each
other, but Guy could not help resenting Rosamund's treatment of Mrs.
Clarke, could not help considering Dion's acquiescence in it a sign of
weakness. These feelings, unexpressed, but understood by Dion, had set
up a slight barrier between the two young men; it had fallen when they
said good-by. Mrs. Clarke had been forgotten then by Guy, who had only
remembered the gifts of war, and that possibly this was his final sight
of old Dion. All their common memories had been with them when the last
hand-clasp was given, and perhaps only when their hands fell apart had
they thoroughly tested at last the strength of the link between them.
They were friends for life without knowing exactly why. Thousands of
Englishmen were in the same case.

Dion had gone to De Lorne Mansions to bid good-by to Beattie, and with
her, too, he had talked about Robin. Beattie had known when Dion was
coming, and had taken care to be alone. Always quiet, she had seemed
to Dion quieter even than usual in that final hour by the fire, almost
singularly timid and repressed. There had even been moments when she had
seemed to him cold. But the coldness--if really there had been any--had
been in her manner, perhaps in her voice, but had been absent from her
face. They had sat in the firelight, which Beattie was always fond of,
and Dion had not been able to see her quite clearly. If the electric
light had been turned on she might have told him more; but she surely
would not have told him of the quiet indifference which manner and voice
and even inexpressive attitude had seemed to be endeavoring to convey
to him. For Beattie's only half-revealed face had looked eloquent in the
firelight, eloquent of a sympathy and even of a sorrow she had said very
little about. Whenever Dion had begun to feel slightly chilled he had
looked at her, and the face in the firelight had assured him. "Beattie
does care," he had thought; and he had realized how much he wanted
Beattie to care, how he had come to depend upon Beattie's sisterly
affection and gentle but deep interest in all the course of his life.

Quickly, too quickly, the moment had come for him to say the last word
to Beattie, and suddenly he had felt shy. It had seemed to him that
something in Beattie--he could not have said what--had brought about
this unusual sensation in him. He had got up abruptly with a "Well, I
suppose I must be off now!" and had thrust out his hand. He had felt
that his manner and action were almost awkward and hard. Beattie had got
up too in a way that looked listless.

"Are you well, Beattie?" he had asked.

"Quite well."

"Perhaps you are tired?"

"No."

"I fancied--well, good-by, Beattie."

"Good-by, Dion."

That had been all. At the door he had looked round, and had seen Beattie
standing with her back to him and her face to the firelight, stooping
slightly, and he had felt a strong impulse to go to her again, and
to--he hardly knew what--to say good-by again, perhaps, in a different,
more affectionate or more tender way. But he had not done it. Instead he
had gone out and had shut the door behind him very quietly. It was odd
that Beattie had not even looked after him. Surely people generally did
that when a friend was going away, perhaps for ever. But Beattie was
different from other people, and somehow he was quite sure she cared.

The three last good-bys had been said to his mother, Robin and Rosamund,
in Queen Anne's Mansions and Little Market Street. He had stayed with
his mother for nearly two hours. She had a very bad cold, unbecoming,
complicated with fits of sneezing, a cold in the "three handkerchiefs an
hour" stage. And this commonplace malady had made him feel very tender
about her, and oddly pitiful about all humanity, including, of course,
himself. While they talked he had thought several times, "It's hard to
see mother in such a state when perhaps I shall never see her again. I
don't want to remember her with a cold." And the thought, "I shan't be
here to see her get well," had pained him acutely.

"I'm looking and feeling glazed, dee-ar," had been her greeting to him.
"My nose is shiny and my mind is woolly. I don't think you ought to kiss
me or talk to me."

And then he had kissed her, and they had talked, intimately, sincerely.
In those last hours mercifully Dion had not felt shy with his mother.
But perhaps this was because she was never shy, not even in tenderness
or in sorrow. She was not afraid of herself. They had even been able to
discuss the possibility of his being killed in the war, and Mrs. Leith
had been quite simple about it, laying aside all her usual elaboration
of manner.

"The saddest result of such an honorable and noble end would be the loss
to Robin, I think," she had said.

"To Robin? But he's got such a mother!"

"Do you think he doesn't need, won't need much more later on, the father
he's got? Dion, my son, humility is a virtue, no doubt, but I don't
believe in excess even in the practice of virtue, and sometimes I think
you do."

"I didn't know it."

"This going to the war is a splendid thing for you. I wouldn't have you
out of it even though----"

Here she had been overcome by a tremendous fit of sneezing from which
she had emerged with the smiling remark:

"I'm not permitted to improve the occasion."

"I believe I know what you mean. Perhaps you're right, mother. You're
cleverer than I am. Still I can't help seeing that Robin's got a mother
such as few children have. Look round at all the mothers you know in
London!"

"Yes. Rosamund was created to be a mother. But just to-day I want to
look at Robin's father."

And so they had talked of him.

That talk had done Dion good. It had set his face towards a shining
future. If he came back from the war he now felt, through the feeling
of his mother, that he would surely come back tempered, tried, better
fitted to Robin's uses, more worthy of any woman's gift of herself.
Without preaching, even without being remarkably definite, his mother
had made him see in this distant war a great opportunity, not to win a
V.C. or any splashing honor that would raise him up in the eyes of the
world, but to reach out and grip hold of his own best possibilities. Had
his mother done even more than this? Had she set before him some other
goal which the war might enable him to gain if he had not already gained
it? Had she been very subtle when seeming to be very direct? Even when
she held him in her arms--despite the cold!--and gave him the final kiss
and blessing, he was not sure. If it had been done it had been done with
extraordinary delicacy, with the marvelous cunning of clever love which
knows how to avoid all the pitfalls. And it had been done, too, with
the marvelous unselfishness of which, perhaps, only the highest type of
mother-love is capable.

After he had left his mother, and was just going out of the flat, Dion
had heard through the half-open door a sound, a ridiculous sound, which
had made him love her terribly, and with the sudden yearning which
is the keenest pain of the heart because it defines all the human
limitations: she was sneezing again violently. As he shut the front
door, "If she were to die while I'm away, and I were to come back!" had
stabbed his mind. Outside in the court he had gazed up at the towering
rows of lighted windows and had said another good-by out there.

Shutting his eyes for a moment as the "Ariosto" plowed her way onwards
through a rather malignant sea, Dion saw again those rows of lighted
windows, and he wondered, almost as earnestly as a child wonders,
whether his mother's cold was better. What he had done, volunteering
for active service and joining the C.I.V. battalion, had made him feel
simpler than usual; but he did not know it, did not look on at his own
simplicity.

And then, last of all, had come the parting from Robin and Rosamund.

Rosamund and Dion had agreed not to make very much of his departure
to Robin. Father was going way for a time, going over the sea
picturesquely, with a lot of friends, all men, all happy to be together
and to see wonderful things in a country quite different from England.
Some day, when Robin was a big as his father, perhaps he, too, would
make such a voyage with his friends. Robin had been deeply interested,
and had shown his usual ardor in comment and--this was more
embarrassing--in research. He had wanted to know a great deal about
his father's intentions and the intentions of father's numerous male
friends. What were they going to do when they arrived in the extremely
odd country which had taken it into its head to be different from
England? How many male friends was father taking with him? Why hadn't
they all been to "see us?" Was Uncle Guy one of them? Was Mr. Thrush
going too? Why wasn't Mr. Thrush going? If he was too old to go was
Uncle Guy too old? Did Mr. Thrush want to go? Was he disappointed at
father's not being able to take him? Was it all a holiday for father?
Would mummy have liked to go? No lies had been told to Robin, but
some of the information he had sought had been withheld. Dion had made
skilful use of Mr. Thrush when matters had become difficult, when Robin
had nearly driven him into a corner. The ex-chemist, though seldom seen,
loomed large in Robin's world, on account of his impressive coloring and
ancient respectabilities. Robin regarded him with awful admiration, and
looked forward to growing like him in some far distant future. Dion had
frequently ridden off from difficult questions on Mr. Thrush. Even in
the final interview between father and son Mr. Thrush had been much
discussed.

The final interview had taken place in the nursery among Aunt Beattie's
bricks, by which Robin was still obsessed. Dion had sat on the floor and
built towers with his boy, and had wondered, as he handled the bricks
in the shining of the nursery fire, whether he would come back to help
Robin with his building later on. He was going out to build, for England
and for himself, perhaps for Robin and Rosamund, too. Would he be
allowed to see the fruits of his labors?

The towers of bricks had grown high, and with it Dion had built up
another tower, unknown to Robin, a tower of hopes for the child. So much
ardor in so tiny a frame! It was a revelation of the wonder of
life. What a marvel to have helped to create that life and what a
responsibility. And he was going away to destroy life, if possible.
The grotesqueness of war had come upon him then, as he had built up the
tower with Robin. And he had longed for a released world in which his
boy might be allowed to walk as a man. The simplicity of Robin, his
complete trustfulness, his eager appreciation of human nature, his
constant reaching out after kindness without fear of being denied,
seemed to imply a world other than the world which must keep on letting
blood in order to get along. Robin, and all the other Robins, female
and male, revealed war in its true light. Terrible children whose
unconscious comment on life bites deep like an acid! Terrible Robin in
that last hour with the bricks!

When the tower had become a marvel such as had been seen in no nursery
before, Dion had suggested letting it be. Another brick and it must
surely fall. The moment was at hand when he must see the last of Robin.
He had had a furtive but strong desire to see the tower he and his
son had built still standing slenderly erect when he went out of the
nursery. Just then he had been the man who seeks a good omen. Robin had
agreed with his suggestion after a long moment of rapt contemplation of
the tower.

"I wish Mr. Thrush could see it," he had observed, laying down the brick
he had taken up to add to the tower just before his father had spoken.
"He _would_ be pleased."

The words had been lifted out on a sigh, the sigh of the wonder-worker
who had achieved his mission. And then they had talked of Mr. Thrush,
sitting carefully, almost motionless, beside the tower, and speaking
softly "for fear." The firelight had danced upon the yellow bricks and
upon the cream-colored nursery walls, filtering through the high
nursery "guard" which protected Robin from annihilation by fire, and
the whisper, whisper of their voices had only emphasized the quiet. And,
with every moment that went by, the lit-up tower had seemed more like a
symbol to Dion. Then at last the cuckoo-clock had chimed and the wooden
bird, with trembling tail, had made its jerky obeisance.

"Cuckoo!"

Dion had put his arm round the little figure in the green jersey and the
tiny knickerbockers, and had whispered, still governed by the tower:

"I must go now, Robin."

"Good-by, Fa," Robin had whispered back, with his eyes on the tower.

With a very careful movement he had lifted his face to be kissed, and
on his soft lips Dion had felt a certain remoteness. Did the tower stand
between him and his little son as he said good-by to Robin?

Just as he had reluctantly let Robin go and, with his legs crossed, had
been about to perform the feat of getting up without touching the floor
with his hands, and without shaking the bricks in their places,--moved
to this trifling bodily feat by the desire to confront his emotion with
an adversary,--the door behind him had been opened. Already in movement
he had instinctively half-turned round. Something had happened,--he
never knew exactly what,--something had escaped from his physical
control because his mind had abruptly been deflected from its task of
vigilance; there had been a crash and a cry of "Oh, _Fa_!" from Robin,
and he had met Rosamund's eyes as the tower toppled down in ruin. Not so
much as one brick had been left upon another.

Robin had been greatly distressed. Tears had come into his eyes, and
for a moment he had looked reproachfully at his father. Then, almost
immediately, something chivalrous had spoken within him, admonishing
him, and he had managed a smile.

"It'll be higher next time, Fa, won't it?" he had murmured, still
evidently fighting a keen disappointment.

And Dion had caught him up, given him a hug, whispered "My boy!" to him,
put him down and gone straight out of the room with Rosamund, who had
not spoken a word.

And that had been the last of Robin for his father.

In the evening, when Robin was asleep, Dion had said good-by to
Rosamund. The catastrophe of the tower of bricks had haunted his mind.
As he had chosen to make of the tower an omen, in its destruction he had
found a presage of evil which depressed him, which even woke in him ugly
fears of the future. He had had a great deal out of life, not all he had
wanted, but still a great deal. Perhaps he was not going to have
much more. He had not spoken of his fears to Rosamund, but had been
resolutely cheerful with her in their last conversation. Neither of them
had mentioned the possibility of his not coming back. They had talked
of what probably lay before him in South Africa, and of Robin, and
presently Rosamund had said:

"I want to make a suggestion. Will you promise to tell me if you dislike
it?"

"Yes. What is it?"

"Would you mind if I succeeded in letting this house and went into the
country with Robin to wait for your coming back?"

"Letting it furnished, do you mean?"

"Yes."

"But won't you be dull in the country, away from mother, and Beattie,
and godfather, and all our friends?"

"I could never be dull with Robin and nature, never, and I wouldn't go
very far from London. I thought of something near Welsley."

"So that you could go in to Cathedral service when 'The Wilderness' was
sung!"

He had smiled as he had said it, but his own reference to Rosamund's
once-spoken-of love of the wilderness had, in a flash, brought the hill
of Drouva before him, and he had faced man's tragedy--remembered joys of
the past in a shadowed present.

"Go into the country, Rose. I only want you to be happy, but"--he had
hesitated, and then had added, almost in spite of himself--"but not too
happy."

Not too happy! That really was the great fear at his heart now that
he was voyaging towards South Africa, that Rosamund would be too happy
without him. He no longer deceived himself. This drastic change in his
life had either taught him to face realities, or simply prevented him
from being able to do anything else. He told himself the truth, and it
was this, that Rosamund did not love him at all as he loved her. She
was fond of him, she trusted him, she got on excellently with him, she
believed in him, she even admired him for having been able to live as he
had lived before their marriage, but she did not passionately love
him. He might have been tempted to think that, with all her fine, even
splendid, qualities, she was deprived of the power of loving intensely
if he had not seen her with Robin, if he had not once spoken with her
about her mother.

If he were killed in South Africa would Rosamund be angry at his death?
That was her greatest tribute, anger, directed surely not against
any human being, but against the God Whom she loved and Who, so she
believed, ruled the world and directed the ways of men. Once Rosamund
had said that she knew it was possible for human beings to hurt God. She
had doubtless spoken out of the depths of her personal experience. She
had felt sure that by her anger at the death of her mother she had
hurt God. Such a conviction showed how she thought of God, in what a
closeness of relation with God she felt herself to be. Dion knew now
that she had loved her mother, that she loved Robin, as she did not love
him. If he were to die she would be very sorry, but she would not be
very angry. No, she would be able to breathe out a "farewell!" simply,
with a resignation comparable to that of the Greeks on those tombs which
she loved, and then--she would concentrate on Robin.

If he, Dion, were to be shot, and had time for a thought before dying,
he knew what his thought would be: that the Boer's bullet had only hit a
man, not, like so many bullets fired in war, a man and a woman. And that
thought would add an exquisite bitterness to the normal bitterness of
death.

So Dion, on the "Ariosto," voyaged towards South Africa, companioned
by new and definite knowledge--new at any rate in the light and on the
surface, definite because in the very big moments of life truth becomes
as definite as the bayonet piercing to the man who is pierced.

His comrades were a mixed lot, mostly quite young. The average age was
about twenty-five. Among them were barristers, law students, dentists,
bank clerks, clerks, men of the Civil Service, architects, auctioneers,
engineers, schoolmasters, builders, plumbers, jewelers, tailors, Stock
Exchange men, etc., etc. There were representatives of more than a
hundred and fifty trades, and adherents to nine religions, among the men
of the C.I.V. Their free patriotism welded them together, the thing they
had all spontaneously done abolished differences between Baptists
and Jews, Methodists and Unitarians, Catholics and Protestants. The
perfumery manager and the marine engineer comprehended each other's
language; the dentist and the insurance broker "hit it off together" at
first sight; printers and plumbers, pawnbrokers and solicitors, varnish
testers and hop factors--they were all friendly and all cheerful
together. Each one of them had done a thing which all the rest secretly
admired. Respect is a good cement, and can stand a lot of testing.
In his comrades Dion was not disappointed. Among them were a few
acquaintances, men whom he had met in the City, but there was only one
man whom he could count as a friend, a barrister named Worthington, a
bachelor, who belonged to the Greville Club, and who was an intimate of
Guy Daventry's. Worthington knew Daventry much better than he knew
Dion, but both Dion and he were glad to be together and to exchange
impressions in the new life which they had entered so abruptly, moved
by a common impulse. Worthington was a dark, sallow, narrow-faced man,
wiry, with an eager intellect, fearless and energetic, one of the most
cheerful men of the battalion. His company braced Dion.

The second day at sea was disagreeable; the ship rolled considerably,
and many officers and men were sea-sick. Dion was well, but Worthington
was prostrated, and did not show on deck. Towards evening Dion went down
to have a look at him, and found him in his bunk, lead-colored, with
pinched features, but still cheerful and able to laugh at his own
misery. They had a small "jaw" together about people and things at home,
and in the course of it Worthington mentioned Mrs. Clarke, whom he had
several times met at De Lorne Gardens.

"You know she's back in London?" he said. "The winter's almost
impossible at Constantinople because of the winds from the Black Sea."

"Yes, I heard she was in London, but I haven't seen her this winter."

"I half thought--only half--she'd send me a wire to wish me good luck
when we embarked," said Worthington, shifting uneasily in his bunk, and
twisting his white lips. "But she didn't. She's a fascinating woman. I
should have liked to have had a wire from her."

"By Jove!" exclaimed Dion.

"What is it?"

"I've just remembered I got some telegrams when we were going off. I
read one, from my wife, and stuffed the others away. There was such a
lot to do and think of. I believe they're here."

He thrust a hand into one of his pockets and brought out four telegrams,
one, Rosamund's, open, the rest unopened. Worthington lay staring at him
and them, glad perhaps to be turned for a moment from self-contemplation
by any incident, however trifling.

"I'll bet I know whom they're from," said Dion. "One's from old Guy,
one's from Bruce Evelin, and one's from----" He paused, fingering the
telegrams.

"Eh?" said Worthington, still screwing his lips about.

"Perhaps from Beattie, my sister-in-law, unless she and Guy have clubbed
together. Well, let's see."

He tore open the first telegram.


"May you have good luck and come back safe and soon.--BEATTIE--GUY."


He opened the second. It was from Bruce Evelin.


"May you be a happy warrior.--BRUCE EVELIN."


Dion read it more than once, and his lips quivered for a second. He shot
a glance at Worthington, and said, rather bruskly:

"Beatrice and Guy Daventry and Bruce Evelin!"

Worthington gave a little faint nod in the direction of the telegram
that was still unopened.

"Your mater!"

"No; she wrote to me. She hates telegrams, says they're public property.
I wonder who it is."

He pushed a forefinger under the envelope, tore it and pulled out the
telegram.


"The forgotten do not always forget. May Allah have you and all brave
men in His hand.--CYNTHIA CLARKE."


Dion felt Worthington's observant eyes upon him, looked up and met them
as the "Ariosto" rolled and creaked in the heavy gray wash of the sea.

"Funny!" he jerked out.

Worthington lifted inquiring eyebrows but evidently hesitated to speak
just then.

"It's from Mrs. Clarke."

"Beastly of her!" tipped out Worthington. "What--she say?"

"Just wishes me well."

And Dion stuck the telegram back into the flimsy envelope.

When he looked at it again that night he thought the woman from
Stamboul was a very forgiving woman. Almost he wished that she were less
forgiving. She made him now, she had made him in days gone by, feel as
if he had behaved to her almost badly, like a bit of a brute. Of course
that wasn't true. If he hadn't been married, no doubt they might
have been good friends. As things were, friendship between them was
impossible. He did not long for friendship with Mrs. Clarke. His life
was full. There was no room in it for her. But he slightly regretted
that he had met her, and he regretted more that she had wished to know
Rosamund and him better than Rosamund had wished. He kept her telegram,
with the rest of the telegrams he had received on his departure; now and
then he looked at it, and wondered whether its wording was not the
least bit indelicate. It would surely have been wiser if Mrs. Clarke had
omitted the opening six words. They conveyed a reproach; they conveyed,
too, a curious suggestion of will power, of quiet persistence. When
he read them Dion seemed to feel the touch--or the grip--of Stamboul,
listless apparently, yet not easily to be evaded or got rid of.

That telegram caused him to wonder whether he had made a really strong
impression upon Mrs. Clarke, such as he had not suspected till now,
whether she had not, perhaps, liked him a good deal more than she
liked most people. "May Allah have you and all brave men in His hand."
Worthington would have been glad to have had that message. Dion had
discovered that Worthington was half in love with Mrs. Clarke. He
chaffed Dion about Mrs. Clarke's telegram with a rather persistent
gaiety which did not hide a faint, semi-humorous jealousy. One day he
even said, "To him that hath shall be given. It's so like a woman to
sent her word of encouragement to the man who's got a wife to encourage
him, and to leave the poor beggar who's got no one out in the cold. It's
a cruel world, and three-quarters of the cruelty in it is the production
of women." He spoke with a smile, and the argument which followed was
not serious. They laughed and bantered each other, but Dion understood
that Worthington really envied him because Mrs. Clarke had thought of
him at the moment of departure. Perhaps he had been rather stupid in
letting Worthington know about her telegram. But Worthington had been
watching him; he had had the feeling that Worthington had guessed whom
the telegram was from. The matter was of no importance. If Mrs. Clarke
had cared for him, or if he had cared for her, he would have kept her
message secret; as they were merely acquaintances who no longer met
each other, her good wishes from a distance meant very little, merely
a kindly thought, for which he was grateful and about which no mystery
need be made.

Of course he must write a letter of thanks to Mrs. Clarke.

One day, after he had written to Rosamund, to Robin, to his mother, to
Beattie and to Bruce Evelin, Mrs. Clarke's turn came. His letter to her
was short and cheery, but he was slow in writing it. There was a noise
of men, a turmoil of activity all about him. In the midst of it he heard
a husky, very individual voice, he saw a pair of wide-open distressed
eyes looking directly at him. And an odd conviction came to him that
life would bring Mrs. Clarke and him together again. Then he would come
back from South Africa? He had no premonition about that. What he felt
as he wrote his letter was simply that somehow, somewhere, Mrs. Clarke
and he would get to know each other better than they knew each other
now. Kismet! In the vast Turkish cemeteries there were moldering bodies
innumerable. Why did he think of them whenever he thought of Mrs.
Clarke? No doubt because she lived in Constantinople, because much of
her life was passed in the shadow of the towering cypresses. He had
thought of her as a cypress. Did she keep watch over bodies of the dead?

A bugle rang out. He put his letter into the envelope and hastily
scribbled the address. Mrs. Clarke was again at Claridge's.

* * * * *

Every man who loves very deeply wishes to conquer the woman he loves, to
conquer the heart of her and to have it as his possession. Dion had left
England knowing that he had won Rosamund but had never conquered
her. This South African campaign had come upon him like a great blow
delivered with intention; a blow which does not stun a man but which
wakes the whole man up. If this war had not broken out his life would
have gone on as before, harmoniously, comfortably, with the daily work,
and the daily exercise, and the daily intercourse with wife and child
and friends. And would he ever have absolutely known what he knew now,
what--he was certain of it!--his mother knew, what perhaps Beattie and
even Bruce Evelin knew?

He had surely failed in a great enterprise, but he was resolved to
succeed if long enough life were given to him. He was now awake and
walked in full knowledge. Surely, Rosamund being what she was, the issue
lay with himself. If God had stood between them that must be because he,
Dion, was not yet worthy of the full happiness which was his greatest
earthly desire. Dion was certain that God did not stand between Rosamund
and Robin.

He had dreams of returning to England a different, or perhaps a
developed, man. The perfect lovers ought to stand together on the same
level. Rosamund and he had never done that yet. He resolved to gain in
South Africa, to get a grip on his best possibilities, to go back to
England, if he ever went back, a bigger soul, freer, more competent,
more generous, more fearless. He could never be a mystic. He did
not want to be that. But surely he could learn in this interval of
separation which, like a river, divided his life from Rosamund's, to
match her mysticism with something which would be able to call it out
of its mysterious understanding. Instead of retreating to God alone she
might then, perhaps, take him with her; instead of praying over him she
might pray with him. If, after he returned from South Africa, Rosamund
were ever again to be deliberately good with him, making such an effort
as she had made on that horrible evening in Little Market Street when
he had told her he was going on active service, he felt that he simply
couldn't bear it.

He put firmly aside the natural longings for home which often assailed
him, and threw himself heart and soul into his new duties. Already he
felt happier, for he was "out" to draw from the present, from the whole
of it, all the building material it contained, and was resolute to use
all that material in the construction of a palace, a future based on
marble, strong, simple, noble, a Parthenon of the future. Only the weak
man looks to omens, is governed in his mind, and so in his actions, by
them. That which he had not known how to win in an easy life he must
learn to win in a life that was hard. This war he would take as a gift
to him, something to be used finely. If he fell in it still he would
have had his gift, the chance to realize some of his latent and best
possibilities. He swept out of his mind an old thought, the creeping
surmise that perhaps Rosamund had given him all she had to give in
lover's love, that she knew how to love as child and as mother, but that
she was incapable of being a great lover in man's sense of the term when
he applies it to woman.

Madeira was passed on January the twenty-fifth, and the men, staring
across the sea, saw its lofty hills rising dreamily out of the haze,
watchers of those who would not stop, who had no time for any eating of
the lotus. Heat came upon the ship, and there were some who pretended
that they heard sounds, and smelled perfumes wafted, like messages, from
the hidden shores on which probably they would never land. Every one
was kept busy, after a sail bath, with drilling, musketry instruction,
physical drill, cleaning of accouterments, a dozen things which made the
hours go quickly in a buzz of human activities. Some of the men, Dion
among them, were trying to learn Dutch under an instructor who knew the
mysteries. A call came for volunteers for inoculation, and both Dion
and Worthington answered it, with between forty and fifty other men.
The prick of the needle was like the touch of a spark; soon after came a
mystery of general wretchedness, followed by pains in the loins, a rise
of temperature and extreme, in Dion's case even intense, weakness.
He lay in his bunk trying to play the detective on himself, to stand
outside of his body, saying to himself, "This is I, and I am quite
unaffected by my bodily condition." For what seemed to him a long time
he was fairly successful in his effort; then the body began to show
definitely the power of its weakness upon the Ego, to asset itself by
feebleness. His will became like an invalid who is fretful upon the
pillows. Soon his strong resolutions, cherished and never to be parted
from till out of them the deeds had blossomed, lost blood and fell
upon the evil day of anemia. He had a sensation of going out. When the
midnight came he could not sleep, and with it came a thought feeble but
persistent: "If she loves me it's because I've given her Robin." And in
the creaking darkness, encompassed by the restlessness of the sea, again
and again he repeated to himself the words--"it's because I've given her
Robin." That was the plain truth. If he was loved, he was loved because
of something he had done, not because of something that he was. Towards
dawn he felt so weak that his hold on life seemed relaxing, and at last
he almost wished to let it go. He understood why dying people do not
usually fear death.

Three days later he was quite well and at work, but the memory of his
illness stayed with him all through the South African campaign. Often at
night he returned to that night on shipboard, and said to himself, "The
doctor's needle helped me to think clearly."

The voyage slipped away with the unnoticed swiftness that is the child
of monotony. The Southern Cross shone above the ship. When the great
heat set in the men were allowed to sleep on deck, and Dion lay all
night long under the wheeling stars, and often thought of the stars
above Drouva, and heard Rosamund's voice saying, "I can see the
Pleiades."

The ship crossed the line. Early in February the moon began to show a
benign face to the crowd of men. One night there was a concert which was
followed by boxing. Dion boxed and won his bout easily on points.

This little success had upon him a bracing effect, and gave him a
certain prestige among his comrades. He did well also at revolver and
musketry practice--better than many men who, though good enough shots at
Bisley, found sectional practice with the service rifle a difficult job,
were adepts at missing a mark with the revolver, and knew nothing of
fire discipline. Because he had set an aim before him on which he knew
that his future happiness depended, he was able to put his whole heart
into everything he did. In the simplest duty he saw a means to an end
which he desired intensely. Everything that lay to hand in the life
of the soldier was building material which he must use to the best
advantage. He knew fully, for the first time, the joy of work.

On a day in the middle of February the "Ariosto" passed the mail-boat
from the Cape bound for England, sighted Table Mountain, and came to
anchor between Robben Island and the docks. On the following morning
the men of the C.I.V. felt the earth with eager feet as they marched to
Green Point Camp.



CHAPTER III

"Robin," said Rosamund, "would you like to go and live in the country?"

Robin looked very serious and, after a moment of silent consideration,
remarked:

"Where there's no houses?"

"Some houses, but not nearly so many as here."

"Would Mr. Thrush be there?"

"Well no, I'm afraid he wouldn't."

Robin began to look decidedly adverse to the proposition.

"You see Mr. Thrush has always lived in London," began Rosamund
explanatorily.

"But so've we," interrupted Robin.

"But we aren't as old as Mr. Thrush."

"Is he very old, mummie? How old is he?"

"I don't know, but he's a very great deal older than you are."

"I s'poses," observed Robin meditatively, slightly wrinkling his little
nose where the freckles were. "Well, mummie?"

"Old people don't generally like to move about much, but I think it
would be very good for you and me to go into the country while father's
away."

And taking Robin on her knees, and putting her arms round him, Rosamund
began to tell him about the country, developing enthusiasm as she
talked, bending over the little fair head that was so dear to her--the
little fair head which contained Robin's dear little thoughts, funny and
very touching, but every one of them dear.

She described to Robin the Spring as it is in the English country, frail
and fragrant, washed by showers that come and go with a waywardness
that seems very conscious, warmed by sunbeams not fully grown up and
therefore not able to do the work of the sunbeams of summer. She told
him of the rainbow that is set in the clouds like a promise made from
a very great distance, and of the pale and innocent flowers of Spring:
primroses, periwinkles, violets, cowslips, flowers of dells in the
budding woods, and of clearings round which the trees stand on guard
about the safe little daisies and wild hyacinths and wild crocuses;
flowers of the sloping meadows that go down to the streams of Spring.
And all along the streams the twigs are budding; the yellow "lambs'
tails" swing in the breeze, as if answering to the white lambs' tails
that are wagging in the fields. The thrush sings in the copse, and in
his piercing sweet note is the sound of Spring.

Bending over Robin, Rosamund imitated the note of the thrush, and Robin
stared up at her with ardent eyes.

"Does Mr. Thrush ever do that?"

"I've never heard him do it."

And she went on talking about the Spring.

How she loved that hour talking of Spring in the country with her human
Spring in her arms. What was the war to her just then? Robin abolished
war. While she had him there was always the rainbow, the perfect
rainbow, rising from the world to the heavens and falling from the
heavens to the world. The showers were fleeting Spring showers, and the
clouds were fleecy and showed the blue.

"Robin, Robin, Robin!" she breathed over her child, when they had lived
in the Spring together, the pure and exquisite Spring.

And Robin, all glowing with the ardor he had caught from her, declared
for the country.

A few days later Rosamund wrote to Canon Wilton, who happened to be in
residence at Welsley out of his usual time, and asked him if he knew of
any pretty small house, with a garden, in the neighborhood, where she
and Robin could settle down till Dion came back from the war. In answer
she got a letter from the Canon inviting her to spend a night or two at
his house in the Precincts. In a P.S. he wrote:


"If you can come next week I think I can arrange with Mr. Soames, our
precentor, for Wesley's 'Wilderness' to be sung at one of the afternoon
services; but let me know by return what days you will be here."


Rosamund replied by telegraph. Aunt Beatrice was installed in Little
Market Street for a couple of nights as Robin's protector, and Rosamund
went down to Welsley, and spent two days with the Canon.

She had never been alone with him before, except now and then for a few
minutes, but he was such a sincere and plain-spoken man that she had
always felt she genuinely knew him. To every one with whom he spoke he
gave himself as he was. This unusual sincerity in Rosamund's eyes was a
great attraction. She often said that she could never feel at home with
pretense even if the intention behind it was kindly. Perhaps, however,
she did not always detect it, although she possessed the great gift of
feminine intuition.

She arrived by the express, which reached Welsley Station in the
evening, and found Canon Wilton at the station to meet her. His greeting
was:

"The 'Wilderness,' Wesley, at the afternoon service to-morrow."

"That's good of you!" she exclaimed, with the warm and radiant
cordiality that won her so many friends. "I shall revel in my little
visit here. It's an unexpected treat."

The Canon seemed for a moment almost surprised by her buoyant
anticipation, and a look that was sad flitted across his face; but she
did not notice it.

As they drove in a fly to his house in the Precincts she looked out at
the busy provincial life in the narrow streets of the old country town,
and enjoyed the intimate concentration of it all.

"I should like to poke about here," she said. "I should feel at home as
I never do in London. I believe I'm thoroughly provincial at heart."

In the highest tower of the Cathedral, which stood in the heart of
the town, the melodious chimes lifted up their crystalline voices, and
"Great John" boomed out the hour in a voice of large authority.

"Seven o'clock," said the Canon. "Dinner is at eight. You'll be all
alone with me this evening."

"To-morrow too, I hope," Rosamund said, with a smile.

"No, to-morrow we shall be the awkward number--three. Mr. Robertson,
from Liverpool, is coming to stay with me for a few days. He preaches
here next Sunday evening."

Rosamund's thought was carried back to a foggy night in London, when she
had heard a sermon on egoism, and a quotation she had never forgotten:
_"Ego dormio et cor meum vigilat."_

"Can you manage with two clergymen?" said Canon Wilton.

"I'll try. I don't think they'll frighten me, and I've been wishing to
meet Mr. Robertson for a long time."

"He's a good man," said Canon Wilton very simply. But the statement as
he made it was like an accolade.

Rosamund enjoyed her quiet evening with the Canon in the house with the
high green gate, the elm trees and the gray gables. As they talked, at
first in the oak-paneled dining-room, later in the Canon's library by a
big wood fire, she was always pleasantly conscious of being enclosed,
of being closely sheltered in the arms of the Precincts, which held also
the mighty Cathedral with its cloisters, its subterranean passages, its
ancient tombs, its mysterious courts, its staircases, its towers hidden
in the night. The ecclesiastical flavor which she tasted was pleasant
to her palate. She loved the nearness of those stones which had been
pressed by the knees of pilgrims, of those walls between which so many
prayers had been uttered, so many praises had been sung. A cosiness
of religion enwrapped her. She had a delicious feeling of safety. They
could hear the chimes where they sat encompassed by a silence which was
not like ordinary silences, but which to Rosamund seemed impregnated
with the peace of long meditations and of communings with the unseen.

"This rests me," she said to her host. "Don't you love your time here?"

"I'm fond of Welsley, but I don't think I should like to pass all my
year in it. I don't believe in sinking down into religion, or into
practises connected with it, as a soft old man sinks down into a feather
bed. And that's what some people do."

"Do they?" said Rosamund abstractedly.

Just then a large and murmurous sound, apparently from very far off, had
begun to steal upon her ears, level and deep, suggestive almost of the
vast slumber of a world and of the underthings that are sleepless but
keep at a distance.

"Is it the organ?" she asked, in a listening voice.

Canon Wilton nodded.

"Dickinson practising."

They sat in silence for a long time listening. In that silence the Canon
was watching Rosamund. He thought how beautiful she was and how good,
but he almost disliked the joy which he discerned in her expression, in
her complete repose. He rebuked himself for this approach to dislike,
but his rebuke was not efficacious. In this enclosed calm of the
precincts of Welsley where, pacing within the walls by the edge of
the velvety lawns, the watchman would presently cry out the hour Canon
Wilton was conscious of a life at a distance, the life of a man he had
met first in St. James's Square. The beautiful woman in the chair by the
fire had surely forgotten that man.

Presently the distant sound of the organ ceased.

"I love Welsley," said Rosamund, on a little sigh. "I just love it. I
should like to live in the Precincts."

That brought them to a discussion of plans in which Dion was talked of
with warm affection and admiration by Rosamund; and all the time she was
talking, Canon Wilton saw the beautiful woman in the chair listening
to the distant organ. He knew of a house that was to be let in the
Precincts, but that night he did not mention it. Something prevented him
from doing so--something against which he struggled, but which he failed
to overcome.

When they separated it was nearly eleven o'clock. As Rosamund took
her silver candlestick from the Canon at the foot of the shallow oak
staircase she said:

"I've had _such_ a happy evening!"

It was a very sweet compliment very sweetly paid. No man could have been
quite indifferent to it. Canon Wilton was not. As he looked at Rosamund
a voice within him said:

"That's a very dear woman."

It spoke undeniable truth. Yet another voice whispered:

"Oh, if I could change her!"

But that was impossible. The Canon knew that, for he was very sincere
with himself; and he realized that the change he wanted to see could
only come from within, could never be imposed by him from without upon
the mysterious dweller in the Temple of Rosamund.

That night Rosamund undressed very slowly and "pottered about" in her
room, doing dreamily unnecessary things. She heard the chimes, and she
heard the watchman calling the midnight hour near her window as "Great
John" lifted up his voice. In the drawers where her clothes were laid
the Canon's housekeeper had put lavender. She smelt it as she listened
to the watchman's voice, shutting her eyes. Presently she drew aside
curtain and blind and looked out of the window. She saw the outline of
part of the great Cathedral with the principal tower, the home of "Great
John"; she felt the embracing arms of the Precincts; and when she knelt
down to say her prayers she thought:

"Here is a place where I can really pray."

Nuns surely are helped by their convents and monks by the peace of their
whitewashed cells.

"It is only in sweet places of retirement that one can pray as one ought
to pray," thought Rosamund that night as she lay in bed.

She forgot that the greatest prayer ever offered up was uttered on a
cross in the midst of a shrieking crowd.

On the following day she went to the morning service in the
Cathedral, and afterwards heard something which filled her with joyful
anticipation. Canon Wilton told her there was a house to let in the
Precincts.

"I'll take it," said Rosamund at once. "Esme Darlington has found me a
tenant for No. 5, an old friend of his, or rather two old friends, Sir
John and Lady Tenby. Where is it?"

He took her to see it.

The house in question had been occupied by the widow of a Dean, who had
recently been driven by her health to "relapse upon Bournemouth." It was
a small old house with two very large rooms--one was the drawing-room,
the other a bed-room.

The house stood at right angles to the east end of the Cathedral, from
which it was only divided by a strip of turf broken up by fragments
of old gray ruins, and edged by an iron railing, and by a paved
passage-way, which led through the Dark Entry from the "Green Court,"
where the Deanery and Minor Canons' houses were situated, to the
pleasaunce immediately around the Cathedral. To the green lawns of this
wide pleasaunce the houses of the residentiary Canons gave access. One
projecting latticed window of the drawing-room of Mrs. Browning's house,
another of the big bedroom above it, and the windows of the kitchen and
the servants' quarters looked on to the passage-way and the Cathedral;
all the other windows looked into an old garden surrounded by a very
high brick wall, a garden of green turf like moss, of elm trees, and, in
summer, of gay herbaceous borders, a garden to which the voices of the
chimes dropped down, and to which the Cathedral organ sent its message,
as if to a place that knew how to keep safely all things that were
precious. Even the pure and chill voices of the boy choristers found
a way to this hidden garden, in which there were straight and narrow
paths, where nuns might have loved to walk unseen of the eyes of men.

The Dean's widow had left behind all her furniture, and was now adorning
a Bournemouth hotel, in which her sprightly invalidism and close
knowledge of the investments of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, and of
the habits and customs of the lesser clergy, were greatly appreciated.
Some of the furniture did not wholly commend itself to Rosamund. There
were certain settees and back-to-backs, certain whatnots and occasional
tables, which seemed to stamp the character of the Dean's widow
as meretricious. But these could easily be "managed." Rosamund was
enchanted with the house, and went from room to room with Canon Wilton
radiantly curious, and almost as excited as a joyous schoolgirl.

"I must poke my nose into everything!" she exclaimed.

And she did it, and made the Canon poke his too.

Presently, opening the lattice of the second window in the big,
low-ceiled drawing-room, she leaned out to the moist and secluded
garden. She was sitting sideways on the window-seat, of which she had
just said, "I won't have this dreadful boudoir color on _my_ cushions!"
Canon Wilton was standing behind her, and presently heard her sigh
gently, and almost voluptuously, as if she prolonged the sigh and did
not want to let it go.

"Yes?" he said, with a half-humorous inflection of the voice.

Rosamund looked round gravely.

"Did you say something?"

"Only--yes?--in answer to your sigh."

"Did I? Yes, I must have. I was thinking----"

She hesitated, while he stood looking at her with his strong, steady
gray-blue eyes.

"I was thinking of a life I shall never live."

He came up to the window-seat.

"Some of it might have been passed in just such a garden as this within
sound of bells."

With a change of voice she added:

"How Robin will love it!"

"The life you will never live?" said the Canon, smiling gravely.

"No, the garden."

"Then you haven't a doubt?"

"Oh no. When I know a thing there's no room in me for hesitation. I
shall love being here with Robin as I have never loved anything yet."

The quarter struck in the Cathedral tower.

"Very different from South Africa!" said Canon Wilton.

Rosamund knitted her brows for a moment.

"I wonder whether Dion will come back altered," she said.

"D'you wish him to?"

She got up from the window-seat, put out her hand, and softly pulled the
lattice towards her.

"Not in most ways. He's so dear as he is. It would all depend on the
alteration."

She latched the window gently, and again looked at the garden through
it.

"I may be altered, too, by living here!" she said. "All alone with
Robin. I think I shall be."

Canon Wilton made no comment. He was thinking:

"And when the two, altered, come together again, if they ever do, what
then?"

He had noticed that Rosamund never seemed to think of Dion's death in
South Africa as a possibility. When she spoke of him she assumed his
return as a matter of course. Did she never think of death, then? Did
she, under the spell of her radiant and splendidly healthy youth, forget
all the tragic possibilities? He wondered, but he did not ask.

Mr. Robertson arrived at the Canon's house just in time for the
afternoon service--"my Wilderness service," as Rosamund called it. The
bells were ringing as he drove up with his modest luggage, and Rosamund
had already gone to the Cathedral and was seated in a stall.

"I should like to have half an hour's quiet meditation in church before
the service begins," she had remarked to Canon Wilton. And the Canon had
put her in a stall close to where he would presently be sitting, and had
then hurried back to meet Father Robertson.

"My Welsley!" was Rosamund's thought as she sat in her stall, quite
alone, looking up at the old jeweled glass in the narrow Gothic windows,
at the wonderful somber oak, age-colored, of the return stalls and
canopy beneath which Canon Wilton, as Canon-in-Residence, would soon be
sitting at right angles to her, at the distant altar lifted on high and
backed by a delicate marble screen, beyond which stretched a further,
tranquilly obscure vista of the great church. The sound of the bells
ringing far above her head in the gray central tower was heard by her,
but only just heard, as we hear the voices of the past murmuring of
old memories and of deeds which are almost forgotten. Distant footsteps
echoed among the great tombs of stone and of marble, which commemorated
the dead who had served God in that place in the gray years gone by.
In her nostrils there seemed to be a perfume, like an essence of
concentrated prayers sent up among these stone traceries, these pointed
arches, these delicate columns, by generations of believers. She felt
wrapped in a robe never woven by hands, in a robe that gave warmth to
her spirit.

A few people began stealing quietly in through the narrow archway in
the great screen which shut out the raised choir from the nave. Only
one bell sounded now in the gray tower. A faint noise, like an oncoming
sigh, above Rosamund's head heralded the organ's awakening, and was
followed by the whisper of its most distant voice, a voice which made
her think--she knew not why--of the sea whispering about a coral reef in
an isle of the Southern Seas, part of God's world, mysteriously linked
to "my Welsley." She shut her eyes, seeking to feel more strongly the
sensation of unity. When she opened them she saw, sitting close to her
in the return stalls, Father Robertson. His softly glowing eyes were
looking at her, and did not turn away immediately. She felt that he knew
she was his fellow-guest, and was conscious of a delicious sensation of
sympathy, of giving and taking, of cross currents of sympathy between
the Father and herself.

"I love this hour--I love all this!" she said to herself.

If only little Robin were submerged in the stall beside her!

The feet of the slow procession were heard, and the silver wand of the
chief verger shone out of the delicate gloom.

When the anthem was given out Rosamund looked across at Canon Wilton,
and her eyes said to him, "Thank you." Then she stood up, folded her
hands on the great cushion in front of her, and looked at the gray
vistas and at the dim sparkle of the ancient glass in the narrow
windows.


"The wilderness and the solitary places . . ."


She had spoken of this to Dion as they looked at Zante together, before
little Robin had come, and she had said that if she had committed a
great sin she would like to take her sin into the Wilderness, because
purification might be found there. And she had meant what she said,
had spoken out of her heart sincerely. But now, as she listened to this
anthem, she saw a walled-in garden, with green turf like moss, old elm
trees and straight narrow paths. Perhaps she had been mistaken when
she had spoken of the sin and the Wilderness, perhaps she would find
purification with fewer tears and less agony in the cloister, within the
sound of the bells which called men to the service of God, and of the
human voices which sang His praises. Saints had fled into the Wilderness
to seek God there, but was He not in the Garden between the sheltering
walls, ready there, as in the farthest desert, to receive the submission
of the soul, to listen to the cry, "I have sinned"?

As in Elis the spell of the green wild had been upon Rosamund, so
now the spell of these old Precincts was upon her, and spoke to her
innermost being, and as in Elis Dion had been woven into her dream of
the Wilderness, so now in Welsley Robin was woven into it. But Dion had
seemed a forerunner, and little Robin seemed That for which she had long
waited, the fulfilment of the root desire of her whole being as applied
to human life.

When the service was over and the procession had gone out Rosamund sat
very still listening to the organ. She believed that Canon Wilton had
given the organist a hint that he would have an attentive hearer, for he
was playing one of Bach's greatest preludes and fugues. Father Robertson
stayed on in his place. All the rest of the small congregation drifted
away through the archway in the rood-screen and down the steps to the
nave. The fugue was a glorious, sturdy thing, like a great solid
body inhabited by a big, noble, unquestioning soul--a soul free from
hesitations, that knew its way to God and would not be hindered from
taking it. A straight course to the predestined end--that was good, that
was glorious! The splendid clamor of the organ above her, growing in
sonorous force, filled Rosamund with exultation. She longed to open
her mouth and sing; the blood came to her cheeks; her eyes shone; she
mounted on the waves of sound; she was wound up with the great fugue,
and felt herself part of it. The gradual working up thrilled her whole
being; she was physically and spiritually seized hold of and carried
along towards a great and satisfying end. At last came the trumpet with
its sound of triumphant flame, and the roar of the pedals was like the
roaring of the sea. Already the end was there, grandly inherent in
the music, inevitably, desired by all the voices of the organ. All the
powers of the organ thundered towards it, straining to be there.

It came, like something on the top of the world.

"If I were a man that's the way I should like to go to God!" said
Rosamund to herself, springing up. "That's the way, in a chariot of
fire."

Unconscious of what she was doing she stretched out her hands with a
big gesture and opened her lips to let out a breath; then, in the gray
silence of the now empty Cathedral, she saw Father Robertson's eyes.

He stepped down from his stall and went out through the archway, and
she followed him. On the steps, just beyond the rood-screen, she met
a small, determined-looking man with hot cheeks and shining eyes. She
guessed at once that he was the organist, went up to him and thanked him
enthusiastically.

The organist was the first person she captivated in Welsley, where she
was to have so many warm adherents very soon.

Father Robertson went back to Canon Wilton's house while Rosamund talked
to the organist, with whom she walked as far as a high wooden gate
labeled "Mr. Dickinson."

"You've got a walled garden too!" she remarked, as her companion took
off his hat with an "I live here."

The organist looked inquiring. Rosamund laughed.

"How could you know? It's only that I've been visiting a delicious old
house, with a walled garden, to-day. It's to let."

"Oh, Mrs. Duncan Browning's!" said Mr. Dickinson. "I--I'm sure I hope
you're going to take it."

"I may!" said Rosamund. "Good-by, and thank you again for your splendid
music. It's done me good."

"My dear!" exclaimed Mr. Dickinson, about a minute later,
bursting--rather than going--into his wife's small drawing-room,
"I've just met the most delightful woman, a goddess to look at, and as
charming as a siren brought up to be a saint."

"More epigrams, Henry!" murmured Mrs. Dickinson.

"She's staying with Canon Wilton. She's a thorough musician such as one
seldom comes across. There's a chance--I hope it materializes--of her
taking--"

"Your tea is nearly cold, Henry."

"Her name is Mrs. Dion Leith. If she really does come here we must be
sure to--"

"Scones, Henry?"

Thus urged, Mr. Dickinson's body for the moment took precedence of his
soul.

Rosamund knew she was going to like Mr. Robertson as she liked very few
people. She felt as if already she was his friend, and when they shook
hands in Canon Wilton's drawing-room she cordially told him so, and
referred to the Sunday evening when she had heard him preach. The rooks
were cawing among the elms in the Canon's garden. She could hear their
voices in the treetops while she was speaking. A wind was stirring
as the afternoon waned, and there came a patter of rain on the lofty
windows. And the voices of the rooks, in the windy treetops, the patter
of the rain, and the sigh of the wind were delightful to Rosamund,
because she was safely within the Precincts, like a bird surrounded by
the warmth of its nest.

"I'm coming to live here," she said to Mr. Robertson, as she poured out
tea for the two clergymen. "My husband has gone to South Africa with the
City Imperial Volunteers. He's in business, so we live in London. But
while he's away I mean to stay here."

And eagerly almost as a child, she told him about the house of the
Dean's widow, and described to him the garden.

"It's like a convent garden, isn't it?" she asked Canon Wilton, who
assented. "That's why I love it. It gives me the feeling of enclosed
peace that must be so dear to nuns."

Something in her voice and look as she said this evidently struck Mr.
Robertson, and when she presently left the room he said to Canon Wilton:

"If I didn't know that sweet woman had a husband I should say she was
born with the vocation for a religious life. From the first moment I
spoke to her, looked at her, I felt that, and the feeling grows upon me.
Can't one see her among sisters?"

"I don't wish to," said Canon Wilton bluntly. "Shall we go to my study?"

With the composed gentleness that was characteristic of him Father
Robertson assented, and they went downstairs. When they were safely
shut up in the big room, guarded by multitudes of soberly bound volumes,
Canon Wilton said:

"Robertson, I want to talk to you in confidence about my guest, who, as
you say, is a very sweet woman. You could do something for her which I
couldn't do. I have none of your impelling gentleness. You know how to
stir that which dwells in the inner sanctuary, to start it working for
itself; I'm more apt to try to work for it, or at it. Perhaps I can
rouse up a sinner and make him think. I've got a good bit of the
instinct of the missioner. But my dear guest there isn't a sinner,
except as we all are! She's a very good woman who doesn't quite
understand. I think perhaps you might help her to understand. She
possesses a great love, and she doesn't know quite how to handle it, or
even to value it."

The clock struck seven when they stopped talking.

That evening, after dinner, Canon Wilton asked Rosamund to sing. Almost
eagerly she agreed.

"I shall love to sing in the Precincts," she said, as she went to the
piano.

Father Robertson, who had been sitting with his back to the piano,
moved to the other side of the room. While Rosamund sang he watched her
closely. He saw that she was quite unconscious of being watched, and her
unconsciousness of herself made him almost love her. Her great talent he
appreciated fully, for he was devoted to music; but he appreciated much
more the moral qualities she showed in her singing. He was a man who
could not forbear from searching for the soul, from following its
workings. He had met all sorts and conditions of men, and with few
he had not been friends. He had known, knew now, scientists for whose
characters and lives he had strong admiration, and who felt positive
that the so-called soul of man was merely the product of the brain,
resided in the brain, and must cease with the dispersal of the brain at
death. He was not able to prove the contrary. That did not trouble him
at all. It was not within the power of anything or of any one to trouble
this man's faith. He did not mind being thought a fool. Indeed, being
without conceit, and even very modest, he believed himself to be
sometimes very foolish. But he knew he was not a fool in his faith,
which transcended forms, and swore instinctively brotherhood with all
honest beliefs, and even with all honest disbeliefs. In his gentle,
sometimes slightly whimsical way, he was as sincere as Canon Wilton; but
whereas the Canon showed the blunt side of sincerity, he usually showed
the tender and winning side. He found good in others as easily and as
surely as the diviner finds the spring hidden under the hard earth's
surface. His hazel twig twisted if there was present only one drop of
the holy water.

He discerned many drops in Rosamund. In nothing of her was her
enthusiasm for what was noble and clean and sane and beautiful more
apparent than in her singing. Her voice and her talent were in service
when she sang, in service to the good. Music can be evil, neurotic,
decadent and even utterly base. She never touched musical filth, which
she recognized as swiftly as dirt on a body or corruption in a soul.

"We must have Bach's 'Heart ever faithful,'" said Canon Wilton strongly,
when Rosamund, after much singing, was about to get up from the piano.

Almost joyfully she obeyed his smiling command. When at last she shut
the piano she said to Father Robertson:

"That's Dion's--my husband's--best-loved melody."

"I should like to know your husband," said Father Robertson.

"You must, when he comes back."

"You have no idea, I suppose, how long he will be away?"

"No, nor has he."

"Then what are you going to do about Mrs. Browning's house?" said the
Canon's bass.

"Oh--well----"

Two lines appeared in her forehead.

"I thought of taking it for six months, and then I can see. My little
house in Westminster is let for six months from the first of March." She
had turned to Father Robertson: "I'm only afraid----" She paused. She
looked almost disturbed.

"What are you afraid of?" asked Canon Wilton.

"I'm afraid of getting too fond of Welsley."

The Canon looked across at Father Robertson on the other side of the
fireplace.

* * * * *

Rosamund went back to Robin and London on the following afternoon. In
the morning she took Father Robertson to see Mrs. Browning's house.
Canon Wilton was busy. After the morning service in the Cathedral he had
to go to a meeting of the Chapter, and later on to a meeting in the City
about something connected with education.

"I shall be in bonds till lunch," he said, "unless I burst them, as I'm
afraid I sometimes feel inclined to do when people talk at great length
on subjects they know nothing about."

"Perhaps Mrs. Leith will kindly take me to see her house and garden,"
observed Father Robertson.

Rosamund was frankly delighted.

"Bless you for calling them mine!" she said. "That's just what I'm
longing to do."

The wind and the rain were till hanging about in a fashion rather
undecided. It was a morning of gusts and of showers. The rooks swayed in
the elm tops, or flew up under the scudding clouds of a treacherous
sky. There was a strong smell of damp earth, and the turf of the wide
spreading lawns looked spongy.

"Oh, how English this is!" said Rosamund enthusiastically to the Father
as they set forth together. "It's like the smell of the soul of England.
I love it. I should like to lie on the grass and feel the rain on my
face."

"You know nothing of rheumatism evidently," said Father Robertson, in a
voice that was smiling.

"No, but I suppose I should if I gave way to my impulse. And the rooks
would be shocked."

"Do you mean the Cathedral dignitaries?"

They were gently gay as they walked along, but very soon Rosamund,
in her very human but wholly unconscious way, put her hand on Father
Robertson's arm.

"There it is!"

"Your house?"

"Yes. Isn't it sweet? Doesn't it look peacefully old? I should like to
grow old like that, calmly, unafraid and unrepining. I knew you'd love
it."

He had not said so, but that did not matter.

"There's a dear old caretaker, with only one tooth in front and such
nice eyes, who'll let us in. Not an electric bell!"

She gave him a look half confidential, half humorous, and wholly
girlish.

"We have to pull it. That's so much nicer!"

She pulled, and the dear old caretaker, a woman in Cathedral black, with
the look of a verger's widow all over her, showed the tooth in a smile
as she peeped round the door.

"And now the garden!" said Rosamund, in the withdrawn voice of an
intense anticipation, half an hour later, when Father Robertson had
seen, and been consulted, about everything from kitchen to attic.

She turned round to Mrs. Soper, as the verger's widow--indeed she was
that!--was called.

"Shall you mind if we stay a good while in the garden, Mrs. Soper? It's
so delightful there. Will it bother you?"

"Most pleased, ma'am! I couldn't wish for anything else. You do hear
the chimes most beautiful from there. But it's very damp. That we must
allow."

"Are you afraid of the damp, Father?"

"Not a bit."

"I knew you wouldn't be," she said, almost exultantly.

Mrs. Soper took her stand by the drawing-room window and gazed through
the lattice with the deep interest which seems peculiar to provincial
towns, and which is seldom manifested in capitals, where the curiosity
is rather of the surface than of the very entrails of humanity. She
showed the tooth as she stood, but not in a smile. She was far too
interested in the lady and the white-haired clergyman to smile.

"I shouldn't wonder but what they're going to be married!" was her
feminine thought, as she watched them walking about the garden, and
presently pacing up and down one of the narrow paths, to the far-off
wall that bordered one end of the Bishop's Palace, and back again to the
wall near the Dark Entry. Canon Wilton had not mentioned Rosamund's name
to the verger's widow, who had no evil thoughts of bigamy. Presently the
chimes sounded in the tower, and Mrs. Soper saw the two visitors pause
in their walk to listen. They both looked upwards towards the Cathedral,
and on the lady's face there was a rapt expression which was remarked by
Mrs. Soper.

"She do look religious," murmured that lady to the tooth. "She might be
a bishop's lady when she a-stands like that."

The chimes died away, the visitors resumed their pacing walk, and
Mrs. Soper presently retired to the kitchen, which looked out on the
passage-way, to cook herself "a bit of something" for the midday staying
of her stomach.

In the garden that morning Rosamund and Father Robertson became friends.
Rosamund had never had an Anglican confessor, though she had sometimes
wished to confess, not because she was specially conscious of a burden
of sin, but rather because she longed to speak to some one of those
inmost thoughts which men and women seldom care to discuss with those
who are always in their lives. In Father Robertson she had found the
exceptional man with whom she would not mind being perfectly frank
about matters which were not for Dion, not for Beattie, not for
godfather--matters which she could never have hinted at even to Canon
Wilton, whose strong serenity she deeply admired. Had any of her nearest
and dearest heard Rosamund's talk with Father Robertson that day, they
would have realized, perhaps with astonishment, how strong was the
reserve which underlay her forthcoming manner and capacious frankness
about the ordinary matters of everyday existence.

"Father, a sermon from you changed my life, I think," she said, when
they had paced up and down the path only two or three times; and,
without any self-consciousness, she told him of Dion's proposal on that
foggy afternoon in London, of her visit to St. Mary's, Welby Street, and
of the impression the sermon had made upon her. She described her
return home, and the painful sensation which had beset her when she
lost herself in the fog--the sensation of desertion, of a horror of
loneliness.

"The next day I accepted my husband," she said. "I resolved to take the
path of life along which I could walk with another. I decided to share.
Do you remember?"

She looked at him gently, earnestly, and he understood the allusion to
his sermon.

"Yes, I remember. But,"--his question came very gently--"in coming to
that decision, were you making a sacrifice?"

"Yes, I was."

And then Rosamund made a confession such as she had never yet made to
any one, though once she had allowed Dion to know a little of what
was in her heart. She told Father Robertson of the something almost
imperious within her which had longed for the religious life. He
listened to the story of a vocation; and he was able to understand it
as certainly Canon Wilton could not have understood it. For Rosamund's
creeping hunger had been not for the life of hard work among the poor
in religion, not for the dedication of all her energies to the lost
and unreclaimed, who are sunk in the mire of the world, but for that
peculiar life of the mystic who leaves the court of the outer things for
the court of the mysteries, the inner things, who enters into prayer as
into a dark shell filled with the vast and unceasing murmur of the voice
which is not human.

"I wished to sing in public for a time. Something made me long to use
my voice, to express myself in singing noble music, in helping on its
message. But I meant to retire while I was still quite young. And always
at the back of my mind there was the thought--'then I'll leave the
world, I'll give myself up to God.' I longed for the enclosed life of
perpetual devotion. I didn't know whether there was any community in our
Church which I could join, and in which I could find what I thought I
needed. I didn't get so far as that. You see I meant to be a singer at
first."

"Yes, I quite understand. And the giving up of this mystical dream was a
great sacrifice?"

"Really it was. I had a sort of absolute hunger in me to do eventually
what I have told you."

"I understand that hunger," said Father Robertson.

Just then the chimes sounded in the Cathedral, and they stopped on the
narrow path to listen, looking up at the great gray tower which held the
voices sweet to their souls.

"I understand that hunger," he repeated, when the chimes died away. "It
can be fierce as any hunger after a sin. In your case you felt it was
not free from egoism, this strong desire?"

"Your sermon made me look into my heart, and I did think that perhaps I
was an egoist in my religious feeling, that I was selfishly intent on my
own soul, that in my religion, if I did what I longed presently to do, I
should be thinking almost solely of myself."

Rather abruptly Father Robertson put a question:

"There was nothing else which drew you towards marriage?"

"I liked and admired Dion very much. I thought him an exceptional sort
of man. I knew he cared for me in a beautiful sort of way. That
touched me. And"--she slightly hesitated, and a soft flush came to her
cheeks--"I felt that he was a good man in a way--I believe, I am almost
sure, that very few young men are good in the particular way I mean. Of
all the things in Dion that was the one which most strongly called to
me."

Father Robertson understood her allusion to physical purity.

"I couldn't have married him but for that," she added.

"If I had known you when you were a girl I believe I should not have
expected you to marry," said Father Robertson.

Afterwards, when he had seen Rosamund with Robin, he thought he had been
very blind when he had said that.

"You understand me," she said, very simply. "But I knew you would."

"You have given up something. Many people, perhaps most people, would
deny that. But I know how difficult it is"--his voice became lower--"to
give up retirement, to give up that food which the soul instinctively
longs to find, thinks perhaps it only can find, in silence, perpetual
meditation, perpetual prayer, in the world that is purged of the
insistent clamor of human voices. But"--he straightened himself with
a quick movement, and his voice became firmer--"a man may wish to draw
near to God in the Wilderness, or in the desert, and may find Him most
surely in"--and here he hesitated slightly, almost as a few minutes
before Rosamund had hesitated--"in the Liverpool slums. What a blessing
it is, what an unspeakable blessing it is, when one has learnt the
lesson that God is everywhere. But how difficult it is to learn!"

They walked together for a long time in the garden, and Rosamund felt
strangely at ease, like one who has entered a haven and has found the
desired peace. She had given up something, but how much had been given
to her! In the shelter of the gray towers, and within the enclosing
walls, she would go again to some of her dreams, while the chimes marked
the passing of the quiet hours, and the watchman's voice was lifted up
to the stars which looked down on Welsley.

And Robin would be with her.



CHAPTER IV

A little more than six months later, when a golden September lay over
the land, Rosamund could scarcely believe that she had ever lived out of
Welsley. Dion was still in South Africa, in good health and "without a
scratch." In his last letter home he had written that he had no idea how
long the C.I.V.'s would be kept in South Africa. The war dragged on, and
despite the English successes which had followed such bitter defeats
no one could say when it would end. There was no immediate reason,
therefore, for Rosamund to move back to London.

She dreaded that return. She loved Welsley and could not now imagine
herself living anywhere else. Robin, too was a pronounced, even an
enthusiastic, "Welsleyite," and had practically forgotten "old London,"
as he negligently called the greatest city in the world. They were
very happy in Welsley. In fact, the Dean's widow was the only rift in
Rosamund's lute, that lute which was so full of sweet and harmonious
music.

Rosamund's lease of the house in the Precincts, "Little Cloisters," as
it was deliciously named, had been for six months, from the 1st of March
till the 1st of September. As Dion was not coming home yet, and as he
wrote begging her to live on at Welsley if she preferred it to London,
she was anxious to "renew" for another six months. The question whether
Mrs. Duncan Browning would, or would not, renew really tormented
Rosamund, and the uncertainty in which she was living, and the misery it
caused her, showed her how much of her heart had been given to Welsley.

The Dean's widow was capricious and swayed by fluctuations of health.
She was "up and down," whatever that betokened. At one moment she "saw
the sun,"--her poetical way of expressing that she began to feel pretty
well,--and thought she had had enough of the "frivolous existence one
leads in an hotel"; at another a fit of sneezing,--"was not the early
morning sneeze but the real thing,"--a pang of rheumatism, or a touch
of bronchitis, made her fear for the damp of Welsley. She would and she
would not, and Rosamund could not induce her to come to a decision, and
suffered agonies at the thought of being turned out of Little Cloisters.
When Dion came back, of course, a flitting from Welsley would have to be
faced, but to be driven away without that imperative reason would indeed
be gall and wormwood. There were days when Rosamund felt unchristian
towards Mrs. Dean, upon whom she had never looked, but with whom she had
exchanged a great many cordial letters.

In August, under the influence of a "heavy cold, which seems the worse
because of the heat," Mrs. Browning had agreed to let Rosamund stay on
for another month, September; and now Rosamund was anxiously awaiting
a reply to her almost impassioned appeal for a six months' extension of
her lease. Canon Wilton was again in residence in the Precincts, and
one afternoon he called at Little Cloisters, after the three o'clock
service, to inquire what was the result of this appeal. Beatrice was
staying with her sister for a few days, and when the Canon was shown in
she was alone in the drawing-room, having just come up from the garden,
where she had been playing with Robin, whose chirping high voice was
audible, floating up from below.

"Is your sister busy?" asked the Canon, after greeting Beatrice.

Beatrice smiled faintly.

"She's in her den. What do you think she is doing?"

The Canon looked hard at her, and he too smiled.

"Not writing again to Mrs. Browning?"

Beatrice nodded, and sat gently down on the window-seat.

"Begging and praying for an extension."

"I've never seen any one so in love with a place as your sister is with
Welsley."

He sat down near Beatrice.

"But it is attractive, isn't it?" she said.

She turned her head slowly and looked out of the open window to the
enclosed garden which was bathed in mellow sunshine. The sky above the
gray Cathedral towers was a clear and delicate, not deep, blue. Above
the mossy red wall of the garden appeared the ruined arches of the
cloisters which gave to the house its name. Among them some doves were
cooing. Up in the blue, about the pinnacles of the towers, the
rooks were busily flying. Robin, in a little loose shirt, green
knickerbockers, and a tiny soft white hat set well on the back of
his head, was gardening just below the window with the intensity that
belongs to the dawn. His bare brown legs moved rapidly, as he ran from
place to place carrying earth, a plant, a bright red watering-pot. The
gardener, a large young man, with whom Robin was evidently on the most
friendly, and even intimate, terms, was working with him, and apparently
under his close and constant supervision. A thrush with very bright eyes
looked on from an adjacent elder bush. Upon the wall, near the end of
the Bishop's Palace, a black cat was sunning itself and lazily attending
to its toilet.

"It's the very place for Rosamund," said Beatrice, after a pause, during
which she drank in Welsley. "She seems to know and love every stick and
stone in it."

"And almost every man, woman and child," said the Canon. "She began by
captivating the Precincts,--not such an easy task either, for a bishop
usually has not the taste of a dean, and minor canons think very lightly
of the praises of an archdeacon,--and she has ended by captivating
the whole city. Even the wives of the clergy sing her praises with one
accord. It's the greatest triumph in the history of the church."

"You see she likes them and is thoroughly interested in all their little
affairs."

"Yes, it's genuine sympathy. She makes Welsley her world, and so Welsley
thinks the world of her."

He looked across at Beatrice for a moment meditatively, and then said:

"And when her husband comes back?"

"Dion! Well, then, of course----"

She hesitated, and in the silence the drawing-room door opened and
Rosamund came in, holding an open letter in her hand, knitting her
brows, and looking very grave and intense. She greeted the Canon with
her usual warm cordiality, but still looked grave and preoccupied.

"I've been writing to Mrs. Browning, about the house," she said
earnestly. "It _is_ damp, isn't it?"

"Damp?" said the Canon. "I've never noticed it. But then do you think
the house is unwholesome?"

"Not for _us_. What I feel is, that for a bronchial person it might be."

She paused, looking at her letter.

"I've put just what I feel here, in a letter to Mrs. Browning. I know
the house is considered damp; by the Precincts, I mean. Mrs. Murry told
me so, and Mrs. Tiling-Smith thinks the same. Even the Bishop--why are
you smiling, Canon Wilton?"

But she began to smile too.

"What does the Bishop say about the danger to health of Little
Cloisters?"

Her lips twitched, but she replied with firm sweetness:

"The Bishop says that all, or nearly all, old houses are apt to be damp
in winter."

"A weighty utterance! But I'm afraid Mrs. Browning--by the way, have you
put the Bishop into your letter?"

"I had thought of reading it to you both, but now I shall not."

She put the letter into an envelope, sealed it up with practical
swiftness, rang the bell for Annie and sent it to the postbox round the
corner.

"I put the Bishop in," she added, with a mockery of defiance that was
almost girlish, when Annie had gone out.

"That was a mistake," said the Canon sonorously.

"Why?"

"Bishops never carry weight with the wives, or widows, of deans."

"But why not?" asked Rosamund, with a touch of real anxiety.

"Because the wives of deans always think their husbands ought to be
bishops instead of those who are bishops, and the widows of deans always
consider that they ought to be the widows of bishops. They therefore
very naturally feel that bishops are not entitled by merit to the
positions they hold, and could be treated with a delicate disdain."

"I never thought of that. I wonder if Annie----"

"Too late!" said the Canon. "You'll have to turn out of Little
Cloisters, I foresee that."

Rosamund sat down, leaned towards him with her hands clasped tightly
together, and, in her absolutely unself-conscious way, began to tell him
and Beattie what she felt about Welsley, or something of what she felt.
A good deal she could only have told to Father Robertson. When she had
finished, Canon Wilton said, in his rather abrupt and blunt way:

"Well, but if your husband comes home unexpectedly? You can't stay here
then, can you?"

Beatrice, who was still on the window seat, leaned out, and began to
speak to Robin below her in a quiet voice which could scarcely be heard
within the room.

"But Dion sees no prospect of coming home yet."

"I heard to-day from some one in London that the C.I.V. may be back
before Christmas."

"Dion doesn't say so."

"It mayn't be true."

"Dion writes that no one out there has any idea when the war will end."

"Probably not. But the C.I.V. mayn't be needed all through the war.
Most of them are busy men who've given up a great deal out of sheer
patriotism. Fine fellows! They've done admirable work, and the War
Office may decide that they've done enough. Things out there have taken
a great turn since Roberts and Kitchener went out. The C.I.V. may come
marching home long before peace is declared."

He spoke with a certain pressure, a certain intensity, and his eyes
never left Rosamund's face.

"I'm glad my Dion's one of them," she said. "And Robin will be glad,
too, some day."

She said nothing more about Mrs. Browning and Little Cloisters. But when
Canon Wilton had gone she said to her sister:

"Beattie, does it ever strike you that Canon Wilton's rather abrupt and
unexpected sometimes in what he says?"

"He doesn't beat about the bush," replied Beatrice. "Do you mean that?"

"Perhaps I do. Now I'm going down to Robin. How strong he's getting
here! Hark at his voice! Can't you hear even in his voice how much good
Welsley had done him?"

Robin's determined treble was audible as he piped out:

"Oh no, Fipper! Not by the Bish's wall! Why, I say, the slugs always
comes there. They do, weally! You come and see! Come quick! I'll
show----"

The voice faded in the direction of the Palace.

"I must go down and see if it's true about the slugs," exclaimed
Rosamund.

And with beaming eyes she hastened out of the room.

Beatrice looked after her and sighed. Dion's last letter from South
Africa was lying on the writing-table close to her. Rosamund had already
given it to her to read. Now she took it up and read it carefully again.
The doves cooed in the cloisters; the bells chimed in the tower; the
mellow sunshine--already the sunshine not of full summer, but of the
dawning autumn, with its golden presage of days not golden, and of
nights heavy with dews and laden with floating leaves,--came in through
the lattice, and lay over her soft and wistful melancholy, as she read
of hardship, and dust, and blood and death, told truthfully, but always
cheerfully, as a soldier tells a thing to a woman he loves and wishes to
be sincere with.

Dion was not in the peace. Dear Rosamund! Did she quite realize? And
then Beattie pulled herself up. A disloyal thought surely leaves a stain
on the mind through which it passes. Beattie did not want to have a
stain on her mind. She cared for it as a delicately refined woman cares
for her body, bathing it every day.

She put Dion's letter down.

That evening Rosamund sang at a charity concert in the City Hall.
Her music was already a legend in Welsley and the neighborhood. Mr.
Dickinson, who always accompanied her singing, declared it emphatically
to be "great." The wife of the Bishop, Mrs. Mabberley, pronounced the
verdict, "She sings with her soul rather than with her voice," without
intention of paying a left-handed compliment. The Cathedral Choir boys
affirmed that "our altos are a couple of squeaks beside her." Even Mrs.
Dickinson, "the cold douche," as she was named in the Precincts, had
long ago "come round" about Mrs. Dion Leith, and had been heard to
say of her, "She's got more than a contralto, she's got a heart, and I
couldn't say that of some women in high positions." This was "aimed"
at the Dean's wife, Mrs. Jasper, who gave herself musical airs, and
sometimes tried to "interfere with the Precentor's arrangements," which
meant falling foul of "Henry."

As Rosamund looked down upon the rows of friendly and familiar faces
from the platform, as she heard the prolonged applause which greeted her
before she sang, and the cries of "Encore!" which saluted her when she
finished, she felt that she had given her heart irrevocably to Welsley,
and the thought came to her, "How can I leave it?" This was cozy,
and London could never be cozy. She could identify herself with the
concentrated life here, without feeling it a burden upon her. For she
was so much beloved that people even respected her privacy, and fell in
with what she called "my absurd little ways." In London, however many
people you knew, you saw strangers all the time, strangers with hard,
indifferent eyes and buttoned-up mouths. And one could never say of
London "my London."

When the concert was over she wound a veil about her pale yellow hair,
wrapped a thin cloak round her shoulders, took up her music case and
asked for Beattie. An eager boy with a smiling round face, one of the
Cathedral Choristers, darted off to find Mrs. Daventry, the sister of
"our Mrs. Leith"; Mr. Dickinson gently, but decisively, took the music
case from Rosamund's hand with an "I'll carry that home for you"; a thin
man, like an early primrose obliged by some inadvertence of spring to
work for its living, sidled up and begged for the name of "your most
beautiful and chaste second encore for our local paper, the 'Welsley
Whisperer'"; and Mrs. Dickinson in a pearl gray shawl, with an
artificial pink camellia carelessly entangled in her marvelously smooth
mouse-colored hair, appeared to tell Mrs. Leith authoritatively that
"Madame Patey _in her heyday_ never sang 'O Rest in the Lord' as we have
heard it sung to-night."

Then Rosamund, pleasantly surrounded by dear provincial enthusiasts,
made her way to the door where Beattie, with more enthusiasts, was
waiting for her; and they all came out into the narrow High Street,
and found the September moon riding above their heads to give them a
greeting nobly serene and beneficent, and they set out _sans facon_,
many of them bare-headed, to walk home down tiny "Archbishop's Lane" to
the Precincts.

Rosamund walked with Mr. Dickinson on one side of her and the Dean
of Welsley and Mrs. Jasper on the other; Canon Wilton, Beattie, the
Archdeacon of Welsley and the Precentor were just in front; behind
peacefully streamed minor canons and their wives, young sons and
daughters of the Precincts, and various privileged persons who, though
not of the hierarchy, possessed small houses within the sacred pale.
Only the Bishop and his consort drove majestically home in "Harrington's
Fly."

What a chatter of voices there was under the projecting eaves of the
dear old house! What happy laughter was wafted towards the smiling moon!
Mrs. Dickinson, presently "coming up with" Rosamund's party, became
absolutely "waggish" (the Dean's expression), and made Rosamund laugh
with that almost helpless spontaneity which is the greatest compliment
to a joke. And then the gate in the ancient archway was opened, and they
all passed into their great pleasaunce, and, with a sensation of joyous
proprietorship, heard the gate shut and locked behind them, and saw the
Cathedral lifting its towers to the moon. Laughter was hushed then, and
some of the voices were silent; feet went more slowly along the edges
of the velvety lawns; the spell of ancient things which are noble, and
which tell of the noble ideals of humanity, fell upon them; their hearts
within them were lifted up.

When the Dean bade good-night to Rosamund he said:

"Your music and you mean a great deal to Welsley."

"Not half as much as Welsley means to me," she replied with earnest
sincerity.

"We are all looking forward to greeting your gallant, self-sacrificing
husband presently, very soon I hope. Good-night to you. It has been"--he
paused, looked at Rosamund and gently pressed her hand,--"a most
fragrant evening."

A most fragrant evening! When Beattie and Rosamund had eaten their
sandwiches, and drunk their still lemonade and claret, and when Beattie
had gone to bed, Rosamund slipped out alone into the dear walled garden,
and paced up and down in the moonlight.

Yes, there was something fragrant here, something that infected the
soul, something of old faiths and old holy aspirations, a murmur and a
perfume of trust and love. There might be gossip, trickling jealousies
in this little world, mean actions, even, perhaps, ugly desires and ugly
fulfilments of desire. Rosamund scarcely noticed, or did not notice,
these things. With her people were at their best. That night, when
Beattie was going to bed, Rosamund had said to her:

"I can't think why Mrs. Dickinson is called 'the cold douche.' I find
her so warm-hearted and so amusing!"

And so it was with them all. Rosamund had the magic touch which drew
the best out of every one in Welsley, because she was happy there, and
sincerely loved the place.

"How can I leave Welsley?" she thought now, as she walked up and down in
the garden, and heard presently the chiming of midnight and the voice
of the watchman beyond the Dark Entry. God seemed very near to her
in Welsley, God and the happiness of God. In Welsley she felt, or was
beginning to feel, that she was almost able to combine two lives, the
life she had grasped and the life she had let go. Here she was a mother
and at moments she was almost a religious too. She played with her boy,
she trained him, watched over his small body and his increasing soul;
and she meditated between the enclosing walls, listening to bells and
floating praises, to the Dresden Amen, and to the organ with its many
voices all dedicated to the service of God. Often, when she walked alone
in the garden, or sat alone in some hidden corner under the mossy walls,
she felt like a nun who had given up the world forever, and had found
the true life in God. In imagination, then, she lived the life of which
she had dreamed as a girl before any man had brought her his love.

She could never, even in imagination, live that life truly, without
effort, in London. Welsley had made her almost hate London. She did
not know how she would be able to bear the return to it. Yet, if Canon
Wilton were right in what he had said to her that afternoon, Dion might
come back very soon, and therefore very soon she might have to leave
Welsley.

No. 5 Little Market Street once more; vaporous Westminster leaning to
the dark river!

Rosamund sighed deeply as she looked up again to the towers, and the
moon, and turned to go into Little Cloisters. It was difficult to
shut out such a night; it would be more difficult to give up the long
meditations, the dreams that came in this sweet retirement sheltered by
the house of God.

* * * * *

Two days later, at breakfast-time, Rosamund received the following
letter, written on paper scented with "Wood violet":


"HOTEL PALACE-BY-THE-SEA, BOURNEMOUTH, Thursday

"MY DEAR MRS. LEITH,--I have received your two--or is it
three?--charming letters recently written, suggesting a renewal of the
lease of Little Cloisters beyond September. At first I hesitated. The
atmosphere of a Cathedral town naturally attracts me and recalls sweet
memories of the past. On the other hand the life of a well-managed
hotel, such as this is not without its _agrements_. Frivolous it may
be (though not light); comfortable and restful it undoubtedly is. The
against and the for in a nutshell as it were! Your last letter, in
which you dwell on the dampness inevitable in old houses, and quote the
Bishop's opinion, would, I think, have left me undisturbed in mind--I
have recently taken up the 'new mind' cult, which is, of course, not
antagonistic to our cherished Anglican beliefs--had it not happened to
coincide with more than a touch of bronchial asthma. The Bishop (quite
between you and me!) though a very dear man and a very good Christian,
is not a person of great intellect. My husband would never enter into
controversy with him, as he said it was useless to strive in argument
with a mind not sure of its bearings! An opinion of the Bishop's would
not, therefore, weigh much with me. But there is an element of truth in
the contention as to the damp. Old houses _are_ damp at times. Little
Cloisters, placed as it is in the shadow of the Cathedral, doubtless
suffers in some degree from this defect. My doctor here,--_such_ a
clever man!--though very reluctant to prevent me from returning home,
confessed to-day that he thought my case needed careful watching by some
one who _knew_. Now (between you and me), nobody _knows_ in Welsley,
and therefore, after weighing pros and cons, and undergoing an hour of
mental treatment--merely the silent encouragement and purification of
the will--by an expert here, I have decided to remain for the winter.
I am willing, therefore, to extend your lease for another six months
on the terms as before. Perhaps you will kindly visit my solicitor,
Mr. Collingwood of Cattle Market Lane,--but you are sure to know his
address!--who will arrange everything legally with you.--With my
kindest regards and all good wishes, believe me, dear Mrs. Leith, always
sincerely yours,

"IMOGENE DUNCAN BROWNING."


It was Beattie's last morning at Little Cloisters; she had settled to
go back to De Lorne Gardens in the afternoon of that day. Rosamund
read Mrs. Browning's letter sitting opposite to her sister at the
breakfast-table in the small, paneled dining-room. At the same time
Beattie was reading a letter from Guy. As she finished it she looked up
and said:

"Anything interesting?"

"What does Guy say?" replied Rosamund. "Oh, here's a letter from
godfather! Perhaps he's coming down."

Rather hastily she tore open another envelope.

Later on in the morning, when Beattie was doing mysterious things in the
garden with Robin, Rosamund slipped out alone and made her way to
Cattle Market Lane. She came back just before lunch, looking unusually
preoccupied.

The day after Beattie had returned to London, a note from Rosamund told
her that the lease of Little Cloisters had been renewed for another six
months, till the end of March, 1901.

"And if old Dion comes back in the meanwhile, as I fully expect he
will?" said Guy, when Beattie told him of Rosamund's note.

"I suppose it is possible to sublet a house," said Beattie, looking
unusually inexpressive, Guy thought.

"They say at the Clubs the C.I.V. will be back before Christmas,
Beattie," said Guy.

"The Tenbys' lease of Number 5 is up."

"Yes, but do you think Dion can afford to run two houses?"

"Perhaps----" she stopped.

"I don't believe Rosamund will ever be got out of Welsley," said Guy.
"And I'm pretty sure you agree with me."

"I must go now," said Beattie gently. "I'm going to Queen Anne's
Mansions to tell the dear mother all about my visit to Welsley."

"When is she going there?"

"I don't know. She's very lazy about moving. She's not been out of
London since Dion sailed."

"I think she's the most delicate mother-in-law--I don't mean
physically--who has ever been born in the world."

Beattie looked down, and in a moment went out of the room without saying
anything more.

"Darling Beattie," murmured Guy, looking after his wife. "How she bears
her great disappointment."

For Beattie's sake far more than for his own he longed to have a child
in his home, a child of hers and his. But that would never be. And so
Beattie gave all the mother-love that was in her to Robin, but much
of it secretly. Guy knew that, and believed he knew the secret of her
reticence even with Robin. She loved Robin, as it were, from a distance;
only his mother must love him cheek to cheek, lips to lips, heart to
heart, and his father as men love the sons they think of as the bravery
and strength of the future.

But even Guy did not know how much his wife loved Robin, how many
buried hopes and dreams stirred in their graves when Robin threw himself
impulsively into her arms and confidentially hung on her neck and
informed her of the many important details of his life. No man knows all
that a certain type of woman is able to feel about a child.

When Rosamund had arranged about the renewal of the lease, she tried to
feel the joy which was evidently felt by all her Welsley friends--with
one exception which, however, she either did not notice or did not seem
to notice. They were frankly delighted and enthusiastic at the prospect
of keeping her among them. She was very grateful for their affection,
so eagerly shown, but somehow, although she had signed her name in a
solicitor's office, and her signature had been witnessed by a neat young
man with a neat bald head, she did not feel quite at ease. She found
herself looking at "my Welsley" with the anxiously loving eyes of one
who gathers in dear details before it is too late for such garnering;
she sat in the garden and listened to the beloved sounds from the
Cathedral with strained attention, like one who sets memory at its
mysterious task.

The Dean's widow had yielded to the suggestion of inevitable dampness in
old houses, but----!

On September 28, towards evening, when Rosamund was in the garden with
Robin, Annie, the parlor-maid, came out holding a salver on which lay a
telegram. Rosamund opened it and read:


"Coming home.--DION."


"Any answer, ma'am?"

* * * * *

"Is there any answer, ma'am? Shall I tell the boy to wait?"

"What did you say, Annie?"

"Shall I tell the boy to wait, ma'am?"

"No, thank you, Annie. There's no answer."

Annie turned and recrossed the garden, looking careful, as if she were
thinking of her cap, round which the airs were blowing.

Rosamund sat for a few minutes almost motionless, with the slip of paper
lying in her lap; then the breeze came lightly, as if curious, and blew
it away. Robin saw it and ran.

"I'll catch it, mummie. You see! I'll catch it!"

The little brown legs were amazingly swift, but the telegram was elusive
because the breeze was naughty. When Robin ran up to his mother holding
it out he was almost breathless.

"Here it is, mummie."

His blue eyes and his voice held triumph.

"I said I would, and I did!"

Rosamund put her arm round him.

"Who do you think sent this?"

"I dunno."

"Daddy sent it."

Robin's eyes became round.

"Daddy! What for?"

"To tell us he's coming home."

A deeply serious expression came to Robin's face.

"Have I growed much?"

"Yes, a great deal."

"Will daddy see it?"

"Yes, I'm sure he will directly he comes."

Robin seemed relieved.

"Is daddy coming here?"

"Yes."

"Is he goin' to live here with us?"

"We shall see about all that when he comes."

Annie, evidently still thinking about her cap, reappeared on the garden
path.

"The Dean to see you, ma'am."

Rosamund got up, gave Robin a long kiss on the freckles and said:

"Robin, I believe the Dean has come about Mr. Thrush."

"Does he know Mr. Thrush?"

"Not yet. I'll tell you something presently."

And she went slowly into the house. Was a scheme of hers coming to
fruition just when----? She tried to close her mind to an approaching
thought.



CHAPTER V

On the 7th of October the C.I.V. sailed from South Africa for England,
on the 19th of October they made St. Vincent; on the 23rd Dion again
looked over the sea at the dreaming hills of Madeira. The sight of these
hills made him realize the change brought about in him by the work he
had done in South Africa. As he gazed at them he suddenly and sharply
remembered the man who had gazed at them nine months before, a man
who was gathering together determination, who was silently making
preparations for progress, or for what he thought of as progress. Those
hills then had seemed to be calling to him out of the mists of heat,
and to himself he had seemed to be defying them, to be thrusting their
voices from him. For were they not the hills of a land where the lotus
bloomed, where a weariness bred of stagnant delights wrapped men in a
garment of Nessus, steeped in a subtle poison which drew from them all
their energies, which brought them not pain but an inertia more deadly
to the soul than pain? Now they had no power over him. He did not need
to defy them, because he had gained in strength. Ere they vanished from
his eyes over the sea he remembered another Island rising out of waters
that gleamed with gold. How far off now seemed to him that evening
when he had looked on it as he traveled to Greece! How much he had left
behind on the way of his life!

The experience of separation and of war had not aged him, but it had
made him feel older. Nothing of the boy was left in him. He felt himself
of manhood all compact. He had seen men die, had seen how they were able
to die, how they met severe physical suffering; he had silently tried to
prepare himself for death, keeping a cheerful countenance; he had known,
like most brave men, the cold companionship of fear, and he had got rid
of that companionship. Knowing death better, he knew life much better
than when he had left England.

On the voyage out he had looked at the hills of Madeira with
Worthington. Now Worthington was not with him; he had died of enteric at
Pretoria in September. Dion was carrying back to England Worthington's
last written message to his people. He was carrying also another letter
written by an English officer, whose body lay in the earth of Africa, to
a woman at home. On the voyage Dion often thought of that dead man and
of the living woman to whom he would presently give the letter. He had
promised to deliver it personally.

At St. Vincent he had received a welcome by cable from Rosamund, and had
sent a cable to her asking not to be met. He wished to meet her in her
home at Welsley. She had written to him enthusiastic accounts of its
peace and beauty. Her pen had been tipped with love of it. Their first
meeting, their reunion, must take place there in the midst of that
wonderful peace of green England which she loved so much. After the
heat and the dust and the pain of South Africa that would surely be very
good.

Their reunion!

Dion had escaped death. He had been allowed to return to Rosamund in
splendid health, without a wound, though he had been in battle. He had
a strong presentiment that he was allowed to return for some definite
purpose. Could he not now be of far more use to his little son than if
he had never volunteered for active service? Rosamund and he had looked
up together at the columns of the Parthenon and had thought of the child
who might come. Dion felt that he understood the Parthenon better now
that he had looked death in the face, now that he had been ready to
give up his life if it had been required of him. He even had a whimsical
feeling--he smiled at it seriously to himself--that the Parthenon, if he
again stood before it, would understand him better. He was not proud
of himself for what he had done. But in the depths of him he often felt
earnestly glad, almost thankful, that he had been able to do it. The
doing of it had brought a new zest into life, new meanings, a new
outlook. He seemed to feel life like something precious in his hand now;
he had not felt it so before, even when he had won Rosamund and had been
with her in Greece.

* * * * *

The hills of Madeira faded. Three days later there was a burial at sea
in the early morning. A private, who had been ill with enteric, had died
in the night. The body sank into the depths, the ship went on her
way and ran into a stiff gale. Already England was rousing herself to
welcome her returning sons, bruskly but lustily, in her way, which was
not South Africa's way. Dion loved that gale though it kept him awake
all night.

Next morning they were off the Start, and heard the voices of the sirens
bidding them good day.

* * * * *

On the last day of October, at about four o'clock in the afternoon,
Rosamund was waiting for Dion. He was due by the express which, when up
to time, reached Welsley Station at 3.55. She would naturally have been
at the station to meet him if she had not received a telegram from him
begging her to stay at home.

"Would much rather meet you first in Little Cloisters,--Dion," were the
last words of the telegram.

So Rosamund had stayed at home.

It was a peculiarly still autumn afternoon. A suggestion--it was
scarcely more than that--of mist made the Precincts look delicately sad,
but not to the eyes of Rosamund. She delighted in this season of tawny
colors and of fluttering leaves, of nature's wide-eyed and contemplative
muteness. The beauty of autumn appealed to her because she possessed a
happy spirit, and was not too imaginative. She had imagination, but it
was not of the intensely sensitive and poetic kind which dies with the
dying leaves, and in the mists loses all the hopes that were born with
the birth of summer. The strong sanity which marked her, and which had
always kept her in central paths, far away from the byways in which the
neurotic, the decadent, the searchers after the so-called "new" things
loved to tread, led her to welcome each season in is turn, and to
rejoice in its special characteristics.

So she loved the cloistral feeling autumn brought with it to Welsley.
Green summer seemed to open the doors, and one rejoiced in a golden
freedom; tawny autumn seemed softly to close the doors, and one was
happy in a sensation of being tenderly guarded, of being kept very safe
in charge for the coming winter with its fires, and its cosy joys of the
interior.

Another reason which made Rosamund care very much for the autumn was
this: in the autumn the religious atmosphere which hung about the
Precincts of Welsley seemed to her to become more definite, more
touching, the ancient things more living and powerful in their message.

"Welsley always sends out influences," she had once said to Father
Robertson. "But in certain autumn days it speaks. I hear its voice in
the autumn."

She heard its voice now as she waited for Dion.

The lattice window which gave on to the garden was partly open;
there was a fire in the wide, old-fashioned grate; vases holding
chrysanthemums stood on the high wood mantelpiece and on the
writing-table; the tea-table had been placed by Annie near the hearth.

Rosamund listened to the cloistral silence, and looked at two deep,
old-fashioned arm-chairs which were drawn up by the tea-table.

Just how much had she missed Dion?

That question had suddenly sprung up in her mind as she looked at the
two arm-chairs.

The first time she had been in Little Cloisters she had spoken to Canon
Wilton of Dion, had wondered if he would come back from South Africa
altered; and she had said that if she came to live in it Welsley might
alter her. Canon Wilton had made no comment on her remark. She had
scarcely noticed that at the time, perhaps had not consciously noticed
it; but her subconscious mind had recorded the fact, and she recalled it
now.

Welsley, she thought, had changed her a good deal. She was not a
self-conscious woman as a rule, but to-day was not like other days, and
she was not quite like herself on other days. Perhaps, for once, she
was what women often call "strung up"; certainly she felt peculiarly
alive--alive specially in the nerves of her body.

Those two arm-chairs were talking to her; they were telling her of
the imminent renewal of the life closely companioned, watched over,
protected, beloved. They were telling, and they were asking, too. She
felt absurdly that it was they who were asking how much she had missed
Dion.

It would be good to have him back, but she now suddenly realized, in a
self-conscious way, that she had managed to be very happy without him.
But then she had always looked forward to his eventual return. Suppose
he had not come back?

She got up restlessly, went to the window and looked out into the
garden. Robin was not there, nor was he in the house. Obedient to an
impulse which she had not understood at the time, Rosamund had arranged
a small, and rather odd, festivity for him which had taken him away from
home, and would keep him out till five o'clock: he was having tea in
a cake-shop near the top of Wesley High Street with his nurse and Mr.
Thrush, who, not unexpectedly, had arrived in Welsley. The first meeting
between his father and mother would not be complicated by his eager
young presence.

So the garden was empty to-day. Not even the big young gardener was to
be seen; he only came on four days in the week, and this was not one of
them. As Rosamund looked down into the garden, she loved its loneliness,
its misty, autumnal aspect. It was surely not her fault if she had
a natural affection for solitude--not for the hideous solitude of a
childless mother, but for the frequent privacy of a mother who was
alone, but who knew that her child was near, playing perhaps, or gone
for a little jaunt with his faithful nurse, or sleeping upstairs.

As she looked at the garden a faint creeping sense of something almost
like fear came to her. Since Dion had been away she had surely altered,
because she had had a new experience; she had, as it were, touched the
confines of that life which she had deliberately renounced when she had
married.

It seemed to her, as she stood there and remembered her long meditations
in that enclosed and ancient garden, that in these months she had drawn
much nearer to God, and--could it be because of that?--perhaps had
receded a little from her husband.

The sense of uneasiness--she could not call it fear--deepened in her.
Was the receding then implicit in the drawing near? She began to feel
almost confused. She put up a hand to her face; her cheek was hot.

The clock in the room struck four; two minutes later the chimes sounded,
and then Big John announced the hour.

Dion might arrive at any moment now. She turned away rather quickly from
the window. She hated the unusual feeling of self-consciousness which
had come to her.

At ten minutes past four the door bell rang. It must be he. She went to
the drawing-room door, opened it and listened. She heard a man's voice
and a bump; then another bump, a creaking, a sort of scraping, and the
voice once more saying, "I'll manage, miss."

It was Dion's luggage. Harrington's man explained that the gentleman had
said he would walk to Little Cloisters.

Rosamund went back into the drawing-room and shut the door. Now that
Dion's luggage was actually in the house everything seemed curiously
different. A period was definitely over; her loneliness with Robin
in Little Cloisters was at an end. She sat down in one of the two
arm-chairs by the tea-table, clasped her hands together and looked at
the fire.

If she had held to her girlish idea? If she had become a "Sister"?
But--she shook her head as she sat there alone--Robin! And then she
sighed; she had not thought, "But--Dion!" She was almost angry with
herself for being so introspective, so mentally observant of herself.
All this was surely unnatural in her. Was she going to become
morbid--she who had such a hatred of morbidity? She tried to force
herself to feel that she had missed Dion tremendously, that his return
would make things right in Little Cloisters.

But had they ever been wrong? And, besides, Little Cloisters would
almost immediately be only a dear memory of the past.

Rosamund began almost to hate herself. Was she capable of any sort of
treachery? Swiftly she began to dwell upon all the dear goodness of
Dion, upon his love, his admiration, his perpetual thoughtfulness,
his unselfishness, his straight purity, his chivalry, his unceasing
devotion. He was a man to trust implicitly. That was enough. She trusted
him and loved him. She thanked God that he was back in England. She had
missed him more, much more than she had realized; she was quite sure of
that now that she had recalled things. One happiness is apt to oust
the acute memory of another. That had (quite naturally) happened in her
case. It would indeed have been strange if, living in such a dear place
as "My Welsley," with Robin the precious one, she had been a miserable
woman! And she had always known--as women know things they do not
know--that Dion would come back after behaving nobly. And that was
exactly what had happened.

She looked at the arm-chair opposite.

How splendid it would be to see dear, brave, good, faithful Dion
sitting in it in a moment, safe after all his hardships and dangers,
comfortable, able to rest at last in his own home.

For Little Cloisters would be his home even if only for a few days. And
then----What about Mr. Thrush? What about--oh, so many things?

"I'll find the way all right," Dion had said at the station, after he
had been assured that it was only ten minutes' walk, "or so," to Little
Cloisters.

The little walk would be a preparation for the very great event. He only
knew how great it was when he got out at the Welsley Station.

He had never seen Welsley before, though its fame had been familiar to
him from childhood. Thousands of pilgrims had piously visited it, coming
from afar; now yet another pilgrim had come from afar, sensitively eager
to approach a shrine which held something desired by his soul.

That part of the city which immediately surrounded the station was not
attractive, but very soon Dion came into a narrow street and was aware
of an ancient flavor, wholly English, and only to be savored thoroughly
by an English palate. In this street he began to taste England. He
passed an old curiosity shop, black and white, with a projecting upper
storey, lattice windows with tiny panes, a door of black oak upon which
many people had carved their names. By the door stood a spinning-wheel.
In the window were a tea service of spode and a collection of luster
ware. There were also some Toby jugs.

Dion went in quickly and bought one for Robin. He carried it unwrapped
in his hand as he walked on. One could do that here, in this intimate,
cozy old town of dear England. He enjoyed the light mist, the moisture
in the air. He had come to hate aridity and the acrid dryness of dust
blown by hot winds across great spaces. The moisture caressed his skin,
burnt almost to the color of copper by the African sun.

He came into the High Street. On its farther side, straight in front of
him, the narrowest street he had ever seen, a rivulet of a street, with
leaning houses which nearly formed an arcade, stretched to a wonderful
gray gateway, immensely massive, with towers at its corners, and rows of
shields above its beetling archway.

This must be the entrance to the Precincts.

In the tiny street he met a verger in mufti, an old bent man, with a
chin-beard and knotty hands, English in every vein, in every sinew of
his amazingly respectable and venerable body. This worthy he stopped and
inquired of him the way to Little Cloisters.

"Where Mrs. Leith and her boy lives, sir?" mouthed the old man, with a
kindly gaping smile.

"That's it."

"She's a nice lady," said the verger. "We think a lot of her here,
especially we Cathedral folk."

He went on to explain elaborately where Little Cloisters was, and to
describe minutely two routes, by either of which it might be come at.
It was evident that he was one of those who love to listen to themselves
and who take a pride in words.

Dion decided for the route "round at the back" by Chantrey Lane, through
the Green Court, leaving the Deanery on the left and the Bishop's Palace
on the right, and so by way of the Prior's Gate and the ruins of the
Infirmary through the Dark Entry to Little Cloisters.

"You can't miss it. The name's writ on the door in the wall, and a rare
old wall it is," said the venerable man.

Dion thanked him warmly and walked on, while the verger looked after
him.

"I shouldn't wonder if that's Mrs. Leith's husband home from the war,"
he murmured. "Looks as if he'd been fighting, he does, and burnt pretty
near to a cinder by something, the sun as like as not."

And he walked on down the tiny street towards the muffin which awaited
him at home, well pleased with his perspicuity, and making mental
preparations for the astonishing of his wife with a tidbit of news.

Dion came into the Green Court, and immediately felt Welsley, felt it
in the depths of him, and understood Rosamund's love of it so often
expressed in her letters. As he looked at the moist green lawn in the
center, at the gray and brown houses which fronted it, at the Deanery
garden full of the ruddy flowers of autumn behind the iron railings, at
the immense Cathedral with its massive and yet almost tenderly graceful
towers, a history in stone of the faithful work and the progress of men,
he knew why Rosamund had come to live here. He stood still. In the
misty air he heard the voices of the rooks. The door of a Canon's house
opened, and two clergymen, one of them in gaiters and a shovel hat, came
out, and walked slowly away in earnest conversation. Bells sounded in
one of the towers.

He understood. Here was a sort of essence of ecclesiasticism. It seemed
to penetrate the whole atmosphere. Rosamund was at home in it.

He remembered his terrible thought that God had always stood between his
wife and him, dividing them.

How would it be now?

Again he looked up at the great house of God, and he felt almost afraid.
But he was not the man he had been when he said good-by to Rosamund; he
had gained in force of character, and he knew it. Surely out there in
South Africa, he had done what his mother had wanted him to do, he had
laid hold of his best possibilities. At any rate, he had sincerely tried
to do that. Why, then, should he be afraid--and of God?

He walked on quickly, and came to Little Cloisters by way of the Dark
Entry.

It was very dark that day, for the autumn evening was already making its
moist presence felt, and there was a breathing of cold from the old gray
stones which looked like the fangs of Time.

Dion shook his broad shoulders in an irresistible shiver as he came
out into the passage-way between Rosamund's garden wall and the ruined
cloisters, immediately beyond which rose the east end of the Cathedral.
South Africa had evidently made him sensitive to the dampness and cold
of England.

"Little Cloisters." The white words showed on a tall green door let into
the wall on his left; and, as the verger had said, it was a rare old
wall. So here it actually was! He was at home. His heart thumped as he
pulled at the bell, and unconsciously he gripped the Toby jug hard with
his other hand.



CHAPTER VI

"Dion! Is it you at last?"

A warm voice called from above, and the blood rushed to his temples.

"Yes."

It seemed to him that he took the old staircase in his stride, and he
had a feeling almost such as a man has when he is going into action.

"Rose!"

He held her in his arms and kissed her.

"It's--seemed a long time!"

He felt moisture springing to his eyes. The love he felt for her almost
overwhelmed his self-control. Till this moment he had never known how
great it was. All his deprivation was in that embrace.

"Years it's seemed!" he said, letting her go with a little laugh,
summoned up--he did not know how--to save him from too much emotion.

She gazed at him.

"Oh, Dion, how you have altered!"

"Have I?"

"Tremendously."

How well he knew the kindly glance of her honest brown eyes; a thousand
times he had called it up before him in South Africa. But this was not
the glance so characteristic of her. In the firelit room her eyes looked
puzzled, almost wide, with a sort of startled astonishment.

"You had a lot of the boy in you still when you went away. At least, I
used to think so."

"Haven't I any left?"

"I can't see any. No, I think you've come back all man. And how
tremendously burnt you are."

"Almost black, I suppose. But I'm so accustomed to it."

"It's right," she said. "Your face tells the story of what you've done.
Robin"--she paused, then slowly she said--"Robin's got almost a new
father."

"Where is he? He's sure to have altered more than I have."

"Oh no. He'll be in about five. I've sent him out to tea with some one
you know."

"With whom?"

"Mr. Thrush."

"Mr. Thrush at Welsley?"

"Yes. I'll explain all that presently. I thought I'd have you all to
myself for half an hour, and then Robin should have his turn. Here comes
Annie."

When the two arm-chairs were occupied, Dion said:

"And you, Rosamund?"

"What about me?"

"Haven't you altered?"

"If I have, probably you would know it and I shouldn't."

"Yes, I dare say that's true. You aren't conscious of it, then?"

But she was giving him his tea, and that took her mind away from his
question, no doubt. He felt a change in her, but it was not almost
fiercely marked like the change in him, on whom a Continent had written
with its sun and its wind, and with its battlefields. The body of a man
was graven by such a superscription. And no doubt even a child could
read something of it. But the writing on Rosamund was much fainter, was
far less easy to decipher; it was perhaps traced on the soul rather than
on the body. The new legend of Dion was perhaps an assertion. But this
story of Rosamund, what was it? She saw the man in Dion, lean, burnt,
strong, ardent, desirous, full of suppressed emotion that was warmly and
intensely human; he saw in her, as well as the mother, something that
was perhaps almost pale, almost elusive, like the still figure and
downbent face of a recluse seen in passing an open window.

She saw in Dion his actions; he saw in her her meditations. Perhaps that
was it. All this time he had been living incessantly in the midst of
men, never alone, nearly always busy, often fiercely active, marching,
eating, sleeping in company. And all the time she had been here, in the
midst of this cloistral silence, and perhaps often alone.

"You know everybody here, I suppose?" he asked, drinking his tea with
relish, and eating the toast which seemed to him crisply English, but
always faintly aware of that still figure and of that downbent face.

"Almost everybody. I've sung a great deal, and got to know them all
partly through that. And they're dear people most of them. They let one
alone when they know one wants to be alone."

"And I expect you can enjoy being alone here."

"Yes," she said simply. "At times. It would be difficult to feel lonely,
in the miserable, dreadful way, I mean, in the Precincts. We are rather
like a big family here, each one with his, or her, own private room in
the big family house."

"I know you've always loved a certain amount of solitude, Rose," he said
tenderly. "D'you remember that day in London when I burst in upon your
solitude with Dante, and was actually jealous of the 'Paradiso'?"

"Yes," she said, smiling.

"But you forgave me, or I shouldn't be here now."

He gave her his cup for some more tea.

"You can't imagine how absolutely wonderful it is to me to be here after
what I've been through."

He lay back in his chair, but he still looked tremendously alert, wiry,
powerful even.

Dion was much more impressive than he had been when he went away.
Rosamund felt a faint creeping of something that was almost like shyness
in her as she looked at him.

"After Green Point Camp and Orange River--I shall never forget the
dust-storm we had there!--and Springfontein and Kaffir River--oh, the
heat there, Rose!--and Kaalfontein and all the rest of it. It was near
Kaalfontein that we first came under fire. I shan't forget that."

He was silent for a moment. She looked at him across the tea-table. All
that he knew and she did not know now made him seem rather strange to
her. The uniting of two different, utterly different, experiences of
life, was more tremendous, more full of meaning and of mystery, than the
uniting of two bodies. This, then, was to be a second wedding-day for
her and for Dion? All their letters, in which, of course, they had tried
to tell each other something of their differing experiences, had really
told very little, almost nothing. Dion's glance told her more than all
his letters, that and his color, and certain lines in his face, and the
altered shapes of his hands, and his way of holding himself, and his way
of speaking. Even his voice was different. He was an unconscious record
of what he had been through out there; and much of it, she felt sure, he
would never tell to her except unconsciously by being a different Dion
from the Dion who had gone away.

"How little one can tell in letters," she said. "Scarcely anything."

"You made me feel Welsley in yours."

"Did I? Why did you walk from the station?"

"I wanted to taste your home, to get into your atmosphere, if I could,
before seeing you. Rose, love can make a man almost afraid at times."

It seemed to her that his dark eyes burned with fires they had
captured in South Africa. Sitting in the old room with its homely and
ecclesiastical look, he had an oddly remote appearance, she thought, as
if he belonged to a very different milieu. Always dark, he now looked
almost gipsy-like; yet he had the unmistakable air of a soldier. But if
there had ever been anything there was now nothing left of the business
man in Dion.

"Won't you find it very difficult to settle down again to the life in
Austin Friars, Dion?" she said.

"Perhaps I should, but for one thing."

"What's that?"

"You and Robin at home when the drudgery is done."

Rosamund saw Welsley receding from her into darkness, with its familiar
faces and voices, its gray towers, its cloisters, its bells, the Dresden
Amen, the secret garden, the dreams she had had in the garden.

"Number 5 is all ready to go into. It was lucky we only let it for six
months," she said quietly.

"Uncle Biron has given me a fortnight's holiday, or rather gladly agreed
to my taking it. Of course I'm my own master in a way, being a partner,
but I want to consider him. He was awfully good about my going away.
Mother's looking well. She was at our Thanksgiving Service; Beattie and
Guy too. I've had just a glimpse of godfather."

They talked about family things till Robin came in from his festivity
with Mr. Thrush, who was staying at Little Cloisters, but only till the
following day.

That was a great moment, the moment of Robin's arrival. Mr. Thrush did
not appear with him, but, being a man of delicate perceptions despite
his unfortunate appearance, retired discreetly to the servants' hall,
leaving his devoted adherent free for the "family reunion," as he called
it.

"Go up quietly, dear," said the nurse to Robin, "and tap at the
drawing-room door."

"Shall I tap?" asked Robin earnestly.

He was looking unusually solemn, his lips were parted, and his eyes
almost stared.

"Yes, dear. Tap prettily, like a young gentleman as you are, and when
you hear 'Come in!'----"

"I know then!" interrupted Robin, with an air of decision.

He walked rather slowly upstairs, lifting one brown leg after the other
thoughtfully from step to step, till he was outside the drawing-room
door. Inside he heard the noise of a man's voice, which sounded to him
very tremendous and important, the voice of a brave soldier.

"That's Fa!" he thought, and he listened for a moment as to the voice of
a god.

Then he doubled his small fist and gave a bang to the door. Some
instinct told him not to follow nurse's injunction, not to try to be
pretty in his tapping. The voice of the soldier ceased inside, there was
a brief sound of a woman's voice, then came a strong "Come in!"

Robin opened the door, went straight up to the very dark and very thin
man whom he saw sitting by the fire, and, staring at this man with
intensity, lifted up his face, at the same time saying:

"'Ullo, Fa!"

There was a dropped aitch for which nurse, who was very choice in her
English, would undoubtedly have rebuked him had she been present. The
dark man did not rebuke Robin, but caught him up and enfolded him in a
hug that was powerful but not a bit rough. Robin was quite incapable of
analyzing a hug, but he loved it as he would not have loved it if it had
been rough, or if it had been merely gentle. A sense of great happiness
and of great confidence flooded him. From that moment he adored his
father as he had never adored him before. The new authority of his
father's love for him captured him. He knew nothing about it and he
knew all about it, as is the way with children, those instinctive sparks
fresh from the great furnace.

Long before dinner time Dion knew that he had won something beside the
D.C.M. which he had won in South Africa, something that was wonderfully
precious to him. He gave Robin the Toby jar and another gift.

He cared for his little son that night as he had never cared for him
before. It was as if the sex in Robin spoke to the sex in him for the
first time with a clear, unmistakable voice, saying, "We're of the
comradeship of the male sex, we're of the brotherhood." It was not even
a child's voice that spoke, though it spoke in a little child. Dion
blessed South Africa that night, felt as if South Africa had given him
his son.

That gift would surely be a weapon in his hands by means of which, or
with the help of which, he would conquer the still unconquered mystery,
Rosamund's whole heart. South Africa had done much for Dion. Out there
in that wonderful atmosphere he had seen very clearly, his vision had
pierced great distances; he saw clearly still, in England. War, it
seemed, was so terribly truthful that it swept a man clean of lies; Dion
was swept clean of lies. He did not feel able any longer even to tell
them occasionally to himself. He knew that Rosamund's greeting to him,
warm, sweet, sincere though it had been, had lacked something which he
had found in Robin's. But he felt that now he had got hold of Robin so
instantly, and so completely, the conquest of the woman he had only won
must be but a question of time. That was not pride in him but instinct,
speaking with that voice which seems a stranger to the brain of man, but
a friend to something else; something universal of which in every man a
fragment is housed, or by which every man is mysteriously penetrated.

A fortnight's holiday--and then?

On that first evening it had been assumed that as soon as Dion went back
to business in Austin Friars, No. 5 Little Market Street would receive
its old tenants again, be scented again with the lavender, made musical
with Rosamund's voice, made gay with the busy prattle and perpetual
activities of Robin.

For two days thereafter no reference was made by either Rosamund or
Dion to the question of moving. Dion gave himself up to Welsley,
to holiday-making. With a flowing eagerness, not wholly free from
undercurrents, Rosamund swept him sweetly through Welsley's delights.
She inoculated him with Welsley, or at any rate did her best to
inoculate him, secretly praying with all her force that the wonderful
preparation might "take." Soon she believed that it was "taking." It was
evident that Dion was delighted with Welsley. On his very first day they
went together to the afternoon service in the Cathedral, and when the
anthem was given out it proved to be "The Wilderness." Rosamund's
quick look at Dion told him that this was her sweet doing, and that she
remembered their talk on the hill of Drouva. He listened to that anthem
as he had never listened to an anthem before. After the service Canon
Wilton, who, though no longer in residence as "three months' Canon," was
still staying on at his house in the Precincts for a few days, came up
to welcome him home. Then Mr. Dickinson appeared, full of that modesty
which is greedy for compliments. Mrs. Dickinson, too, drifted up the
nave in a casual way which scarcely concealed her curiosity about Mrs.
Dion's husband; when, later, Rosamund told Dion of her Precincts' name,
"the cold douche," he could not see its applicability.

"I thought her an observant but quite a warm-hearted woman," he said.

"She is warm-hearted; in fact she's a dear, and I'm very fond of her,"
said Rosamund.

"Every one here seems very fond of you," he replied.

Indeed, he was struck by Welsley's evident love of Rosamund. It was like
a warm current flowing about her, and about him now, because he was her
husband. He was greeted with cordial kindness by every one.

"It is jolly to be received like this," he said to Rosamund. "It does
a fellow good when he's just come home. It makes him feel that there is
indeed no place like England. But it's all owing to you."

But she protested.

"They all admire and respect you for what you've done," she said.
"You've brought the best introductions here, your own deeds. They speak
for you."

He shook his head, loving her perfectly sincere modesty.

"You may be a thousand things," he told her, "but one thing you'll never
be--vain or conceited."

The charm of her, which was compounded of beauty and goodness, mixed
with an extraordinary hold upon, and joy in, the simple and healthy
things of life, came upon him with a sort of glorious newness after his
absence in South Africa. He loved other people's love of her and the
splendid reasons for it so apparent in her. But for Robin he might
nevertheless have felt baffled and sad even in these moments dedicated
to the joys of reunion, he might have felt acutely that the completeness
and perfection of reunion depended upon the exact type of union it
followed upon. Robin saved him from that. He hoped very much in Robin,
who had suddenly given him a confidence in himself which he had never
known till now. This was a glorious possession. It gave him force.
People in Welsley were decidedly impressed by Mrs. Leith's husband.
Mrs. Dickinson remarked to her Henry over griddle cakes after the three
o'clock service:

"I call Mr. Leith a very personable man. Without having Mrs. Leith's
wonderful charm--what man could have?--he makes a distinct impression.
He has suppressed force, and that's what women like in a man."

Henry took another griddle cake, and wondered whether he was wise in
looking so decided. Perhaps he ought to suppress his undoubted force;
perhaps all his life, without knowing it, he had hovered on the verge of
the blatant.

Canon Wilton also was struck by the change in Dion, and said something,
but not just then all, of what he felt.

"You know the phrase, 'I'm my own man again,' Leith, don't you?" he
said, in his strong bass voice, looking steadily at Dion with his kindly
stern eyes. (He always suggested to Dion a man who would be very stern
with himself.)

"Yes," said Dion. "Why?"

"I think South Africa's made you your own man."

Dion looked tremendously, but seriously, pleased.

"Do you? And what about the again?"

"Cut it out. I don't think you'd ever been absolutely your own man
before you went away."

"I wonder if I am now," Dion said, but without any weakness.

He had been through one war and had come out of it well; now he had come
home to another. The one campaign had been but a stern preparation for
the other perhaps. But Rosamund did not know that. Nevertheless, it
seemed to him that already their relation to each other was slightly
altered. He felt that she was more sensitive to him than formerly, more
closely observant of what he was and what he did, more watchful of him
with Robin, more anxious about his opinion on various matters.

For instance, there was the matter of Mr. Thrush.

Dion had not seen Mr. Thrush on the evening of his first day at Welsley.
He had been kept so busy by Rosamund, had done and seen so much, that
he had quite forgotten the ex-chemist. In the evening, however, before
dinner, he suddenly remembered him.

"What's become of Mr. Thrush?" he asked. "And, by the way, what is he
doing down here? You never told me, Rose, and even Robin's not said a
word."

"I asked him not to," said Rosamund, with her half-shrewd, half-soft
look. "The fact is----" She broke off, then continued, with her
confidential air, "Dion, when you see Mr. Thrush I want you to tell me
something truthfully. Will you?"

"I'll try to. What is it?"

"I want you to look at his nose--"

"Rosamund!"

"No, really," she pursued, with great earnestness. "And I want you to
tell me whether you think, honestly think, it--better."

"But why?"

"It's very important for Mr. Thrush that it should look better. He's
down here to be seen."

Her voice had become almost mysterious.

"To be seen? By whom? Is he on show in the town?"

"No--don't laugh. It's really important for his future. I must tell you
something. He's taken the modified pledge."

Her look said, "There! what d'you think of that?"

"Modified!" said Dion, rather doubtfully.

"Never between meals--never."

"At any rate that's a step in the right direction."

"Isn't it? I took it with him."

"The modified pledge?"

"Yes," she said, with great seriousness.

"But you never----! To help him, of course."

"Yes."

"And has it made a difference to the nose?"

"I think it's made a considerable difference. But I want your opinion."

"I'll give it you for what it's worth. But who's going to see Mr.
Thrush?"

"The Dean.

"The Dean! Why on earth?"

"Almost directly there's going to be a vacancy among the vergers, and
the Dean has promised me faithfully that if Mr. Thrush seems suitable he
shall have the post."

"Mr. Thrush a verger! Mr. Thrush carry a poker before a bishop!"

"Not a poker, only a white wand. I've been making him practise here in
the garden, and he does it quite admirably already."

She spoke now with almost defiant emphasis. Dion loved her for the
defiance and for its deliciously absurd reason.

"The Dean is away, but he's coming back to-morrow, so I begin to feel
rather anxious. Of course, he'll see at once that Mr. Thrush is an
educated man. I'm not afraid about that. It's only--well, the little
failing. It would mean so much for Mr. Thrush to get the post. He'll be
provided for for life. I've set my heart on it."

Annie came in.

"Oh, Annie, is it Mr. Thrush?"

"Yes, ma'am."

"Please ask him to come in."

With a very casual air, as of one doing a thing for no particular reason
and almost without thought, she lowered the wick of the lamp which
illuminated the room.

"We don't want it to flare," she said, as she came away from it. "Oh,
Mr. Thrush, here's my husband back again!"

With a certain unostentatious dignity Mr. Thrush stepped into the room.
He was most respectably dressed in a neat black suit, the coat of
which looked rather like either a frock coat which was in course of
diminishing gradually into what tailors call "a morning coat," or a
morning coat which was in course of expanding gently into a frock coat;
a speckless collar with points appeared above a pair of dark worsted
gloves, and a hat which resembled a square bowler half-way on the road
to top hatdom.

Dion felt touched by his appearance and his gait, which seemed to hint
at those rehearsals in the garden, and especially touched by the fact
that he had bought a new hat.

"Welcome home, sir!" he said at once to Dion. "I'm sure the country is
proud of you."

He paid the compliment with so much sincerity that Dion did not feel
embarrassed by it.

"Do sit down, Mr. Thrush," said Rosamund, after hands had been
cordially shaken. "No, not there!"--as he was about to sit full in the
lamplight--"This chair will be more comfortable. Now I'll leave you to
have a little talk with my husband."

With an inquiring look at Dion she went out of the room.

Before she came back Mr. Thrush had told Dion all his hopes and fears
with regard to the Dean, and had dwelt on his overwhelming desire to
become a verger. Quite unself-conscious in his simplicity he rose almost
to dignity. He frankly confessed his "failing," and alluded to the
taking of the modified pledge.

"We took it together, sir, your kind lady and I, we both pledged
ourselves never to touch a drop of liquor between meals whatever the
occasion."

"Quite right!" said Dion, with firmness, almost with bruskness.

"I'm glad you think so, sir. But a verger can't be too careful. He's
held up as an example to the whole city by his position, walking so
often in procession as he does before the eyes of all men. Even a
chemist scarcely takes so much upon himself. In respect of the body he
may, I'll allow you,--for no verger has to do with prussic acid, iodine,
cascara and all such-like,--but in respect of what I might all the
uplifting of the soul not a doubt of it but that the verger comes far
before any chemist. It's a solemn thing to think of, and I hope, if so
be as I'm elected, I shall be worthy of the position. I see Mr. Dean
to-morrow, sir, at eleven o'clock. I trust I shall make a favorable
impression. I lived just off Hanover Square for more years than some can
remember, and that, I hope, with a Very Reverend will tell in my favor.
None of them vergers here, though I'm sure they're a splendid body of
men,--any one who has seen them walking before his Lordship, the Bishop,
the Canons and what not, as I did last Sunday morning, would say the
same,--but none of the vergers here can say as much. I've made inquiry,
but of course with all discretion. As to the duties, sir, I think I can
fulfil them. The carrying of the wand I may say I am almost perfect in
already. I've been at it in the garden with your kind good lady since I
came. I found it a bit difficult at first, sir. There's what you might
call a knack to it, though from the congregation it looks simple enough.
But there, what does a congregation know of the things a verger has
to master any more than it does of what is required of a good chemist?
Often and often when I was just off Hanover Square----"

He was still flowing on with imperturbable volubility when Rosamund came
back and sent another, more inquiring, glance to Dion.

When Mr. Thrush had retired she at once said anxiously:

"Well?"

"He's a nice old chap."

"Yes, isn't he? But what did you really think?"

"About the nose?"

"Yes."

"The lamp was turned rather low, but I really believe the modified
pledge has--"

"There! What did I say?" she interrupted triumphantly. "I knew you'd
notice the difference. It's really very much like yours or mine now, and
I'm sure--"

But here Dion broke in decisively.

"No, Rosamund, I can't let that pass. It's not like yours yet. I say
nothing about mine. But I honestly think it's modified and I hope the
Dean will pass it."

"The Dean and I are great cronies!" she murmured doubtfully. "My only
fear is that after he is a verger Mr. Thrush may--may lapse if I'm
not----"

She stopped, looking at Dion, and again he thought that she was more
sensitive to his opinion, to his wishes, than she had formerly been. Her
slightly changed attitude made Dion gladly aware of change in himself.
He meant more to Rosamund now than he had meant when he left England.



CHAPTER VII

Three days had slipped by. Dion had been accepted as one of the big
Welsley family, had been made free of the Precincts. During those three
days he had forgotten London, business, everything outside of Welsley.
It had seemed to him that he had the right to forget, and he had
exercised it. Robin had played a great part in those three days. His new
adoration of his father was obvious to every one who saw them together.
The soldier appealed to the little imagination. Robin's ardor was
concentrated for the moment in his pride of possession. He owned a
father who--his own nurse had told him so--was not as other fathers, not
as ordinary fathers such as stumped daily about the narrow streets of
Welsley, rubicund and, many of them, protuberant in the region of the
watch-chain. They were all very well; Robin had nothing against them;
many of them were clergymen and commanded his respect by virtue of
their office, their gaiters, the rosettes and cords that decorated their
wide-winged hats. But they were not like "Fa." They had not become lean,
and muscular, and dark, and quick-limbed, and keen-eyed, and spry, in
the severe service of their country. They had not--even the Archdeacon,
Robin's rather special pal, had not--ever killed any wicked men who did
not like England, or gone into places where wicked men who did not like
England might have killed them. Some of them did not know much about
guns, did not seem to take any interest in guns. It was rather pitiable.
Since his father had come back Robin had had an opportunity of sounding
the Archdeacon on the subject of an advance in open order. The result
had not been satisfactory. The Archdeacon, Robin thought, had taken
the matter with a lightness, almost a levity, which one could not have
looked for from a man in his position, and when questioned as to his
methods of taking over had frankly said that he had none.

"I like him," Robin said ruefully. "But he'll never be a good scout,
will he, Fa?"

To which Dion replied with discretion.

"There are plenty of good scouts, old boy, who would never make good
archdeacons."

"Is there?" said Robin. "Why not? I know what scouts does, but what does
archdeacons does?"

And with that he had his father stumped. Dion had not been long enough
at Welsley to dive into all its mysteries.

On the evening of the third day Dion told Rosamund that he must go to
London on the following morning.

"I've got something I must do and I want to tell you about it," he said.
"You remember Mrs. Clarke?"

"Yes," said Rosamund.

"It must be more than two years since I've seen her. She lives a great
deal in Constantinople, you know. But she sometimes comes to London in
the winter. It's abominably cold in Constantinople in winter. There are
perpetual winds from the Black Sea."

"Yes, I know there are. Esme Darlington has told me about them."

"Mrs. Clarke's in London now."

"Did you see her when you passed through?"

"No, but I want to see her to-morrow. Rose, I'm going to tell you
something which nobody else must know. I was asked to keep it entirely
to myself, but I refused. I was resolved to tell you, because I don't
believe in secrets between husband and wife--about their doings, I
mean." (Just then he had happened to think of Mrs. Clarke's farewell
telegram to him when he had sailed for South Africa.)

"I know how frank and sincere you always are, Dion," she said gently.

"I try to be. You remember that party at Mrs. Chetwinde's where you
sang? You met Mrs. Clarke that night."

"Of course I remember. We had quite an interesting talk."

"She's clever. Lord Brayfield was there, too, that night, a fair man.

"I saw him. He wasn't introduced to me."

"Brayfield was shot in the war. Did you know it?"

"No. I thought I had read everything. But I didn't happen to see it."

"And I didn't mention it when I wrote. I thought I'd tell you if I came
home. Brayfield, poor fellow, didn't die immediately. He suffered
a great deal, but he was able to write two or three letters--last
messages--home. One of these messages was written to Mrs. Clarke. He
gave it to me and made me promise to convey it to her personally, not to
put it in the post."

"Was Lord Brayfield in the C.I.V.?" asked Rosamund.

"Oh no. He was a captain in the 5th Lancers. We were brigaded with them
for a bit and under fire at the same time. Brayfield happened to see me.
He knew I was an acquaintance of Mrs. Clarke's, and when he was shot he
asked that I should be allowed to come to him. Permission was given. I
went, and he asked me if I'd give Mrs. Clarke a letter from him when I
got home. It seems none of his brother officers happened to know her.
He might have given the letter to one of them. It would have been more
natural. But"--Dion hesitated--"well, he wanted to say a word or two to
some one who knew her, I suppose."

Rosamund quite understood there were things Dion did not care to tell
even to her. She did not want to hear them. She was not at all a curious
woman.

"I'm glad you are able to take the letter," she said.

And then she began to talk about something else. Mr. Thrush's prospects
with the Dean, which were even yet not quite decided.

By the quick train at nine o'clock Dion left Welsley next morning; he
was in London by half-past ten. He had of course written to Mrs. Clarke
asking if he could see her. She had given him an appointment for
three o'clock at the flat she had taken for a few months in Park
Side, Knightsbridge. Dion went first to the City, and after doing some
business there, and lunching with his uncle at the Cheshire Cheese, got
into a cab and drove to Knightsbridge.

Mrs. Clarke's flat was on the first floor of a building which faced the
street on one side and Hyde Park on the other. Dion rang at a large,
very solid oak door. In two or three minutes the door was opened by an
elderly maid, with high cheek-bones and long and narrow light gray
eyes, who said, with a foreign accent, that Mrs. Clarke was at home.
Afterwards Dion knew that this woman was a Russian and Mrs. Clarke's own
maid.

She showed Dion into a long curving hall in which a fire was burning.
Here he left his hat and coat. While he was taking the coat off he
had time to think, "What an original hall this is!" From it he got an
impression of warmth and of a pleasant dimness. He had really no time
to look carefully about, but a quick glance told him that there were
interesting things in this hall, or at any rate interestingly combined.
He was conscious of the stamp of originality.

The Russian maid showed him into a drawing-room and went away to tell
"Madame." She did not go out by the hall, but walked the whole length of
the long narrow drawing-room, and passed through a small doorway at its
farther end. Through this doorway there filtered into the drawing-room a
curious blue light. All the windows of the drawing-room looked into Hyde
Park, on to the damp grass, the leafless trees, the untenanted spaces of
autumn.

Dion went to the fireplace, which faced the far doorway. There was not
a sound in the room; not a sound came to it just then from without. He
could scarcely believe he was in Knightsbridge. Not even a clock was
ticking on the mantelpiece above the fire, in which ship logs were
burning. The flames which came from them were of various shades of blue,
like magical flames conjured up by a magician. He looked round. He had
never seen a room like this before. It was a room to live in, to
hear strange music in; it was not a reception-room. Not crowded with
furniture it was not at all bare. Its "note" was not austere but quite
the contrary. It was a room which quietly enticed. Dion was not one of
those men who know all about women's dresses, and combinations of color,
and china, and furniture, but he was observant; as a rule he noticed
what he saw. Fresh from South Africa, from a very hard life out of
doors, he looked at this room and was almost startled by it. The
refinement of it was excessive in his eyes and reminded him of something
overbred, of certain Italian greyhounds, for instance. Strange blues and
greens were dexterously combined through the room, in the carpet,
the curtains, the blinds, the stuffs which covered the chairs, sofas,
divans, cushions--blues and greens innumerable. He had never before seen
so many differing shades of the two colors; he had not known that so
many shades existed. In the china these colors were repeated. The door
by which he had come in was of thick glass in a frame of deep blue wood
and, by means of a mysterious light in the hall, was made mistily blue.
All along the windows, lilies were growing, or seemed to be growing,
in earth closely covered with green moss. There were dwarf trees, like
minute yew trees, in green and blue china pots.

And always the ship logs in the fire gave out the magical blue flames.

Certainly the general effect of the room was not only luxuriously
comfortable, but also strangely beautiful, though there was nothing in
it which a lover of antiques would have given his eyes for. To
Dion, fresh from South Africa, the room looked too comfortable, too
ingeniously beautiful. It struck him as ultra modern, ahead of anything
he had ever yet seen, and almost as evil. But certainly it enticed.

He heard the distant sound of a woman's dress and saw Mrs. Clarke coming
slowly in from the room beyond (another blue and green room perhaps),
and he thought of Brayfield dying. He thrust a hand into the
breast-pocket of his coat and brought out the dead man's letter.

Mrs. Clarke came up to the fire and greeted him. She did not look a
moment older than when he had seen her last at Claridge's, or indeed
than when he had first seen her standing under the statue of Echo in
Mrs. Chetwinde's drawing-room. The same feverish refinement still was
with her, belonged to her; she looked as before, wasted as if by
some obscure disease, haunted, almost distressed, and yet absolutely
self-controlled, mistress of herself and unconscious of critical
observation. Not even for a moment, seeing her thus again after a long
interval of time, did Dion hesitate about her beauty. Undoubtedly she
had beauty. The shape of her head was lovely, and her profile was like a
delicate vision seen in water. The husky sound of her voice in her first
words to him took him back to the Divorce Court.

"You haven't changed," she said, staring intently at him in her oddly
impersonal way, which appraised and yet held something of inwardness.

"But people say I have changed very much."

"People?"

"Well--my people."

"I don't call natural development change. I saw in you very plainly when
we first met what you are now. You have got there. That's all."

Her lips were very pale. How strangely unshining her hair was.

"Yes, she looked punished!" he thought. "It's that look of punishment
which sets her quite apart from all other women."

She glanced at the letter he was holding and sat down on a very broad
green divan. There were many cushions upon it; she did not heap them
behind her, but sat quite upright. She did not ask him to sit down. He
would do as he liked. Absurd formalities of any kind did not enter into
her scheme of life.

"How is Jimmy?" he asked.

"Brilliantly well. He's been at Eton for a long time, doing dreadfully
at work--he's a born dunce--and splendidly at play. How he would
appreciate you as you are now!"

She spoke with a gravity that was both careless and intense. He sat down
near her. In his letter asking to see her he had not told her that
he had a special object in writing to visit her. By her glance at
Brayfield's letter he knew that she had gathered it.

They talked of Jimmy for a few minutes; then Dion said:

"My regiment was brigaded with Lord Brayfield's for a time in South
Africa. I was in the action in which he was shot, poor chap. He saw me
and remembered that I was a--a friend of yours. When he was dying he
wanted to see me. I was sent for, and he gave me this letter for you. He
asked me to give it to you myself if I came back."

He bent down to her with the letter.

"Thank you," she said, and she took it without looking at all surprised,
and with her habitual composed gravity. "There are Turkish cigarettes in
that ivory box," she added, looking at a box on a table close by.

"Thank you."

As Dion turned to get a cigarette he heard her tearing Brayfield's
envelope.

"Will you give me one?" said the husky voice.

Without saying anything he handed to her the box, and held a lighted
match to her cigarette when it was between the pale lips. She smoked
gently as she opened and read Brayfield's letter. When she had finished
it--evidently it was not a long letter--she put it back into the
envelope, laid it down on the green divan and said:

"What do you think of this room? It was designed and arranged by
Monsieur de Vaupre, a French friend of mine."

"By a man!" said Dion, irrepressibly.

"Who hasn't been in the South African War. Do you like it?"

"I don't think I do, but I admire it a good deal."

He was looking at the letter lying on the divan, and Brayfield was
before him, tormented and dying. He had always disliked the look of
Brayfield, but he had felt almost a sort of affection for him when he
was dying. Foolishly perhaps, Dion wanted Mrs. Clarke to say something
kind about Brayfield now.

"If you admire it, why don't you like it?" she asked. "A person--I could
understand; but a room!"

He looked at her and hesitated to acknowledge a feeling at which he knew
something in her would smile; then he thought of Rosamund and of Little
Cloisters and spoke out the truth.

"I think it's an unwholesome-looking room. It looks to me as if it
had been thought out and arranged by somebody with a beastly, though
artistic, mind."

"The inner room is worse," she said.

But she did not offer to show it to him, nor did she disagree with his
view. He even had the feeling that his blunt remark had pleased her.

He asked her about Constantinople. She lived there, she told him, all
through the spring and autumn, and spent the hottest months on the
Bosphorus.

"People are getting accustomed to my temerity," she said. "Of course
Esme Darlington is still in despair, and Lady Ermyntrude goes about
spreading scandal. But it doesn't seem to do much harm. She hasn't any
more influence over my husband. He won't hear a word against me. Like a
good dog, I suppose, he loves the hand which has beaten him."

"You've got a will of iron, I believe," said Dion.

She changed the subject.

"I don't ask you to tell me about South Africa," she said. "Because you
told me the whole story as soon as I came into the room. But what are
you going to do now? Settle down in the Church's bosom at Welsley?"

There was no sarcasm in her voice.

"Oh--I'm going back to business in a few days."

"You'll run up and down, I suppose."

"It's too far, an hour and a half each way. I shall have to be in
London."

He spoke rather indecisively.

"I'm taking a fortnight's holiday, and then we shall settle down."

"I've been in Welsley," said Mrs. Clarke. "It's beautiful but, to me,
stifling. It has an atmosphere which would soon dry up my mind. All
the petals would curl up and go brown at the edges. I'm glad you're not
going to live there. But after South Africa you couldn't."

"I don't know. I find it very attractive," he said, instinctively on the
defensive because of Rosamund, who had not been attacked. "The coziness
and the peace of it are very delightful after all the--well, of course,
it was a pretty stiff life in South Africa."

Again he looked at Brayfield's letter. He wanted to tell Mrs. Clarke
about Brayfield, but it seemed she had no interest in the dead man.
While he was thinking this she quietly put out her hand, took the
letter, got up and dropped it into the fire among the blue flames from
the ship logs.

"I seldom keep letters," she said, "unless I have to answer them."

She turned round.

"I've kept yours," she said.

"The one I--it was awfully good of you to send me that telegram."

"So Allah had you in His hand."

"I don't know why when so many much better fellows----" He broke off,
and then he plunged into the matter of Brayfield. He could not go
without telling her, though hearing, perhaps, would not interest her.

All the time he was speaking she remained standing by the fire, with
her lovely little head slightly bending forward and her profile turned
towards him. The emaciation of her figure almost startled him. She wore
a black dress. It seemed to him a very simple dress. She could have told
him that such simplicity only comes from a few very good dressmakers,
and is only fully appreciated by a very few women.

Brayfield, though he was dying, had been very careful in what he had
said to Dion. In his pain he had shown that he had good blood in him. He
had not hinted even at any claim on Mrs. Clarke. But he had spoken of a
friendship which had meant very much to him, and had asked Dion, if he
ever had the opportunity, to tell Mrs. Clarke that when he was dying she
was the woman he was thinking about. He had not spoken interestingly;
he was not an interesting man; but he had spoken with sincerity, with
genuine feeling.

"She's a woman in a thousand," he had said. "Tell her I thought so till
the last. Tell her if she had been free I should have begged her to
marry me."

And he had added, after a pause:

"Not that she'd ever have done it. I'm pretty sure of that."

When Dion had finished, still standing by the fire, Mrs. Clarke said:

"Thank you for remembering it all. It shows your good heart."

"Oh--please!"

Why didn't she think about Brayfield?

She turned round and fixed her distressed eyes on him.

"Which is best, to be charitable or to be truthful?" she said, without
any vibration of excitement. "_De Mortuis_--it's a kindly saying. A true
Turk, one of the old Osmanlis, might have said it. If you hadn't brought
me that letter and the message I should probably never have mentioned
Brayfield to you again. But as it is I am going to be truthful. I can
say honestly peace to Brayfield's ashes. His death was worthy. Courage
he evidently had. But you mustn't think that because he liked me I ever
liked him. Don't make a mistake. I'm not a nervous suspicious fool of a
woman anxiously defending, or trying to defend, her honor--not attacked,
by the way. If Lord Brayfield had ever been anything to me I should
just be quiet, say nothing. But I didn't like him. If I had liked him I
shouldn't have burnt his letter. And now"--to Dion's great astonishment
she made slowly the sign of the Cross--"_requiescat in pace_."

After a long pause she added:

"Now come and see the other room. I'll give you Turkish coffee there."



CHAPTER VIII

It had been understood between Rosamund and Dion that he should spend
that night in London. He had several things to see to after his long
absence, had to visit his tailor, the dentist, the bootmaker, to look
out some things in Little Market Street, to have an interview with
his banker, et cetera. He would go back to Welsley on the following
afternoon. In the evening of that day he dined in De Lorne Gardens
with Beatrice and Guy Daventry and his mother, and again, as in
Knightsbridge, something was said about the Welsley question. Dion
gathered that Rosamund's devotion to Welsley was no secret in "the
family." The speedy return to Little Market Street was assumed;
nevertheless he was certain that his mother, his sister-in-law, and
Guy were secretly wondering how Rosamund would be able to endure the
departure from Welsley. Beatrice had welcomed him back very quietly, but
he had felt more definitely than ever before the strong sympathy which
existed between them.

"I quite love Beatrice," he said to his mother in the jobbed brougham
with the high stepping, but slow moving, horse which conveyed them to
Queen Anne's Mansions after the dinner.

"She is worth it," said Mrs. Leith. "Beatrice says very little, but she
means very much."

"Yes. I wonder--I wonder how much of her meaning I thoroughly
understand, mater."

"Perhaps about five per cent of it, dee-ar," observed Mrs. Leith in her
sweetest voice.

And then she began to talk about Esme Darlington.

That night Dion stayed at Queen Anne's Mansions, and slept in his old
room.

In her room his mother lay awake because she wished to lie awake. In
sleep she would have lost the precious sense of her boy's nearness to
her. So she counted the hours and she thanked God; and twice in the
night she slipped out into the hall, with her ample dressing-gown folded
about her, and she looked at her boy's coat hanging on its hook, and
she listened just outside his door. Once she felt certain she heard his
quiet breathing, and then, shutting her eyes, for a moment she was again
the girl mother with little Dion.

Little, little Dion! The soldier, burnt and hardened and made wholly a
man by South Africa, was still that to his mother, more than ever that
since he had been to the war.

That question of Welsley!

Going down in the train next day Dion thought about it a great deal.
With his return the old longing, almost an old need it was, to give
Rosamund whatever she wanted, or cared at all for, had come to him
again. But something fought it, the new longing to dominate and the wish
to give Rosamund chances. Besides, how could they possibly live on in
Welsley? He could not spend from three to four hours every day in the
train. He might get away from London on Fridays and stay at Welsley
every week till Monday morning, but that would mean living alone in
Little Market Street for four days in the week. If he seemed willing to
do that, would Rosamund consent to it?

Another test! He remembered his test before the war.

Mrs. Clarke's allusion to Welsley had left a rather strong impression
upon him. He did not know whether he had a great respect for her, but
he knew that he had a great respect for her mind. Like Beattie, but in
a very different way, she meant a great deal. He no longer doubted that
she liked him very much, though why he honestly did not know. When with
her he felt strongly that he was not an interesting man. Dumeny was
a beast, he felt sure, but he also felt sure that Dumeny was an
interesting man.

Mrs. Clarke's wild mind attracted something in him. Through her eyes he
was able to see the tameness of Welsley, a dear tameness, safe, cozy,
full of a very English charm and touched with ancient beauty, but
still----! Would the petals of Rosamund ever curl up and go brown at
the edges from living at Welsley? No, he could not imagine that ever
happening. A dried-up mind she could never have.

He would not see Welsley through the eyes of Mrs. Clarke.

Nevertheless when he got out of the train at Welsley Station, and saw
Robin's pal, the Archdeacon, getting out too, and a couple of minor
canons, who had come up for the evening papers or something, greeting
him with an ecclesiastical heartiness mingled with just a whiff of
professional deference, Mrs. Clarke's verdict of "stifling" recurred to
his mind.

Stamboul and Welsley--Mrs. Clarke and Rosamund!

The dual comparison made him at once see the truth. Stamboul and Welsley
were beautiful; each possessed an enticing quality; but the one enticed
by its grandiose mystery, by its sharp contrasts of marble stability
and matchboard frailty, by its melancholy silences and spaces, by its
obscure peace and its dangerous passion; the other by its delightful
simplicity, its noble homeliness, its dignity and charm of an old faith
and a smiling unworldliness, its harmonies of gray and of green, of
stone and verdure, its serenity lifted skywards by many bells.

But at the heart of Stamboul the dust lay thick, and there was dew at
the heart of Welsley.

Perhaps green Elis, with its sheep-bells, the eternal voices of its pine
trees, the celestial benignity of its Hermes, was more to be desired
than either Stamboul or Welsley. But for the moment Welsley was very
desirable.

Dion gave his bag to an "outside porter," and walked to the Precincts
with the Archdeacon.

He found Rosamund uplifted and triumphant; Mr. Thrush had finally
captivated the Dean, and had been given the "situation" which Rosamund
had desired for him. Her joy was almost ebullient. She could talk of
nothing else. Mr. Thrush was to be installed on the following Sunday.

"Installed?" said Dion. "Is the Archbishop coming down to conduct the
ceremony?"

"No, no! What I mean is that Mr. Thrush will walk in the procession for
the first time. Oh, I shall be so nervous! If only he carries the wand
as I've taught him! I don't know what Mr. Thrush would do without me. He
seems to depend on me for everything now, poor old gentleman."

"I'm afraid he'll miss you dreadfully," said Dion.

"Miss me? When?"

Before he could answer she said quickly:

"Oh, by the way, Dion, while you've been away I've done something for
you."

"What is it, Rose?"

She was looking gaily mysterious, and almost cunning, but in a
delightful way.

"I don't want you to be bored during your holiday."

"Bored! Don't you realize that this is an earthly Paradise for me? You
and Robin and peace after South Africa."

She looked very shrewd.

"That's all very well, but a man, especially a soldier man, wants
sport."

She laid a strong and happy emphasis on the last word, and then she
disclosed the secret. A brother of "the cold douche," a gentleman farmer
who had land some four miles from Welsley, and who was "a great
friend" of Rosamund's--she had met him three times at the organist's
house--hearing of Dion's arrival, had written to say that he had some
partridges which needed "keeping down." He himself was "laid by" with a
bad leg, but he would be very glad if Mr. Leith would "take his chance
among the birds" any day, or days, he liked while at Welsley. The
gentleman farmer could not offer much, just the ground, most of it
stubble, and a decent lot of birds.

"Dear Mrs. Dickinson knew through me how fond of shooting you are. We
owe it all to her," said Rosamund, in conclusion. "I've written to thank
him, and to say how glad you'll be."

"But you must come too," he said. "You shot in Greece, you must shoot
again here."

"I don't think I will here," said Rosamund, confidentially and rather
mysteriously.

"Why not?"

"Well, I don't think the Dean would approve of it. And he's been so
bricky about Mr. Thrush that I shouldn't like to hurt him."

"I can't go alone. I shall take Robin then."

He spoke half-laughingly.

"Robin?"

"Yes, why not? I'm sure he'd love to go."

"Of course he would. But how could his little legs walk over stubble?
He's not four years old yet."

"Robin's got to be Doric. He can't begin too soon."

She smiled, then looked at him seriously.

"Dion, do you know that you've come back much more Doric than you were
when you went out?"

"Have I, Rose?"

"Much more."

"Do you like me less because of that?"

She blushed faintly.

"No," she said.

That faint blush made Dion's heart bound, he scarcely knew why. But he
only said soberly:

"I'm glad of that. And now about Robin. You're right. He can't walk over
stubble with me, but why shouldn't I stick him on a pony?"

"Oh--a pony! How he would love it!"

"Can't I get hold of one?"

"But Job Crickendon's got one!"

"Job Crick-- . . . ?"

"Mrs. Dickinson's brother who's lending you the partridges. Don't say
another word, Dion. I'll arrange it all. Robin will be in the seventh
heaven."

"And you must come with us."

Rosamund was about to speak quickly. Dion saw that. Her eyes shone; she
opened her lips. But something, some sudden thought, stopped her. After
a minute she said quietly:

"We'll see."

And she gave Dion a curious, tender look which he did not quite
understand. Surely she was keeping some delicate secret from him, one
of those dear secrets which perhaps will never be told, but which are
sometimes happily guessed.

Dion could not help seeing that Rosamund eagerly wanted to attach him to
Welsley. He felt that she had not honestly and fully faced the prospect
of returning to live in London. Her plan--he saw it plainly; the
partridge shooting was part of it--was to make Welsley so delightful to
him that he would not want to give up the home at Little Cloisters.
What was to be done? He disliked, he almost hated, the thought that his
return would necessitate an unpleasant change in Rosamund's life. Yet
something within him told him that he ought to be firm. He was obliged
to live in London, and therefore it was only natural and right that
Rosamund and Robin should live in London too. After this long separation
he ought not to have to face a semi-bachelor life; three days of the
week at Little Cloisters and four days alone in Little Market Street. He
must put Rosamund to the test. That faint blush, which he would not soon
forget, made him hope that she would come out of the test triumphantly.

If she did, how splendid it would be. His heart yearned at the thought
of a Rosamund submissive to his wish, unselfish out of the depth
of--dared he think of it as a new growth of love within her, tending
towards a great flowering which would bring a glory into two lives? But
if she yielded at once to his wish, without a word of regret, if she
took the speedy return to London quite simply as a matter of course, he
would feel almost irresistibly inclined to take her in his arms and to
say, "No, you shall stay on at Little Cloisters. We'll manage somehow."
Perhaps he could stand three hours daily in the train. He could read
the papers. A man must do that. As well do it in the train as in an
arm-chair at home.

But at any rate he would put her to the test. On that he was resolved.

At dinner that night Rosamund told him she had already written to "dear,
kind Job Crickendon" about the pony.

"You might shoot on Monday," she said.

"Right you are. When we hear about the pony we'll tell Robin."

"Yes. Not till it's all delightfully settled. Robin on horseback!"

Her eyes shone.

"I can see him already with a gun in his hand old enough to shoot
with you," she added. "We must bring him up to be a thorough little
sportsman; like that Greek boy Dirmikis."

They talked about Robin's future till dinner was over. Dion loved their
talk, but he could not help seeing that in Rosamund's forecast town life
held no place at all. In everything, or in almost everything, that
she said the country held pride of place. There was not one word about
Jenkins's gymnasium, or the Open Air Club with its swimming facilities,
or riding in the Park, or fencing at Bernardi's. Rosamund seemed tacitly
to assume that everything which was Doric was connected with country
life.

On the following morning she hastened out "to buy riding gaiters for
Robin." She had his "size" with her.

Not a word had been said about Dion's visit to Mrs. Clarke. Rosamund's
lack of all curiosity in regard to Mrs. Clarke and himself gave him the
measure of her faith in him. Few women, he thought, would be able
to trust a man so completely. And this trust was the more remarkable
because he felt positive that Rosamund distrusted Mrs. Clarke. She had
never said so, but he considered that by her conduct she had proved her
distrust.

It was a great virtue in Rosamund, that power she had to trust where
trust was deserved.

Dear, kind Job Crickendon wrote that Master Robin could ride his pony,
Jane, and welcome. The letter arrived on Saturday. Rosamund read it
aloud to Dion.

"The people about here are the dearest people I've ever come across,"
she said. "So different from people in London."

"Why, what's the matter with people in London?" asked Dion.

"Oh, I don't know; they're more artificial. They think so much about
clothes, and hats, and the way their hair's done."

"The men!"

"I was talking of the women."

"But is Job Crickendon a woman?"

"Don't be absurd, Dion. You know what I mean. The country brings out the
best that is in people."

"That's a bad look out for me, who've lived nearly all my life in
London."

"You would be yourself anywhere. Now about Robin. I've got the gaiters.
They're not exactly riding gaiters--they don't make them for such little
boys--but they'll do beautifully. But I don't want to tell Robin
till Monday morning. You see he's got a very exciting day before him
to-morrow, and I think to know about Monday on top of it might be almost
too much for him."

"But what excitement is there to-morrow?"

She looked at him reproachfully.

"Mr. Thrush!"

"Oh, of course. And is Robin coming to the Cathedral?"

"Yes, for once. It's a terribly long service for a child, but Robin
would break his heart if he didn't see Mr. Thrush walk in the procession
for the first time."

"Then we won't tell him till Monday morning. I'll hire a dog-cart and we
can all drive out together."

Again she gave him the tender look, but she did not then explain what it
meant.

That evening they dined with Canon Wilton, who had a surprise in store
for them. Esme Darlington had come down to stay with him over Sunday,
and to have a glimpse of his dear young friends in Little Cloisters.

The dinner was a delightful one. Mr. Darlington was benignly talkative
and full of kindly gossip; Canon Wilton almost beamed upon his guests;
after dinner Rosamund sang song after song while the three men listened
and looked. She sang her very best for them, and when she was winding
a lace shawl about her hair preparatory to the little walk home, Canon
Wilton thanked her in a way that brought the blood to her cheeks.

"You've made me very happy to-night," he said finally. And his strong
bass voice was softer than usual.

"I'm glad."

"Not only by your singing," he added.

She looked at him inquiringly. His eyes had gone to Dion.

"Not only by that."

And then he spoke almost in a murmur to her.

"He's come back worth it," he said. "Good night. God bless you both."

The following day was made memorable by the "installation" of Mr. Thrush
as a verger of Welsley Cathedral.

The Cathedral was not specially crowded for the occasion, but there was
a very fair congregation when Rosamund, Dion and Robin (in a sailor suit
with wide blue trousers) walked in together through the archway in the
rood-screen. One of the old established vergers, a lordly person with
a "presence" and the air of a high dignitary, met them as they stepped
into the choir, and wanted to put them into stalls; but Rosamund begged
for seats in a pew just beyond the lectern, facing the doorway by which
the procession came into the choir.

"Robin would be swallowed up in a stall," she whispered to Dion.

And they both looked down at the little chap tenderly, and met his blue
eyes turned confidingly, yet almost anxiously too, up to them. He was
wondering about all this whispering with the verger, and hoping that
nothing had happened to Mr. Thrush.

They found perfect seats in a pew just beyond the deanery stalls. Far
up in the distance above them one bell, the five minutes' bell, was
chiming. Its voice recalled to Rosamund the "ping-ping" of the bell
of St. Mary's Church which had welcomed her in the fog. How much had
happened since then! Robin was nestling against her. He sat between her
and his father, and was holding his father's hand. By dividing Dion from
her he united her with Dion. She thought of the mystery of the Trinity,
and then of their mystery, the mystery of father, mother and child.
To-day she felt very happy, and happy in an unusual way. In her
happiness she know that, in a sort of under way, she had almost dreaded
Dion's return. She had been so peacefully content, so truly at rest and
deeply serene in the life at Welsley with Robin. In her own heart she
could not deny that she had loved having her Robin all to herself;
and she had loved, too, the long hours of solitude during which,
in day-dreams, she had lived the religious life. A great peace had
enveloped those months at Welsley. In them she had mysteriously grown
into a closer relation with her little son. She had often felt in those
months that this mysterious nearness could never have become quite what
it had become to her unless she had been left alone with Robin. It was
their solitude which had enabled her to concentrate wholly on Robin, and
it was surely this exclusive concentration on Robin which had drawn him
so very close to her. All the springs of his love had flowed towards
her.

She had been just a wee bit frightened about Dion's return.

And that was why at this moment, when the five minutes' bell was
ringing, she felt so happy. For Dion's return had not made any
difference; or, if it had made a difference, she did not actively regret
it. The child's new adoration of his father had made her care more for
Dion, and even more for Robin; for she felt that Robin was unconsciously
loving in his father a strength and a nobility which were new in Dion,
which had been born far away across the sea. War destroys, and all the
time war is destroying it is creating. Robin was holding a little bit of
what the South African War had created as he held his father's hand. For
are not the profound truths of the soul conveyed through all its temple?

"Happiness is a mystery," thought Rosamund.

And then she silently thanked God that this mystery was within herself,
and that she felt it in Robin and in Dion.

She looked down at her little son, and as she met his soft and yet
ardent eyes,--full of innocent anxiety, and almost of awe, about Mr.
Thrush,--she blessed the day when she had decided to marry Dion, when
she had renounced certain dreams, when she had taken the advice of the
man who was now her friend and had resolved to tread that path of life
in which she could have a companion.

Her companion had given her another companion. In the old gray
Cathedral, full of the silent voices of men who had prayed and been
gathered to their rest long since, Rosamund looked down the way of
happiness, and she could not see its end.

The five minutes' bell stopped and Robin sat up very straight in the
pew. The Bishop's wife proceeded to her stall with a friend. Robin
stared reverently, alert for the tribute to Mr. Thrush. Miss Piper
glided in sideways, holding her head down as if she were searching for
a dropped pin on the pavement. She, too, was an acquaintance of Robin's,
and he whispered to his mother:

"Miss Piper's come to see Mr. Thrush."

"Yes, darling."

What a darling he was in his anxiety for his old friend! She looked at
the freckles on the bridge of his little nose and longed to kiss them.
This was without doubt the most wonderful day in Robin's life so far.
She looked ahead and saw how many wonderful days for Robin! And over his
fair hair she glanced at Dion, and she felt Dion's thought hand in hand
with hers.

A long sigh came from the organ, and then Mr. Dickinson was at work
preluding Mr. Thrush. Distant steps sounded on the pavement behind
the choir screen coming from some hidden place at the east end of the
Cathedral. The congregation stood up. All this, in Robin's mind, was
for Mr. Thrush. Still holding his father's hand tightly he joined in the
congregation's movement. The solemnly pacing steps drew nearer. Robin
felt very small, and the pew seemed very deep to him now that he was
standing up. There was a fat red footstool by his left leg. He peeped at
his father and whispered:

"May I, Fa?"

Dion bent down, took him under the arms and lifted him gently on to the
footstool just as the vergers appeared with their wands, walking nobly
at the head of the procession.

At Welsley the ordinary vergers did not march up the choir to the return
stalls, but divided and formed up in two lines at the entrance, making
a dignified avenue down which the choristers and the clergy passed with
calm insouciance into the full view of the waiting congregation. Only
two picked men, with wands of silver, preceded the dignitaries to their
massive stalls. Mr. Thrush was--though not in Robin's eyes--an
ordinary verger. He would not therefore penetrate into the choir. But,
mercifully, he with one other had been placed in the forefront of the
procession. He led the way, and Robin and his parents had a full and
satisfying view of him as the procession curved round and made for the
screen. In his dark and flowing robe he came on majestical, holding
his wand quite perfectly, and looking not merely self-possessed but--as
Rosamund afterwards put it--"almost uplifted."

Robin began to breathe hard as he gazed. From Mr. Thrush's shoulders the
robe swung with his lordly movements. He reached the entrance. It seemed
as if nothing could prevent him from floating on, in all the pride and
dignity of his new office, to the very steps of the Dean's stall. But
discipline held him. He stood aside; he came to rest with his wand
before him; he let the procession pass by, and then, almost mystically,
he evaporated with his brother vergers.

Rosamund sent a quick look to Dion, a look of subdued and yet bright
triumph. Then she glanced down at Robin. She had been scarcely less
excited, less strung up, than he. But she had seen the fruit of her
rehearsals and now she was satisfied. Robin, she saw, was more than
satisfied. His eyes were round with the glory of it all.

That was the happiest Sunday Dion had ever spent, and it was fated to
close in a happiness welling up out of the very deeps of the heart.

Canon Wilton and Esme Darlington came in to tea, and Mr. Thrush was
entertained at a sumptuous repast in the nursery "between the services."
Robin presided at it with anxious rapture, being now just a little in
awe of his faithful old friend. His nurse, who approved of Mr. Thrush,
and was much impressed by the fact that after two interviews with the
Dean he had been appointed to a post in the Cathedral, sat down to it
too; and Rosamund and Dion looked in to congratulate Mr. Thrush, and to
tell him how delighted they were with his bearing in the procession
and his delicately adroit manipulation of his wand. Mr. Thrush received
their earnest congratulations with the quiet dignity of one who felt
that they did not spring from exaggeration of sentiment. Like all great
artists he knew when he had done well. But when Rosamund and Dion were
about to retire, and to leave him with Robin and the nurse to the tea
and well-buttered toast, he suddenly emerged into an emotion which did
him credit.

"Madame!" He said to Rosamund, in a rather hoarse and tremulous voice.

"Now don't trouble to get up again, dear Mr. Thrush. Yes, what is it?"

Mr. Thrush looked down steadily at the "round" which glistened on his
plate. Something fell upon it.

"Oh, Mr. Thrush----!" began Robin, and paused in dismay, looking up at
his mother.

"Madame," said Mr. Thrush again, still looking at the "round," "I
haven't felt as I do now since I stood behind my counter just off
Hanover Square, respected. Yes," he said, and his old voice quavered
upwards, gaining in strength, "respected by all who knew me. _She_
was with me then, and now she isn't. But I feel--I feel--I'm respected
again."

Something else fell upon the toast.

"And it's all your doing, madam. I--all I can say is that I--all I can
say----" His voice failed.

Rosamund put her hand on his shoulder.

"There, Mr. Thrush, there! I know, I know just how it is."

"Madame," said Mr. Thrush, with quavering emphasis, "one can depend upon
you, a man can depend upon you. What you undertake you carry through,
even if it's only the putting on his feet of--of--I never thought to be
a verger, never. I never could have looked up to such a thing but for
you. But Mr. Dean he said to me, 'Mr. Thrush, when Mrs. Leith speaks up
for a man, even an archbishop has to listen.'"

"Thank you, Mr. Thrush. Robin, give Mr. Thrush the brown sugar. He
always likes brown sugar in his tea."

"It's more nourishing, madam," said Mr. Thrush, with a sudden change
from emotion to quiet self-confidence. "It does more work for the
stomach. A chemist knows."

"Dear old man!" said Rosamund, when she and Dion were outside in the
passage. "To say all that before nurse--it was truly generous."

And she frankly wiped her eyes. A moment later she added:

"I pray he doesn't fall back into his little failing!"

She looked at Dion interrogatively. He looked at her, understanding, he
believed, the inquiry in her eyes. Before he could say anything the kind
and careful voice of Mr. Darlington was heard below, asking:

"Is Mrs. Dion Leith at home?"

Mr. Darlington was delighted with Little Cloisters. He said it had a
"flavor which was quite unique," and was so enthusiastic that Rosamund
became almost excited. Dion saw that she counted Mr. Darlington as an
ally. When Mr. Darlington's praises sounded she could not refrain from
glancing at her husband, and when at length their guests got up to
go "with great reluctance," she begged them to come and dine on the
following night.

Mr. Darlington raised his ragged eyebrows and looked at Canon Wilton.

"I'm by way of going back to town to-morrow afternoon," he began
tentatively.

"Stay another night and let us accept," said Canon Wilton heartily.

"But I'm dining with dear Lavinia Berkhamstead, one of my oldest
friends. It's not a set dinner, but I should hardly like--"

"For once!" pleaded Rosamund.

Mr. Darlington wavered. He looked round the room and then at Rosamund
and Dion.

"It's most attractive here," he murmured, "and Lady Berkhamstead lives
in the Cromwell Road, at the far end. I wonder--"

"It's settled!" Rosamund exclaimed. "Dinner at half-past seven. We keep
early hours here, and Dion goes shooting to-morrow with Robin and may
get sleepy towards ten o'clock."

After explanations about Robin, Mr. Darlington gracefully yielded. He
would wire to dear Lavinia Berkhamstead and explain matters.

As he and Canon Wilton walked back to the Canon's house he said;

"What dear people those are!"

"Yes, indeed," said the Canon.

"Happiness has brought out the very best in them both. Leith is a fine
young fellow, and she, of course, is unique, a piece of radiance, as her
beautiful mother was. It does one good to see such a happy household."

He gently glowed, and presently added:

"You and I, dear Canon, have missed something."

After a moment the Canon's strong voice came gravely out of the winter
darkness:

"You think great happiness the noblest education?"

Mr. Darlington began to pull his beard.

"You mean, my dear Wilton----?"

"Do you think the education of happiness is the education most likely to
bring out the greatest possibilities of the soul?"

This was the sort of very definite question that Mr. Darlington
preferred to get away from if possible, and he was just preparing to
"hedge," when, fortunately, they ran into the Dean, and the conversation
deviated to a discussion concerning the effect the pursuit of scientific
research was likely to have upon religious belief.

After supper that evening--supper instead of dinner on Sundays was the
general rule in Welsley--Dion lit his pipe. It had been a very happy
day. He wished the happiness to last till sleep came to Rosamund and
to him; nevertheless he was resolved to take a risk, and to take it now
before they went to bed, while they still had two quiet hours before
them. He looked at Rosamund and reluctance surged up in him, but he beat
it back. Something told him that he had been allowed to come back from
South Africa in order that he might build firm foundations. The perfect
family life must be set upon rock. He meant to get through to the rock
if possible. Rosamund and he were beginning again. Now surely was the
day of salvation if he played the man, the man instead of merely the
lover.

"This has been one of the happiest days of my life," he said.

He was standing by the fire. Rosamund was sitting on a low chair doing
some embroidery. Gold thread gleamed against a rough cream-colored
ground in her capable hands.

"I'm so thankful you like Welsley," she said.

"Won't you hate leaving Welsley?" he asked.

Rosamund went on quietly working for a moment. Perhaps she bent a little
lower over the embroidery.

"I've made a great many friends here," she said at length, "and----"

She paused.

"Yes--do tell me, Rose."

"There's something here that I care for very much."

"Is it the atmosphere of religion? There's a great deal here that
suggests the religious life."

"Yes; it's what I care for."

"I was almost afraid of meeting you here when I came back, Rose. I
remembered what you had once told me, that you had had a great longing
to enter the religious life. I was half afraid that, living here all
alone with Robin, you might have become--I don't know exactly how to
put it--become cloistral. I didn't want to find you a sort of nun when I
came back."

He spoke with a gentle lightness.

"It might have been so, mightn't it?"

She remembered her dreams in the walled-in garden almost guiltily.

"No," she said steadily--and as she spoke she felt as if she were firmly
putting those dreams behind her forever. "Motherhood changes a woman
more than men can ever know."

"I--I know it's all right. Then you won't hate me for taking you both
back to Little Market Street in a few days?"

He saw the color deepen in her face. For an instant she went on working.
Then she put the work down, sat back in the low chair, and looked up at
him.

"No, of course we must go back. And I was very happy in Little Market
Street."

And then quickly, before he could say anything, she began to recall
the pleasant details of their life in Westminster, dwelling upon every
household joy, and everything that though "Londony" had been delightful.
Having conquered, with an effort which had cost her more than even Dion
knew, a terrible reluctance she gave herself to her own generous impulse
with enthusiasm. Rosamund could not do things by halves. She might
obstinately refrain from treading a path, but if once she had set her
feet on it she hurried eagerly along it. Something to-night had made her
decide on treading the path of unselfishness, of generosity. When Dion
lit his pipe she had not known she was going to tread it. It seemed to
her almost as if she had found herself upon the path without knowing how
she had got there. Now without hesitation she went forward.

"It was delightful in Westminster," she concluded, "and it will be
delightful there again."

"And all your friends here? And Mr. Thrush?"

"I don't know what Mr. Thrush will do," she said, with a change to deep
gravity.

The two lines showed in her pure forehead.

"I'm so afraid that without me he will fall back. But perhaps I can run
down now and then just for the day to keep him up to his promise, poor
dear old man."

"And your friends?"

"Oh, well--of course I shall miss them. But I suppose there is always
something to miss. There must be a crumpled rose leaf. I am far more
fortunate than almost any woman I know."

Dion put down his pipe.

"I simply can't do it," he said.

"What?"

"Take you away from here. It seems your right place. You love it; Robin
loves it. What's to be done? Shall I run up and down?"

"You can't. It's too far."

"I have to read the papers somewhere. Why not in the train?"

"Three hours or more! It's impossible. If only Welsley were nearer
London! But, then, it wouldn't be Welsley."

"Now I know you'll go I can't take you away."

"Did you--what did you think I should do?"

"How could I tell?"

He sat down and took her hands.

"Rose, you've made this the happiest day of my life."

"Do you mean because----?"

She stopped. Her face became very grave, almost severe. She looked at
him, but he felt that she was really looking inward upon herself. When
at last he let go her hands she said:

"Dion, you are very different from what you were when you went to the
war. If I seem different, too, it's because of that, I think."

"War changes women, perhaps, as well as men," he said tenderly.

They sat by the fire in the quiet old room and talked of the future
and of all the stages of Robin: as schoolboy, as youth, as budding
undergraduate, as man.

"Perhaps he'll be a soldier-man as his father has been," said Rosamund.

"Do you wish it?"

She looked at him steadily for a moment. Then she said:

"Yes, if it helps him as I think it has helped you. I expect when men go
to fight for their country they go, perhaps without knowing it, to fight
just for themselves."

"I believe everything we do for others, without any thought of
ourselves, we do for ourselves," he said, very seriously.

"Altruism! But then I ought to live in London for you, and you in
Welsley for me."

They both laughed. Nothing had been absolutely decided; and yet it
seemed as if through that laughter a decision had been reached about
everything really important.



CHAPTER IX

A dogcart from Harrington's had been ordered to be "round" the next
day at noon. Dion had decided against a long day's shooting on Robin's
account. He must not tire the little chap. In truth it would be
impossible to take the shooting seriously, with Robin there all the
time, clinging on to Jane and having to be looked after.

"It's going to be Robin's day," Dion said the next morning. "When are
you going to tell him?"

"Directly after breakfast. By the way, Dion,"--she spoke carelessly, and
was opening a letter while she spoke,--"I'm not coming."

"Oh, but you must!"

"No; I'll stay quietly here. I have lots of things to do."

"But Robin's first day as a sportsman!"

"He isn't going to shoot," she said with a mother's smile.

"Why won't you come? You've got some very special reason."

"Perhaps I have, but I'm not going to tell it. Women aren't wanted
everywhere. Sometimes a couple of men like to be alone."

"Robin's a man now?"

"Yes, a little man. I do hope the gaiters will fit him. I haven't dared
to try them on yet. And I've got him the dearest little whip you ever
saw."

"Jane will have to look to her paces. I'm sorry you're not coming,
Rose."

But he did not try to persuade her. He believed that she had a very
sweet reason behind her abstention. She had had Robin all to herself for
many months; perhaps she thought the father ought to have his turn now,
perhaps to-day she was handing over her little son to his father for the
education which always comes from a man. Her sudden unselfishness--Dion
believed it was that--touched him to the heart. But it made him long to
do something, many things, for her.

"I'm determined that you and Welsley shan't part from each other
forever," he said. "We'll hit on some compromise. This house is on our
hands, anyhow, till the spring."

"Perhaps we could sublet it," said Rosamund, trying to speak with brisk
cheerfulness.

"We'll talk it over again to-night."

"And now for Robin's gaiters!"

They fitted perfectly; "miraculously" was Rosamund's word for the way
they fitted.

"His legs might a-been poured into them almost, a-dear," was nurse's
admirably descriptive comment on the general effect produced.

Robin looked at his legs with deep solemnity. When the great project
for this day of days had been broken to him he had fallen upon awe. His
prattling ardors had subsided, stilled by a greater joy than any that
had called them forth in his complex past of a child. Now he gazed at
his legs, which were stretched out at right angles to his body on a
nursery chair, as if they were not his. Then he looked up at his mother,
his father, nurse; then once more down at his legs. His eyes were
inquiring. They seemed to say, "Can it be?"

"Bless him! He can't hardly believe in it!" muttered nurse. "And no
wonder."

A small sigh came from Robin. To his father and mother it came like the
whisper of happiness, that good fairy which men cannot quite get rid
of, try as they may. Two small hands went down to the little gaiters
and felt them carefully. Then Robin looked up again, this time at his
father, and smiled. Instinctively he connected his father with these
wonderful appurtenances, although his mother had bought them and put
them on him. With that smile he gave the day to his father, and Dion
took it with just a glance at Rosamund--a glance which deprecated and
which accepted.

When the dogcart was announced by Annie, with beaming eyes, Dion got
his gun, Robin received his whip,--a miniature hunting-crop with a horn
handle,--his cap was pulled down firmly on his head by Rosamund, and
they set forth to the Green Court. Here they found Harrington's most
fiery horse harnessed to quite a sporting dogcart and doing his very
best to champ his bit. From the ground Robin looked up at him with
solemn eyes. The occasion was almost too great. His father with a gun,
his own legs in gaiters, the whip which he felt in his hand, the packet
of sandwiches thrust tenderly by nurse into the pocket of his little
covert coat, and now this glorious animal and this high and unusual
carriage gleaming with light-colored wood between its immense wheels!
There was almost too much of meaning, too much of suggestion in it all.
No words came to him. He could only feel and gaze.

A stableman with hard lips stood sentinel in front of the fiery horse,
and put up a red forefinger on the right side of his temple to give them
greeting.

"I'll get in first," said Dion to Rosamund, "and then you can hand me up
Robin."

He put in his gun and took the reins, while Robin instinctively extended
his arms so that his mother could take hold of him under them.

"Up we go!" cried Dion.

And he mounted lightly to the high seat.

"Now, Robin!"

Rosamund took hold of Robin, whose short arms were still solemnly
outstretched. She was about to lift him into the cart, but, overcome by
an irresistible impulse, she paused, put one arm under the little legs
in the gaiters, drew him to her and pressed her lips on the freckled
bridge of his tiny nose.

"You darling!" she whispered, so that only he could hear. "I love you in
your gaiters better than I ever loved you before." Then she handed him
up to his father as if he were a dear little parcel.

"That's it," said Dion. "Put your arm round here, boy. Hold on tight!
Let him go!"

The hard-lipped man stood to one side and the horse--well, moved. Robin
gazed down at his mother with the faint hint of an almost shy smile,
Dion saluted her with his whip, and the glorious day was fairly begun.
Traveling with a sort of rakish deliberation the dogcart skirted the
velvet lawn of the Green Court and disappeared from sight beneath the
ancient archway.

Rosamund sighed as she turned to walk back to Little Cloisters. She
had made a real sacrifice that day in giving up Robin to his father and
staying at home. Secretly she had longed to go with her "men-folk" upon
the great expedition, to be present at Robin's initiation into the Doric
life. But something very dear in Dion had prompted her to be unselfish.
Dion was certainly much more impressive to her since his return from
the war. Even the dear things in him meant more. There seemed to be more
muscle in them than there had been when he went away.

"Even our virtues can be weak or strong, I suppose," Rosamund thought,
as she turned into the walled garden which she loved so much, and there
followed the thought:

"I wonder which mine are."

She meant to spend that day in saying good-by to Welsley. Dion had said
they would talk things over again that night; probably he would be ready
to fall in with any desire of hers, but she felt almost sure that she
would not tell him how much she wished to stay on at Little Cloisters.

An obscure feeling had come to her that perhaps it was not quite safe
for her to remain any longer here in the arms of the Precincts. Looking
backward to that which has been deliberately renounced is surely an act
of weakness.

Even the imaginative effort to live a life that has been put aside is a
feeble concession to an inclination at least partially morbid. Rosamund
was in fact a mother, and yet here in Welsley, she had, as it were,
sometimes played at being one of those "Sisters" who are content to
be brides of heaven and mothers of the poor. For her own sake it was
doubtless best to renounce Welsley at once. The new meaning of Dion
would help her to do that bravely. He had often been unselfish for her;
she would try to counter his unselfishness with hers.

When she was in the house again she had a colloquy with the cook
about the dinner for that evening. As Esme Darlington had given up an
engagement in London to come to Little Cloisters, her dinner must
be something special. She told the cook so in her cordial, almost
confidential, way, and they "put their heads together" and devised a
menu full of attractions. That done she had the day to herself. Dion
and Robin would come home some time in the afternoon, and they were all
going to have tea together up in the nursery. It might be at half-past
four, it might be at half-past five. Till then she was free.

For a moment she thought of going to see some of her friends, of telling
Mrs. Dickinson and other adherents of hers that her days in Welsley were
numbered. But a reluctance seized her. She felt a desire to be alone.
What if instead of saying good-by to Welsley, she said good-by to her
dreams in Welsley? She summoned Annie and told her not to let any one
in.

"I'm going to spend a quiet day, Annie," she said.

"Yes, ma'am," said Annie, with an air of intelligent comprehension.

"Though what else any one ever does in old Welsley I'm sure I couldn't
say," she afterwards remarked to the cook.

"You're a cockney at 'eart, Annie," repeated that functionary. "The
country says nothing to you. You want the parks, that's what you want."

"Well, I was brought up in 'em, as you may say," said Annie, whose
father had been a park-keeper, and whose mother and grandmother were
natives of Westbourne Grove.

By a quiet day Rosamund meant a day lived through in absolute solitude,
a day of meditation in the cloistered garden. She would not have any
lunch. Then she would have a better appetite for the nursery tea at
which Robin would relate to her all the doings of the greatest day of
his life. Precious, precious Robin!

She went down into the garden.

It was a mistily bright day of November. The sun shone through a
delicate veil. The air was cold but not sharp. Neither autumn nor winter
ruled. It seemed like a day which had slipped into an interstice between
two seasons, a day that was somehow rare and exceptional, holding a
faint stillness that was strange. There was in it something of the far
away. If a fairy day can be cold, it was like a fairy day. On such a day
one treads lightly and softly and at moments feels almost as if out of
the body.

Lightly and softly Rosamund went to and fro between the high and mossy
walls of the garden, keeping to the straight paths. When the bells
chimed in the tower of the Cathedral they sounded much farther away
than usual; the song of the thrush somewhere in the elder bush near the
garden door was curiously remote; the caw-caw of the rooks dropped
down as if from an immeasurable distance. Through the mist the sunshine
filtered, lightly pale and pure, a sensitive sunshine which would surely
not stay very long in Rosamund's garden.

A sort of thin stillness had fallen upon the world.

And so another chapter of life was closing, the happy chapter of
Welsley!

Something of sadness accompanied Rosamund along the straight paths, the
delicate melancholy which attends the farewells of one who has regret
but who has hope.

With the new Dion and with the old Robin, the Robin blessedly unchanged,
she could not be really unhappy. Yet it was sad to give up the dear
garden and all the dreams which belonged to it. Far down in her--she
knew it--there was certainly a recluse. She could see the black figure,
the sheltered face, the eyes looking down, the praying hands. It would
have been very natural to her long ago to seek God in the way of the
recluse. But not now!

Hermes and the child came before her. In the stillness of Welsley it was
as if she heard the green stillness of Elis. She was quite alone in that
inner room where stood the messenger with the wings on his sandals. Dion
had stayed outside. He had been unselfish that day as to-day she had
been unselfish. For she had wanted to go with the little gaiters. She
could see the smiling look of eternity upon the face of the messenger.
He had no fear for the child. He had mounted on winged feet to the
region where no fear is. How his benign and eternal calm had sunk into
Rosamund's soul that day in Elis. Far off she had seen through the frame
of the Museum doorway a bit of the valley in which the Hermes had dwelt,
and stretching across it a branch of wild olive. She had looked at it
and had thought of the victor's Crown, a crown which had even been won
by a boy at the games.

Already then a fore-knowledge of Robin had been in her.

She had gazed at the branch and loved it. Certainly she had been
dreaming, as she had afterwards told Dion, and in her dream had been
Hermes and the child, and surely another child for whose future the
messenger would not fear. The branch of wild olive had, perhaps, entered
into the dream. Into a crown she had wound it to set upon the little
fair head. And that was why she had suffered, had really suffered, when
a cruel hand had come into Elis and had torn down the wild olive branch.
Dion's hand!

That action had been like a murder. She remembered even now her feeling
of anger and distress. She had been startled. She had been ruthlessly
torn away from the exquisite calm in which, with the Hermes, she had
been celestially dreaming. Dion had torn her away, Dion who loved her so
much.

Why had he done it? Even now she did not know.

He had taken her out of that dream, and now he was going to take her
away from Welsley.

The misty brightness was already fading from the garden; the song of the
thrush was no longer audible: he had flown away from the elder bush
and from Rosamund. The coldness and silence of the day seemed to deepen
about her. Welsley was fading out of her life. She felt that. She was
going to begin again. But as she had carried Elis with her when she
left it, and the dear tombs and temples of Greece, when she had bidden
good-by to the bare and beautiful land whose winds and whose waters are
not as the winds and the waters of any other region, so she would carry
away with her Welsley, this garden with its seclusion, its old religious
atmosphere, the music of the chimes, even the thrush's song from the
elder bush. "Farewell!" She must say that. But she had her precious
possession. Another page of the book of life would be turned. That was
all.

That was all? She sighed. A painful sense of the impermanence of the
things of this world came suddenly upon her. Like running water life
was slipping by; its joys, the shining bubbles poised upon the surface,
drifted into the distance and--how quickly!--were out of reach.

Perhaps the great attraction, the lure of the religious life, was the
sense felt by those who led it of having a close grip upon that which
was permanent. The joys of the world--even the natural, healthy, allowed
joys--were shut out, but there was the great compensation, companionship
with that to which no "farewell" would ever have to be said, with that
to which death only brought the human being nearer.

Rosamund stopped in her walk, and looked up at the great Cathedral which
towered above the wall of the garden. She had been pacing to and fro
for a long time. She did not feel tired, but she was beset by an
unaccustomed sensation of weariness, mental and spiritual rather than
physical.

After a minute she went into the house, found a rug and a book, came
back into the garden, and sat down on a bench in a corner hidden from
observation. This bench was close to the wall which divided the garden
from the "Dark Entry." It was separated from the lawn and the view of
the house by a belt of shrubs. Rosamund was fond of this nook and had
very often sat in it, sometimes alone, sometimes with Robin. She had
told the maids never to look for her there; if any visitor came and
she was not seen in that part of the garden which was commanded by the
windows of the house, they were to conclude that she was "out." Here,
then, she was quite safe, and could turn the last page of the chapter of
Welsley in her book of life.

She wrapped herself up in the big and heavy rug. The sun was gone, the
mist had become slightly more dense, the air was colder.

Presently Dion and Robin would come back; there would be tea in the warm
old-fashioned nursery, gay talk, the telling of wonderful deeds.

If only Robin did not fall off Jane! But Dion would take care of that.
Dion certainly loved Robin very much. The bond between father and son
had evidently been strengthened by the intervention of the war, which
had broken off their intercourse for a time, and given Robin a father
changed by contact with hard realities.

For a few minutes in imagination Rosamund followed the two figures over
the stubble, the thin strong walking figure, and the little darling
figure on pony back. Would Robin quite forget her in the midst of his
proud and triumphant joy? She wondered. Even if he did, she would not
really mind. She wanted him to be very happy indeed without her--just
for a short time: that he could not be happy without her for long she
knew very well.

Oddly, her sensation of weariness persisted. She recognized it now
as wholly unphysical. She was certainly feeling what people call
"depressed." No doubt this unusual depression--for she had been born
with a singularly cheerful spirit--was caused by the resolution she had
taken to give up Welsley. Perhaps Welsley meant more to her even than
she had supposed. But it was absurd--wasn't it?--to be so dominated by
places. People, certain people, might mean everything in the life of a
woman; many women lived, really lived, only in and through their lovers,
their husbands, their children; but what woman lived in and through the
life of the place? She had only to compare mentally the loss of Welsley
with--say--the loss of Dion, the new Dion, to realize how little Welsley
really meant to her. Certainly she loved it as a place, but probably a
woman can only love a place with a bit of her.

And yet to-day, she certainly felt depressed. Even the thought of the
nursery tea did not drive the depression from her.

She opened the book she had brought from the house. It was a volume
of Browning's poems. She had opened it at hap-hazard, and now her eyes
rested on these words, words loved almost above all others by one of the
greatest souls that ever spent itself for England:

     "I go to prove my soul!
     I see my way as birds their trackless way
     I shall arrive! What time, what circuit first
     I ask not; but unless God send His Hail
     Or blinding fire-balls, sleet, or stifling snow,
     In some time, His good time!--I shall arrive:
     He guides me and the bird. In His good time!"

She read the lines three--four times. Then she laid the book down on her
knees and sat very still. Consciously she tried to withdraw herself, to
pass into meditation carrying the poem with her.

     "I see my way as birds their trackless way--I shall arrive!"

Rosmund was gazing downward at a coping of worn brick on which she
had set her feet, but she did not see it now. She saw migratory birds
traveling steadily through a vast expanse of gray sky; birds that were
going, at the appointed time, to some far-distant place, in search of
a golden climate, in search of the sun. Inevitably they would come
into the golden climate, inevitably they would find the sun which they
needed. Like them she was traveling through a vast gray expanse, the
life of the world. Robin and Dion were with her. They were seeking the
sun which they needed. Surely, like the birds, they would find the sun
at last. She had thought to seek her way deliberately. When she was
quite a girl it had seemed to her that the human being had the power,
and was therefore almost under the obligation, to find the way to God
for herself. When she had contemplated entering the religious life the
thought at the back of her mind had perhaps been something like this:
"I'll conquer the love and the mercy of God by my own exertions; I'll
find the way to God by my own ingenuity and determination in searching
it out." Possibly she had never quite simply and humbly said in her
soul, with Newman, "Be Thou my Guide." Now, as she sat in the garden,
with the image of the migratory birds in her mind, she thought, "The
birds do that. They give themselves to the sky, and God does the rest.
He knows the way by which each human soul can best go back to that from
which once it issued forth." Perhaps as a Sister, leading the hidden
secluded life, she could not have found the way; perhaps she had to
find it in the world, through Dion with whom she had united herself, or
through Robin to whom she had given birth.

Through Robin! Yes, surely that was her way to God. "A little child
shall lead them." The words started up in her mind without their
context, and she realized that, though people believe it is the mother
who teaches the child, nevertheless the mother learns the greatest
truths from the child. Who living on the earth could keep her from sin
as surely as her Robin? How could she be evil when Robin looked to her
as the embodiment of goodness. What would she not do, what would she not
give up, to increase Robin's love for her, to give him more reason for
regarding her with innocent confidence and simple reverence?

Yes, Robin was surely her way to God.

And now, withdrawn into the very depths of meditation, and hearing
no longer the distant voices of the rooks as they wheeled about the
elm-tops near Canon Wilton's house, she went onwards down the way chosen
for her by God, the "Robin-way."

Now Robin was a young child, and naturally looked up to her as a kind of
Providence. Presently he would be a lad; inevitably he would reach the
age when the growing mind becomes critical. Young animals gnaw hard
things to test the strength of their teeth; so do young growing minds
gnaw the bones that come in their way. Even the mother comes in for much
secret criticism from the son who loves her. Rosamund's time for being
criticized by Robin would come in the course of the years. She must try
to get ready against that time; she must try to be worthy of Robin's
love when he was able to be critical. And so onwards down the way across
the gray expanse, guided, like the birds!

Rosamund saw herself now as the mother of a tall son, hardened a
little by public-school life, a cricketer, a rower, a swimmer; perhaps
intellectual too, the winner of a scholarship. There were so many hearts
and minds that the mother of a son must learn to keep, to companion, to
influence, to go forward with: the heart and the mind of the child, the
schoolboy, the undergraduate, the young man out in the world taking up
his life-task--a soldier perhaps, or a man of learning, a pioneer, a
carver of new ways for the crowd following behind.

It was a tremendous thing to be a mother; it was a difficult way to God.
But it was the most beautiful way of all the ways, and Rosamund was
very thankful that she had been guided to take it. Robin, she knew, had
taught her already very much, but how little compared with all that he
was destined to teach her in the future! Even when her hair was white
no doubt she would still be learning from him, would still be trying to
lift herself a little higher lest he should ever have to look downward
to see her.

For a long time she meditated on these things, for a very long while.
The sun never came back to the garden as she dreamed of the sun which
the birds were seeking, of the sun which she and Dion and Robin were
seeking; the afternoon hours passed on in a gray procession; the chimes
sounded many times, but she did not hear them. She had forgotten Welsley
in remembering how small a part Welsley must play in her mother-life, in
remembering how very small were the birds in the immense expanse of the
sky.

In Meditation she had entered into Vastness.

The sound of the organ in the Cathedral recalled her. It was four
o'clock. The afternoon service was just beginning. She sat still and
listened. It was growing dark now, but she had no wish to move. Probably
in half an hour Robin and Dion would come back from the shooting. From
to-day she would think of Robin in a different way. He would be even
dearer to her, even more sacred, her little teacher. What did it matter
where she lived if her little teacher was with her. The sting had
gone out of her unselfishness; she was glad she had been able to be
unselfish, to put Dion before herself.

The organ ceased. They were praying now in the Cathedral. Presently she
heard them singing the psalms faintly. The voices of the boys came to
her with a sort of vague sweetness through the gathering darkness and
the mist. They died away; the Magnificat followed, then silence, then
the Nunc Dimittis, then another silence, presently the anthem. Finally
she heard the organ alone in a Fugue of Bach.

The quarter to five chimed in the tower. Dion and Robin were a little
late.

She got up, and carried the rug into the house.

"Annie!" she called.

Annie came.

"When Mr. Leith and Robin come back,--they'll be here directly,--will
you ask them to give me a call? I shall be in the garden."

"Very well, ma'am."

Again Rosamund paced up and down the paths. Now she was very conscious
of herself and of her surroundings. The long night of early winter was
falling upon Welsley. Five o'clock struck, a quarter-past five, then the
half-hour. She stood still on the path, beginning to wonder. How late
they were! Robin would surely be very tired. It would be too much for
him. Directly he had had his tea he must be put to bed. Or perhaps it
would be best to put him to bed at once. He would be disappointed, but
they could easily have tea in the night nursery. She smiled, conjuring
up a picture of Robin under the bedclothes being fed pieces of cake. He
would enjoy that. And she would hold his cup for him while he drank, so
that the bed might be safe. Meals in bed are often dangerous to the bed.
How delightful were all the little absurd things she did for Robin!

When the chimes told her that it was a quarter to six she began to feel
puzzled, and just the least little bit anxious. It had been quite dark
for a little while now. Job Crickendon's farm was only about four
miles from Welsley. Harrington's horse might not be an exceptionally
fast-goer, but surely he could cover six miles in an hour. Dion and
Robin could get back in forty minutes at the most. They must have stayed
on at Job Crickendon's till past five o'clock. Could they have had tea
there? No, she was sure they would not have done that, when they knew
she was waiting for them, was looking forward eagerly to tea in the
nursery.

When six o'clock struck and they had not returned she felt really
uneasy, although she was not at all a nervous mother, and seldom, or
never, worried about her little son. She could not doubt any longer that
something unexpected had occurred. They were dining at half-past seven
that night. In an hour's time at the latest she and Dion would have to
dress. The hopes she had set on the family tea were vanishing. In her
uneasiness she began to feel almost absurdly disappointed about the tea.
She was hungry, too; she had had no lunch just because of the tea. It
was to be a sort of family revel, and she had wished to enjoy it in
every way, to make of it a real meal. Her abstention from lunch now
seemed to her almost pitiful. Disappointment became acute in her. Yet
even now her uneasiness, though definite, was not strong. If it had been
she would not have been able to feel so disappointed, even so sorry for
herself. She had given up the day to Dion. The nursery tea was to have
been her little reward. Now she would be deprived of it. For a moment
she felt hurt, almost the least bit angry.

As the words formed themselves in her mind she heard the quarter-past
six chime out in the tower. She stood still on the path. What had
happened? Perhaps Robin had fallen off Jane and hurt himself, or perhaps
there had been an accident when they were driving home. Harrington's
horse was probably a crock. He might have fallen down. The dogcart was a
high one----

She pulled herself up. She had always secretly rather despised the
typical "anxious mother," had always thought that the love which shows
itself in perpetual fear was a silly, poor sort of affection. Even when
Robin, as a baby, had once been seriously ill, at the time of the Clarke
divorce case, she had been calm, had shown complete self-control. She
had even surprised people by her fearlessness and quiet determination.

They did not know how she had prayed, and almost agonized in secret. She
had drawn the calm at which they had wondered from prayer. She had asked
God to let Robin get well, and she had felt that her prayer had been
heard, and that God would grant her the life of her child.

Perhaps she had exaggerated to herself the danger he was in. But he was
ill--for a short time he was very ill, and a baby's hold on life is but
frail.

Now she remembered her self-control during Robin's illness, and
resolutely she banished her anxiety. There was no doubt some perfectly
simple explanation which presently would account to her for their not
coming at the tea hour.

"Ma'am!" cried a respectable voice. "Ma-a-am!"

"What is it, Nurse. They haven't come back?"

Nurse was coming down the path gingerly, with a shawl over her cap.

"No, ma'am. Whatever can have happened? _Something's_ a-happened, that's
certain."

"Nonsense, Nurse!"

"But whatever should keep them out till late into the night, ma'am?"

"It's only a little after six. It isn't night at all."

"But the tea, ma'am! And Master Robin's so regular in his habits. He'll
be fair famished, ma'am, that he will. I----Well, ma'am, if I may say
it, I really don't hold with all this shooting, and sport, and what not
for such young children."

"It's only just for once, Nurse. Go in now. You'll catch cold."

"But yourself, ma'am?"

"I'm quite warm. I'd rather stay out."

Nurse stared anxiously for a moment, then turned away and went gingerly
back to the house. Her white shawl faded against the background of
darkness. With its fading Rosamund entered into--not exactly darkness,
but into deep shadows. She supposed that nurse's fear had communicated
itself to her; she had caught the infection of fear from nurse. But when
was nurse not afraid? She was an excellent woman and absolutely devoted
to Robin, but she was not a Spartan. She leaped at sight of a mouse, and
imagined diseases to be for ever floating Robinwards on all the breezes.
Rosamund had strictly forbidden her ever to talk nonsense about illness
to Robin, and she had obeyed. But that was her one fault; she had a
timorous nature.

Rosamund wished nurse had not come out into the garden to infect her
with foolish fear.

Nurse's invitation to her to come into the house had made her suddenly
know that to be shut in would be intolerable to her. Why was that? She
now knew that lately, while she had been walking in the garden, she had
been straining her ears to hear the sound of wheels in the Green Court.
She knew she would be able to hear them in the garden. In the house
that would be impossible. Therefore she could not go into the house till
Robin came back.

All her fear was for Robin. He was so young, so tiny. Perhaps she ought
not to have allowed him to go. Perhaps nurse was right, and such an
expedition ought to have been ruled out as soon as it was suggested.
Perhaps Dion and she had been altogether too Doric. She began to think
so. But then she thought: "Robin's with his father. What harm could come
to him with his father, and such a competent father too?" That thought
of Dion's strength, coolness, competency reassured her; she dwelt on it.
Of course with Dion Robin must be all right.

Presently, leaving the path in front of the house, she went again to the
seat hidden away behind the shrubs against the wall which separated the
garden from the Dark Entry. This dark entry was an arched corridor of
stone which led directly from the Green Court to the passage-way on
which the main door of the garden opened. It was paved with worn slabs
of stone upon which the feet of any one passing rang with a mournful and
hollow sound. A tiny path skirted the garden wall, running between the
hidden seat and the small belt of shrubs which shut out a view of the
house. Just before she turned into this path Rosamund looked back at the
old house, and saw a lamp gleaming in the lattice window of the nursery.
She did not sit down on the seat. She had thought to do that and to
listen. But the mist had made the wood very wet, and she had left the
rug in the house. If she walked softly up and down the little path she
would be sure to hear the hoofs of Harrington's horse, the wheels of the
dogcart directly the wanderers drove into the Green Court. There they
would get down, and would walk home through the Dark Entry. She intended
to call out to them when she heard their footsteps ringing on the old
stones. That would surprise them. She tried to enjoy the thought of
their surprise when they heard her voice coming out of the darkness. How
Robin would jump at the sound of mummy!

She stood just in front of the seat for two or three minutes, listening
intently in the misty darkness. She heard nothing except for a moment a
rustling which sounded like a bird moving in ivy. Then she began to walk
softly up and down passing and repassing the seat. When she came up to
the seat for the fourth time in her walk, an ugly memory--she knew not
why--rose in her mind like a weed in a pool; it was the memory of a
story which she had long ago read and disliked. She had read it, she
remembered, in a railway train on a long journey. She had had a book,
something interesting and beautiful, with her, but she had finished
it. A passenger, who had got out of the carriage, had left behind him a
paper-covered volume of short stories. She had taken it up and had read
the first story, which now, after an interval of years, recurred to her
mind.

There was in the story a very commonplace business man, middle-aged,
quite unromantic and heavy, the sort of man who does not know what
"nerves" means, who thinks suggestion "damned nonsense," and psychical
research, occultism, and so forth, absurdities fit only to take up the
time of "a pack of silly women." This worthy person lived in the suburbs
of London in a semi-detached villa with a long piece of garden at the
back. On the other side of the fairly high garden wall was the garden of
his next-door neighbor, another business man of the usual suburban
type. Both men were busy gardeners in their spare time. Number one had
conceived the happy idea of putting up a tea-house in the angle of
the wall at the bottom of his lawn. Number two, having heard of this
achievement, and not wishing to be outdone, put up a very similar
tea-house in the corresponding angle on his side of the wall. The
two tea-houses stood therefore back to back with nothing but the wall
between them. Now, one warm summer evening Mr. Jenkins-Smith--Rosamund
could remember his name, though she had not thought of him for
years--had been busy watering his flowers and mowing his lawn. He had
worked really hard, and when the evening began to close in he thought
he would go into the tea-house and have a rest. On each side of the
curly-legged tea-table of unpolished wood stood a wicker arm-chair. Into
one of these chairs Mr. Jenkins-Smith sank with a sigh of content. Then
he lighted his pipe, stretched out his short legs, and, gazing at
his beautifully trimmed garden, prepared to enjoy a delicious hour of
well-earned repose. Things were going well with him; money was easy; his
health was good; when he sat down in the wicker chair and put his pipe
into his mouth he was, perhaps, as happy a man as you could find in all
Surbiton.

But presently, in fact very soon, he became conscious of a disagreeable
feeling. A curious depression began to come upon him. He smoked
steadily, he gazed out at his garden green with turf and gay with
flowers, but his interest and pleasure in it were gone from him. He
wondered why. Presently he turned his head and looked over his shoulder.
What he was looking for he did not know; simply he felt obliged to do
what he did. He saw, of course, nothing but the curved wooden back of
the tea-house. He listened, he strained his ears, but he heard nothing
except the faint "ting-ting" of a tram-bell, and voices of some children
playing in a distant garden. His pipe had gone out. As he lit a match
and held it to his pipe bowl he saw that his hand was shaking. Whatever
had come to him? He was no drinker; he had always been a temperate man,
proud of his clear eyes and steady limbs, yet now he was shaking like a
drunkard. Perspiration burst out upon his forehead. He was seized by an
intense desire to get away from the tea-house, to get out into the open,
and he half rose from his chair, holding on to the arms and dropping
his pipe on the wooden floor. The tiny noise it made set his nerves in
a turmoil. He was afraid. But of what? He took his hands from the chair
and sat back, angry with himself, almost ashamed. That he should feel
afraid, here in his own garden, in his own cozy tea-house! It was
absurd, monstrous; it was like a sort of madness come upon him. But he
was determined not to give way to such nonsense. Just because he was
longing to go out of the tea-house he would remain in it. Let the
darkness come; he did not mind it; he was going to smoke his pipe.

Again he stared over his shoulder, and the sweat ran down his face. Had
not he heard something in the tea-house of his neighbor on the other
side of the wall? It seemed to him that he had rather felt a sound than
actually heard it. Nausea came upon him. He got up trembling. But still
he was ashamed of himself, and he would not go out of the tea-house.
Instead he went behind the table, stood close to the wooden wall, put
his ear to it and listened intently. He heard nothing; but when he was
standing against the wall his horror and fear increased until he could
no longer combat them. He turned sharply, knocked over a chair, and
hurried out into the garden. There for a moment he stood still. Under
the sky he felt better, but not himself; he did not feel himself at
all. After a pause for consideration he put on his jacket,--he had been
gardening in his shirt-sleeves,--went into his house, out into the road,
and then up to the door of his neighbor. There he rang the bell and
knocked. A maid came. "Is your master in?" he asked. "Yes, sir, he's
sitting in the summer-house at the end of the garden." "How long's he
been there?" "About half an hour, sir, as near as I can reckon." "Could
I see him?" "Certainly, sir." "Perhaps you'd--perhaps you'd show me to
the summer-house." "Yes, sir."

Mr. Jenkins-Smith and the maid went to the end of the garden, and there,
in the summer-house, they found the corpse of a suicide hanging from a
beam in the roof.

This was the ugly story which had come into Rosamund's mind as she
stood by the seat close to the garden wall. On the other side of Mr.
Jenkins-Smith's wall had been the summer-house of his neighbor; on the
other side of her wall there was the Dark Entry. She stood considering
this fact and thinking of the man's terror in his garden. He had been
subject surely to an emanation. A mysterious message had been sent to
him by the corpse which dangled from the beam on the other side of the
wall.

She went nearer to the wall of the garden and listened attentively. Had
she not heard a sound in the Dark Entry? It seemed to her that some one
had come into the stone corridor while she had been walking up and
down on the path, and was now standing there motionless. But how very
unlikely it was that any one would do such a thing! It must be quite
black there now, and very cold on the stone pavement, between the stone
walls, under the roof of stone. Of course no one was there.

Nevertheless she went on listening with a sort of painful attention. And
distress came upon her. It began in a sort of physical malaise out of
which a mental dread, such as she had never yet experienced, was born.
She felt now quite certain that some one was standing still in the Dark
Entry, very close to her, but separated from her by two walls of brick
and stone; and something of this unseen person, of his attention, or
his anger, or his terror, or his criminal intent, in any case something
tremendously powerful, pierced the walls and came upon her and enveloped
her. She opened her lips, not knowing what she was going to say, and
from them came the cry:

"Dion!"

Silence followed her cry.

"Dion! Dion!" she called again.

Immediately after the third cry she heard a slow step on the stones
of the Dark Entry, passing close to her but muffled by the intervening
walls. It went on very slowly indeed; it was a dragging footfall; the
sound of it presently died away.

Then she sat down on the bench close to the wall. She still felt
distressed, even afraid. Whoever it was--that loiterer in the Dark
Entry--he had left the corridor by the archway near Little Cloisters; he
had not gone into the Green Court.

She sat waiting in the darkness.

* * * * *

That afternoon, while Rosamund was in the garden, Mr. Esme Darlington
was paying a little visit to his old friend and crony, the Dean of
Welsley. He had known the Dean--well, almost ever since he could
remember, and the Dean's wife ever since she had married the Dean. His
delay in returning to town, caused by Rosamund's attractive invitation,
enabled him to spend an hour at the Deanery, where he had tea in the
great drawing-room on the first floor, which looked out on the Green
Court. So pleasant were the Dean and his wife, so serenely flowed the
conversation, that the hour lengthened out into two hours, and the
Cathedral chimes announced that it was a quarter to seven before Mr.
Darlington uncrumpled his length to go. Even then Mrs. Dean begged him
to stay on a little longer.

"It's such a treat to hear all the interesting gossip of London," she
said, almost wistfully. "When Dickie"--Dickie was the Dean,--"when
Dickie was at St. Peter's, Eaton Square, we knew everything that was
going on, but here in Welsley--well, I often feel rather rusty."

Mr. Darlington paid the appropriate compliment, not in a banal way,
and then mentioned that at half-past seven he was dining in Little
Cloisters.

"That delightful creature Mrs. Dion Leith!" exclaimed Mrs. Dean.
"Dickie's hopelessly in her toils."

"My dear!" began the Dean, in pleased protestation.

But she interrupted him.

"I assure you," she went on to Mr. Darlington, "he is always making
excuses to see her. She has even influenced him to appoint a new verger,
a most extraordinary old person, called Thrush, with a nose!"

Mr. Darlington cocked an interrogative eyebrow.

"My darling!" said the Dean. "He's a good old man, very deserving, and
has recently taken the pledge."

"He's a modified teetotaler!" said his wife to Mr. Darlington, patting
her husband's arm. "You see what Dickie's coming to. If it goes on he
will soon be a modified Dean."

It was past seven when they finished talking about Rosamund and Dion,
when Mr. Darlington at length tore himself delicately away from their
delightful company, and, warmly wrapped in an overcoat lined with
unostentatious sable, set out on the short walk to Canon Wilton's house.
To reach the Canon's house he had to pass through the Dark Entry and
skirt the garden wall of Little Cloisters.

Now, as he came out of the Dark Entry and stepped into the passage-way,
which led by the wall and the old house into the great open space of
green lawns and elm trees round which the dwellings of the canons showed
their lighted windows to the darkness of the November evening, he was
stopped by a terrible sound. It came to him from the garden of Little
Cloisters. It was short, sharp and piercing, so piercing that for an
instant he felt as if literally it had torn the flesh of his body. He
had never before heard any sound at all like it; but, when he was able
to think, he thought, he felt almost certain, that it had come from
an animal. He shuddered. Always temperamentally averse from any fierce
demonstrations of feeling, always instinctively restrained, careful and
intelligently conventional, he was painfully startled and moved by this
terrible outcry which could only have been caused by intense agony. As
he believed that the cry had come from an animal, he naturally supposed
that the agony which had caused it was physical. He was a very humane
man, and as soon as he had mastered the feeling of cold horror which
had for a moment held him rigid, he hastened on to the door of Little
Cloisters and pulled the bell. After a pause which seemed to him long
the door was opened by Annie, Rosamund's parlor-maid. She presented to
Mr. Darlington's peering gaze a face full of ignorance and fear.

"What is the matter?" he asked, in a hesitating voice.

"Sir?" said Annie.

"What has happened in the garden?"

"Nothing, sir, that I know of. I have been in the house." She paused,
then added, with a sort of timorous defiance: "I'm not one as would
listen, sir."

"Then you didn't hear it?"

"Hear what, sir?"

Her question struck upon Mr. Darlington's native conventionality, and
made him conscious of the fact that, perhaps almost indiscreetly, he
was bandying words with a maid-servant. He put up one hand to his beard,
pulled at it, and then said, almost in his usual voice:

"Is Mrs. Leith in?"

"She's in the garden, sir."

"In the garden?"

"Yes, sir."

"Is--is Mr. Leith at home?"

"He's just come home, sir, and gone to Mrs. Leith in the garden."

Mr. Darlington stood for a moment pulling his beard and raising and
lowering his eyebrows. Then he said doubtfully:

"Thank you. I won't disturb them now. I shall be here with Canon Wilton
at half-past seven."

Annie stood staring at him in silence.

"They--Mr. and Mrs. Leith expect us, I believe?" added Mr. Darlington.

"They haven't said anything to the contrary, sir."

"No?"

Slowly Mr. Darlington turned away, slowly he disappeared into the
darkness; his head was bent, and he looked older than usual. Annie gazed
after him. Once she opened her lips as if she were going to call him
back, but no sound came from them.

"Annie! Annie!" cried a voice in the house behind her.

She turned sharply and confronted Robin's nurse.

"Where's Master Robin?" said the nurse, almost fiercely.

"I don't know. He hasn't come back with master."

"I'm going into the garden," said the nurse.

"For God's sake, don't!" said Annie.

"Why not?" asked the nurse.

Suddenly Annie began to cry. The nurse pulled her in and shut the door
of the house.



CHAPTER X

Rosamund did not know how long she sat in the garden after she had heard
the footfall in the Dark Entry. Perhaps five minutes, perhaps many more
had slipped by before she was aware of feeling cold. A chill had gone
through her mind when she heard the footfall; now her body was chilled.
She shivered and got up. She must go into the house.

It was now very dark. The path was a pale grayish blur at her feet. On
her left the shrubs which concealed the house from her showed as a heavy
morose blackness against the softer and more mysterious blackness of
the night. The dampness which rose in the garden was like the dreary
whispering of sad earth voices.

She shivered again.

Then she heard a faltering step on the path beyond the shrubs. It was
certainly Dion's step. At last they had come back!

With a movement of her shoulders she tried to throw off her depression,
as if it were something heavy resting upon her, something which a
physical effort could get rid of. Then she called out in a brisk and
cheerful voice:

"Dion, I'm here. How late you are! What have you shot?"

It was too late now for the nursery tea, but they had come back and all
was well.

"Dion!"

The step had stopped on the path and no voice answered her. Nevertheless
she was certain that it was Dion who had come into the garden. Perhaps
Robin was with him, perhaps they were going to give her a surprise.
She waited for an instant. Something within her was hesitating. She
conquered it, not without an effort, and went round the angle of the
path. Beyond the shrubs, but not far from them, a man was standing. It
was Dion. He was alone. It was so dark that Rosamund could not see him
clearly, but she noticed at once that the outline of his figure looked
strange. His body seemed to be all awry as if he were standing in an
unnatural position. She stopped and stared at this body.

"Is anything wrong, Dion?" she asked. "What's the matter? Why do you
stand like that?"

After her last quick question she heard a long-drawn quivering breath.

"Where's Robin?" she said sharply.

He did not answer. She meant to go up to him; but she did not move.

"Why are you so late? Where's Robin?" he repeated.

"Rosamund--"

"Don't move! Stand there, and tell me what it is."

"Haven't I--always tried to make you happy?"

The words came from the body before her, but she did not know the voice.
It was Dion's voice, of course. It must be that. But she had never heard
it before.

"Don't come nearer to me. What have you done?"

"Robin--I have--I have--Robin--my gun----"

The voice failed in the darkness. Rosamund shut her eyes. She had seen
an angry hand tear down a branch of wild olive. Suddenly she knew. It
seemed to her that ever since that day long ago in Elis some part of her
had always prophetically known that Dion was fated to bring terror and
ruin into her life. This was not true, but now she felt it to be true.

"You've killed Robin," she said, quietly and coldly.

Her brain and heart seemed to stand still, like things staring into an
immense voice. They had come to the end of their road.

"You've killed Robin," she said again.

"Rosamund----"

The body in front of her moved to come towards her. Then she uttered the
fearful cry which was heard by Mr. Darlington on his way home from the
Deanery, and she fled from the body which had slain Robin.

That purely instinctive action was the beginning of Dion's punishment.
A cry, the movement of a body, and everything which meant life to him,
everything for which he had lived, was gone. But he followed Rosamund
with a sort of blind obstinacy, driven as she was by instinct. Dimly he
knew that he was a man who only merited compassion, all the compassion
of the world. He had no horror of himself, but only a horror of that
Fate to which mortals have to submit and which had overtaken him in a
shining moment of happiness. The gun accident of which his little son
had been the victim presented itself to his erring mind as a terrific
stroke from above, or from beyond, falling equally upon father and
child. He was not responsible for it. The start of a frightened pony,
its sudden attempt to bolt, the pulling of a rein which had brought the
animal against him just as he was lifting his gun to fire at a rising
bird--what were those things? Only the clumsy machinery used by
implacable Fate to bring about that which had been willed somewhere, far
off in the dark and the distance.

He must tell Rosamund, he must tell Rosamund.

* * * * *

Annie and the nurse came out to the edge of the broad path which ran
along the front of the house and peered into the darkness. Annie was
crying and holding on to the nurse, whose almost fierce determination
faded as she confronted the mystery of the night which hid her master
and mistress.

"H'sh, Annie," she whispered. "Where can they be? Listen, I tell you!"

Annie strove to choke down her sobs.

"I can hear--some one," whispered the nurse, after a moment. "Don't you.
Listen, I tell you! Right over by the wall near the Bishop's!"

The sound of steps indeed came to them through the darkness. Annie broke
away from the nurse.

"I'm frightened! I'm frightened! I don't know what's come to them," she
whispered through her teeth, resisting the impulse to cry out. "Come in,
Nurse, for God's sake!"

She shrank into the house. The nurse stood where she was for a moment,
but when she heard the steps a little nearer to her she, too, was
overcome by fear and followed Annie trembling, shutting the door behind
her.

Exactly at half-past seven Mr. Darlington and Canon Wilton were outside
the door of Little Cloisters and Mr. Darlington pulled the bell. Always
the most discreet of men, he had not mentioned to his host the terrible
cry he had heard in the Leiths' garden, or his short colloquy with
Annie. He was seriously disturbed in mind, but, being a trained man of
the world and one who prided himself upon his powers of self-control, he
had concealed this unpleasant fact from the Canon, and had talked quite
agreeably during their little walk between the two houses. The sound of
that dreadful cry still seemed to shudder through his flesh, but it was
not for him to pry into the private lives of others, even of those whom
he knew intimately, and had a great regard for. He hoped all was
well with his dear young friends, There might be some quite simple
explanation of that cry. He fervently hoped there was. In any case it
was not for him to ask questions, or to--

"They're a long while answering the bell," said Canon Wilton, in
his strong, earnest voice. "Hadn't you better give it another tug,
Darlington?"

Mr. Darlington started.

"H'm--ha!"

He raised his hand and pulled the bell a second time.

"That's better," said the Canon, as he heard inside the house a long
tinkle. "Annie's bound to come now. As a rule she's very quick in
answering the door. Among her many virtues, Mrs. Leith counts that of
being a first-rate housewife. She trains her maids well."

"Does she?" murmured Mr. Darlington abstractedly, bending forward till
he seemed almost to be listening at the door. "Does she? I hear some one
coming. H'm!"

He straightened himself. The door opened and Annie appeared. When she
saw the two men she drew back quickly to let them pass in. Canon Wilton
said kindly: "Good evening, Annie."

"Oh, sir," said Annie, and began to cry audibly.

"What's the matter?" asked the Canon, surprised.

They were now in the little oak paneled hall, and by the light of the
lamp they could see the tears running down the flushed face of the maid.
"Is anything wrong?" said the Canon.

"Oh, sir, I'm so glad you've come! Oh, we don't know what it is!"

At this moment Robin's nurse showed herself on the staircase.

"For God's sake, sir," she said, with trembling lips, "do go into the
garden!"

"Why?" said Canon Wilton, in a loud, firm voice.

"Mr. and Mrs. Leith are both there, sir. They've been there this long
time. Mr. Leith he's come back from the shooting without Master Robin.
Oh, there's something wrong, sir, there's something wrong!"

"Stay here for a moment, Darlington," said the Canon, with a sudden,
almost fiery, decision. "I'll go at once and see what's the matter."

But Mr. Darlington laid a bony hand on his friend's arm.

"I'll come with you, Wilton. I'm--I'm afraid it's something very bad."

He lowered his voice almost to a whisper in saying the last words.

The Canon formed "Why?" with his lips.

"Just now, as I was passing the garden here coming back from the
Deanery, I heard a most dreadful cry. I thought at the time that it came
from an animal, but--now----"

The Canon stared at him almost sternly.

"We'd better not waste time," he said. "I wish you'd gone in then."

And he turned bruskly. He had opened the door, and was about to step on
to the broad path which divided the front of the house from the lawn,
when he heard steps approaching swiftly on the gravel.

"Some one coming!" he said. "Stop where you are, Darlington. I believe
its . . ."

Before he could finish his sentence Rosamund came upon him out of
the darkness. Her face was distorted, so distorted that he scarcely
recognized it. It seemed to have shrunk and sharpened, and it had the
look of fierceness which is characteristic of the faces of starving
people. She put out both her hands as she came up to him, pushed him
with violence into the house, and followed him.

"Lock the door!" she whispered. "Lock it! Lock it!"

"But----"

Her voice rose. She seemed savage with fear.

"Lock it, I tell you!"

A long arm shot out and a bony hand turned the key in the door.

"It's the only thing to be done for the moment," said Mr. Darlington to
the Canon. "She's mad with fear."

Both the maids had disappeared, terrified by the face of their mistress.
Rosamund caught hold of the stair-rail and began to hurry upstairs, but
Mr. Darlington followed her and seized her by the arm.

"Rosamund! Rosamund! What is it?"

She turned.

"I'm going to find Robin. That man's killed Robin! Keep him out! Keep
him away from me!"

A dreadful surreptitious expression made her face hideous. She leaned
forward, nodding her head, and whispered in Mr. Darlington's ear:

"_You_ keep him away from me while I find Robin. He's killed Robin!"

Her whole body began to shake. Mr. Darlington put one arm round her.

"But, Rosamund----"

Below, the handle of the door leading to the garden was turned, the door
was shaken, and there came a knocking on the wood.

Then Mr. Darlington heard again the cry which had come to him that
evening as he passed the garden of Little Cloisters. His arm dropped.

Rosamund went frantically up the stairs and disappeared on the dark
landing above.



BOOK IV -- THE UNKNOWN GOD



CHAPTER I

In June of the following year two young Englishmen, who were making a
swift tour of the near East, were sitting one evening in a public garden
at Pera. The west wind, which had been blowing all day, had gone down
with the coming of night. The air was deliciously warm, but not sultry.
The travelers had dined well, but not too well, and were ready to
be happy, and to see in others the reflection of their own contented
holiday mood. It was delightful to be "on the loose," without
responsibilities, and with a visit to Brusa to look forward to in
the immediate future. They sat under the stars, sipped their coffee,
listened to the absurd music played by a fifth-rate band in a
garishly-lighted kiosk, and watched with interest the coming and going
of the crowd of Turks and Perotes, with whom mingled from time to time
foreign sailors from ships lying off the entrance to the Golden Horn
and a few tourists from the hotels of Pera. Just behind them sat their
guide, a thin and eager Levantine, half-Greek and half-Armenian, who,
for some inscrutable reason, declared that his name was John.

There was little romance in this garden set in the midst of the noisy
European quarter of Constantinople. The music was vulgar; Greek waiters
with dissipated faces ran to and fro carrying syrups and liqueurs;
corpulent Turks sat heavily over glasses of lager beer; overdressed
young men of enigmatic appearance, with oily thick hair, shifty eyes,
and hands covered with cheap rings, swaggered about smoking cigarettes
and talking in loud, ostentatious voices. Some women were there, fat and
garish for the most part, liberally powdered and painted, and crowned
with hats at which Paris would have stared almost in fear. There were
also children, dark, even swarthy, with bold eyes, shrill voices,
immodest bearing, who looked as if they had long since received the ugly
freedom of the streets, and learned lessons no children ought to know.

Presently the band stopped playing and there was a general movement of
the crowd. People got up from the little tables and began to disperse.
"John" leaned forward to his employers, and in a quick and rattling
voice informed them that a "fust-rate" variety entertainment was about
to take place in another part of the garden. Would they come to see
it? There would be beautiful women, very fine girls such as can only be
gazed on in Constantinople, taking part in the "show."

The young men agreed to "have a look at it," and followed John to
a place where many round tables and chairs were set out before a
ramshackle wooden barrack of a theatre, under the shade of some
pepper trees, through whose tresses the stars peeped at a throng and a
performance which must surely have surprised them.

The band, or a portion of it, was again at work, playing an inane
melody, and upon the small stage two remarkably well-developed and
aquiline-featured women of mature age, dressed as very young children
in white socks, short skirts which displayed frilled drawers, and muslin
bonnets adorned with floating blue and pink ribbons, swayed to and fro
and joined their cracked voices in a duet, the French words of which
seemed to exhale a sort of _fade_ obscenity. While they swayed and
jigged heavily, showing their muscular legs to the staring audience,
they gazed eagerly about, seeking an admiration from which they might
draw profit when their infantile task was over. Presently they retired,
running skittishly, taking small leaps into the air, and aimlessly
blowing kisses to the night.

"Very fine girls!" murmured John to his young patrons. "They make much
money in Pera."

One of the young men shrugged his shoulders with a smile.

"Get us two Turkish coffees, John!" he said. Then he turned to his
companion. "I say, Ellis, have you noticed an English feller--at least
I take him to be English--who's sitting over there close to the stage,
sideways to us?"

"No; where is he?" asked his companion.

"You see that old Turk with the double chin?"

"Rather."

"Just beyond him, sitting with a guide who's evidently Greek."

"I've got him."

"Watch him. I never saw such a face."

A blowzy young woman, in orange color and green, with short
tinsel-covered skirts, bounded wearily on to the stage, smiling, and
began to sing:

     "Je suis une boite de surprises!
         O la la! O la la!
     Je suis une boite de surprises."

Ellis looked across at the man to whom his attention had been drawn.
This man was seated by a little table on which were a siphon, a bottle
of iced water, and a tall tumbler nearly half-full of a yellow liquid.
He was smoking a large dark-colored cigar which he now and then took
from his mouth with a hand that was very thin and very brown. His face
was dark and browned by the sun, but looked startlingly haggard, as if
it were pale or even yellowish under the sunburn. About the eyes
there were large wrinkles, spraying downwards over the cheek bones and
invading the cheeks. He wore a mustache, and was well-dressed in a tweed
suit. But his low collar was not very fresh, and his tie was arranged in
a slovenly fashion and let his collar stud be seen. He sat with his
legs crossed, staring at the grimacing woman on the stage with a sort of
horribly icy intentness. The expression about his lips and eyes was more
than bitter; it showed a frozen fierceness.

On the other side of the table was seated a lean, meager guide,
obviously one of those Greeks who haunt the quays of Constantinople
on the look out for arriving travelers. Now and then this Greek leaned
forward and, with a sort of servile and anxious intelligence, spoke to
his companion. He received no reply. The other man went on smoking and
staring at the _boite de surprises_ as if he were alone. And somehow he
seemed actually to be alone, encompassed by a frightful solitude.

"A tragic face, isn't it?" said the man who had first spoken.

"By Jove it is!" returned the officer. "I wonder that woman can go on
singing so close to it."

"Probably she hasn't seen him. How many years do you give him?"

"Thirty-eight or forty."

"He isn't out for pleasure, that's certain."

"Pleasure! One would suppose he'd been keeping house with Medusa
and--the deuce, she's seen him!"

At this moment the singer looked towards the stranger, quavered,
faltered, nearly broke down, then, as if with an effort, raised her
voice more shrilly and defiantly, exaggerated her meaningless gestures
and looked away. A moment later she finished her song and turned to
strut off the stage. As she did so she shot a sort of fascinated glance
at the dark man. He took his cigar from his mouth and puffed the smoke
towards her, probably without knowing that he did so. With a startled
jerk she bounded into the wings.

At this moment John returned with two cups of coffee.

"You know everything, John. Tell us who that man over there is," said
Ellis, indicating the stranger.

John sent a devouring glance past the old Turk's double chin, a glance
which, as it were, swallowed at one gulp the dark man, his guide, the
siphon, the water-bottle and the glass partially full of the yellow
liquid.

"I dunno him. He is noo."

"Is he English?"

"Sure!" returned John, almost with a sound of contempt.

He never made a mistake about any man's nationality, could even tell
a Spanish Jew from a Portuguese Jew on a dark night at ten yards'
distance.

"I tell you who he is later. I know the guide, a damned fool and a rogue
of a Greek that has been in prison. He robs all his people what take
him."

"You needn't bother," said Ellis curtly.

"Of course not. Shut up, John, and don't run down your brothers in
crime."

"That man my brother!"

John upraised two filthy ringed hands.

"That dirty skunk my brother! That son of--"

"That'll do, John! Be quiet."

"To-morrow I till you all about the gentleman. Here is another fine
girl! I know her very well."

A languid lady, with a face painted as white as a wall, large scarlet
lips, eyes ringed with bluish black, and a gleaming and trailing black
gown which clung closely to her long and snake-like body, writhed on to
the stage, looking carefully sinister.

The dark man swallowed his drink, got up and made his way to the exit
from the garden. He passed close to the two young men, followed by
his Greek, at whom John cast a glance of scowling contempt, mingled,
however, with very definite inquiry.

"By Jove! He's almost spoilt my evening," said Ellis. "But we made a
mistake, Vernon. He isn't anything like forty."

"No; more like thirty under a cloud."

"By the look of things I should guess there are plenty of people under
a cloud in Pera. But that English feller stands out even here. This girl
is certainly a first-class wriggler, if she's nothing else."

They did not mention the stranger again that night. But John had not
forgotten him, and when he arrived at their hotel next day he at once
opened his capacious mouth and let out the following information:

"The gentleman's name is Denton, his other name is Mervyn, he is three
days in Constantinople, he lives in Hughes's Hotel in Pera, a very poor
house where chic people they never goes, he is out all day and always
walkin', he will not take a carriage, and he is never tired, Nicholas
Gounaris--the Greek guide--he is droppin' but the gentleman he does not
mind, he only sayin' if you cannot walk find me another guide what can,
every night he is out, too, and he is goin' to Stamboul when it is dark,
he is afraid of nothin' and goin' where travelers they never go, one
night Gounaris he had to show the traveler--"

But at this point Ellis shut John up.

"That'll do," he observed. "You're a diligent rascal, John. One must
say that. But we aren't a couple of spies, and we don't want to hear any
more about that feller."

And John, without bearing any malice, went off to complete his
arrangements for the journey to Brusa.

Two days later, Mrs. Clarke, who was at Buyukderer in a villa she had
taken for the summer months, but who had come into Constantinople to do
some shopping, saw "Mervyn Denton" in a side street close to the British
Embassy. Those distressed eyes of hers were very observant. There were
many people in the street, and "Denton," who was alone, was several
yards away from her, and was walking with his back towards her; but she
immediately recognized him, quickened her steps till she was close to
him, and then said:

"Dion Leith!"

Dion heard the husky voice and turned round. He did not say anything,
but he took off the soft hat he was wearing. Mrs. Clarke stared at him
with the unself-conscious directness which was characteristic of her.
She saw Dion for the first time since the tragedy which had changed his
life, but she had written to him more than once. Her last letter had
come from Buyukderer. He had answered it, but he had not told her where
he was, had not even hinted to her that he might come to Constantinople.
Nevertheless, she did not now show any surprise. She just looked at him
steadily, absorbed all the change in him swiftly, and addressed herself
to the new man who stood there before her.

"Come with me to the Hotel de Paris. I'm spending the night there, and
go back to-morrow to Buyukderer. I had something to do in town."

She had not given him her hand, and he did not attempt to take it. He
put on his hat, turned and walked at her side. Neither of them spoke
a word until they had come into the uproar of the Grande Rue, which
surrounded them with a hideous privacy. Then Mrs. Clarke said;

"Where are you staying?"

"At Hughes's Hotel."

"I never heard of it."

"It's in Brusa Street. It's cheap."

"And horrible," she thought.

But she did not say so.

"I have only been here three days," Dion added.

"Do you remember that I once said to you I knew you would come back to
Constantinople?"

For a moment his face was distorted. When she saw that she looked away
gravely, at the glittering shops and at the Perotes who were passing
by with the slow and lounging walk which they affect in the Grande Rue.
Presently she heard him say:

"You were right. It was all arranged. It was all planned out. Even then
I believe I knew it would be so, that I should come back here."

"Why have you come?"

"I don't know," he answered, and his voice, which had been hard and
fierce, became suddenly dull.

"He really believes that," she thought.

"Here is the hotel," she said. "I'm all alone. Jimmy has been out, but
has had to go back to Eton. I wish you had seen him."

"Oh no!" said Dion, almost passionately.

They went up in a lift, worked by a Montenegrin boy with a big round
forehead, to her sitting-room on the second floor. It was large, bare
and clean, with white walls and awnings at the windows. She rang the
bell. A Corsican waiter came and she ordered tea. The roar of the street
noises penetrated into the shadowy room through the open windows,
and came to Dion like heat. He remembered the silence of Claridge's.
Suddenly his head began to swim. It seemed to him that his life, all of
it that he had lived till that moment, was spinning round him, and that,
as it spun, it gave out a deafening noise and glittered. He sat down on
a chair which was close to a small table, laid his arms on the table,
and hid his face against them. Still the deafening noise continued. The
sum of it was surely made up of the uproar of the Grand Rue with the
uproar of his spinning life added to it. He saw yellow balls ringed with
pale blue rapidly receding from his shut eyes.

Mrs. Clarke looked at him for a moment; then she went into the adjoining
bedroom and shut the door behind her. She did not come back till the
waiter knocked and told her that tea was ready. Then she opened the
door. She had taken off her hat and gloves, and looked very white and
cool, and very composed.

Dion was standing near the windows. The waiter, who had enormously thick
mustaches, and who evidently shaved in the evening instead of in the
morning, was going out at the farther door. He shut it rather loudly.

"Every one makes a noise in Pera. It's _de rigueur_," said Mrs. Clarke,
coming to the tea-table.

"Do you know," said Dion, "I used to think _you_ looked punished?"

"Punished--I!"

There was a sudden defiance in her voice which he had never heard in it
before. He came up to the table.

"Yes. In London I used to think you had a punished look and even a
haunted look. Wasn't that ridiculous? I didn't know then what it meant
to be punished, or to be haunted. I hadn't enough imagination to know,
not nearly enough. But some one or something's seen to it that I shall
know all about punishment and haunting. So I shall never be absurd about
you again."

After a pause she said:

"I wonder why you thought that about me?"

"I don't know. It just came into my head."

"Well, sit down and let us have our tea."

Dion sat down mechanically, and Mrs. Clarke poured out the tea.

"I wish it was Buyukderer," she said.

"Oh, I like the uproar."

"No, you don't--you don't. Pera is spurious, and all its voices are
spurious voices. To-morrow morning, before I go back, you and I will go
to Eyub."

"To the dust and the silence and the cypresses--O God!" said Dion.

He got up from his chair. He was beginning to tremble. Was it coming
upon him at last then, the utter breakdown which through all these
months he had--somehow--kept at a distance? Determined not to shake,
he exerted his will violently, till he felt as if he were with dreadful
difficulty holding, keeping together, a multitude of living, struggling
things, which were trying to get away out of his grasp. And these living
things were the multitudinous parts of the whole which was himself.

All that now was had been foreshadowed. There had been writing on the
wall.

"I am grateful to you for several things. I'm not going to give you the
list now. Some day, perhaps, I shall tell you what they are . . . among
the cypresses of Eyub."

She had said that to him in London, and her voice had been fatalistic as
she spoke; and in the street that same day, on his way home, the voice
of the boy crying the last horror had sounded to him like a voice from
the sea, a strange and sad cry lifted up between Europe and Asia. And
now----

"How did you know?" he said. "How did you know that we should be here
together some day?"

"Sit down. You must sit down."

She put her languid and imperative hand on his wrist, and he sat down.
He took her hand and put it against his forehead for a moment. But that
was no use. For her hand seemed to add fever to his fever.

"I have seen you standing amongst graves in the shadow of cypress
trees," he said. "In England I saw you like that. But--how did you
know?"

"Drink your tea. Don't hurry. We've got such a long time."

"I have. I have all the days and nights--every hour of them--at my own
disposal. I'm the freest man on earth, I suppose. No work, no ties."

"You've given up everything?"

"Oh, of course. That is, the things that were still left to me to give
up. They didn't mean much."

"Eat something," she said, in a casual voice, pushing a plate of
delicious little cakes towards him.

"Thank you."

He took one and ate. He regained self-control, but he knew that at any
moment, if anything unusual happened, or if he dared to think, or to
talk, seriously about the horror of his life, he would probably go down
with a crash into an abyss in which all of his manhood, every scrap of
his personal dignity, would be utterly lost. And still almost blindly
he held on to certain things in the blackness which encompassed him.
He still wished to play the man, and though in bitterness he had tried
sometimes to sink down in degradation, his body--or so it had seemed to
him--had resisted the will of the injured soul, which had said to it,
"Go down into the dirt; seek satisfaction there. Your sanity and your
purity of life have availed you nothing. From them you have had no
reward. Then seek the rewards of the other life. Thousands of men enjoy
them. Join that crowd, and put all the anemic absurdities of so-called
goodness behind you."

He had almost come to hate the state he conceived of as goodness; yet
the other thing, its opposite, evil, he instinctively rebelled against
and even almost feared. The habit of a life-time was not to be broken in
a day, or even in many days. Often he had thought of himself as walking
in nothingness, because he rejected evil.

Goodness had ruthlessly cast him out; and so far he had made no other
friend, had taken no other comrade to his bruised and bleeding heart.

Mrs. Clarke began to talk to him quietly. She talked abut herself, and
he knew that she did this not because of egoism, but because delicately
she wished to give him a full opportunity for recovery. She had seen
just where he was, and she had understood his recoil from the abyss. Now
she wished, perhaps, to help him to draw back farther from it, to draw
back so far that he would no longer see it or be aware of it.

So she talked of herself, of her life at Buyukderer in the summer, and
in Pera in the autumn and spring.

"I don't go out to Buyukderer till the middle of May," she said, "and I
come back into town at the end of September."

"You manage to stand Pera for some months every year?" said Dion,
listening at first with difficulty, and because he was making a
determined effort.

"Yes. An Englishwoman--even a woman like me--can't live in Stamboul.
And Pera, odious as it is, is in Constantinople, in the city which has a
spell, though you mayn't feel it yet."

She was silent for a moment, and they heard the roar from the Grande
Rue, that street which is surely the noisiest in all Europe. Hearing
it, Dion thought of the silence of the Precincts at Welsley. That sweet
silence had cast him out. Hell must be full of roaring noises and
of intense activities. Then Mrs. Clarke went on talking. There was
something very feminine and gently enticing in her voice, which
resembled no other voice ever heard by Dion. He felt kindness at the
back of her talk, the wish to alleviate his misery if only for a
moment, to do what she could for him. She could do nothing, of course.
Nevertheless he began to feel grateful to her. She was surely unlike
other women, incapable of bearing a grudge. For he had not been very
"nice" to her in the days when he was happy and she was in difficulties.
At this moment he vaguely exaggerated his lack of "niceness," and
perhaps also her pardoning temperament. In truth, he was desperately
in need of a touch from the magic wand of sympathy. Believing, or even
perhaps knowing, that to the incurably wounded man palliatives are of no
lasting avail, he had deliberately fled from them, and gone among those
who had no reason to bother about him. But now he was grateful.

"Go on talking," he said once, when she stopped speaking. And she
continued talking about her life. She said nothing more about Jimmy.

The Corsican waiter came and took away the tea things noisily. Her spell
was broken. For a moment Dion felt dazed.

He got up.

"I ought to go," he said.

"Must you?"

"Must!--Oh no! My time is my own, and always will be, I suppose."

"You have thrown up everything?"

"What else could I do? The man who killed his own son! How could I stay
in London, go among business men who knew me, talk about investments to
clients? Suppose you had killed Jimmy!"

There was a long silence. Then he said:

"I've given up my name. I call myself Mervyn Denton. I saw the name in a
novel I opened on a railway bookstall."

She got up and came near to him quietly.

"This is all wrong," she said.

"What is?"

"All you are doing, the way you are taking it all."

"What other way is there of taking such a thing?"

"Will you come with me to Eyub to-morrow?"

"It was written long ago that I am to go there with you. I'm quite sure
of that."

"I'll tell you what I mean there to-morrow."

She looked towards the window.

"It's like the roar of hell," he said.

And he went away.

That night Mrs. Clarke dined alone downstairs in the restaurant. The
cooking at the Hotel de Paris was famous, and attracted many men from
the Embassies. Presently Cyril Vane, one of the secretaries at the
British Embassy, came in to dine. He had with him a young Turkish
gentleman, who was called away by an agent from the Palace in the middle
of dinner. Vane, thus left alone, presently got up and came to Mrs.
Clarke's table.

"May I sit down and talk to you for a little?" he said, with a manner
that testified to their intimacy. "My guest has deserted me."

"Yes, do. Tell the waiter to bring the rest of your dinner here."

"But I have finished."

"Light your cigar then."

"If you don't mind."

They talked for a few minutes about the things of every day and the
little world they both lived in on the Bosporus; then Mrs. Clarke said:

"I met a friend from England unexpectedly to-day."

"Did you?"

"A man called Dion Leith."

"Dion Leith?" repeated Vane.

He looked at her earnestly.

"Now wait a moment!"

His large, cool blue eyes became meditative.

"It's on the edge of my mind who that is, and yet I can't remember. I
don't know him, but I'm sure I know of him."

"He fought in the South African War."

Suddenly Vane leaned forward. He was frowning.

"I've got it! He fought, came back with the D.C.M., and only a few days
afterwards killed his only child, a son, out shooting. I remember the
whole thing now, the inquest at which he was entirely exonerated and the
rumors about his wife. She's a beautiful woman, they say."

"Very beautiful."

"She took it very badly, didn't she?"

"What do you mean by very badly?"

"Didn't she bear very hard on him?"

"She couldn't endure to see him, or to have him near her. Is that very
wonderful?"

"You stand up for her then?"

"She was first and foremost a mother."

"Do you know," Vane said rather dryly, "you are the only woman I
never hear speak against other women. But when the whole thing was an
accident?"

"We can't always be quite fair, or quite reasonable, when a terrible
shock comes to us."

"It's a problem, a terrible problem of the affections," Vane said. "Had
she loved her husband? Do you know?"

"I know that he loved her very much," said Mrs. Clarke. "He is here
under an assumed name."

Vane looked openly surprised and even, for a moment, rather disdainful.

"But then----" He paused.

"Why did I give him away?"

"Well--yes."

"Because I wish to force him to face things fully and squarely. It's his
only chance."

"Won't he be angry?"

"But I don't mind that."

"You've had a reason in telling me," said Vane quietly. "What is it?"

"Come up to my sitting-room. We'll have coffee there."

"Willingly. I feel your spell even when you're weaving it for another
man's sake."

Mrs. Clarke did not reject the compliment. She only looked at Vane, and
said:

"Come."



CHAPTER II

In the morning Mrs. Clarke sent a messenger to Hughes's Hotel asking
Dion to meet her at the landing-place on the right of the Galata Bridge
at a quarter to eleven.

"We will go to Eyub by caique," she wrote, "and lunch at a Turkish café
I know close to the mosque."

She drove to the bridge. When she came in sight of it she saw Dion
standing on it alone, looking down on the crowded water-way. He was
leaning on the railing, and his right cheek rested on the palm of his
brown hand. Mrs. Clarke smiled faintly as she realized that this man who
was waiting for her had evidently forgotten all about her.

She dismissed the carriage, paid the toll and walked on to the bridge.
As usual there was a crowd of pedestrians passing to and fro from Galata
to Stamboul and from Stamboul to Galata. She mingled with it, went up to
Dion and stood near him without uttering a word. For perhaps two minutes
she stood thus before he noticed her. Then he turned and sent her a
hard, almost defiant glance before he recognized who his companion was.

"Oh, I didn't know it was----Why didn't you speak? Is it time to go? I
meant to be at the landing."

He spoke like a man who had been a long way off, and who returned weary
and almost dazed from that distance. He looked at his watch.

"Please forgive me for putting you to the trouble of coming to find me."

"You needn't ever ask me to forgive you for anything. Don't let us
bother each other with all the silly little things that worry the fools.
We've got beyond all that long ago. There's my caique."

She made a signal with her hand. Two Albanians below saluted her.

"Shall we go at once? Or would you rather stay here a little longer?"

"Let us go. I was only looking at the water."

He turned and sent a long glance to Stamboul.

"Your city!" he said.

"I shall take you."

For the first time that day he looked at her intimately, and his look
said:

"Why do you trouble about me?"

They went down, got into the caique, and were taken by the turmoil of
the Golden Horn. Among the innumerable caiques, the steamboats, the
craft of all kinds, they went out into the strong sunshine, guarded
on the one hand by the crowding, discolored houses of Galata rising to
Pera, on the other hand by the wooden dwellings and the enormous mosques
of Stamboul. The voices of life pursued them over the water and they sat
in silence side by side. Dion made no social attempt to entertain his
companion. Had she not just said to him that long ago they had gone
beyond all the silly little things that worry the fools? In the midst
of the fierce activity and the riot of noise which marks out the
Golden Horn from all other water-ways, they traveled towards emptiness,
silence, the desolation on the hill near the sacred place of the Turks,
where each new Sultan is girded with the sword of Osman, and where the
standard-bearer of the Prophet sleeps in the tomb that was seen in a
vision.

In the strong heat of noon they left the caique and walked slowly
towards the hill which rises to the north-east, where the dark towers of
the cypresses watch over the innumerable graves. Mrs. Clarke had put up
a sun umbrella. Her face was protected by a thin white veil. She wore a
linen dress, pale gray in color, with white lines on it, and long
loose gloves of suede. She looked extraordinarily thin. Her unshining,
curiously colorless hair was partly covered by a small hat of burnt
straw, turned sharply and decisively up on the left side and trimmed
with a broad riband of old gold. Dion remembered that he had thought of
her once as a vision seen in water. Now he was with her in the staring
definite clearness of a land dried by the heats of summer and giving to
them its dust. And she was at home in this aridity. In the dust he was
aware of the definiteness of her. Since the blackness had overtaken him
people had meant to him less than shadows gliding on a wall mean to a
joyous man. Often he had observed them, even sharply and with a sort of
obstinate persistence; he had been trying to force them to become real
to him. Invariably he had failed in his effort. Mrs. Clarke was real to
him as she walked in silence beside him, between the handsome railed-in
mausoleums which line the empty roads from the water's edge almost to
the mosque of the Conqueror. A banal phrase came to his lips, "You are
in your element here." But he held it back, remembering that they walked
in the midst of dust.

Leaving the mosque they ascended the hill and passed the Tekkeh of the
dancing dervishes. All around them were the Turkish graves with their
leaning headstones, or their headstones fallen and lying prone in the
light flaky earth above the smoldering corpses of the dead. Here and
there tight bunches of flowers were placed upon the graves. Gaunt
shadows from old cypresses fell over some of them, defining the
sunlight. Below was the narrowing sea, the shallow north-west arm of the
Golden Horn, which stretches to Kiathareh, where are the sweet waters of
Europe, and to Kiahat Haneh.

"We'll sit here," said Mrs. Clarke presently.

And she sat down, with the folding ease almost of an Oriental, on the
warm earth, and leaned against the fissured trunk of a cypress.

Casually she had seemed to choose the resting-place, but she had chosen
it well. More times than she could count she had come to that exact
place, had leaned against that cypress and looked down the Golden
Horn to the divided city, one-half of which she loved as she loved few
things, one-half of which she endured for the sake of the other.

"From here," she said to Dion, "I can feel Stamboul."

He had lain down near to her sideways and rested his cheek on his hand.
The lower half of his body was in sunshine, but the cypress threw its
shadow over his head and shoulders. As Mrs. Clarke spoke he looked
down the Golden Horn to the Turkish city, and his eyes were held by
the minarets of its mosques. Seldom had he looked at a minaret without
thinking of prayer. He thought of prayer now, and then of his dead
child, of the woman he had called wife, and of the end of his happiness.
The thought came to him:

"I was kept safe in the midst of the dangers of war for a reason; and
that reason was that I might go back to England and kill my son."

And yet every day men went up into these minarets and called upon other
men to bow themselves and pray.

God is great. . . .

In the sunlit silence of the vast cemetery the wheels of Dion's life
seemed for a moment to cease from revolving.

God is great--great in His power to inflict misery upon men. And so pray
to Him! Mount upon the minarets, go up high, till you are taken by the
blue, till, at evening, you are nearer to the stars than other men,
and pray to Him and proclaim His glory. For He is the repository of the
power to cover you with misery as with a garment, and to lay you even
with the dust. Pray then--pray! Unless the garment is upon you, unless
the dust is already about you!

Dion lay on the warm earth and looked at the distant minarets, and
smiled at the self-seeking slave-instinct in men, which men sought to
glorify, to elevate into a virtue.

"Why are you smiling?" said a husky voice above.

He did not look up, but he answered:

"Because I was looking at those towers of prayer."

"The minarets."

She was silent for a few minutes; after a while she said:

"You remember the first time you met me?"

"Of course."

"I was in difficulties then. They culminated in the scandal of my
divorce case. Tell me, how did you think I faced all that trouble?"

"With marvelous courage."

"In what other way can thoroughbred people face an enemy? Suppose I had
lost instead of won, suppose Jimmy had been taken from me, do you think
it would have broken me?"

"I can't imagine anything breaking you," said Dion. "But I don't believe
you ever pray."

"What has that to do with it?"

"I believe the people who pray are the potential cowards."

"Do you pray?"

"Not now. That's why I was smiling when I looked at the minarets. But I
don't make a virtue of it. I have nothing to pray for."

"Well then, if you have put away prayer, that means you are going to
rely on yourself."

"What for?"

"For all the sustaining you will need in the future. The people commonly
called good think of God as something outside themselves to which they
can apply in moments of fear, necessity and sorrow. If you have really
got beyond that conception you must rely on yourself, find in yourself
all you need."

"But I need nothing--you don't understand."

"You nearly told me yesterday."

"Perhaps if you hadn't gone out of the room I should have been obliged
to tell you, but not because I wished to."

"I understood that. That is why I went out of the room and left you
alone."

For the first time Dion looked up at her. She had lifted her veil, and
her haggard, refined face was turned towards him.

"Thank you," he said.

At that moment he liked her as he had never liked her in the past.

"Can you tell me now because you wish to?"

"Here among the graves?"

"Yes."

Again he looked at the distant minarets lifted towards the blue near the
way of the sea. But he said nothing. She shut her sun umbrella, laid it
on the ground beside her, pulled off her gloves and spread them out on
her knees slowly. She seemed to be hesitating; for she looked down and
for a moment she knitted her brows. Then she said;

"Tell me why you came to Constantinople."

"I couldn't."

"If I hadn't met you in the street by chance, would you have come to see
me?"

"I don't think I should."

"And yet it was I who willed you to come here."

Dion did not seem surprised. There was something remote in him which
perhaps could not draw near to such a simple commonplace feeling in that
moment. He had gone out a long way, a very long way, from the simple
ordinary emotions which come upon, or beset, normal men living normal
lives.

"Did you?" he asked. "Why?"

"I thought I could do something for you. I began last night."

"What?"

"Doing something for you. I told an acquaintance of mine called Vane,
who is attached to the British Embassy, that you were here."

A fierce flush came into Dion's face.

"I said you would probably come out to Buyukderer," she continued, "and
that I wanted to bring you to the summer Embassy and to introduce you to
the Ambassador and Lady Ingleton."

Dion sat up and pressed his hands palm downwards on the ground.

"I shall not go. How could you say that I was here? You know I had
dropped my own name."

"I gave it back to you deliberately."

"I think that was very brutal of you," he said, in a low voice, tense
with anger.

"You wanted to be very kind to me when I was in great difficulties.
Circumstances got rather in the way. That doesn't matter. The intention
was there, though you were too chivalrous to go very far in action."

"Chivalrous to whom?"

"To her."

His face went pale under its sunburn.

"What are you doing?" he said, in a low voice that was almost terrible.
"Where are you taking me?"

"Into the way you must walk in. Dion--"--even in calling him by
his Christian name for the first time her voice sounded quite
impersonal--"you've done nothing wrong. You have nothing, absolutely
nothing, to be ashamed of. Kismet! We have to yield to fate. If you
slink through the rest of your years on earth, if you get rid of your
name and hide yourself away, you will be just a coward. But you aren't
a coward, and you are not going to act like one. You must accept your
fate. You must take it right into your heart bravely and proudly, or, if
you can't do that, stoically. I should."

"If you had killed Jimmy?"

She was silent.

"If you had killed Jimmy?" he repeated, in a hard voice.

"I should never hide myself. I should always face things."

"You haven't had the blow I have had. I know I am not in fault. I know I
have nothing to blame myself for. I wasn't even careless with my gun. If
I had been I could never have forgiven myself. But I wasn't."

"It was the pony. I know. I read the account of the inquest. You were
absolutely exonerated."

"Yes. The coroner and the jury expressed their deep sympathy with me,"
he said, with intense bitterness. "They realized how--how I loved my
little boy. But the woman I loved more even than my boy, whom I had
loved for ever since I first saw her--well, she didn't feel at all as
the coroner and the jury did."

"Where is she? I hear now and then from Beatrice Daventry, but she never
mentions her sister."

"She is in Liverpool doing religious work, I believe. She has given
herself to religion."

"What does that mean exactly?"

"People give themselves to God, don't they, sometimes?"

"Do they?" said Mrs. Clarke, with her curious grave directness, which
seemed untouched by irony.

"It seems a way out of--things. But she always had a tendency that way."

"Towards the religious life?"

"Yes. She always cared for God a great deal more than she cared for me.
She cared for God and for Robin, and she seemed to be just beginning to
care for me when I deprived her of Robin. Since then she has hated me."

He spoke quietly, sternly. All the emotion of which she had been
conscious on the previous afternoon had left him.

"I didn't succeed in making her love me!" he continued. "I thought I
had gained a good deal in South Africa. When I came back I felt I was
starting again, and that I should carry things through. Robin felt the
difference in me directly. He would have got to care for me very much,
and I could have done a great deal for him when he had got older. But
God didn't see things that way. He had planned it all out differently.
When I was with her in Greece, one day I tore down a branch of wild
olive and stripped the leaves from it. She saw me do it, and it
distressed her very much. She had been dreaming over a child, and my
action shattered her dream, I suppose. Women have dreams men can't quite
understand--about children. She forgave me for that almost directly.
She knew I would never have done anything to make her unhappy even for
a moment, if I had thought. Now I have broken her life to pieces, and
there's no question of forgiveness. If there were, I should not speak of
her to you. We are absolutely parted forever. She would take the hand of
the most dreadful criminal rather than my hand. She has a horror of me.
I'm the thing that's killed her child."

He looked down at the dilapidated graves, and then at the lonely water
which seemed trying to hide itself away in the recesses of the bare
land.

"That's how it is. Robin forgave me. He was alive for a moment--after,
and I saw by his eyes he understood. Yes, he understood--he understood!"

Suddenly his body began to shake and his arms jerked convulsively.
Instinctively, but quite quietly, Mrs. Clarke put out her hand as if she
were going to lay hold of his right arm.

"No--don't!" he said. "Yesterday your hand made me worse."

She withdrew her hand. Her face did not change. She seemed wholly
unconscious of any rudeness on his part.

"Let's move--let's walk!" he said.

He sprang up. When he was on his feet he regained control of his body.

"I don't know what's the matter with me," he said. "I'm not ill."

"My friend, it will have to come," she said, getting up too.

"What?"

But she did not reply.

"I've never been like this till now," he added vaguely.

She knew why, but she did not tell him. She was a woman who knew how to
wait.

They wandered away through that cemetery above the Golden Horn, among
the cypresses and the leaning and fallen tombstones. Now and then they
saw veiled women pausing beside the graves with flowers in their hands,
or fading among the cypress trunks into sunlit spaces beyond. Now and
then they saw a man praying. Once they came to a tomb where children
were sitting in a circle chanting the Koran with a sound like the sound
of bees.

Before they went down to the Turkish cafe, which is close to the holy
mosque, they stood for a long while together on the hillside, looking
at distant Stamboul. The cupolas of the many mosques and the tall and
speary minarets gave their Eastern message--that message which, even to
Protestant men from the lands of the West, is as the thrilling sound of
a still, small voice. And the voice will not be gainsaid; it whispers,
"In the East thou shalt find me if thou hast not found me in the West."

"Why do you care for Stamboul so much?" Dion asked his companion. "I
think you are utterly without religion. I may be wrong, but I think you
are. And Stamboul is full of calls to prayer and of places for men to
worship in."

"Oh, there is something," she answered. "There is the Unknown God."

"The Unknown God?" he repeated, with a sort of still bitterness.

"And His city is Stamboul--for me. When the _muezzin_ calls I bow myself
in ignorance. What _He_ is, I don't know. All I know is that men cannot
explain Him to me, or teach me anything about Him. But Stamboul has
lures for me. It is not only the city of many prayers, it is also the
city of many forgetfulnesses. The old sages said, 'Eat not thy heart
nor mourn the buried Past.' Stay here for a time, and learn to obey that
command. Perhaps, eventually, Stamboul will help you."

"Nothing can help me," he answered.

They went down the hill by the Tekkeh of the Dancing Dervishes.

* * * * *

Mrs. Clarke did not go back to her villa at Buyukderer that day. It was
already late in the afternoon when her caique touched the wharf at the
foot of the Galata bridge.

"I shall stay another night at the hotel," she said to Dion. "Will you
drive up with me?"

He assented. When they reached the hotel he said:

"May I come in for a few minutes?"

"Of course."

When they were in the dim, rather bare room with the white walls,
between which the fierce noises from the Grande Rue found a home, he
said:

"I feel before I leave I must speak about what you did last night, the
message you gave to Vane of our Embassy. I dare say you are right
and that I ought to face things. But no one can judge for a man in my
situation, a man who's had everything cut from under him. I haven't
ended it. That proves I've got a remnant of something--you needn't call
it strength--left in me. Since you've told my name, I'll take it back.
Perhaps it was cowardly to give it up. I believe it was. Robin might
think so, if he knew. And he may know things. But I can't meet casual
people."

"I'm afraid I did what I did partly for myself," she said, taking off
her little hat and laying it, with her gloves, on a table.

"For yourself? Why?"

"I'll explain to-morrow. I shall see you before I go. Come for me at
ten, will you, and we'll drive to Stamboul. I'll tell you there."

"Please tell me now, if you're not tired after being out all day."

"I'm never tired."

"Once Mrs. Chetwinde told me that you were made of iron."

Mrs. Clarke sent him a curious keen glance of intense and almost lambent
inquiry, but he did not notice it. The strong interest that notices
things was absent from him. Would it ever be in him again?

"I suppose I have a great deal of stamina," she said casually. "Well,
sit down, and I'll try to explain."

She lit a cigarette and sat on a divan in the far corner of the large
room, between one of the windows and the door which led into the
bedroom. Dion sat down, facing her and the noise from the Grande Rue. He
wondered for a moment why she had chosen a place so close to the window.

"I had a double reason for doing what I did," she said. "One part
unselfish, the other not. I'll be very frank. I willed that you should
come here."

"Why did you do that?"

"I wanted to see you. I wanted to help you. You don't think I, or any
one, can do that. You think everything is over for you--"

"I know it is," he interrupted, in a voice which sounded cold and dull
and final.

"You think that. Any man like you, in your situation, would think that.
Let us leave it for the moment. I wished you to come here, and willed
you to come here. For some reason you have come. You didn't let me know
you were here, but, by chance as it seems, we met. I don't mean to lose
sight of you. I intend that you shall come either to Buyukderer, or to
some place on the Bosporus not far off that's endurable in the summer,
and that you shall stay there for a time."

"Why?"

"I want to find out if I can be of any good to you."

"You can't. I don't even know why you wish to. But you can't."

"We'll leave that," she said, with inflexible composure. "I don't much
care what you think about it. I shan't be governed, or affected even,
by that. The point is, I mean you to come. How are you to come,
surreptitiously or openly, sneaking in by-ways, your real name
concealed, or treading the highway, your real name known? For your own
sake it must be openly and with your own name, and for my sake too. You
need to face your great tragedy, to stand right up to it. It's your only
chance. A man is always pursued by what he runs away from; he can always
make a friend of what he stands up to."

"A friend?"

His voice broke in with the most piercing and bitter irony through the
many noises in the room--sounds of cries, of carriage wheels, of horses'
hoofs ringing on an uneven pavement, of iron shutters being pulled
violently down over shop fronts, of soldiers marching, of distant bugles
calling, of guitars and mandolins accompanying a Neapolitan song.

"Yes, a friend," said the husky and inflexible, but very feminine voice,
which resembled no other voice of woman that he had ever heard. "So much
for my thought of you. And now for my thought of myself. I am a woman
who has faced a great scandal and come out of it the winner. I
was horribly attacked, and I succeeded in what the papers call
reestablishing my reputation. You and I know very well what that means.
I know by personal experience, you by the behavior of your own wife."

Dion moved abruptly like a man in physical pain, but Mrs. Clarke
continued:

"I don't ask you to forgive me for hurting you. You and I must be frank
with each other, or we can be of no use to each other. After what has
happened many women might be inclined to avoid me as your wife did.
Fortunately I have so many friends who believe in me that I am in a
fairly strong position. I don't want to weaken that position on account
of Jimmy. Now, if you came to Buyukderer under an assumed name, I
couldn't introduce you to any one, or explain you without telling lies.
Gossip runs along the shores of the Bosporus like fire along a hayrick.
How can I be seen perpetually with a man whom I never introduce to any
of my friends, who isn't known at his own Embassy? Both for your own
sake and for mine we must be frank about the whole thing."

"But I never said I should come to Buyukderer," he said.

And there was a sort of dull, lifeless obstinacy in his voice.

"You have come to Constantinople and you will come to Buyukderer," she
replied quietly.

He looked at her across the room. The light was beginning to fade, but
still the awnings were drawn down beyond the windows, darkening
the large bare room. He saw her as a study in gray and white, with
colorless, unshining hair, a body so thin and flexible that it was
difficult to believe it contained nerves like a network of steel and
muscles capable of prolonged endurance, a face that was haggard in its
white beauty, eyes that looked enormous and fixed in the twilight. The
whole aspect of her was melancholy and determined, beautiful and yet
almost tragic. He felt upon him the listless yet imperative grasp which
he had first known in Mrs. Chetwinde's drawing-room, the grasp which
resembled Stamboul's.

"I suppose I shall go to Buyukderer," he said slowly. "But I don't know
why you wish it."

"I have always liked you."

"Yes, I think you have."

"I don't care to see a man such as you are destroyed by a good woman."

He got up.

"No one is destroying me," he said, with a dull and hopeless defiance.

"Dion, don't misunderstand me. It wouldn't be strange if you thought I
bore your wife a grudge because she didn't care about knowing me. But,
honestly, I am indifferent to a great many things that most women fuss
about. I quite understood her reluctance. Directly I saw her I knew that
she had ideals, and that she expected all those who were intimately in
her life to live up to them. Instead of accepting the world as it has
been created, such women must go one better than the Creator (if there
is one), and invent an imaginary world. Now I shouldn't be at home in
an imaginary world. I'm not good enough for that, and don't want to be.
Your wife is very good, but she lives for herself, for her own virtues
and the peace and happiness she gets out of them."

"She lived for Robin," he interrupted.

"Robin was a part of herself," Mrs. Clarke said dryly. "Women like that
don't know how to love as lovers, because they care for the virtues in
men rather than for the men themselves. They are robed in ideals, and
they are in mortal fear of a speck of dust falling on the robe. The dust
of my scandal was upon me, so your wife avoided me. That I was innocent
didn't matter. I had been mixed up with something ugly. Your chivalry
was instinctively on the side of justice. Her virtue inclined to the
other side. Her virtue is destructive."

He was silent.

"Now it has driven you out like a scapegoat into the wilderness!"

"No, no!" he muttered, without conviction.

"But don't let it destroy you. I would rather deliberately destroy
myself than let any one destroy me. In the one case there's strength of
a kind, in the other there's no strength at all. I speak very plainly,
but I'm not a woman full of ideals. I accept the world just as it is,
men just as they are. If a speck of dust alights on me, I don't think
myself hopelessly befouled; and if some one I loved made a slip, I
should only think that it is human to err and that it's humanity I
love."

"Humanity!" he repeated, looking down. "Ah!" He sighed deeply.

He raised his head.

"And if some one you loved killed your Jimmy?"

"As you----?"

"Yes--yes?"

"I should love him all the more because of the misery added to him," she
said firmly. "There's only one thing a really great love can't forgive."

"What is it?"

"The deliberate desire and intention to hurt it and degrade it."

"I never had that."

"No."

"Then--then you think she never loved me at all?"

But Mrs. Clarke did not answer that question.

The daylight was rapidly failing. She seemed almost to be fading away in
the dimness and in the noises of evening which rose from the Grande Rue.
Yet something of her remained and was very definite, so definite that
even Dion, broken on the wheel and indifferent to casual influences
as few men are ever indifferent, felt it almost powerfully--the
concentration of her will, the unyielding determination of her mind,
active and intense behind the pale mask of her physical body.

He turned away and went to the window farthest from her. He leaned out
to the Grande Rue. Above his head was the sloping awning. It seemed to
him to serve as a sounding-board to the fierce noises of the mongrel
city.

"Start again!"

Surely among the voices of the city now filling his ears there was a
husky voice which had said that.

Had Mrs. Clarke spoken?

"Start again."

But not on the familiar road! To do that would be impossible. If there
were indeed any new life for him it must be an utterly different life
from any he had known.

He had tried the straight life of unselfishness, purity, fidelity and
devotion--devotion to a woman and also to a manly ideal. That life had
convulsively rejected him. Had he still within him sufficient energy of
any kind to lay hold on a new life?

For a moment he saw before him under the awning Robin's eyes as they had
been when his little son was dying in his arms.

He drew back from the street. The sitting-room was empty, but the door
between it and the bedroom was open. No doubt Mrs. Clarke had gone in
there to put away her hat. As he looked at the door the Russian maid,
whom he had seen at Park Side, Knightsbridge, came from the inner room.

"Madame hopes Monsieur will call to see her to-morrow before she starts
to Buyukderer," she said, with her strong foreign accent.

"Thank you," said Dion.

As he went out the maid shut the bedroom door.



CHAPTER III

Two days later Mrs. Clarke sat with the British Ambassadress in the
British Palace at Therapia, a building of wood with balconies looking
over the Bosporus. She was alone with Lady Ingleton in the latter's
sitting-room, which was filled with curious Oriental things, with
flowers, and with little dogs of the Pekinese breed, who lay about in
various attitudes of contentment, looking serenely imbecile, and as if
they were in danger of water on the brain.

Lady Ingleton was an old friend of Mrs. Clarke, and was a woman wholly
indifferent to the prejudices which govern ordinary persons. She had
spent the greater part of her life abroad, and looked like a weary
Italian, though she was half English, a quarter Irish, and a quarter
French. She was very dark, and had large, dreamy dark eyes which knew
how to look bored, a low voice which could say very sharp things at
times, and a languid manner which concealed more often than it betrayed
an intelligence always on the alert.

"What is it, Cynthia?" said Lady Ingleton. "But first tell me if you
like this Sine carpet. I found it in the bazaar last Thursday, and
it cost the eyes out of my head. Carey, of course, has said for the
hundredth time that I am ruining him, and bringing his red hair in
sorrow to the tomb. Even if I am, it seems to me the carpet is worth
it."

Mrs. Clarke studied the carpet for a moment with earnest attention.
She even knelt down to look closely at it, and passed her hands over it
gently, while Lady Ingleton watched her with a sort of dark and still
admiration.

"It's a marvel," she said, getting up. "If you had let it go I should
almost have despised you."

"Please tell that to Carey when he comes to you to complain. And now,
what is it?"

"You remember several months ago the tragedy of a man called Dion Leith,
who fought in the South African War, came home and almost immediately
after his return killed his only son by mistake out shooting?"

"Yes. You knew him, I think you said. He was married to that beautiful
Rosamund Everard who used to sing. I heard her once at Tippie
Chetwinde's. Esme Darlington was a great admirer or hers, of course
_pour le bon motif_."

"Dion Leith's here."

"In Therapia?"

"No, in a hideous little hotel in Constantinople."

"Why?"

"I don't think he knows. His wife has given him up. She was a mother,
not a lover, so you can imagine her feelings about the man who killed
her child. It seems she was _une mere folle_. She has left him and,
according to him, has given herself to God. He's in a most peculiar
condition. He was a model husband, absolutely devoted and entirely
irreproachable. Even before marriage, I should think he had kept out of
the way of--things. The athlete with ideals--he was that, one supposes."

"How extraordinarily attractive!" said Lady Ingleton, in a lazy and
rather drawling voice.

"So he had a great deal to fasten on the woman who has cast him out.
Just now, like the coffin of Mohammed, he's suspended. That's the
impression I get from him."

"Do you want to bring him down to earth?"

"All he's known and cared for in life has failed him. He was traveling
under an assumed name even, for fear people should point him out as the
man who killed his own son. All that sort of thing is no use. I gave his
secret away deliberately to young Vane, and asked him to speak to the
Ambassador. And now I've come to you. I want you to have him here once
or twice and be nice to him. Then I can see something of him, poor
fellow, and do something for him."

A faint smile curved Lady Ingleton's sensitive lips.

"Of course. Then he's coming to the Bosporus?"

"He'll probably spend some time at Buyukderer. He must face his fate and
take up life again."

"He doesn't intend to do what his wife has done?"

Lady Ingleton was still smiling faintly.

"I should say his experience rather inclines him to take an opposite
direction."

"Is he good-looking?"

"What he has been through has ravaged his face."

"That probably makes him much handsomer than he ever was before."

"He hates the thought of meeting any one. But if you will have him here
once or twice, and people know it, it will make things all right."

"Will he come?"

"Yes."

"You know I always do what you want."

"I never want you to do dull things."

"That's true. The dogs don't come into play against the people you bring
here."

It was a legend in Constantinople in Embassy circles that Lady Ingleton
always "set the dogs" at bores. Even at official dinners, when she had
as much as she could stand of the heavy bigwigs whom she was obliged
to invite, she surreptitiously touched a bell. This was a signal to
the footman to bring in the dogs, who were trained to yap at and to
investigate closely visitors. The yapping and the investigations created
a feeling of general restlessness and an almost inevitable movement,
which invariably led to the speedy departure of the unwelcome guests;
who went, as Lady Ingleton said, "not knowing why." Enough that they
went! The dogs were rewarded with lumps of sugar as are the canine
performers in a circus. Sir Carey complained that it was bad
diplomacy, but he was devoted to his wife, and even secretly loved her
characteristic selfishness.

"Let Dion Leith come and I'll cast my mantle over him--for your sake,
Cynthia. You are a remarkable woman."

"Why?"

But Lady Ingleton did not say why. There were immense reticences between
her and Cynthia Clarke.

Dion left Hughes's Hotel and went to Buyukderer.

He had not consciously known why he did this. Until he met Mrs. Clarke
near the British Embassy he had scarcely been aware how sordid and ugly
and common under its small ostentations Hughes's Hotel was. She made
him see the dreariness of his surroundings, although she had never seen
them; she made him again aware of things. That she was able to affect
him strongly, although he did not care for her, he knew by the sudden
approach to the brink of a complete emotional breakdown which she had
brought about in him at their first meeting. He remembered the hand
he had taken and had put against his forehead. There had been no
cool solace in it for the fever within him. Why, then, did he go to
Buyukderer? Certainly he did not go in hope. He was dwelling in a region
far beyond where hope can live.

But here was some one who was far away from the land that had seen his
tragedy, and who meant something in connexion with him, who intended
something which had to do with him. In England his mother had been
powerless to help him; Beattie had been powerless to help him. Canon
Wilton had tried to use his almost stern power of manly sincerity on
behalf of the soul of Dion. He and Dion had had a long interview after
the inquest on the little body of Robin was over, and he had drawn
nearer to the inmost chamber than any one else had, though Bruce Evelin,
even in his almost fierce grief for Robin, had been wonderfully kind
and understanding. But even Canon Wilton had utterly failed to be of any
real use. Perhaps he had known Rosamund too well.

Till now Mrs. Clarke was the one human being who had succeeded in making
a definite impression on Dion since Robin's death and Rosamund's fearful
reception of the news of it. He felt her will, and perhaps he felt
something else in her without telling himself that he did so: her
knowledge of a life absolutely different from the life he had hitherto
known, absolutely different, too, from the life known to, and lived by,
those who had been nearest to him and with whom he had been most closely
intimate. The old life with all its associations had cast him out. That
was his feeling. Possibly, without being aware of it, and driven by the
necessity that is within man to lay hold of something, to seek
after refuge in the blackest moments of existence, he was feebly and
instinctively feeling after an unknown life which was represented to
his imagination by the pale beauty of Mrs. Clarke. She had described
his situation as one of suspension between the heaven and the earth.
His heaven had certainly rejected him. Possibly, without knowing it, and
without any hope of future happiness or even of future peace, he faintly
descried her earth; possibly, in going to Buyukderer, he was making an
unconscious effort to gain it.

He wondered about this afterwards, but not at all in the moment of his
going. Things were not clear to him then. He was still in the vague,
but he was not to walk in vagueness forever. Fate which, by its malign
action, had caused him to inflict a frightful injury upon the good woman
he loved still held in reserve for him new and tremendous experience. He
thought that in Welsley he had reached the ultimate depths which a man
can sound. It was not so.

Dion came to Buyukderer on a breezy blue day, a day which seemed full
of hope and elation, which was radiant with sunlight and dancing waters,
and buoyant with ardent life. Gone were those delicate dreamy influences
which sometimes float over the Bosporus even in the noontides of summer,
when the winds are still, and the long shores of Asia seem to lie
wrapped in a soft siesta, holding their secrets of the Orient closely
hidden from the eyes of Europe. Europe gazes at Asia, but Asia is
gravely indifferent to Europe; she listens only to the voices which come
to her from her own depths, and, like an Almeh reclining, is stirred
only by music unknown to the West.

As the steamer on which he traveled voyaged towards the Black Sea, Dion
paced up and down the deck and looked always at the shore of Asia. That
line of hills represented to him the unknown. If he could only lose
himself in Asia and forget! But there was nothing passionate in his
longing. It was only a gray desire born in a broken mind and a broken
nature.

Once during the voyage he thought of Robin. Did Robin know where he was,
whither he was going? Since Rosamund had utterly rejected him, strangely
his dead boy and he had at moments seemed to Dion to be near to each
other encompassed by the same thick darkness. Even once he had seemed
to see Robin groping, like one lost and vainly seeking after light. His
vagueness was broken upon sometimes by fantastic visions. But to-day
he had no consciousness at all of Robin. The veil of death which hung
between him and the child he had slain seemed to be of stone, absolutely
impenetrable. And all his visions had left him.

Palaces and villas came into sight and vanished; Yildiz upon its hill
scattered among the trees of its immense park; Dolmabaghcheh stretched
out along the water's edges, with its rose-beds before it; and its
gravely staring sentinels; Beylerbey Serai on the Asian shore, with its
marble quay and its terraced gardens, not far from Kandili and the sweet
waters of Asia. Presently the Giant's Mountain appeared staring across
the water at Buyukderer. The prow of the steamer was headed for the
European shore. Dion saw the bay opening to receive them under its
wooded hills which are pierced by the great valley. It stretched its
arms as if in welcome, and very calm was the water between them. Here
the wind failed. Along the shore were villas, and gardens rising
in terraces, where roses, lemon trees, laurels grew in almost rank
abundance. Across the water came the soft sound of music, a song of
Greece lifted above the thrumming of guitars. And something in the
aspect of this Turkish haven, sheltered from the winds of that Black Sea
which had come into sight off Kirech Burnu, something in the song which
floated over the water, struck deep into Dion's heart. Abruptly he
was released from his frozen detachment; tears sprang into his eyes,
memories surged up in his mind--memories of a land not very far from
this land; of the maidens of the Porch; of the hill of Drouva kept by
the stars and the sleeping winds; of Zante dreaming of the sunset; of
Hermes keeping watch over the child in the green recesses of Elis.

"Why do I come here? What have I to do here, or in any place dedicated
to beauty and to peace?"

His brown face twitched, and the wrinkles which sprayed out from his
eyelids over his thin cheeks worked till the network of them seemed to
hold an independent and furious life.

"If I were a happy traveler as I once was!"

The thought pierced him, and was followed immediately by the remembrance
of some words spoken by Mrs. Clarke:

"My friend, it will have to come."

That which had to come, would it come here, in this sheltered place,
where the song died away like a thing enticed by the long valley to
be kept by the amorous trees? Mrs. Clarke's voice had sounded full of
inflexible knowledge when she had spoken these words, and she had looked
at him with eyes that were full of knowledge. It was as if those eyes
had seen the weeping of many men.

The steamer drew near to the shore. The bright bustle of the quay was
apparent. Dion made his effort and conquered himself. But he felt almost
afraid of Buyukderer. In the ugly roar of the Grande Rue he had surely
been safer than he would be here in this place which seemed planned for
intimate happiness.

The steamer came alongside the pier.

When Dion stepped on to the quay a tall young Englishman with broad
shoulders, rather a baby face, and large intelligent blue eyes
immediately walked up to him.

"Are you Mr. Dion Leith?"

Dion, startled, was about to say "No" with determined hostility when he
remembered Mrs. Clarke. He had come here; he was, he supposed, going to
stay here for some days at least; of course he must face things.

"Yes," he said gruffly.

In an easy, agreeable manner the stranger explained that he was Cyril
Vane, second secretary of the British Embassy, and a friend of Mrs.
Clarke's, and that he had come down at her request to meet Dion, and to
tell him that there was a charming room reserved for him at the Belgrad
Hotel.

"I'll walk up with you if you like," he added, in a casual voice. "It's
no distance. That your luggage?"

He put it in the charge of a porter from the hotel.

"I'm over at Therapia just now. The Ambassador hopes to see you. He's a
delightful fellow."

He talked pleasantly, and looked remarkably unobservant till they
reached the hotel, where he parted from Dion.

"I dare say I shall see you soon. Very glad to do anything I can for
you. Mrs. Clarke lies at the Villa Hafiz. Any one can tell you where it
is."

He walked coolly away in the sun, looking like an immense fair baby in
his thin, light-colored clothes.

"Does he know?" thought Dion, looking after him.

Then he went up into his bedroom which looked out upon the sea. When the
luggage had been brought in and the door was shut, he sat down on the
edge of the bed and stared at the polished uncarpeted floor.

"Why have I come here? What have I to do here?" he thought.

He missed the uproar of Pera. It had exercised a species of pressure
upon his soul, a deadening influence.

Ever since Robin's death he had lived in towns, and had walked about
streets. He had been for a time in Paris, then in Marseilles, where he
had stayed for more than two months haunted by an idea of crossing over
to Africa and losing himself in the vastness of the lands of the
sun. But something had held him back, perhaps a dread of the immense
loneliness which would surely beset him on the other side of the sea;
and he had gone to Geneva, then to Zurich, to Milan, Genoa, Naples,
Berlin and Budapest. From Budapest he had come to Constantinople. He had
known the loneliness of cities, but an instinct had led him to avoid
the loneliness of the silent and solitary places. There had been
an atmosphere of peace in quiet Welsley. He was afraid of such an
atmosphere and had sought always its opposite.

"Why have I come here?" he thought again.

In this small place he felt exposed, almost as if he were naked and
could be seen by strangers. In Pera at least he was covered.

"I shall have to go away from here," he thought.

He got up from the bed and began to unpack. As he did this, the
uselessness of what he was doing, the arid futility of every bit of the
web of small details which, in their sum, were his life, flowed upon
his soul like stagnant water forced into movement by some horrible
machinery. He was like something agitating in a vast void, something
whose incessant movements produced no effect, had no sort of relation
to anything. In his loneliness of the cities he had begun to lose that
self-respect which belongs to all happy Englishmen of his type. Mrs.
Clarke had immediately noticed that certain details in his dress showed
a beginning of neglect. Since he had met her he had rectified them,
almost unconsciously. But now suddenly the burden of detail seemed
unbearable.

It was only by an almost fierce exercise of the will that he forced
himself to finish unpacking, and to lay his things out neatly in drawers
and on the dressing-table. Then he took off his boots and his jacket,
stretched himself out on the bed with his arms behind him and his hands
grasping the bedstead, and shut his eyes.

There was something shameful in his flaccid idleness, in the aimlessness
of his whole life now, devoid of all work, undirected towards any
effort. But that was not his fault. He had worked with energy in
business, with equal energy in play, worked for self's sake, for love's
sake, and for country's sake. And for all he had done, for his effort of
purity as a boy and a youth, for his effort of love as a husband and a
father, for his effort of valor as a soldier, he had been rewarded
with the most horrible punishment which can fall upon a man. Effort,
therefore, on his part was useless; it was worse than useless, it was
grotesque. Let others make their efforts, his were done.

He wished that he could sleep.

* * * * *

The dreadful inertia of Dion did not seem to be dreadful to Mrs. Clarke.
Perhaps she was more intelligent than most women, and generated within
herself so much energy of some kind that she was not driven to seek for
it in others; or perhaps she was more sympathetic, more imaginative,
than most women, and pardoned because she understood. At any rate, she
accepted Dion as he was, and neither criticized him, attempted to bully
him, nor seemed to wish to change him.

She had indeed insisted that he must face his fate and had ruthlessly
given him back his name; she had also deliberately set about to entangle
him in the silken cords of a social relation. But he knew within a
couple of days of his arrival at Buyukderer that he did not fear her.
No woman perhaps ever lived who worried a man less in friendship, or who
gave, without any insistence upon it, a stronger impression of loyalty,
of tenacity in affection to those for whom she cared. Although often
almost delicately blunt in words, in action she was full of tact. She
was one of those rare women who absolutely understand men, and who know
how to convey to men instantly the fact of their understanding. Such
women are always attractive to men. Even if they are plain, and not
otherwise specially clever, they possess for men a lure.

Mrs. Clarke had told Dion in Constantinople that she meant him to come
to Buyukderer. This was an almost insolent assertion of will-power. But
when he was there she let him alone. On the day of his arrival there
had come no message from the Villa Hafiz to his hotel. He had, perhaps,
expected one; he knew that he was relieved not to receive it. Late in
the afternoon he went for a solitary walk up the valley, avoiding the
many people who poured forth from the villas and hotels to take their
air, as the sun sank low behind Therapia, and the light upon the water
lost in glory and gained in magic. Gay parties embarked in caiques.
Some people drove in small victorias drawn by spirited, quick-trotting
horses; others rode; others strolled up and down slowly by the edge of
the sea. A gay brightness of sociable life made Buyukderer intimately
merry as evening drew on. Instinctively Dion left the laughter and the
voices behind him.

His wandering led him to the valley of roses, where he sat down by the
stream, and for the first time tasted something of the simplicity and
charm of Turkish country life. It did not charm him, but in a dim way
he felt it, was faintly aware of a soothing influence which touched him
like a cool hand. For a long time he stayed there, and he thought, "If I
remain at Buyukderer I shall often visit this place beside the stream."
Once he was disturbed by the noise of a cantering horse in the lane
close by, but otherwise he was fortunate that day; few people came
to his retreat, and none of them were foreigners. Two or three Turks
strolled by, holding their beads; and once some veiled women came,
escorted by a eunuch, threw some petals of flowers upon the surface of
the tinkling water, and walked on up the narrow valley, chattering in
childish voices, and laughing with a twitter that was like the twitter
of birds.

In the soft darkness he walked slowly back to his hotel. And that night
he slept better than he had ever slept in Pera.

On the following day there was still no message from the Villa Hafiz,
and he did not see Mrs. Clarke. He took a row boat, with a big Albanian
boatman for company, and rowed out on the Bosporus till they came in
sight of the Black Sea. The wind got up; Dion stripped to his shirt and
trousers, rolled his shirt sleeves up to the shoulders, and had a long
pull at the oars. He rowed till the perspiration ran down his lean body.
The boatman admired his muscles and his strength.

"Inglese?" he asked.

Dion nodded.

"Les Inglesi tres forts, molto forte!" he observed, mixing French with
Italian to show his linguistic accomplishments, "Moi tres fort aussi."

Dion talked to the man. When he left the boat at the quay he said
he would take it again on the morrow. The intention to go away from
Buyukderer, to drown himself again in the uproar of Pera, was already
fading out of his mind. Mrs. Clarke's silence had, perhaps, reassured
him. The Villa Hafiz did not summon him. He could seek it if he would.
Evidently it was not going to seek him.

Again he felt grateful to Mrs. Clarke. Her silence, her neglect of him,
increased his faith in her friendship for him.

His second day in Buyukderer dawned; in the late afternoon of it, now
sure of his freedom, he went to the Villa Hafiz.

He did not know that Mrs. Clarke was rich. Indeed he had heard in London
that she only had a small income, but that she "did wonders" with it.
In London he had seen her at Claridge's and at the marvelous flat
in Knightsbridge. Now, at Buyukderer, he found her in a small, but
beautifully arranged and furnished, villa with a lovely climbing garden
behind it. Evidently she could not live in ugly surroundings or among
cheap and unbeautiful things. He saw at a glance that the rugs and
carpets on the polished floors of the villa were exquisite, that the
furniture was not merely graceful and in place but really choice and
valuable, and that the few ornaments and pieces of china scattered
about, with the most deft decision as to the exactly right place for
each mirror, bowl, vase and incense holder, were rarely fine. Yet in the
airy rooms there was no dreary look of the museum. On the contrary, they
had an intimate, almost a homely air, in spite of their beauty. Books
and magazines were allowed their place, and on a grand piano, almost
in the middle of the largest room, which opened by long windows into an
adroitly tangled rose garden where a small fountain purred amongst blue
lilies, there was a quantity of music. The whole house was strongly
scented with flowers. Dion was greeted at its threshold by a wave of
delicious perfume.

Mrs. Clarke received him in her most casual, most impersonal manner, and
made no allusion to the fact that she knew he had already been for two
days in Buyukderer without coming near her. She asked him if his room at
the hotel was all right, and when he thanked her for bothering about him
said that Cyril Vane had seen to it.

"He's a kind, useful sort of boy," she added, "and often helps me with
little things."

That day she said nothing about the Ambassador and Lady Ingleton, and
showed no disposition to assume any proprietorship over Dion. She took
him over the house, and also into the garden.

Upon the highest terrace of the latter, far above the house, between two
magnificent cypresses, there stood a pavilion. It was made of the wood
of the plane tree, was painted dull green, had trees growing thickly at
its back, and was partially concealed by a luxuriant creeper with deep
orange-colored flowers, not unlike orange-colored jasmine, which Mrs.
Clarke had seen first in Egypt and had acclimatized in Turkey. The
center of the front of this pavilion was open to the terrace, but could
be closed by sliding doors which, when pushed back, fitted into the
hollow walls on either side. The interior was furnished with bookcases,
divans covered with cushions and embroideries, coffee tables, and
Eastern rugs. Antique bronze lamps hung by chains from the painted
ceiling, which was divided into lozenges alternately dull green and dull
gold. The view from this detached library was very beautiful. Over the
roof of the villa, beyond the broad white road and the quay, the long
bay stretched out into the Bosporus. Across its tranquil waters, and the
waters beaten up into waves by the winds from the Black Sea, rose the
shores of Asia, Beikos, Anadoli Kavak, Anadoli Fanar, with lines of
hills and the Giant's Mountain. Immediately below, and stretching away
to right and left, were the curving shores of Europe, with the villas
and palaces of Buyukderer held between the blue sea and the tree-covered
heights of Kabatash; the park of the Russian Palace, the summer home
of Russia's representative at the Sublime Porte, gardens of many rich
merchants of Constantinople and of Turkish, Greek and Armenian magnates,
and the fertile and well-watered country extending to Therapia, Stania
and Bebek on the one hand, and to Rumili Kavak, with the great Belgrad
forest behind it, and to Rumili Fanar, where the Bosporus flows into the
Black Sea, on the other.

"Come up here whenever you like," Mrs. Clarke said to Dion. "You can
ring at the side gate of the garden, and come up without entering the
house or letting me know you are here. I have my own sitting-room on the
first floor of the villa next to my bedroom, the little blue-and-green
room I showed you just now. The books I'm reading at present are there.
No one will bother you, and you won't bother any one."

He thanked her, not very warmly, perhaps, but with a genuine attempt
at real gratitude, and said he would come. They walked up and down the
terrace for a little while, in silence for the most part. Before they
went down he mentioned that he had been out rowing.

"I ride for exercise," said Mrs. Clarke. "You can easily hire a good
horse here, but I have one of my own, Selim. Nearly every afternoon I
ride."

"Were you riding the day before yesterday?" Dion asked.

"Yes, in the Kesstane Dereh, or Valley of Roses, as many people call
it."

"Were you alone?"

"Yes."

Dion had thought of the cantering horse which he had heard in the lane
as he sat beside the stream. He felt sure it was Selim he had heard.
Mrs. Clarke did not ask the reason for his questions. She seemed to him
a totally incurious woman. Presently they descended to the house, and
he wished her good-by. She did not ask him to stay any longer, did not
propose any expedition, or any day or hour for another meeting. She just
let him go with a grave, and almost abstracted good-by.

When he was alone he realized something; she had assumed that he was
going to make a long stay in Buyukderer. Once, in speaking of the
foliage, she had said, "You will notice in September----" Why was she
so certain he would stay on? There was nothing to prevent him from going
away by the steamer on the morrow. She did nothing to curb his freedom;
she seemed almost indifferent to the fact of his presence there; yet
she had told him he would come, and was evidently certain that he would
stay.

He wondered a little, but only a little, about her will. Then his mind
returned to an old haunt in which continually it wandered, obsessed by
a horror that seemed already ancient, the walled garden at Welsley in
which he had searched in the dark for a fleeing woman. Perpetually he
heard the movement of that woman's dress as she disappeared into the
darkness, and the sound of a door, the door of his own home, being
locked against him to give her time to escape from him. That sound had
cut his life in two. He saw, as he had seen many times in the past, the
falling downwards of edges that bled, the edges of his severed life.

And he forgot the garden of the Villa Hafiz, the pavilion which stood on
the hill looking over the sea to Asia, the grave woman who had told him,
indifferently, that he could go to it when he would.

Nevertheless on the following day he found himself at the garden
gate; he rang the bell; he was admitted by Osman, the placidly smiling
gardener, and he ascended to the pavilion. No one was there. He stayed
for three hours, and nobody came to interrupt him. Down below the wooden
villa held closely the secret of its life. Once, as he gazed down on
it, he wondered for a moment about Mrs. Clarke, how she passed her
hours without a companion, which she was doing just then. The siren of
a steamer sounded in the bay. He went into the pavilion. On one of the
coffee-tables he found lying a small thin book bound in white vellum. He
took it up and read the name in gold letters: "The Kasidah of Haji Abdu
El-Yezdi." It was the book he had found Beattie reading on the night
when Robin was born, on the night when Bruce Evelin and Guy had
discussed Mrs. Clarke's divorce case and Mrs. Clarke. He shuddered in
the warmth of the pavilion. Then resolutely he picked the book up.
At the beginning, after some blank pages, there was a portrait of Sir
Richard Burton. Dion looked at the strong, tragic face, with its burning
expression, for a long time. Then he stretched himself on one of the
divans and began to read the book.

Down below, in the villa, Mrs. Clarke was sitting in the green-and-blue
room in the first floor with Lady Ingleton, and they were talking about
Dion.

"He's here now," said Mrs. Clarke to her friend.

"Where?"

"In the garden. I haven't seen him, but Osman tells me he has gone up to
the pavilion."

"We can stroll up there later on, and then you can introduce him if you
want to."

"No."

Lady Ingleton did not look surprised on receiving this brusk negative.

"Shall I get Carey to see him first?" she asked, in her lazy voice.
"Cyril Vane has prepared the way before him, and Carey is all sympathy
and readiness to do what he can. The Greek tragedy of the situation
appeals to him tremendously, and of course he has a hundredfold more
tact than I have."

"Mr. Leith must go to the Embassy. But what he has been through has
developed in him a sort of wildness that is almost like that of an
animal. If he saw an outstretched hand he would probably bolt."

"And yet he's sitting in your pavilion."

"Because he knows he won't see any outstretched hand there. He was here
for two days without coming near me, and even then he only came because
I had taken no notice of him."

"I know. You spread the food outside, go indoors and close the shutters,
and then, when no one is looking, it creeps up, takes the food, and
vanishes."

"A very great grief eats away the conventions, and beneath the
conventions there is always something strongly animal."

For a moment Lady Ingleton looked at Mrs. Clarke and was silent. Then
she said, very quietly and simply:

"Does he realize yet how cruel you are?"

"He isn't thinking about me."

"But he will."

Mrs. Clarke stared at the wall for a minute. Then she said:

"Ask the Ambassador if he will ride with me to-morrow afternoon, will
you, unless he's engaged?"

"At what time?"

"Half-past four. Perhaps he'll dine afterwards."

"Very well. And now I'm going up to the pavilion."

But she did not go, although she was genuinely curious about the man who
had killed his son and had been cast out by the woman he loved. Secretly
Lady Ingleton was much more softly romantic than Mrs. Clarke was. She
was hard on bores, and floated in an atmosphere of delicate selfishness,
but she could be very kind if her imagination was roused, and though
almost strangely devoid of prejudices she had instincts that were not
unsound.

That evening she gave Mrs. Clarke's message to her husband.

"To-morrow--to-morrow?" he said, in his light tenor voice, inquiringly.
"Yes, I can go. As it happens, I'm breakfasting with Borinsky at
the Russian Palace, so I shall be on the spot. John can meet me with
Freddie."

Freddie was the Ambassador's favorite horse.

"But can Borinsky put up with you till half-past four?"

"Cynthia Clarke won't mind if I turn up before my time."

"No. She's devoted to you, and you know it, and love it."

Sir Carey smiled. He and his wife were happy people, and he never wished
to stray from his path of happiness, not even with Mrs. Clarke. But
he had been a beautiful youth, whom many women had loved, and was
a remarkably handsome man, although his red hair was turning gray.
Honestly he liked to be admired by women, and to feel that his
fascination for them was still intact. And he did not actively object
to the fact of his wife's being aware of it. For he loved her very much,
and he knew that a woman does not love a man less because other women
feel his power.

He appreciated Mrs. Clarke, and thought her full of intelligence, of
nuances, and _tres fine_. Her husband had been his right-hand man at
the Embassy, but he had taken Mrs. Clarke's part when the divorce
proceedings were initiated, and had stood up for her ever since. Like
Esme Darlington he believed that she was a wild mind in an innocent
body.

On the following day he rode with her towards Rumili Kavak, and
presently, returning, to the four cross-roads at the mouth of the Valley
of Roses. A Turkish youth was standing there. Mrs. Clarke spoke to him
in Turkish and he replied. She turned to the Ambassador.

"You do want a cup of coffee, don't you?"

"If you tell me I do."

"By the stream just beyond the lane. And I'll ride home. I've ordered
all the things you like best for dinner. Ahmed Bey and Madame Davroulos
will make a four."

"And Delia and Cyril Vane a two!"

"You must try to control your very natural jealousy."

"I will."

He dismounted and gave the reins to the Turkish youth.

Sitting very erect on her black Arab horse, Mrs. Clarke watched him
disappear down the lane in which Dion had heard the cantering feet of a
horse as he sat alone beside the stream.

Then she rode back to Buyukderer.



CHAPTER IV

Whether Mrs. Clarke had put "The Kasidah" in a conspicuous place in the
pavilion with a definite object, or whether she had been reading it and
by chance had laid it down, Dion could not tell. He believed, however,
that she had intended that this book should be read by him at this
crisis in his life. She had frankly acknowledged that she wished to
rouse him out of his inertia; she was a very mental woman; a book was a
weapon that such a woman would be likely to employ.

At any rate, Dion felt her influence in "The Kasidah."

The book took possession of him; it burnt him like a flame; even it made
him for a short time forget. That was incredible, yet it was the fact.

It was an antichristian book. A woman's love of God had made Dion in his
bitterness antichristian. It was an enormously vital book, and called to
the vitality which misery had not killed within him. There were passages
in it which seemed to have been written specially for him--passages that
went into him like a sword and drew blood from out of the very depths of
him.

"Better the worm of Izrail than Death that walks in form of life"--that
was for him. He had substituted for death, swift, easy, a mere nothing,
the long, slow terrific something. Death that walks in form of life.
Deliberately he had chosen that.

     "On thought itself feed not thy thought; nor turn
         From Sun and Light to gaze
     At darkling cloisters paved with tombs where rot
         The bones of bygone days----"

What else had he done since he had wandered in the wilderness?

     "There is no Good, there is no Bad, these be
         The whims of mortal will:
     What works me weal that call I 'good,' what harms
         And hurts I hold as 'ill.'"

These words drove out the pale Fantasy he had fallen down and worshiped.
It had harmed and hurt him. Haji Abdu El-Yezdi bade him henceforth hold
it as "ill." If he could only do that, would not gates open before him,
would not, perhaps, the power to live again in a new way arise within
him?

     "Do what thy Manhood bids thee do, from
         None but self expect applause;
     He noblest lives and noblest dies who makes
         And keeps his self-made laws.

     All other Life is living Death, a world where
         None but Phantoms dwell,
     A breath, a wind, a sound, a voice, a tinkling
         Of the Camel bell."

He had lived the other life, for he had lived for another; he had lived
to earn the applause of affection from Rosamund; he had striven always
to fit his life into her pattern; now he was alone with the result.

     "Pluck the old woman from thy breast: be
         Stout in woe, be stark in weal--       . . . . . . . spurn
         Bribe of Heav'n and threat of Hell."

He had chosen the death that walks in the form of life; now something
powerful, stirred from sleep by the influence of one not dead, rose up
in him to reject that death. And it was the same thing that long ago
had enabled him to be pure before his marriage, the same thing which had
enabled him to put England before even Rosamund, the same thing which
had held him up in many difficult days in South Africa, and had kept him
cheerful and bravely gay through the long separation from all he cared
for, the same thing which had begun to dominate Rosamund during those
few short days at Welsley, the brief period of reunion in happiness
which had preceded the crash into the abyss; it was the fiery spark
of Dion's strength which not all his weakness had succeeded in
extinguishing, a strength which had made for good in the past, a
strength which might make for evil in the future.

Did Mrs. Clarke know of this strength, and was she subtly appealing to
it?

"Pluck the old woman from thy breast."

Again and again Dion repeated those words to himself, and he saw
himself, an ineffably tragic, because a weak figure, feebly drifting
with his black misery through cities which knew him not, wandering
alone, sitting alone, peering at the lives of others, watching their
vices without interest, without either approval or condemnation, staring
with dull eyes at their fetes and their funerals, their affections,
their cruelties, their passions, their crimes. He saw himself in a
garden at Pera staring at painted women, neither desiring them nor
turning from them with any disgust. He saw himself--as an old woman. A
smoldering defiance within him sent out a spurt of scorching flame.

* * * * *

Sitting alone by the stream in the Valley of Roses Dion heard the
sound of steps, and presently saw a slight, very refined-looking man
in riding-breeches, with a hunting-crop in his hand, coming down to the
bank. He sat down on a rough wooden bench under a willow tree, lit a
cigar and gazed into the water. He had large, imaginative gray eyes.
There was something military and something poetic in his manner and
bearing and in his whole appearance. Almost directly from a little
rustic cafe close by a Greek lad came, carrying a wooden stool. On it he
placed a steaming brass coffee pot, a cup and saucer, sugar, a stick of
burning incense in a tiny vase, and a rose with a long stalk. Then he
went swiftly away, looking very intelligent. The stranger--obviously
an Englishman--picked up the rose, held it, smelt it, laid it down and
began to sip his coffee. Then in a very casual, easy-going way, like a
man who was naturally sociable, and who enjoyed having a word with any
one whom he came across, he began to speak to Dion.

When that day died Dion stood alone looking down into the stream. He
looked till he saw in it the face of night. Broken stars quivered in the
water; among them for a moment he perceived the eyes of a child, of a
child who had been able to love him as a woman had not been able to love
him, and to forgive him as a woman could not forgive him.

When Dion walked back to his hotel the candlelight glimmered over the
dining-table at the Villa Hafiz where Mrs. Clarke sat with her
three guests--the Ambassador, Madame Davroulos, the wife of a Greek
millionaire whose home was at Smyrna, and Ahmed Bey, one of the Sultan's
adjutants.

Hadi Bey had long ago passed out of her life.

That evening the Ambassador got up to go rather early. His caique was
lying against the quay.

"Come out by the garden gate, won't you?" said Mrs. Clarke to him, and
she led the way to the tangled rose garden, where sometimes she sat and
read the poems of Hafiz.

Madame Davroulos was smoking a large cigar in a corner of the
drawing-room and talking volubly to Ahmed Bey, who was listening as
only a Turk can listen, with a smiling and immense serenity, twisting a
string of amber beads in his padded fingers.

"He was there?" said Mrs. Clarke, in her quietest and most impersonal
manner.

"Yes--he was there."

The Ambassador paused by the fountain, and stood with one foot on the
marble edge of the basin, gazing down on the blue lilies whose color
looked dull and almost black in the night.

"He was there. I talked with him for quite half an hour. He seemed glad
to talk; he talked almost fiercely."

Mrs. Clarke's white face looked faintly surprised.

"Eventually I told him who I was, and he told his name to me, watching
me narrowly to see how I should take it. My air of complete serenity
over the revelation seemed to reassure him. I said I knew he was a
friend of yours and that my wife and I would be very glad to see him at
Therapia, and at the Embassy in Pera later on. He said he would come to
Therapia to-morrow."

This time Mrs. Clarke looked almost strongly surprised.

"What did you talk about?" she asked.

"Chiefly about a book he seems to have been reading recently, Richard
Burton's 'Kasidah.' You know it, of course?"

"I remember Omar Khayyam much better."

"He spoke strangely, almost terribly about it. Perhaps you know
how converts to Roman Catholicism talk in the early days of their
conversion, as if they alone understood the true meaning of being safe
in sunlight, cradled and cherished in the blaze, as it were. Well, he
spoke like one just converted to a belief in the all-sufficiency of
this life if it is thoroughly lived; and, I confess, he gave me the
impression of being cradled and cherished in thick darkness."

Sir Carey was silent for a moment. Then he said:

"What was this man, Leith?"

"Do you mean----?"

"Before his married life came to an end?"

"The straight, athletic, orthodox young Englishman; very sane and
simple, healthily moral; not perhaps particularly religious, but full
of sentiment and trust in a boyish sort of way. I remember he read
Christian morals into Greek art."

Sir Carey raised his eyebrows.

"One could sum him up by saying that he absolutely believed in and
exclusively adored a strong religious, beautiful, healthy-minded
and healthy-bodied Englishwoman, who has now, I believe, entered a
sisterhood, or something of the kind. She colored his whole life. He
saw life through her eyes, and believed through her faith. At least, I
should think so."

"Then he's an absolutely different man from what he was."

"The strong religious, beautiful, healthy-minded and bodied Englishwoman
has condemned as a crime a mere terrible mistake. She has taken herself
away from her husband and given herself to God. She cared for the
child."

Mrs. Clarke laid a curious cold emphasis on the last sentence.

"Horrible!" said Sir Carey slowly. "And so now he turns from the
Protestant's God to Destiny playing with the pawns upon the great
chessboard. But if he's a man of sentiment, and not an intellectual,
he'll never find this life all-sufficient, however he lives it. The
darkness will never be enough for him."

"It has to be enough for a great many of us," said Mrs. Clarke.

There was a long pause, which she broke by saying, in a lighter voice:

"As he's going to visit you, I can go on having him here. You'll let
people know, won't you?"

"That he's a friend of ours? Of course."

"That will make things all right."

"You run your unconventionalities always on the public race-course, in
sight of the grand stand packed with the conventionalities."

"What else can I do? Besides, secret things are always found out."

"You never went in for them."

"And yet my own husband misunderstood me."

"Poor Beadon! He was an excellent councilor."

"And an excellent husband."

"But he made a great fool of himself."

"Yes," said Mrs. Clarke, without any animus. "And so Mr. Leith made a
sad impression upon you?"

"A few men can be tormented. He is one of them. He has gone down into
the dark places. Perhaps the Furies are with him there, the attendants
of the Goddess of Death."

He glanced at his companion. She was standing absolutely still, gazing
down into the water. Her white face looked beautiful, but strangely
haggard and implacable in the night. And for a moment his mind dwelt on
the image conjured up by his last words, and he thought of her as the
Goddess of Death.

"Well," he said, "I must go, or Delia will be wondering. She knows your
power."

"And knows I am too faithful to her not to resist yours."

He pressed her hand, then said rather abruptly:

"Are you feverish to-night?"

"No," said Mrs. Clarke, almost with the hint of a sudden irritation. "I
am never feverish."

Sir Carey went away to his caique.

When he had gone Mrs. Clarke stood alone by the fountain for a moment,
frowning, and with her thin lips closely compressed, almost, indeed,
pinched together. She gazed down at her hands. They were lovely hands,
small, sensitive, refined; they looked clever, too, not like tapering
fools. She knew very well how lovely they were, yet now she looked at
them with a certain distaste. Betraying hands! Abruptly she extended
them towards the fountain, and let the cool silver of the water spray
over them. And as she watched the spray she thought of the wrinkles
about Dion's eyes.

"Ah, ma chere, qu'est que vous faites la toute seule? Vous prenez un
bain?"

The powerful contralto of Madame Davroulos flowed out from the
drawing-room, and her alluring mustache appeared at the lighted French
windows.

Mrs. Clarke dried her hands with a minute handkerchief, and, without
troubling about an explanation, turned away from the rose garden. But
when her two guests were gone she told her Greek butler to bring out an
arm-chair and a foot-stool, and the Russian maid, whom Dion had seen, to
bring her a silk wrap. Then she sent them both to bed, lit a cigarette
and sat down by the fountain, smoking cigarette after cigarette quickly.
Not till the freshness of dawn was in the air, and a curious living
grayness made the tangled rose bushes look artificial and the fountain
strangely cold, did she get up to go to bed.

She looked very tired; but she always looked tired, although she
scarcely knew what physical fatigue was. The gray of dawn grew about her
and emphasized her peculiar pallor, the shadows beneath her large eyes,
the haunted look about her cheeks and her temples.

As she went into the house she pulled cruelly at a rose bush. A white
rose came away from its stalk in her hand. She crushed its petals and
flung them away on the sill of the window.

While Mrs. Clarke was sitting by the fountain in the garden of the Villa
Hafiz, Dion was sleepless in his bedroom at the Hotel Belgrad. He was
considering whether he should end his life or whether he should change
the way of his life. He was not conscious of struggle. He did not feel
excited. But he did feel determined. The strength he possessed was
asserting itself. It had slumbered within him; it had not died.

Either he would die now or he would genuinely live, would lay a grip on
life somehow.

If he chose to die how would Mrs. Clarke take the news of his death? He
imagined some one going to the Villa Hafiz from the Hotel Belgrad with
a message: "The English gentleman Mr. Vane took the room for has just
killed himself. What is to be done with the body?" What would Mrs.
Clarke say? What would she look like? What would she do? He remembered
the sign of the cross she had made in the flat in Knightsbridge. With
that sign she had dismissed the soul of Brayfield into the eternities.
Would she dismiss the soul of Dion Leith with the sign of the cross?

If she heard of his death, Rosamund would of course be unmoved, or
would, perhaps, feel a sense of relief. And doubtless she would offer
up to God a prayer in which his name would be mentioned. Women who loved
God were always ready with a prayer. If it came too late, never mind! It
was a prayer, and therefore an act acceptable to God.

But Mrs. Clarke? Certainly she would not pray about it. Dion had a
feeling that she would be angry. He had never seen her angry, but he
felt sure she could be enraged in a frozen, still, terrible way. If he
died perhaps a thread would snap, the thread of her design. For she had
some purpose in connexion with him. She had willed him to come to this
place; she was willing him to remain in it. Apparently she wished to
raise him out of the dust. He thought of Eyub, of Mrs. Clarke walking
beside him on the dusty road. She had seemed very much at home in the
dust. But she was not like Rosamund; she was not afraid of a speck of
dust falling upon the robe of her ideals. What was Mrs. Clarke's purpose
in connexion with him? He did not pursue that question, but dismissed
it, incurious still in his misery, which had become more active since
his strength had stirred out of sleep. If he did not die how was he
going to live? He had lived by the affections. Could he live by the
lusts? He had no personal ambitions; he had no avarice to prompt him to
energy; he was not in love with himself. Suddenly he realized the value
of egoism to the egoist, and that he was very poor because he was really
not an egoist by nature. If he had been, if he were, perhaps things
would have gone better for him in the past, would be more endurable now.
But he had lived not to himself but to another.

He told himself that to do that was the rankest folly. At any rate he
would never do that again. But the unselfishness of love had become a
habit with him. Even in his extreme youth he had instinctively saved
up, moved, no doubt, by an inherent desire to have as large a gift as
possible ready when the moment for giving came.

If he lived on he must live for himself; he must reverse all his rules
of conduct; he must fling himself into the life of self-gratification.
He had come to believe that the men who trample are the men who succeed
and who have the happiest lives. Sensitiveness does not pay; loving
consideration of others brings no real reward; men do not get what they
give. It is the hard and the passionate man who is the victor in life,
not the man who is tender, thoughtful, even unselfish in the midst
of his passion. Self-control--what a reward Dion had received for the
self-control of his youth!

If he lived he would cast it away.

He sat at his window till dawn, till the sea woke and the hills of Asia
were visible under a clear and delicate sky. He leaned out and felt the
atmosphere of beginning that is peculiar to the first hour of daylight.
Could he begin again? It seemed impossible. Yet now he felt he could
not deprive himself of life. Suicide is a cowardly act, even though
a certain kind of courage must prompt the pulling of the trigger, the
insertion of the knife, or the pouring between the lips of the poison.
Dion had not the courage of that cowardice, or the cowardice of that
courage. Perhaps, without knowing it, in deciding to live he was only
taking one more step on the road whose beginning he had seen in Elis,
as he waited alone outside of the house where Hermes watched over the
child; was saving the distant Rosamund from a stroke which would pierce
through her armor even though she knelt before the throne of God. But he
was conscious only of the feeling that he could not kill himself, though
he did not know why he could not. The capacity for suicide evidently
was not contained in his nature. He rejected the worm of Izrail; he
rejected, too, the other death. He must, then, live.

He washed and lay down on his bed. And directly he lay down he wondered
why he had been sitting up and mentally debating a great question. For
in the Valley of Roses he had surely decided it before he spoke to Sir
Carey Ingleton. When he said he would visit Lady Ingleton he must have
decided. That visit would mean the return to what is called normal life,
the exit from the existence of a castaway, the entrance into relations
with his kind. He dreaded that visit, but he meant to pay it. In paying
it he would take his first step away from the death that walks in form
of life.

He could not sleep, and soon he got up again and went to the window. A
gust of wind came to him from the sea. It seemed to hint at a land that
was cold, and he thought of Russia, and then again of the distant places
in which he might lose himself, places in which no one would know who he
was, or trouble about the past events of his life. There before him was
Asia rising out of the dawn. He had only to cross a narrow bit of sea
and a continent was ready to receive him and to hide him. So he had
thought of Africa on many a night as he sat in the Hotel des Colonies at
Marseilles. But he had not crossed to Africa.

The wind died away. It had only been a capricious gust, a wandering
guest of the morning. Down below in the Bay of Buyukderer the waters
were quiet; the row boats lay still at the edge of the quay; the small
yachts, with their sails furled, slept at their moorings. The wind had
been like a summons, a sudden tug at him as of a hand saying, with its
bones, its muscles, its nerves, its sinews, "Come with me!"

Once before he had felt something like that in a London Divorce Court,
but it had been fainter, subtler and perhaps warmer. The memory of his
curiosity about the unwise life returned to him, somehow linked with the
wandering wind. In his months of the living death he had often looked on
at it in the cities through which he had drifted, but he had never taken
part in it. He had been emptied of the force to do that by his misery.
Now he was conscious of force though his misery was not lessened, seemed
to him even to have increased. He had often been dulled by grief; now he
felt cruelly alive.

He went down to the sea, found the Albanian boatman with whom he had
rowed on his first day at Buyukderer, took his boat out and bathed from
it. The current beyond the bay was strong. He had a longing to let it
take him whither it would. If only he could find an influence to which
he could give himself, an influence which would sweep him away!

If only he could get rid of his long fidelity!

When he climbed dripping, and with his hair plastered down on his
forehead, into the boat, the Albanian stared at him as if in surprise.

"What's the matter?" said Dion in French, when he was dry and getting
into his clothes.

But the man only replied:

"Monsieur tres fort molto forte, moi aussi tres fort. Monsieur venez
sempre con moi!"

And he smiled with the evident intention of being agreeable to a
valuable client. Dion did not badger him with any more questions. As the
boat touched the quay he told the man to be ready to start for Therapia
that day at any time after three o'clock.

When he reached the summer villa of the Ambassador he was informed by a
tall English footman that Lady Ingleton was at home. She received Dion
in the midst of the little dogs, but after he had been with her for a
very few minutes she rang for a servant and banished them. Secretly she
was deeply interested in this man who had killed his son, but she gave
Dion no reason to suppose that she was concentrating on him. Her lazy,
indifferent manner was perfectly natural, but perhaps now and then she
was more definitely kind than usual; and she managed somehow to show
Dion that she was ready to be his friend.

"If you stay long we must take you over one day on the yacht to Brusa,"
she said presently. "Cynthia loves Brusa, and so does my husband. We
went over there once with Pierre Loti. Cynthia and poor Beadon Clarke
were of the party, I remember. We had a delightful time."

"Why do you say poor Beadon Clarke?" asked Dion abruptly.

That day he was at a great parting of the ways. He was concentrated upon
himself and his own decision, so concentrated that the conventions
meant little to him. He was totally unaware of the bruskness of such a
question asked of a woman whom he had never seen before.

"One pities a thoroughly good fellow who does a thoroughly foolish
thing. It was a very, very foolish thing to do to attack Cynthia."

"I was in court during part of the trial."

"Well, then, you know how foolish it was. Some people can't be attacked
with impunity."

The inflexion of Lady Ingleton's voice at that moment made Dion think of
Mrs. Chetwinde. Once or twice Mrs. Chetwinde's voice had sounded almost
exactly like that when she had spoken of Mrs. Clarke.

"Especially people who are innocent," he said.

"Naturally, as Cynthia was. Beadon Clarke made a terrible mistake, poor
fellow."

When Dion got up to go she again alluded to his staying on at
Buyukderer, with an "if" attached to the allusion, and her dark eyes,
which looked like an Italian's, rested upon him with a soft, but very
intelligent, scrutiny. He had an odd feeling that she had taken a liking
to him, and yet that she did not wish him to stay on in Buyukderer.

"I don't quite know what I am going to do," he said.

As he spoke the hideous freedom of his empty life seemed to gather
itself together, and to flow stealthily upon him like a filthy wave
bearing refuse upon its surface.

"I'm a free agent," he added, looking hard at Lady Ingleton. "I have no
ties."

He shook her hand and went away.

That evening she said to her husband:

"I have felt sorry for myself occasionally, and for other people in my
Christian moments, but I have never in the past felt so sorry for any
one as I feel now for Mr. Leith."

"Because of the tragedy which has marred his life?"

"It isn't only that. He's on the edge of so much."

"You don't mean----?"

Sir Carey paused.

"No, no," Lady Ingleton said, almost impatiently. "Life hasn't done with
that man yet. I could almost find it in my heart to wish it had. Shall
we take him to Brusa on the yacht? That would advertise our acquaintance
with him to all the gossips on the Bosporus. I promised Cynthia I would
throw my mantle over him."

"I'm always ready for a visit to your only rival," said Sir Carey.

"La Mosquee Verte! I'll think about it. We might go for three or four
days."

Her warm voice sounded rather reluctant; yet her husband knew that she
wished to go.

"It would be an excellent way of showing your mantle to the gossips," he
remarked. "But you always think of excellent ways."

Two days later the Embassy yacht, the "Leyla," having on board Sir Carey
and Lady Ingleton, Mrs. Clarke, Cyril Vane, Dion, and Turkish Jane, the
doyenne of the Pekinese, sailed for Mudania on the sea of Marmora, which
is the Port of Brusa.



CHAPTER V

On the day after the return of the "Leyla" from Mudania, Mrs. Clarke
asked Dion if he would dine with her at the Villa Hafiz. She asked him
by word of mouth. They had met on the quay. It was morning, and Dion was
about to embark in the Albanian's boat for a row on the Bosporus when
he saw Mrs. Clarke's thin figure approaching him under a white umbrella
lined with delicate green. She was wearing smoked spectacles, which
made her white face look strange and almost forbidding in the strong
sunlight.

"I can't come," he said.

And there was a sound almost of desperation in his voice.

"I can't."

She said nothing, but she stood there beside him looking very
inflexible. Apparently she was waiting for an explanation of his
refusal, though she did not ask for it.

"I can't be with people. It's no use. I've tried it. You didn't know--"

"Yes, I did," she interrupted him.

"You did know?"

He stood staring blankly at her.

"Surely I--I tried my best. I did my utmost to hide it."

"You couldn't hide it from me."

"I must go away," he said.

"Come to-night. Nobody will be there."

"It isn't a party?"

"We shall be alone."

"You meant to ask people?"

"I won't. I'll ask nobody. Half-past eight?"

"I'll come," he said.

She turned away without another word.

Just after half-past eight he rang at the door of the villa.

As he went into the hall and smelt the strong perfume of flowers he
wondered that he had dared to come. But he had been with Mrs. Clarke
when she was in horrible circumstances; he had sat and watched her when
she was under the knife; he had helped her to pass through a crowd of
people fighting to stare at her and making hideous comments upon her.
Then why, even to-night, should he dread her eyes? His remembrance of
her tragedy made him feel that hers was the one house into which he
could enter that night.

As he walked into the drawing-room he recollected walking into Mrs.
Chetwinde's drawing-room, full of interest in the woman who was in
sanctuary, but who was soon to be delivered up, stripped by a man of
the law's horrible allegations, to the gaping crowd. Now she was living
peacefully among her friends, the custodian of her boy, a woman who had
won through; and he was a wanderer, a childless father, the slayer of
his son.

Mrs. Clarke kept him waiting for a few minutes. He stood at the French
window and listened to the fountain. In the fall of the water there
was surely an undertune. He seemed to know that it was there and yet he
could not hear it; and he felt baffled as if by a thin mystery.

Then Mrs. Clarke came in and they went at once to dinner.

During dinner they talked very little. She spoke when the Greek butler
was in the room, and Dion did his best in reply; nevertheless the
conversation languished. Although Dion had so few words to give to his
hostess he felt abnormally alive. The whole of him was like a quivering
nerve.

When dinner was over Mrs. Clarke said to the butler:

"Osman will make the coffee for us. He knows about it. We shall have it
in the pavilion."

The butler, who, although a Greek, looked at that moment almost
incredibly stolid, moved his rather pouting lips, no doubt in assent,
and was gone. They saw him no more that night.

They walked slowly from terrace to terrace of the climbing garden till
they came to the height on which the pavilion stood guarded by the
two mighty cypresses. There was no moon, and the night was a very dark
purple night, with stars that looked dim and remote, like lost stars in
the wilderness of infinity. From the terraces came the scent of flowers.
In the pavilion one hanging lamp gave a faint light which emphasized the
obscurity. It shone through colored panes and drew thick shadows on
the floor and on sections of the divans. The heaps of cushions were
colorless, and had a strange look of unyielding massiveness, as if
they were blocks of some hard material. Osman stood beside one of the
coffee-tables.

As soon as his mistress appeared he began to make the coffee. Dion
stayed upon the terrace, and Mrs. Clarke went into the pavilion and sat
down.

The cypresses were like dark towers in the night. Dion looked up
at them. Their summits were lost in the brooding purple darkness.
Cypresses! Why had he thought of cypresses in England in connexion with
Mrs. Clarke? Why had he seen her standing among cypresses, seen himself
coming to her and with her in the midst of the immense shadows they
cast? No doubt simply because he knew she lived much in Turkey, the land
of the cypress. That must have been the reason. Nevertheless now he was
oppressed by a weight of mystery somehow connected with those dark and
gigantic trees; and he remembered the theory that the past, the present
and the future are simultaneously in being, and that those who are said
to read the future in reality possess only the power of seeing what
already is on another plane. Had he in England, however vaguely, however
dimly, seen as through a crack some blurred vision of what was already
in existence? He felt almost afraid of the cypresses. Nevertheless, as
he stood looking up at them, his sense almost of fear tempted him
to make an experiment. He remained absolutely still, and strove to
concentrate all his faculties. After a long pause he shut his eyes.

"If the far future is even now in being," he said mentally, "let me look
upon it now."

He saw nothing; but immediately he heard the sound of wind among pine
trees, as he had heard it with Rosamund in the green valley of Elis. It
rose in the silent night, that long murmur of eternity, and presently
faded away.

He shuddered and turned sharply towards the pavilion.

Osman had gone, and Mrs. Clarke was pouring the coffee into the tiny
cups.

"There's no wind, is there--is there?" he asked her.

She looked up at him.

"But not a breath!" she said.

After a pause she added:

"Why do you ask such a thing?"

"I heard wind in--in the tops of trees," he almost stammered.

"That's impossible."

"But I say I did!" he exclaimed, with violence. "In pine trees."

"There are no pine trees here," she said, in her husky voice. "Sit down
and have your coffee."

He obeyed her and sat down quickly, and quickly he took the coffee-cup
from her.

"Have a little _mastika_ with it," she said.

And she pushed a tall liqueur-glass full of the colorless liquid towards
him.

"Yes," he said.

As he drank he looked out sideways through the wide opening in the
pavilion. There was not a breath of wind.

"I can't understand why I heard the noise of wind in pine trees," he
forced himself to say.

"Seemed to hear it," she corrected him. "Perhaps you were thinking of
it."

"But I wasn't!"

A jeweled gleam from the lamp fell upon one side of her face. She moved,
and the light dropped away from her.

"What were you thinking of?" she asked.

"Of the future."

"Ah!"

"That's why it is inexplicable."

"I don't understand."

"Don't let us talk about it any more," he said, in an almost terrible
voice. "I must have had an hallucination."

"Have you ever before thought you were the victim of an hallucination?"
she asked.

"Yes. Several times I have seen the eyes of my little boy. I saw them
a few nights ago in the stream that flows through the Valley of Roses,
just after Sir Carey had left me."

"Don't look into water again except in daylight. It is the night that
brings fancies with it. If you gaze very long at anything in a dim light
you are sure to see something strange or horrible."

"But an hallucination of sound! I must go away from here! Perhaps in
some other place--"

But she interrupted him inflexibly.

"Going away would be absolutely useless. A man can't travel away from
himself."

"But I can't lead a normal life. It's impossible. Those horrible nights
on the 'Leyla'----"

He stopped. The effort he had made during the trip to Brusa seemed
to have exhausted the last remnants of any moral force he had still
possessed when he started on that journey.

"I had made up my mind to begin again, to lay hold on some sort of real
life," he continued, after a pause. "I was determined to face things. I
called at Therapia. I accepted Lady Ingleton's invitation. I've done
all I can to make a new start. But it's no use. I can't keep it up. I
haven't the force for it. It was hell--being with happy people."

"You mean the Ingletons. Yes, they are very happy."

"And Vane, who's just engaged to be married. I saw her photograph in
his cabin. They were all--all very kind. Lady Ingleton did everything to
make me feel at ease. He's a delightful fellow--the Ambassador, I mean.
But I simply can't stand mingling my life with lives that are happy. So
I had better go away and be alone again."

"And lives that are unhappy?"

"What do you mean?"

"Can't you mingle your life with them, or with one of them?"

He was silent, looking towards her. She was wearing a very dark blue
tea-gown of some thin material in which her thin body seemed lost.
He saw the dark folds of it flowing over the divan on which she was
leaning, and trailing to the rug at her feet. Her face was a faint
whiteness under her colorless hair. Her eyes were two darknesses in it.
He could not see them distinctly, but he knew they were looking intent
and distressed.

"Haven't you told me I look punished?" said the husky voice.

"Are you unhappy?" he asked.

"Do you think I have much reason to be happy?"

"You have your boy."

"For a few weeks in the year. I have lost my husband in a horrible way,
worse than if he had died. I live entirely alone. I can't marry again.
And yet I'm not at all old, and not at all finished. But perhaps you
have never really thought about my situation seriously. After all, why
should you? Why should any one? I won my case, and so of course it's all
right."

"Are _you_ unhappy, then?"

"What do you suppose about me?"

"I know you've gone through a great deal. But you have your boy."

There was a sound almost of dull obstinacy in his voice.

"Some women are not merely mothers, or potential mothers!" said an
almost fierce voice. "Some women are just women first and mothers
second. There are women who love men for themselves, not merely because
men are possible child-bringers. To a real and complete woman no child
can ever be the perfect substitute for a husband or a lover. Even nature
has put the lover first and the child second. I forbid you to say that
I have my boy, as if that settled the question of my happiness. I forbid
you."

He heard her breathing quickly. Then she added:

"But how could you be expected to understand women like me?"

The intensity of her sudden outburst startled him as the strength of the
current in the Bosporus had startled him when he plunged into the sea
from the Albanian's boat.

"You have been brought up in another school," she continued slowly, and
with a sort of icy bitterness. "I forgive you."

She got up from the divan and went out upon the terrace, leaving him
alone in the pavilion, which seemed suddenly colder when she had left
it.

He did not follow her. A breath from a human furnace had scorched
him--had scorched the nerve, and the nerve quivered.

"You have been brought up in a different school." Welsley and
Stamboul--Rosamund and Mrs. Clarke. Once, somewhere, he had made that
comparison. As he sat in the pavilion it seemed to him that for a moment
he heard the cool chiming of bells in a gray cathedral tower, the faint
sound of the Dresden Amen. But he looked out through the opening in the
pavilion, and far down below he saw lights on the Bay of Buyukderer,
the vague outlines of hills; and the perfume that came to him out of the
night was not the damp smell of an English garden.

An English garden! In the darkness of a November night he stood within
the walls of an English garden; he heard a cry, saw the movement of a
woman's body, and knew that his life was in ruins. The woman fled, but
he followed her blindly; he sought for her in the dark. He wanted to
tell her that he had been but the instrument of Fate, that he was not to
blame, that he needed compassion more than any other man living. But
she eluded him in the darkness, and presently he heard a key grind in a
lock. A friend had locked the door of his home against him in order that
his wife might have time to escape from him.

Then he heard a husky voice say, "My friend, it will have to come." And,
suddenly it came.

He broke down absolutely, threw himself on his face on the divan with
his arms stretched out beyond his head, grasped the cushions and sobbed.
His body shook and twitched; his face was contorted; his soul writhed.
A storm that came from within him broke upon him. He crashed into
the abyss. Down, down he went, till the last faint ray from above was
utterly blotted out. She whom he had loved so much sent him down, she
who far away had given herself to God. He felt her ruthless hands--the
hands of a good woman, the hands of a loving mother--pressing him
down. Let her have her will. He would go into the last darkness. Then,
perhaps, she would be more at ease; then, perhaps, she would know the
true peace of God. He would pay to the uttermost farthing both for
himself and for her.

Outside, just hidden from him by the pavilion wall, Mrs. Clarke stood
in the shadow of one of the cypresses, and listened. The trip on the
"Leyla" had served two purposes. It was better so. When a thing must
be, the sooner it is over the better. And she had waited for a very long
time. She drew her brows together as she thought of the long time she
had waited. Then she moved and walked away down the terrace. She had
heard enough.

She went to the far end of the terrace. A wooden seat was placed there
in the shadow of a plane tree. She sat down on it, rested her pointed
chin in the palm of her right hand, with her elbow on her knee, and
remained motionless. She was giving him time; time to weep away the past
and the good woman who had ruined his life. Even now she knew how to be
patient. In a way she pitied him. If she had not had to be patient for
such a long time she would have pitied him much more. But he had often
hurt her; and, as Lady Ingleton had said, she was by nature a cruel
woman. Nevertheless she pitied him for being, or for having been, so
exclusive in love. And she wondered at him not a little.

Lit-up caiques glided out on the bay far beneath her. A band was playing
on the quay. She wished it would stop, and she glanced at a little watch
which Aristide Dumeny had given her, and which was pinned among the dark
blue folds of her gown. But she could not see its face clearly, and she
lit a match. A quarter-past ten. The band played till eleven. She lit a
cigarette and stared down the hill at the moving lights in the bay.

She had made many water excursions at night. Some of them--two or three
at least--had been mentioned in the Divorce Court. She had had a narrow
escape that summer in London. It had given her a lesson; but she still
had much to learn before she could be considered a past mistress in the
school of discretion. Almost ever since she could remember she had
been driven by the reckless spirit within her. But she had been given
a compensation for that in the force of her will. That force had done
wonders for her all through her life. It had even captured and retained
for her many women friends. Driven she had been, and no doubt would
always be, but she believed that she would always skirt the precipices
of life, and would never fall into the abysses.

The timorous and overscrupulous women were the women who missed their
footing, because, when they made a false step, they made it in fear and
trembling, with the shadow of regret always dogging their heels. And
yet, now Jimmy was getting a big boy, even she knew moments of fear.

She moved restlessly. The torch was luring her on, and yet now, for
an instant, she was conscious of holding back. August was not far off;
Jimmy was coming out to her for his holidays. Suppose, after all, she
gave it up? A word from her--or merely a silence--and that man in the
pavilion close by would go away from Buyukderer and would probably never
come back. If, for once in her life, she played for safety?

The sound of the band on the quay--there had been a short interval of
silence--came up to her again. Forty minutes more! She would give that
man in the pavilion and herself forty minutes. She could see the
lights which outlined the kiosk. When they went out she would come to
a decision. Till then, sitting alone, she could indulge in a mental
debate. The mere fact that, at this point, she debated the question
which filled her mind proved Jimmy's power over her. As she thought that
she began to resent her boy's power. And it would grow; inevitably it
would grow. She moved her thin shoulders. Then she sat very still.

If only she didn't love Jimmy so much! Suppose she had lost her case in
the Divorce Case and Jimmy had been taken away from her? Even now she
shuddered when she thought of the risk she had run. She remembered again
the period of waiting when the jury could not come to an agreement. What
torture she had endured, though no one knew it, or, perhaps, ever would
know it! Had not that torture been a tremendous warning to her against
the unwise life? Why go into danger again? But perhaps there was no
danger any more. A man who has tried to divorce his wife once, and has
failed, is scarcely likely to try again. Nevertheless she was full of
hesitation to-night.

This fact puzzled and almost alarmed her, for she was not given to
hesitation. She was a woman who thought clearly, who knew what she
wanted and what she did not want, and who acted promptly and decisively.
Perhaps she hesitated now because she had been forced to remain inactive
in this particular case for such a long time; or perhaps she had
received an obscure warning from something within her which knew what
she--the whole of her that was Cynthia Clarke--did not consciously know.

The leaves of the plane tree rustled above her head, and she sighed. As
she sat there in the purple darkness she looked like a victim; and for a
moment she thought of herself as a victim.

Even that man in the pavilion who was agonizing had said to her that she
looked "punished." She had been surprised, almost startled, by his flash
of discernment. But she was sure he thought that matter only a question
of coloring, of emaciation, of the shapes of features, and of the way
eyes were set in the head.

When would the lights far below go out? She hated her indecision. It was
new to her, and she felt it to be a weakness. Whatever she had been till
now, she had certainly never been a weak woman, except perhaps from
the absurd point of view of the Exeter Hall moralist. Scruples had been
strangers to her, a baggage she had not burdened herself with on her
journey.

Jimmy! That night Dion Leith had told her that he had seen the eyes of
his boy in the stream that flowed through the Kesstane Dereh. She looked
out into the purple night, and somewhere in the dim vastness full of
mysteries and of half revelations she saw the frank and merciless eyes
of a young Eton boy.

Should she be governed by them? Could she submit to the ignorant
domination of a child who knew nothing of the complications of human
life, nothing of the ways in which human beings are driven by imperious
desires, or needs, which have perhaps been sown in ground of flesh and
blood by dead parents, or by ancestors laid even with the dust? Could
she immolate herself before the altar of the curious love which grew
within her as Jimmy grew?

She was by nature perverse, and it was partly her love for Jimmy which
pushed her towards the man who killed his son. But she had not told that
even to herself. And she never told her secrets to other people, not
even when they were women friends!

The lights on the kiosk on the quay went out. Mrs. Clarke was startled
by the leaping up of the darkness which seemed to come from the sea.
For her ears had been closed against the band, and she had forgotten the
limit she had mentally put to her indecision. Eleven o'clock already!
She got up from her seat. But still she hesitated. She did not know
what she was going to do. She stood for a moment. Then she walked softly
towards the pavilion. When she was near to it she stopped and listened.
She did not hear any sound from within. There was nothing to prevent her
from descending to the villa, from writing a note to Dion Leith asking
him to leave Buyukderer on the morrow, and from going up to her bedroom.
He would find the note in the hall when he came down; he would go away;
she need never see him again. If she did that it would mean a new life
for her, free from complications, a life dedicated to Jimmy, a life
deliberately controlled.

It would mean, too, the futile close of a long pursuit; the crushing of
an old and hitherto frustrated desire; the return, when Jimmy went back
to England after the holidays, to an empty life which she hated,
more than hated, a life of horrible restlessness, a life in which the
imagination preyed, like a vulture, upon the body. It would mean the
wise, instead of the unwise, life.

She stood there. With one hand she felt the little watch which Dumeny
had given her. It was cold to the touch of her dry, hot hand. She felt
the rough emerald set in the back of it. She and Dumeny had found that
in the bazaars together, in those bazaars which Dumeny changed from
Eastern shops into the Arabian Nights. Dion Leith could never do such a
thing for her. But perhaps she could do it for him. The thought of that
lured her. She stood at the street corner; it was very dark and still;
she knew that the strange ways radiated from the place where she stood,
but there was no one to go with her down them. She waited--waited. And
then she saw far off the gleam of the torch from which spring colored
fires. It flitted through the darkness; it hovered. The gleam of it lit
up, like a goblin light, the beginnings of the strange ways. She saw
shadowy forms slipping away stealthily into their narrow and winding
distances; she saw obscure stairways, leaning balconies full of soft
blackness. She divined the rooms beyond. And whispering voices came to
her ears.

All the time she was feeling the watch with its rough uncut emerald.

Government came upon her. She felt, as often before, a great hand catch
her in a grip of iron. She ceased to resist.

Still holding the watch, she went to the opening in the pavilion.

The hanging lamp had gone out. For a moment she could only see darkness
in the interior. It looked empty. There was no sound within. Could the
man she had been thinking about, debating about, have slipped away while
she was sitting under the plane tree? She had been thinking so deeply
that she had not heard the noise of the band on the quay; she might not
have heard his footsteps. While she had been considering whether she
should leave him perhaps he had fled from her.

This flashing thought brought her back at once to her true and
irrevocable self, and she was filled instantly with fierce determination
and a cold intense anger. Jimmy was forgotten. He was dead to her at
that moment. She leaned forward, peering into the darkness.

"Dion!" she said. "Dion!"

There was no answer, but she saw something stir within, something low
down. He was there--or something was there, something alive. She went
into the pavilion, and knelt down by it.

"Dion!" she said.

He raised himself on the divan, and turned on his side.

"Why are you kneeling down?" he said. "Don't kneel. I hate to see a
woman kneeling, and I know _you_ never pray. Get up."

He spoke in a voice that was new to her. It seemed to her hot and hard.
She obeyed him at once and got up from her knees.

"What did you mean just now when you asked me whether I couldn't mingle
my life with an unhappy life? Sit here beside me."

She sat down on the edge of the divan very near to him.

"What do you suppose I meant?"

"Do you mean to say you like me in that way?"

"Yes."

"That you care about me?"

"Yes."

"You said you willed me to come out to Constantinople. Was it for that
reason?"

She hesitated. She had an instinctive understanding of men, but she knew
that, in one way, Dion was not an ordinary man; and even if he had been,
the catastrophe in his life might well have put him for the time beyond
the limits of her experience, wide though they were.

"No," she said, at last. "I didn't like you in that way till I met you
in the street, and saw what she had done to you."

"Then it was only pity?"

"Was it? I knew your value in England."

She paused, then added, in an almost light and much more impersonal
voice:

"I think I may say that I'm a connoisseur of values. And I hate to see a
good thing flung away."

"I'm not a good thing. Perhaps I might have become one. I believe I was
on the way to becoming worth something. But now I'm nothing, and I wish
to be nothing."

"I don't wish you to be anything but what you are."

"Once you telegraphed to me--'May Allah have you in His hand.'"

"I remember."

"It's turned out differently," he said, almost with brutality.

"We don't know that. You came back."

"Yes. I was kept safe for a very good reason. I had to kill my child.
I've accomplished that mission, and now, perhaps, Allah will let me
alone."

She could not see his face or the expression in his eyes clearly, but
now she saw his body move sharply. It twisted to the right and back
again. She put out her hand and took his listlessly, almost as she had
taken it in Mrs. Chetwinde's drawing-room when she had met him for the
first time.

"Your hand is like fire," he whispered.

"Do you think I am ice?" she whispered back, huskily.

"Once I tried to take my hand away from yours."

"Try to take it away now, if you wish."

As she spoke she closed her hand tenaciously upon his. Her little
fingers felt almost like steel on his hand, and he thought of the
current of the Bosporus which had pulled at his swimming body.

To be taken and swept away! That at least would be better than
drifting, better than death in the form of life, better than slinking in
loneliness to watch the doings of others.

"I don't wish to take it away," he said.

And with the words mentally he bade an eternal farewell to Rosamund and
to all the aspirations of his youth. From her and from them he turned
away to follow the gleam of the torch. It flickered through the
darkness; it wavered; it waited--for him. He had tried the life of
wisdom, and it had cast him out; perhaps there was a place for him in
the unwise life. He felt spiritually exhausted; but there was within
him a physical fever which answered to the fever in the hand which had
closed on his.

"Let the spirit die," he thought, "that the body may live!"

He put one arm round his companion.

"If you want me----" he whispered, on a deep breath.

His voice died away in the darkness between the giant cypresses, those
trees which watch over the dead in the land of the Turk.

_She_ had said once that the human being can hurt God.

Obscurely he wished to do that.



CHAPTER VI

Mrs. Clarke looked up from a letter written in a large boyish hand which
had just been brought out on the terrace of the fountain by the butler.

"Jimmy will be here on Thursday--that is, in Constantinople. The train
ought to be in early in the morning."

Her eyes rested on Dion for a moment; then she looked down again at the
letter from Eton.

"He's in a high state of spirits at the prospect of the journey. But
perhaps I oughtn't to have had him out; perhaps I ought to have gone to
England for his holidays."

"Do you mean because of me?" said Dion.

"I was thinking of cricket," she replied impassively.

He was silent. After a moment she continued:

"There are no suitable companions for him out here. I wish the Ingletons
had a son. Of course there is riding, swimming, boating, and we can make
excursions. You'll be good to him, won't you?"

She folded the letter up and put it into the envelope.

"I always keep all Jimmy's letters," she said.

"Look here!" Dion said in a hard voice. "I think I'd better go."

"Why?"

"You know why."

"Have I asked you to go?"

"No, but I think I shall clear out. I don't feel like acting a part to a
boy. I've never done such a thing, and it isn't at all the sort of thing
I could do well."

"There will be no need to act a part. Be with Jimmy as you were in
London."

"Look at me!" he exclaimed with intense bitterness. "Am I the man I was
in London?"

"If you are careful and reasonable, Jimmy won't notice any difference.
Hero worship doesn't look at things through a microscope. Jimmy's got
his idea of you. It will be your fault if he changes it."

"Did you tell him I should be here during the holidays?"

"Yes."

"I can't help that," he said, almost brutally.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that you answered for me before you knew where I should be."

He got up from the straw chair on which he was sitting, almost as if he
meant to go away from her and from Buyukderer at once.

"Dion, you mustn't go," she said inflexibly. "I can't let you. For if
you go, you will never come back."

"How do you know that?"

"I do know it."

They looked at each other across the fountain; his eyes fell at last
almost guiltily before her steady glance.

"And you know it too," she said.

"I may go, nevertheless. Who is to prevent me?"

She got up, went to the other side of the fountain, and put her hand
behind his arm, after a quick glance round to make sure that no eyes
were watching her. She pushed her hand down gently and held his wrist.

"Do you realize how badly you sometimes treat me?" she said.

"Yes."

She pulled his soft cuff with her little fingers.

"I do realize it, but I can't help it. I have to do it."

"If I didn't know that I should mind it much more," she said.

"I never thought I had it in me to treat a woman as I sometimes treat
you. I used--to be so different."

"You were too much the other way. But yours is a nature of extremes.
That's partly why I----"

She did not finish the sentence.

"Then you don't resent my beastliness to you?" he asked.

"Not permanently. Sometimes you are nice to me. But if you were ever
to treat me badly when Jimmy was with me, I don't think I could ever
forgive you."

"I dread his coming," said Dion. "I had much better go. If you don't let
me go, you may regret it."

In saying that he acknowledged the power she had already obtained over
him, a power from which he did not feel sure that he could break away,
although he was acutely aware of it and sometimes almost bitterly
resented it. Mrs. Clarke knew very well that most men can only be held
when they do not know that they are held, but Dion, in his present
condition, was not like any other man she had known. More than once in
the earliest stages of their intimacy she had had really to fight to
keep him near her, and so he knew how arbitrary she could be when her
nature was roused.

Sometimes he hated her with intensity, for she had set herself to
destroy the fabric of his spirit, which not even Rosamund had been able
entirely to destroy by her desertion of him. Sometimes he felt a sort of
ugly love of her, because she was the agent through whom he was learning
to get rid of all that Rosamund had most prized in him. It was as if he
called out to her, "Help me to pull down, to tear down, all that I built
up in the long years till not one stone is left upon another. What I
built up was despised and rejected. I won't look upon it any more. I'll
raze it to the ground. But I can't do that alone. Come, you, and help
me." And she came and she helped in the work of destruction, and in an
ugly, horrible way he loved her for it sometimes, as a criminal might
love an assistant in his crime.

But from such a type of love there are terrible reactions. During these
reactions Dion had treated Cynthia Clarke abominably sometimes, showing
the hatred which alternated with his ugly love, if love it could
properly be called. He hated her in such moments for the fierce lure she
had for the senses, a lure which he felt more and more strongly as
he left farther behind him the old life of sane enjoyments and of the
wisdom which walks with restraint; he hated her for the perversity which
he was increasingly conscious of as he came to know her more intimately;
he hated her because he had so much loved the woman who would not make
a friend of her; he hated her because he knew that she was drawing him
into a path which led into the center of a maze, the maze of hypocrisy.

Hitherto Dion had been essentially honest and truthful, what men call
"open and above-board." He had walked clear-eyed in the light; he had
had nothing dirty to hide; what his relations with others had seemed
to be that they had actually been. But since that first night in the
pavilion Cynthia Clarke had taught him very thoroughly the hypocrisy a
man owes to the woman with whom he has a secret liaison.

He still believed that till that night she had been what the world calls
"a straight woman." She did not ape a rigid morality for once betrayed
by passion, or pretend to any religious scruples, or show any fears of
an eventual punishment held in reserve for all sinners by an implacable
Power; she did not, when Dion was brutal to her, ever reproach him with
having made of her a wicked or even a light woman. But she made him feel
by innumerable hints and subtleties that for him she had exchanged a
safe life for a life that was beset with danger, the smiled-on life of
a not too conventional virtue for something very different. She seemed
sometimes uneasy in her love, as if such a love were an error new to her
experience.

Jimmy was her chief weapon against Dion's natural sincerity. Dion
realized that she was passionately attached to her boy, and that
she would make almost any sacrifice rather than lose his respect and
affection. Nevertheless, she was ready to take great risks. The risks
she was not prepared to take were the smaller risks. And in connexion
with them her call for hypocrisy was incessant. If Dion ever tried to
resist her demands for small lies and petty deceptions, she would look
at him, and say huskily:

"I have to do these things now because of Jimmy. No one must ever have
the least suspicion of what we are to each other, or some day Jimmy
might get to know of it. It isn't my husband I'm afraid of, it's Jimmy."

If Dion had been by nature a suspicious man, or if he had had a wider
experience with women, Mrs. Clarke's remarkable ingenuity in hypocrisy
would almost certainly have suggested to him that she was no novice in
the life of deception. Her appearance of frankness, even of bluntness,
was admirable. To every one she presented herself as a woman of strong
will and unconventional temperament who took her own way openly, having
nothing to conceal, and therefore nothing to fear. She made a feature
of her friendship with the tragic Englishman; she even dwelt upon it
and paraded it for the pretense of blunt and Platonic friendship was the
cloud with which she concealed the fire of their illicit relation. The
trip on the "Leyla" to Brusa had tortured Dion. Since the episode in
the pavilion a more refined torment had been his. Mrs. Clarke had not
allowed him to escape from the social ties which were so hateful to him.
She had made him understand that he must go among her acquaintances
now and then, that he must take a certain part in the summer life
of Therapia and Buyukderer, that the trip to Brusa had been only a
beginning. More than once he had tried to break away, but he had not
succeeded in his effort. Her will had been too strong for his, not
merely because she did not fear at moments to be fierce and determined,
but because behind her fierceness and determination was an unuttered
plea which his not dead chivalry heard; "For you I have become what I
was falsely accused of being in London." He remembered the wonderful
fight she had made then; often her look and manner, when they were alone
together, implied, "I couldn't make such a fight now." She never said
that, but she made him float in an atmosphere of that suggestion.

He believed that she loved him. Sometimes he compared her love with the
affection which Rosamund had given him, and then it seemed to his not
very experienced heart that perhaps intense love can only show itself
by something akin to degradation, by enticements which a genuinely
pure nature could never descend to, by perversities which the grand
simplicity and wholesomeness of goodness would certainly abhor. Then a
distortion of love presented itself to his tragic investigation as
the only love that was real, and good and evil lost for him their true
significance. He had said to himself, "Let the spirit die that the body
may live." He had wished, he still wished, to pull down. He had a sort
of demented desire for ruins and dust. But he longed for action, on
the grand scale. Small secrecies, trickeries, tiptoeing through the
maze--all these things revolted that part of his nature which was,
perhaps, unchangeable. They seemed to him unmanly. In his present
condition he could quite easily have lain down in the sink of Pera's
iniquity, careless whether any one knew; but it was horribly difficult
to him to dine with the Ingletons and Vane at the Villa Hafiz, to say
"Good night" to Mrs. Clarke before them, to go away, leaving them in
the villa, and then, very late, to sneak back, with a key, to the garden
gate, when all the servants were in bed, and to creep up, like a thief,
to the pavilion. Some men would have enjoyed all the small deceptions,
would have thought them good fun, would have found that they added a
sharp zest to the pursuit of a woman. Dion loathed them.

And now he was confronted with something he was going to loathe far
more, something which would call for more sustained and elaborate
deception than any he had practised yet. He feared the eyes of an
English boy more than he feared the eyes of the diplomats and the
cosmopolitans of varying types who were gathered on the Bosporus during
the months of heat. He detested the idea of playing a part to a boy. How
could a mother lay plots to deceive her son? And yet Mrs. Clarke adored
Jimmy.

Rosamund and Robin started up in his mind. He saw them before him as he
had seen them one night in Westminster when Rosamund had been singing
to Robin. Ah, she had been a cruel, a terribly cruel, wife, but she had
been an ideal mother! He saw her head bent over her child, the curve of
her arm round his little body. A sensation of sickness came upon him, of
soul-nausea; and again he thought, "I must get away."

The night before the day on which Jimmy was due to arrive, Mrs. Clarke
was in Constantinople. She had gone there to meet Jimmy, and had started
early in the morning, leaving Dion at Buyukderer. When she was gone he
took the Albanian's boat and went out on the Bosporus for a row. The man
and he were both at the oars, and pulled out from the bay. When they had
gone some distance--they had been rowing for perhaps ten minutes--the
man asked:

"Ou allons-nous, Signore?"

"Vers Constantinople," replied Dion.

"Bene!" replied the man.

That night Mrs. Clarke had just finished dinner when a waiter tapped at
her sitting-room door.

"What is it?" she asked.

"A gentleman asks if he can see you, Madame."

"A gentleman? Have you got his card?"

"No, Madame; he gave no card."

"What is he like?"

"He is English, I think, very thin and very brown. He looks very
strong."

The waiter paused, then added:

"He has a hungry look."

Mrs. Clarke stared at the man with her very wide-open eyes.

"Go down and ask him to wait."

"Yes, Madame."

The man went out. When he had shut the door Mrs. Clarke called:

"Sonia!"

Her raised voice was rather harsh.

The bedroom door was opened, and the Russian maid looked into the
sitting-room.

"Sonia," said Mrs. Clarke rapidly in French, "some one--a man--has
called and asked for me. He's waiting in the hall. Go down and see who
it is. If it's Mr. Leith you can bring him up."

"And if it is not Monsieur Leith?"

"Come back and tell me who it is."

The maid came out of the bedroom, shut the door, crossed the
sitting-room rather heavily on flat feet, and went out on to the
landing.

"Shut the door!" Mrs. Clarke called after her.

When the sitting-room door was shut she sat waiting with her forehead
drawn to a frown. She did not move till the sitting-room door was opened
by the maid and a man walked in.

"Monsieur Leith," said the maid.

And she disappeared.

"Come and sit down," said Mrs. Clarke. "Why have you come to Pera?"

"I wanted to speak to you."

"How tired you look! Have you had dinner?"

"No, I don't want it."

"Did you come by steamer?"

"No, I rowed down."

"All the way?"

He nodded.

"Where are you staying?"

"I haven't decided yet where I shall stay. Not here, of course."

"Of course not. Dion, sit down."

He sat down heavily.

"If you haven't decided about an hotel, where is your luggage?"

"I haven't brought any."

She said nothing, but her distressed eyes questioned him.

"I started out for a row. The current set towards Constantinople, so I
came here."

"I'm glad," she said.

But she did not look glad.

"We can spend a quiet evening together," she added nonchalantly.

"I didn't come for that," he said.

He began to get up, but she put one hand on him.

"Do sit still. What is it, then? Whatever it is, tell me quietly."

He yielded to her soft but very imperative touch, and sat back in his
chair.

"Now, what is it?"

"I'm sure you know. It's Jimmy."

She lowered her eyelids, and her pale forehead puckered.

"Jimmy! What about Jimmy?"

"I don't want to be at Buyukderer while he's with you."

"And you have rowed all the way from Buyukderer to Constantinople,
without even a brush and comb, to tell me that!"

"I told you at Buyukderer."

"And we decided that it would be much jollier for Jimmy to have you
there for his holidays. I depend upon you to make things tolerable
for Jimmy. You know how few people there are near us who would trouble
themselves about a boy. You will be my stand-by with Jimmy all through
his holidays."

She spoke serenely, even cheerfully, but there was a decisive sound in
her voice, and the eyes fixed upon him were full of determination.

"I can't understand how you can be willing to act a lie to your own boy,
especially when you care for him so much," said Dion, almost violently.

"I shall not act a lie."

"But you will."

"Sometimes you are horribly morbid," she said coldly.

"Morbid! Because I want to keep a young schoolboy out of--"

"Take care, Dion!" she interrupted hastily.

"If you--you don't really love Jimmy," he said.

"I forbid you to say that."

"I will say it. It's true."

And he repeated with a cruelly deliberate emphasis:

"You don't really love Jimmy."

Her white face was suddenly flooded with red, which even covered her
forehead to the roots of her hair. She put up one hand with violence and
tried to strike Dion on the mouth. He caught her wrist.

"Be quiet!" he said roughly.

Gripping her wrist with his hard, muscular brown fingers he repeated:

"You don't love Jimmy."

"Do you wish me to hate you?"

"I don't care. I don't care what happens to me."

She sat looking down. The red began to fade out of her face. Presently
she curled her fingers inwards against his palm and smiled faintly.

"I am not going to quarrel with you," she said quietly.

He loosened his grip on her; but now she caught and held his hand.

"I do love Jimmy, and you know it when you aren't mad. But I care for
you, too, and I am not going to lose you. If you went away while Jimmy
was out here I should never see you again. You would disappear. Perhaps
you would cross over to Asia."

Her great eyes were fixed steadily upon him.

"Ah, you have thought of that!" she said, almost in a whisper.

He was silent.

"Women would get hold of you. You would sink; you would be ruined,
destroyed. I know!"

"If I were it wouldn't matter."

"To me it would. I can't risk it. I am not going to risk it."

Dion leaned forward. His brown face was twitching.

"Suppose you had to choose between Jimmy and me!"

He was thinking of Robin and Rosamund. A child had conquered him once.
Now once again a child--for Jimmy was no more than a child as yet,
although he thought himself important and almost a young man--intruded
into his life with a woman.

"I shall not have to choose. But I have told you that a child is not
enough for the happiness of a woman like me. You know what I am, and you
must know I am speaking the truth."

"Did you love your husband?" he asked, staring into her eyes.

"Yes," she replied, without even a second of hesitation. "I did till he
suspected me."

"And then----"

"Not after that," she said grimly.

"I wonder he let you do all you did."

"What do you mean?"

She let his hand go.

"I would never have let you go about with other men, however innocently.
I thought about that at your trial."

"I should never let any one interfere with my freedom of action. If a
man loves me I expect him to trust me."

"You don't trust me."

"Sometimes you almost hate me. I know that."

"Sometimes I hate everybody, myself most of all. But I should miss you.
You are the only woman in all the world who wants me now."

Suddenly a thought of his mother intruded into his mind, and he added:

"Wants me as a lover."

She got up quickly, almost impulsively, and went close to him.

"Yes, I want you, I want you as a lover, and I can't let you go. That is
why I ask you, I beg you, to stay with me while Jimmy's here."

She leaned against him, and put her small hands on his shoulders.

"How can a child understand the needs of a woman like me and of a man
like you? How can he look into our hearts or read the secrets of our
natures--secrets which we can't help having? You hate what you call
deceiving him. But he will never think about it. A boy of Jimmy's age
never thinks about his mother in that way."

"I know. That's just it!"

"What do you mean?"

But he did not explain. Perhaps instinctively he felt that her natural
subtlety could not be in accord with his natural sincerity, felt that in
discussing certain subjects they talked in different languages. She put
her arms round his neck.

"I need the two lives," she said, in a very low voice. "I need Jimmy and
I need you. Is it so very wonderful? Often when a woman who isn't old
loses her husband and is left with her child people say, 'It's all
right for her. She has got her child.' And so she's dismissed to her
motherhood, as if that must be quite enough for her. Dion, Dion, the
world doesn't know, or doesn't care, how women suffer. Women don't speak
about such things. But I am telling you because I don't want to have
secrets from you. I have suffered. Perhaps I have some pride in me.
Anyhow, I don't care to go about complaining. You know that. You must
have found that out in London. I keep my secrets, but not from you."

She put her white cheek against his brown one.

"It's only the two lives joined together that make life complete for
a woman who is complete, who isn't lopsided, lacking in something
essential, something that nature intends. I am a complete woman, and I'm
not ashamed of it. Do you think I ought to be?"

She sighed against his cheek.

"You are a courageous woman," he said; "I do know that."

"Don't _you_ test my courage. Perhaps I'm getting tired of being
courageous."

She put her thin lips against his.

"It's acting--deception I hate," he murmured. "With a boy especially I
like always to be quite open."

Again he thought of Robin and of his old ideal of a father's relation
to his son; he thought of his preparation to be worthy of fatherhood,
worthy to guide a boy's steps in the path towards a noble manhood. And a
terrible sense of the irony of life almost overcame him. For a moment
he seemed to catch a glimpse of the Creator laughing in darkness at the
aspiration of men; for a moment he was beset by the awful conviction
that the world is ruled by a malign Deity.

"All the time Jimmy is at Buyukderer we'll just be friends," said the
husky voice against his cheek.

The sophistry of her remark struck home to him, but he made no comment
upon it.

"There are white deceptions," she continued, "and black deceptions, as
there are white and black lies. Whom are we hurting, you and I?"

"Whom are we hurting?" he said, releasing himself from her.

And he thought of God in a different way--in Rosamund's way.

"Yes?"

He looked at her as if he were going to speak, but he said nothing. He
felt that if he answered she would not understand, and her face made him
doubtful. Which view of life was the right one, Rosamund's or Cynthia
Clarke's? Rosamund had been pitiless to him and Cynthia Clarke was
merciful. She put her arms round his neck when he was in misery, she
wanted him despite the tragedy that was his perpetual companion. Perhaps
her view of life was right. It was a good working view, anyhow, and was
no doubt held by many people.

"We can base our lives on truth," she continued, as he said nothing. "On
being true to ourselves. That is the great truth. But we can't always
tell it to all the casual people about us, or even to those who are
closely in our lives, as for instance Jimmy is in mine. They wouldn't
understand. But some day Jimmy will be able to understand."

"Do you mean----"

"I mean just this: if Jimmy were twenty-one I would tell him
everything."

He looked down into her eyes, which never fell before the eyes of
another.

"I believe you would," he said.

She continued looking at him, as if tranquilly waiting for something.

"I'll--I'll go back to Buyukderer," he said.



CHAPTER VII

In his contrition for the attack which he had made upon the honor of his
wife at his mother's instigation, Beadon Clarke had given up all
claims on his boy's time. Actually, though not legally, Mrs. Clarke had
complete control over Jimmy. He spent all his holidays with her, and
seldom saw his father, who was still attached to the British Embassy in
Madrid. He had never been allowed to read any reports of the famous case
which had been fought out between his parents, and was understood to
think that his father and mother had, for some mysterious reason, found
it impossible to "hit it off together," and had therefore decided
to live apart. He was now rather vaguely fond of his father, whom he
considered to be "quite a good sort," but he was devoted to his mother.
Mrs. Clarke's peculiar self-possession and remarkably strong will made a
great impression on Jimmy. "It's jolly difficult to score my mater off,
I can tell you," he occasionally remarked to his more intimate chums at
school. He admired her appearance, her elegance, and the charm of her
way of living, which he called "doing herself jolly well"; even her
unsmiling face and characteristic lack of what is generally called
vivacity won his approval. "My mater's above all that silly gushing and
giggling so many women go in for, don't you know," was his verdict on
Mrs. Clarke's usually serious demeanor. Into her gravity boyishly he
read dignity of character, and in his estimation of her he set her very
high. Although something of a pickle, and by nature rather reckless
and inclined to be wild, he was swiftly obedient to his mother, partly
perhaps because, understanding young males as well as she understood
male beings of all ages, she very seldom drew the reins tight. He knew
very well that she loved him.

On the evening of his arrival at Buyukderer for the summer holidays
Jimmy had a confidential talk with his mother about "Mr. Leith," whom
he had not yet seen, but about whom he had been making many anxious
inquiries.

"I'll tell you to-night," his mother had replied. And after dinner she
fulfilled her promise.

"You'll see Mr. Leith to-morrow," she said.

"Well, I should rather think so!" returned Jimmy, in an injured voice.
"Where is he?"

"He's living in rooms in the house of a Greek not far from here."

"I thought he was in the hotel. I say, mater, can't I have a cigarette
just for once?"

"Yes, you may, just for once."

Jimmy approached the cigarette box with the air of a nonchalant
conqueror. As he opened it with an apparently practised forefinger he
remarked:

"Well, mater?"

"He's left the hotel. You know, Jimmy, Mr. Leith has had great
misfortunes."

Jimmy had heard of the gun accident and its terrible result, and he now
looked very grave.

"I know--poor chap!" he observed. "But it wasn't his fault. It was the
little brute of a pony. Every one knows that. It was rotten bad luck,
but who would be down on a fellow for bad luck?"

"Exactly. But it's changed Mr. Leith's life. His wife has left him. He's
given up his business, and is, consequently, less well off than he was.
But this isn't all."

Jimmy tenderly struck a match, lighted a cigarette, and, with
half-closed eyes, blew forth in a professional manner a delicate cloud
of smoke. He was feeling good all over.

"First-rate cigarettes!" he remarked. "The very best! Yes, mater?"

"He's rather badly broken up."

"No wonder!" said Jimmy, with discrimination.

"You'll find him a good deal changed. Sometimes he's moody and even
bad-tempered, poor fellow, and he's fearfully sensitive. I'm trying my
best to buck him up."

"Good for you, mater! He's our friend. We're bound to stand by him."

"And that's exactly what I'm trying to do. When he's a little difficult,
doesn't take things quite as one means them--you know?"

"Rather! Do I?"

"I put it down to all the trouble he's been through. I never resent it.
Now I ought really to have got out a holiday tutor for you."

"Oh, I say, after I've swotted my head off all these months! A chap
needs some rest if he's to do himself justice, hang it, mater, now!"

"I know all about that!"

She looked at him shrewdly, and he smiled on one side of his mouth.

"Go on, mater!"

"But having Mr. Leith here I thought I wouldn't do that. Mr. Leith's
awfully fond of boys, and it seemed to me you might do him more good
than any one else could."

"Well, I'm blowed! D'you really think so?"

Jimmy came over and sat on the arm of her chair, blowing rings of smoke
cleverly over her lovely little head.

"Put me up to it, mater, there's a good girl. I'm awfully keen on Mr.
Leith, as you know. He's got the biggest biceps I ever saw, and I'm
jolly sorry for him. What can I do? Put me up to it."

And Mrs. Clarke proceeded to put Jimmy up to it. She had told Dion that
Jimmy wouldn't see the difference in him. Now she carefully prepared
Jimmy to face that difference, and gave him his cue for the part she
wished him to play. Jimmy felt very important as he listened to her
explanations, trifling seriously with his cigarette, and looking very
worldly-wise.

"I twig!" he interrupted occasionally, nodding his round young head,
which was covered with densely thick, rather coarse hair. "I've got it."

And he went off to bed very seriously, resolved to take Mr. Leith in
hand and to do his level best for him.

So it was that when Dion and he met next day he was not surprised at
the change in Dion's appearance and manner. Nor were his young eyes
merciless in their scrutiny. Just at first, perhaps, they stared with
the unthinking observation of boyhood, but almost immediately Jimmy had
taken the cue his mother had given him, and had entered into his part of
a driver-away of trouble.

He played it well, with a tact that was almost remarkable in so young
a boy; and Dion, ignorant of what Mrs. Clarke had done on the night of
Jimmy's arrival, was at first surprised at the ease with which they
got on together. He had dreaded Jimmy's coming, partly because of the
secrets he must keep from the boy, but partly also because of Robin.
A boy's hands would surely tear at the wound which was always open.
Sometimes Dion felt horribly sad when he was in contact with Jimmy's
light-hearted and careless gaiety; sometimes he felt the gnawing
discomfort of one not by nature a hypocrite forced into a passive
hypocrisy; nevertheless there were moments when the burden of his life
was made a little lighter on his shoulders by the confidence his young
companion had in him, by the admiration for him showed plainly by Jimmy,
by the leaping spirits which ardently summoned a reply in kind.

The subtlety of Mrs. Clarke, too, helped Dion at first.

Since her son's arrival, without ostentation she had lived for him. She
entered into all Jimmy's plans, was ready to share his excitements and
to taste, with him, those pleasures which were possible to a woman as
well as to a boy. But she was quick to efface herself where she saw
that she was not needed or might even be in the way. As a mother she was
devoid of jealousy, was unselfish without seeming to be so. She did
not parade her virtue. Her reticence was that of a perfectly finished
artist. When she was wanted she was on the spot; when she was not
wanted she disappeared. She sped Dion and Jimmy on their way to boating,
shooting, swimming expeditions, with the happiest grace, and never
assumed the look and manner of the patient woman "left behind."

Not once, since Jimmy's arrival, had she shown to Dion even a trace of
the passionate and perverse woman he now knew her to be under her pale
mask of self-controlled and very mental composure. At the hotel in
Constantinople she had said to Dion, "All the time Jimmy's at Buyukderer
we'll just be friends." Now she seemed utterly to have forgotten that
they had ever been what the world calls lovers, that they had been
involved in scenes of passion, and brutality, and exhaustion, that they
had torn aside the veil of reticence behind which women and men hide
from each other normally the naked truth of what they can be. She
treated Dion casually, though very kindly, as a friend, and never, even
by the swift glance or a lingering touch of her fingers, reminded him of
the fires that burned within her. Even when she was alone with him, when
Jimmy ran off, perhaps, unexpectedly in the wake of a passing caprice,
she never departed from her role of the friend who was before all things
a mother.

So perfect was her hypocrisy, so absolutely natural in its
manifestation, that sometimes, looking at her, Dion could scarcely
forbear from thinking that she had forgotten all about their illicit
connexion; that she had put it behind her forever; that she was one
of those happy people who possess the power of slaying the past and
blotting the murder out of their memories.

That scene between them in Constantinople on the eve of Jimmy's
arrival--had it ever taken place? Had she really ever tried to strike
him on the mouth? Had he caught her wrist in a grip of iron? It seemed
incredible.

And if he was involved in a great hypocrisy since the boy's arrival he
was released from innumerable lesser hypocrisies. His life at present
was what it seemed to be to the little world on the Bosporus.

Just at first he did not realize that though Mrs. Clarke genuinely loved
her son she was not too scrupulous to press his unconscious services in
aid of her hypocrisy.

The holiday tutor whom she ought to have got out from England to improve
the shining hour on Jimmy's behalf was replaced by Dion in the eyes of
Mrs. Clarke's world.

One day she said to Dion:

"Will you do me a good turn?"

"Yes, if I can."

"It may bore you."

"What is it?"

"Read a little bit with Jimmy sometimes, will you? He's abominably
ignorant, and will never be a scholar, but I should like him just to
keep up his end at school."

"But I haven't got any school-books."

"I have. He's specially behindhand with his Greek. His report tells me
that. If you'll do a little Greek grammar and construing with him in the
mornings now and them, I shall be tremendously grateful. You see,
owing to my miserable domestic circumstances, Jimmy is practically
fatherless."

"And you ask me to take his father's place!" was in Dion's mind.

But she met his eyes so earnestly and with such sincerity that he only
said:

"Of course I'll read with him in the mornings."

Despite the ardent protests to Jimmy Dion kept his promise. Soon Mrs.
Clarke's numerous acquaintances knew of the morning hours of study. She
had happened to tell Sir Carey Ingleton about Jimmy's backwardness in
book-learning and Mr. Leith's kind efforts to "get him on during the
holidays." Sir Carey had spoken of it to Cyril Vane. The thing "got
about." The name of Dion Leith began to be connected rather with Jimmy
Clarke than with Mrs. Clarke. Continually Dion and Jimmy were seen about
together. Mrs. Clarke, meanwhile, often went among her friends alone,
and when they asked about Jimmy she would say:

"Oh, he's gone off somewhere with Mr. Leith. I don't know where. Mr.
Leith's a regular boy's man and was a great chum of Jimmy's in London;
used to show him how to box and that sort of thing. It's partly for
Jimmy that he came to Buyukderer. They read together in the mornings.
Mr. Leith's getting Jimmy on in Greek."

Sometimes she would add:

"Mr. Leith loves boys, and since his own child died so sadly I think
he's taken to Jimmy more than ever."

Soon people began to talk of Dion Leith as "Jimmy Clarke's holiday
tutor." Once, when this was said in Lady Ingleton's drawing-room at
Therapia, she murmured:

"I don't think it quite amounts to that. Mr. Leith has never been a
schoolmaster."

And there she left it, with a faint smile in which there was just the
hint of an almost cynical sadness.

Since the trip to Brusa on the "Leyla" she had thought a great deal
about Dion Leith, and she was very sorry for him in a rather unusual
way. Out of her happiness with her husband she seemed to draw an
instinctive knowledge of what such a nature as Dion Leith's wanted and
of the extent of his loss. Once she said to Sir Carey, with a sort of
intensity such as she seldom showed:

"Good women do terrible things sometimes."

"Such as----?" said Sir Carey, looking at her almost with surprise in
his eyes.

"I think Mrs. Leith has done a terrible thing to her husband."

"Perhaps she loved the child too much."

"Even love can be almost abominable," said Lady Ingleton. "If we had a
child, and you had done what poor Dion Leith has done, do you think I
should have cast you out of my life?"

"But--are you a good woman?" he asked her, smiling.

"No, or you should never have bothered about me."

He touched her hand.

"When you do that," Lady Ingleton said, "I could almost cry over poor
Dion Leith."

Sir Carey bent down and kissed her with a very tender gallantry.

"You and I are secretly sentimentalists, Delia," he said. "That is why
we are so happy together."

"Why doesn't Dion Leith go to England?" she exclaimed, almost angrily.

"Perhaps England seems full of his misery. Besides, his wife is there."

"He ought to go to her. He ought to force her to see the evil she is
doing."

"Leith will never do that, I feel sure," said Sir Carey gravely. "And in
his place I don't know that I could."

Lady Ingleton looked at him with an almost sharp impatience such as she
seldom showed him.

"When a man has right on his side he ought to browbeat a woman!" she
exclaimed. "And even if he is in the wrong it's the best way to make
a woman see things through his eyes. Dion Leith is too delicate with
women."

After a moment she added:

"At any rate with some women, the first of whom is his own wife. A man
should always put up a big fight for a really big thing, and Dion Leith
hasn't done that!"

"He fought in South Africa for England."

"Ah," she said, lifting her chin, "that sort of thing is so different."

"Tell him what you think," said the Ambassador.

"I know him so little. But perhaps--who knows--some day I shall."

She said no more on that subject.

Meanwhile Dion was teaching Jimmy, who was really full of the happiest
ignorance. Jimmy's knowledge of Greek was a minus quantity, and he said
frankly that he considered all that kind of thing "more or less rot."
Nevertheless, Dion persevered. One morning when they were going to get
to work as usual in the pavilion,--chose by Mrs. Clarke as the suitable
place for his studies,--taking up the Greek Grammar Dion opened it
by chance. He stood by the table from which he had picked the book up
staring down at the page. By one of those terrible rushes of which the
mind is capable he was swept back to the famous mound which fronts the
plain of Marathon; he saw the curving line of hills, the sea intensely
blue and sparkling, empty of ships, the river's course through the
tawny land marked by the tall reeds and the sedges; he heard the distant
lowing of cattle coming from that old battlefield, celebrated by poets
and historians. And then he heard, as if just above him, the dry crackle
of brushwood--Rosamund moving in the habitation of Arcady. And he
remembered the cry, the intense human cry which had echoed in the
recesses of his soul on that day long--how long--ago in Greece,
"Whither? Whither am I and my great love going? To what end are we
journeying?"

He heard again that cry of his soul in the pavilion at Buyukderer, and
beneath the sunburn his lean cheeks went lividly pale.

Reluctantly Jimmy was getting an exercise book and a pen and ink out of
the drawer of a table, which Mrs. Clarke had had specially made for the
lessons by a little Greek carpenter who sometimes did odd jobs for her.
He found the ink bottle almost empty.

"I say," he began.

He looked up.

"I say, Mr. Leith----"

His voice died away and he stared.

"What's wrong?" he managed to bring out at last.

He thrust out a hand and laid hold of the grammar. Dion let it go.

His eyes searched the page.

"What's up, Mr. Leith?"

He looked frankly puzzled and almost afraid. He had never seen any one
look just like that before.

There was a moment of silence. Then, with a sudden change of manner,
Dion exclaimed:

"Come on, Jimmy! I don't feel like doing lessons this morning. I vote
we go out. I'm going to ask your mother if we can ride to the Belgrad
forest. Perhaps she'll come with us."

He was suddenly afraid to remain alone with the boy, and he felt that
he could not stay in that pavilion full of the atmosphere of feverish
passion, of secrecy, of betrayal. Yes, of betrayal! For there he had
betrayed the obstinate love, which he had felt at Marathon as a sort of
ecstasy, and still felt, but now like a wound, within him in spite of
Rosamund's rejection of him. Not yet had the current taken him and swept
him away from all the old landmarks. Perhaps it never would. And yet he
had given himself to it, he had not tried to resist.

Jimmy jumped up with alacrity, though he still looked rather grave and
astonished. They went down the terraced garden to the villa.

"Run up and ask your mother," said Dion. "Probably she's in her
sitting-room. I'll wait here to know what she says."

"Right you are!"

He went off, looking rather relieved.

Robin at fifteen! Dion shut his eyes.

Jimmy was away for more than ten minutes. Then he came back to say that
his mother would come with them to the forest and would be ready in an
hour's time.

"I'll go back to my rooms, change my breeches, and order the horses,"
said Dion.

He was longing to get away from the scrutiny which at this moment Jimmy
could not forego. He knew that Jimmy had been talking about him to Mrs.
Clarke, had probably been saying how "jolly odd" he had been in
the pavilion. For once the boy's tact had failed him, and Dion's
sensitiveness tingled.

An hour later they were on horseback and rode into the midst of the
forest. At the village of Belgrad they dismounted, left the horses in
the care of a Turkish stableman, and went for a walk among the trees.
It was very hot and still, and presently Mrs. Clarke said she would sit
down and rest.

"You and Jimmy go on if you want to," she said.

But Jimmy threw himself down on the ground.

"I'm tired. It's so infernally hot."

"Take a nap," said his mother.

The boy laid his head on his curved arms sideways. Mrs. Clarke leaned
down and put his panama hat over his left cheek and eye.

"Thank you, mater," he murmured.

He lay still.

Dion had stood by with an air of hesitation during this little talk
between mother and son. Now he looked away to the forest.

"You go," Mrs. Clarke said to him. "You'll find us here when you come
back. The Armenians call the forest _Defetgamm_. Perhaps you will come
under its influence."

"_Defetgamm_! What does that mean?"

"Dispeller of care."

He stood looking at her for a moment; then, without another word, he
turned quickly away and disappeared among the trees.

Jimmy slept with his face hidden, and Mrs. Clarke, with wide-open eyes,
sat motionless staring into the forest.

When they reached the Villa Hafiz late in the afternoon Dion helped
Mrs. Clarke to dismount. As she slid down lightly from the saddle she
whispered, scarcely moving her lips:

"The pavilion to-night eleven. You've got the key."

She patted Selim's glossy black neck.

"Come, Jimmy!" she said. "Say good night to Mr. Leith. I'm sure he's
tired and has had more than enough of us for to-day. We'll give him a
rest from us till to-morrow."

And Jimmy bade Dion good-by without any protest.

As Dion rode off Mrs. Clarke did not turn to look after him. She had
not troubled even to question him with her eyes. She had assumed that he
would do what she wanted. Would he do that?

At first he believed that he would not go. He had been away in the
forest with his misery for nearly two hours, struggling among the
shadows of the trees. Jimmy had seen in the pavilion that morning that
his "holiday tutor" was strangely ill at ease, and had discussed the
matter with his mater, and asked her why on earth the sight of a page
of Greek grammar should make a fellow stand staring as if he were
confronted by a ghost. But Jimmy had no conception of what Dion had
been through in the forest, where happy Greeks and Armenians were lazily
enjoying the empty hours of summer, forgetting yesterday, and serenely
careless of to-morrow.

In the forest Dion had fought with an old love of which he began to be
angrily ashamed, with a love which was now his greatest enemy, a thing
contemptible, inexplicable. In the pavilion that morning it had suddenly
risen up before him strong, intense, passionate. It seemed irresistible.
But he was almost furiously resolved not merely to resist it, but to
crush it down, to break it in pieces, or to drive it finally out of his
life.

And he had fought with it alone in the forest which the Armenians call
_Defetgamm_. And in the forest something--some adherent, it seemed--had
whispered to him, "To kill your enemy you must fill your armory with
weapons. The woman who came to you when you were neither in one world
nor in the other is a weapon. Why have you ceased to use her?"

And now, as if she had heard the voice of that adherent, and had known
of the struggle in the forest, the woman herself had suddenly broken
through the reserve she had imposed upon them both since the coming of
her son.

In a hideous way Dion wanted to see her, and yet he shrank from going
back to her secretly. The coming of Jimmy, his relations with the boy,
the boy's hearty affection for him and admiration for him, had roused
into intense activity that part of his nature which had always loved,
which he supposed always must love, the straight life; the life with
morning face and clear, unfaltering eyes; the life which the Hermes
suggested, immune from the fret and fever of secret vices and passions,
lifted by winged sandals into a region where soul and body were in
perfect accord, and where, because of that, there was peace; not a peace
of stagnation, but a peace living and intense. But that part of his
nature had led him even now instinctively back to the feet of Rosamund.
And he revolted against such a pilgrimage.

"The pavilion to-night eleven; you've got the key."

Her face had not changed as she whispered the words, and immediately
afterwards she had told a lie to her boy, or had implied a lie. She had
made Jimmy believe the thing that was not. Loving Jimmy, she did not
scruple to play a part to him.

Dion ate no dinner that night. After returning to his rooms and getting
out of his riding things into a loose serge suit he went out again and
walked along the quay by the water. He paced up and down, ignoring the
many passers-by, the boatmen and watermen who now knew him so well.

He was considering whether he should go to the pavilion at the appointed
hour or whether he should leave Buyukderer altogether and not return to
it. This evening he was in the mood to be drastic. He might go down to
Constantinople and finally cast his burden away there, never to take it
up again--the burden of an old love whose chains still hung about him;
he might plunge into the lowest depths, into depths where perhaps the
remembrance of Rosamund and the early morning would fade away from him,
where even Mrs. Clarke would not care to seek for him, although her will
was persistent.

He fully realized now her extraordinary persistence, the fierce firmness
of character that was concealed by her quiet and generally impersonal
manner. Certainly she had the temperament of a ruler. He remembered--it
seemed to him with a bizarre abruptness--the smile on Dumeny's lips in
the Divorce Court when the great case had ended in Mrs. Clarke's favor.

Did he really know Cynthia Clarke even now?

He walked faster. Now he saw Hadi Bey before him, self-possessed, firm,
with that curiously vivid look which had attracted the many women in
Court.

And Jimmy believed in his mother. Perhaps, until Dion's arrival in
Buyukderer, the boy had had reason in his belief--perhaps not. Dion was
very uncertain to-night.

A sort of cold curiosity was born in him. Until now he had accepted Mrs.
Clarke's presentment of herself to the world, which included himself,
as a genuine portrait; now he began to recall the long speech of Beadon
Clarke's counsel. But the man had only been speaking according to his
brief, had been only putting forth all the ingenuity and talent which
enabled him to command immense fees for his services. And Mrs. Clarke
had beaten him. The jury had said that she was not what he had asserted
her to be.

Suppose they had made a mistake, had given the wrong verdict, why
should that make any difference to Dion? He had definitely done with the
goodness of good women. Why should he fear the evil of a woman who was
bad? Perhaps in the women who were called evil by the respectable, or by
those who were temperamentally inclined to purity, there was more warm
humanity than the women possessed who never made a slip, or stepped
out of the beaten path of virtue. Perhaps those to whom much must be
forgiven were those who knew how to forgive.

If Mrs. Clarke really were what Beadon Clarke's counsel had suggested
that she was, how would it affect him? Dion pondered that question on
the quay. Mrs. Clarke's pale and very efficient hypocrisy, which he had
been able to observe at close quarters since he had been at Buyukderer,
might well have been brought into play against himself, as it had been
brought into play against the little world on the Bosporus and against
Jimmy.

Dion made up his mind that he would go to the pavilion that night. The
cold curiosity which had floated up to the surface of his mind enticed
him. He wanted to know whether he was among the victims, if they could
reasonably be called so, of Mrs. Clarke's delicate hypocrisy. He was
still thinking of Mrs. Clarke as a weapon; he was also thinking that
perhaps he did not yet know exactly what type of weapon she was. He must
find that out to-night. Not even the thought of Jimmy should deter him.

At a few minutes before eleven he went back to his rooms, unlocked his
despatch box, and drew out the key of the gate of Mrs. Clarke's garden.
He thrust it into his pocket and set out on the short walk to the Villa
Hafiz. The night was dark and cloudy and very still. Dion walked quickly
and surreptitiously, not looking at any of the people who went by him
in the darkness. All the windows of the villa which faced the sea were
shuttered and showed no lights. He turned to the right, stood before the
garden gate and listened. He heard no sound except a distant singing on
the oily waters of the Bay. Softly he put his key into the gate, gently
unlocked it, stepped into the garden. A few minutes later he was on the
highest terrace and approached the pavilion. As he did so Mrs. Clarke
came out of the drawing-room of the villa, passed by the fountain, and
began to ascend the garden.

She was dressed in black and in a material that did not rustle. Her thin
figure did not show up against the night, and her light slow footfall
was scarcely audible on the paths and steps as she went upward. Jimmy
had gone to bed long ago, tired out with the long ride in the heat.
She had just been into his bedroom, without a light, and had heard his
regular breathing. He was fast asleep, and once he was asleep he never
woke till the light of day shone in at the window. It was a comfort that
one could thoroughly rely on the sleeping powers of a healthy boy of
fifteen.

She sighed as she thought of Jimmy. The boy was going to complicate
her life. She was by nature an unusually fearless woman, but she was
beginning to realize that there might come a time when she would know
fear--unless she could begin to live differently as Jimmy began to
grow up. But how could she do that? There are things which seem to be
impossible even to strong wills. Her will was very strong, but she had
always used it not to renounce but to attain, not to hold her desires in
check but to bring them to fruition. And it was late in the day to begin
reversing the powerful engine of her will. She was not even sure that
she could reverse it. Hitherto she had never genuinely tried to do that.
She did not want to try now, partly--but only partly--because she hated
to fail in anything she undertook. And she had a suspicion, which she
was not anxious to turn into a certainty, that she who had ruled many
people was only a slave herself. Perhaps some day Jimmy would force her
to a knowledge of her exact condition.

For the first time in her life she was half afraid of that mysterious
energy which men and women call love; she began to understand, with
a sort of ample fulness of comprehension, that of all loves the most
determined is the love of a mother for her only son. A mother may,
perhaps, have a son and not love him; but if once she loves him she
holds within her a thing that will not die while she lives.

And if the thing that was without lust stood up in battle against the
thing that was full of lust--what then?

The black and still night seemed a battlefield.

Softly she stepped upon the highest terrace and stood for a moment under
the great plane tree, where was the wooden seat on which she had waited
for Dion to weep away the past and the good woman who had ruined his
life. To-night she was invaded by an odd uncertainty. If she went to the
pavilion and Dion were not there? If he did not come? Would some part
of her, perhaps, be glad, the part that in a mysterious way was one with
Jimmy? She stared into the darkness, looking towards the pavilion. Dion
Leith had once said she looked punished. Perhaps when he had said that
he had shown that he had intuition.

Was he there? It was past eleven now. She had assumed that he would
come, and she was inclined to believe that he had come. If so she need
not see him even now. There was still time for her to go back to the
villa, to shut herself in, to go to bed, as Jimmy had gone to bed. But
if she did that she would not sleep. All night long she would lie wide
awake, tossing from side to side, the helpless prey of her past life.

She frowned and slipped through the darkness, almost like a fluid, to
the pavilion.



CHAPTER VIII

She came so silently that Dion heard nothing till against the background
of the night he saw a shadow, her thin body, a faint whiteness, her
face, motionless at the opening of the pavilion; from this shadow and
this whiteness came a voice which said:

"Did you come under the influence of _Defetgamm_?"

"It's impossible that you see me!" he said.

"I see you plainly with some part of me, not my eyes."

He got up from the divan where he had been sitting in the dark and went
to the opening of the pavilion.

"Did you come under the influence of _Defetgamm_?" she repeated.

"You know I didn't."

He paused, then added:

"I nearly didn't come to-night."

"And I nearly went down, after I had come up here, without seeing you.
And yet--we are together again."

"Why do you want to see me here? We agreed--"

"Yes, we agreed; but after to-day in the forest that agreement had to be
broken. When you left me under the trees you looked like a man who was
thinking of starting on a very long journey."

She spoke with a peculiar significance which at once conveyed her full
meaning to him.

"No, I shall never do that," he said. "If I had been capable of it, I
should have done it long ago."

"Yes? Let me in."

He moved. She slipped into the pavilion and sat down.

"How can you move without making any sound?" he asked somberly.

There had been in her movement a sort of perfection of surreptitiousness
that was animal. He noticed it, and thought that she must surely be
accustomed to moving with precaution lest she should be seen or heard.
Rosamund could not move like that. A life story seemed to him to be
faintly traced in Mrs. Clarke's manner of entering the pavilion and of
sitting down on the divan.

He stood beside her in the dark. She returned no answer to his question.

"You spoke of a journey," he said. "The only journey I have thought
of making is short enough--to Constantinople. I nearly started on it
to-night."

"Why do you want to go to Constantinople?"

He was silent.

"What would you do there?"

"Ugly things, perhaps."

"Why didn't you go? What kept you?"

"I felt that I must ask you something."

He sat down beside her and took both her hands roughly. They were dry
and burning as if with fever.

"You trick Jimmy," he said. "You trick the Ingletons, Vane, all the
people here--"

"Trick!" she interrupted coldly, almost disdainfully. "What do you
mean?"

"That you deceive them, take them in."

"What about?"

"You know quite well."

After a pause, which was perhaps--he could not tell--a pause of
astonishment, she said:

"Do you really expect me to go about telling every one that I, a lonely
woman, separated from my husband, unable to marry again, have met a man
whom I care for, and that I've been weak enough--or wicked enough, if
you like--to let him know it?"

Dion felt his cheeks burn in the darkness. Nevertheless, something drove
him on, forced him to push his way hardily through a sort of quickset
hedge of reluctance and shame.

"No, I don't expect absurdities. I am not such a fool. But--but you do
it so well!"

"Do what well?"

"Everything connected with deception. You are such a mistress of it."

"Well?"

"Isn't that rather strange?"

"Do you expect a woman like me, a woman who can't pretend to stupidity,
and who has lived for years in the diplomatic world, to blunder in what
she undertakes?"

"No, I don't. But you are too competent."

He spoke with hard determination, but his cheeks were still burning.

"It's impossible to be too competent. If I make up my mind that a thing
must be done I resolve to do it thoroughly and to do it well. I despise
blunderers and women who are afraid of what they do. I despise those who
give themselves and others away. I cared for you. I saw you needed me
and I gave myself to you. I am not sorry I did it, not a bit sorry. I
had counted the cost before I did it."

"Counted the cost? But what cost is there? Neither of us loses
anything."

"I risk losing almost everything a woman cares for. I don't want to
dwell upon it. I detest women who indulge in reproaches, or who try
to make men value them by pointing out how much they stand to lose by
giving themselves. But you are so strange to-night. You have attacked
me. I don't know why."

"I've been walking on the quay and thinking."

"What about?"

"You!"

"Go on."

"I've been thinking that, as you take in Jimmy and all the people here
so easily, there is no reason why you shouldn't be taking me in too."

In the dark a feeling was steadily growing within him that his companion
was playing with him as he knew she had played with others.

"I'm forced to deceive the people here and my boy. My relation with you
obliges me to do that. But nothing forces me to deceive you. I have been
sincere with you. Ever since I met you in the street in Pera I've been
sincere, even blunt. I should think you must have noticed it."

"I have. In some ways you are blunt, but in many you aren't."

"What is it exactly that you wish to know?"

For a moment Dion was silent. In the darkness of the pavilion he saw
Dumeny's lips smiling faintly, Hadi Bey's vivid, self-possessed eyes,
the weak mouth of Brayfield and his own double. Was he a member of an
ugly brotherhood, or did he stand alone? He wanted to know, yet he felt
that he could not put such a hideous question to his companion.

"Tell me exactly what it is," she said. "Don't be afraid. I wish to be
quite sincere with you, though you think I don't. It is no pleasure
to me to deceive people. What I do in the way of deception I do in
self-defense. Circumstances often push us into doing what we don't enjoy
doing. But you and I ought to be frank with one another."

Her hands tightened on his.

"Go on. Tell me."

"I've been wondering whether your husband ought to have won his case,"
said Dion, in a low voice.

"Is that all?" she said, very simply and without any emotion.

"All?"

"Yes. Do you suppose, when I gave myself to you, I didn't realize that
my doing it was certain to make you doubt my virtue? Dion, you don't
know how boyish you still are. You will always be in some ways a boy.
I knew you would doubt me after all that had happened. But what is the
good of asking questions of a women whom you doubt? If I am what you
suspect, of course I shall tell lies. If I am not, what is the good of
my telling you the truth? What is to make you believe it?"

He was silent. She moved slightly and he felt her thin body against his
side. What sort of weapon was she? That was the great question for
him. Since his struggle in the forest of _Defetgamm_ he had come to
the resolve to strike fierce and reiterated blows on that disabling and
surely contemptible love of his, that love which had confronted him like
a specter when he was in the pavilion with Jimmy. He was resolved at
last upon assassination, and he wanted a weapon that could slay, not a
weapon that would bend, or perhaps break, in his hand.

"I don't want to believe I am only one among many," he said at last.

The sound of his voice gave her the cue to his inmost feeling. She had
been puzzled in the forest, she had been half afraid, seeing that he
had arrived at an acute emotional crisis and not understanding what had
brought him to it. She did not understand that now, but she knew that he
was asking from her more than he had ever asked before. He had been
cast out and now he was knocking hard on her door. He was knocking, but
lingering remnants of the influence of the woman who had colored his
former life hung about him like torn rags, and his hands instinctively
felt for them, pulled at them, to cover his nakedness. Still, while he
knocked, he looked back to the other life. Nevertheless--she knew this
with all there was of woman in her--he wanted from her all that the good
woman had never given to him, was incapable of giving to him or to any
one. He wanted from her, perhaps, powers of the body which would suffice
finally for the killing of those powers of the soul by which he was
now tormented ceaselessly. The sound of his voice demanded from her
something no other man had ever demanded from her, the slaughter in him
of what he had lived by through all his years. Nevertheless he was still
looking back to all the old purities, was still trying to hear all the
old voices. He required of her, as it were, that she should be good in
her evil, gentle while she destroyed. Well, she would even be that. A
rare smile curved her thin lips, but he did not see it.

"Suppose I told you that you were one of many?" she said. "Would you
give it all up?"

"I don't know. Am I?"

"No. Do you think, if you were, I should have kept my women friends,
Tippie Chetwinde, Delia Ingleton and all the rest?"

"I suppose not," he said.

But he remembered tones in Mrs. Chetwinde's voice when she had spoken of
"Cynthia Clarke," and even tones in Lady Ingleton's voice.

"They stuck to me because they believed in me. What other reason could
they have?"

"Unless they were very devoted to you."

"Women aren't much given to that sort of thing," she said dryly.

"I think you have an unusual power of making people do what you wish.
It is like an emanation," he said slowly. "And it seems not to be
interfered with by distance."

She leaned till her cheek touched his.

"Dion, I wish to make you forget. I know how it is with you. You suffer
abominably because you can't forget. I haven't succeeded with you yet.
But wait, only wait, till Jimmy goes, till the summer is over and we can
leave the Bosporus. It's all too intimate--the life here. We are all too
near together. But in Constantinople I know ways. I'll stay there all
the winter for you. Even the Christmas holidays--I'll give them up for
once. I want to show you that I do care. For no one else on earth would
I give up being with Jimmy in his holidays. For no one else I'd risk
what I'm risking to-night."

"Jimmy was asleep when you came?"

"Yes, but he might wake. He never does, but he might wake just
to-night."

"Suppose he did! Suppose he looked for you in your room and didn't find
you! Suppose he came up here!"

"He won't!"

She spoke obstinately, almost as if her assertion of the thing's
impossibility must make it impossible.

"And yet there's the risk of it," said Dion--"the great risk."

"There are always risks in connection with the big things in life. We
are worth very little if we won't take them."

"If it wasn't for Jimmy would you come and live with me? Would you drop
all this deception? Would you let your husband divorce you? Would you
give up your place in society for me? I am an outcast. Would you come
and be an outcast with me?"

"Yes, if it wasn't for Jimmy."

"And for Jimmy you'd give me up for ever in a moment, wouldn't you?"

"Why do you ask these questions?" she said, almost fiercely.

"I want something for myself, something that's really mine. Then
perhaps----"

He stopped.

"Perhaps what?"

"Perhaps I could forget--sometimes."

"And yet when you knew Jimmy was coming here you wanted to go away. You
were afraid then. And even to-day--"

"I want one thing or the other!" he interrupted desperately. "I'm sick
of mixing up good and bad. I'm sick of prevarications and deceptions.
They go against my whole nature. I hate struggling in a net. It saps all
my strength."

"I know. I understand."

She put her arm round his neck.

"Perhaps I ought to give you up, let you go. I've thought that. But I
haven't the courage. Dion, I'm lonely, I'm lonely."

He felt moisture on his cheek.

"About you I'm absolutely selfish," she said, in a low, swift voice.
"Even if all this hypocrisy hurts you I can't give you up. I've told you
a lie--even you."

"When?"

"I said to you on _that_ night----"

She waited.

"I know," he said.

"I said that I hadn't cared for you till I met you in Pera, and saw
what _she_ had done to you. That was a lie. I cared for you in England.
Didn't you know it?"

"Once or twice I wondered, but I was never at all sure."

"It was because I cared that I wanted to make friends with your wife.
I had no evil reason. I knew you and she were perfectly happy together.
But I wanted just to see you sometimes. She guessed it. That was why she
avoided me--the real reason. It wasn't only because I'd been involved
in a scandal, though I told you once it was. I've sometimes lied to you
because I didn't want to feel myself humiliated in your eyes. But now
I don't care. You can know all the truth if you want to. You pushed
me away--oh, very gently--because of her. Did you think I didn't
understand? You were afraid of me. Perhaps you thought I was a nuisance.
When I came back from Paris on purpose for Tippie Chetwinde's party
you were startled, almost horrified, when you saw me. I saw it all so
plainly. In the end, as you know, I gave it up. Only when you went to
the war I had to send that telegram. I thought you might be killed, and
I wanted you to know I was remembering you, and admiring you for what
you had done. Then you came with poor Brayfield's letter----"

She broke off, then added, with a long, quivering sigh:

"You've made me suffer, Dion."

"Have I?"

He turned till he was facing her in the darkness.

"Then at last you were overtaken by your tragedy, and she showed you her
cruelty and cast you out. From that moment I was resolved some day
to let you know how much I cared. I wanted you in your misery. But I
waited. I had a conviction that you would come to me, drawn, without
suspecting it, by what I felt for you. Well, you came at last. And now
you ask me whether you are one of many."

"Forgive me!" he whispered.

"But of course I shall always forgive you for everything. Women who care
for men always do that. They can't help themselves. And you--will you
forgive me for my lies?"

He took her in his arms.

"Life's full of them. Only don't tell me any more, and make me forget if
you can. You've got so much will. Try to have the power for that."

"Then help me. Give yourself wholly to me. You have struggled against me
furtively. You thought I didn't know it, but I did. You look back to the
old ways. And that is madness. Turn a new page, Dion. Have the courage
to hope."

"To--hope!"

Her hot hands closed on him fiercely.

"You shall hope. I'll make you. Cut out the cancer that is in you, and
cut away all that is round it. Then you'll have health again. She never
knew how to feel in the great human way. She was too fond of God ever to
care for a man."

Let that be the epitaph over the tomb in which all his happiness was
buried.

In silence he made his decision, and Cynthia Clarke knew it.

The darkness covered them.

* * * * *

Down below in the Villa Hafiz Jimmy was sleeping peacefully, tired by
the long ride to and from the forest in the heat. He had gone to bed
very early, almost directly after dinner. His mother had not advised
this. Perhaps indeed, if she had not been secretly concentrated on
herself and her own desires that evening, she would have made Jimmy stay
up till at least half-past ten, even though he was "jolly sleepy."
He had slept for at least two hours in the forest. She ought to have
remembered that, but she had forgotten it, and when, at a quarter to
nine, on an enormous yawn, Jimmy had announced that he thought he would
"turn in and get between the sheets," she had almost eagerly acquiesced.
She wanted her boy asleep, soundly asleep that night. When the clock had
struck nine he had already traveled beyond the land of dreams.

The night was intensely hot and airless. No breath of wind came from the
sea. Drops of perspiration stood on the boy's forehead as he slept, with
nothing over him but a sheet. He lay on his side, with his face towards
the open window and one arm outside the sheet.

People easily fall into habits of sleeping. Jimmy was accustomed to
sleep for about eight hours "on end," as he put it. When he had had his
eight hours he generally woke up. If he was not obliged to get up he
often went to sleep again after an interval of wakefulness, but he
seldom slept for as much as nine hours without waking.

On this night between two o'clock and three it seemed as if a layer of
sleep were gently lifted from him. He sighed, stirred, turned over and
began to dream.

He dreamed confusedly about Dion, and there were pain and apprehension
in his dream. In it Dion seemed to be himself and yet not himself, to be
near and at the same time remote, to be Jimmy's friend and yet, in some
strange and horrible way, hostile to Jimmy. No doubt the boy was haunted
in his sleep by an obscure phantom bred of that painful impression of
the morning, when his friend had suddenly been changed in the pavilion,
changed into a tragic figure from which seemed to emanate impalpable
things very black and very cold.

In the dream Jimmy's mother did not appear as an active figure; yet the
dreamer seemed somehow to be aware of her, to know faintly that she was
involved in unhappy circumstances, that she was the victim of distresses
he could not fathom. And these distresses weighed upon him like a
burden, as things weigh upon us in dreams, softly and heavily, and with
a sort of cloudy awfulness. He wanted to strive against them for his
mother, but he was held back from action, and Dion seemed to have
something to do with this. It was as if his friend and enemy, Dion
Leith, did not wish his mother to be released from unhappiness.

Jimmy moved, lay on his back and groaned. His eyelids fluttered.
Something from without, something from a distance, was pulling at him,
and the hands of sleep, too inert, perhaps, for any conflict, relaxed
their hold upon him. Thoughts from two minds in a dark pavilion were
stealing upon him, were touching him here and there, were whispering to
him.

Another layer of sleep was softly removed from him.

He clenched his large hands--he had already the hands and feet almost
of the man he would some day grow into--and his eyes opened wide for a
moment. But they closed again. He was not awake yet.

At three o'clock he woke. He had slept for six hours in the villa and
for two hours in the forest. He lay still in the dark for a few minutes.
A faint memory of his dream hung about him like a tattered mist. He felt
anxious, almost apprehensive, and strained his ears expectant of some
sound. But the silence of the airless night was deep and large all about
him. He began to think of his mother. What had been the matter with
her? Who, or what, had persecuted her? He realized now that he had been
dreaming, said to himself, with a boy's exaggeration, that he had had "a
beastly nightmare!" Nevertheless his mother still appeared to him as the
victim of distresses. He could not absolutely detach himself from the
impressions communicated to him in his dream. He was obliged to think of
his mother as unhappy and of Dion Leith as not wholly friendly either to
her or to himself. And it was all quite beastly.

Presently, more fully awake, he began to wonder about the time and to
feel tremendously thirsty, as if he could "drink the jug."

He stretched out a hand, found the matches and struck a light. It went
out with a sort of feeble determination.

"Damn!" he muttered.

He struck another match and lit the candle. His silver watch lay
beside it, and marked five minutes past three. Jimmy was almost angrily
astonished. Only that! He now felt painfully wide awake, as if his sleep
were absolutely finished. What was to be done? He remembered that he had
slept in the forest. He had had his eight hours. Perhaps that was the
reason of his present wakefulness. Anyhow, he must have a drink.
He thrust away the sheet, rolled out of bed, and went to the
washhand-stand. There was plenty of water in his bottle, but when he
poured it into the tumbler he found that it was quite warm. He was
certain warm water wouldn't quench his ardent thirst. Besides, he
loathed it. Any chap would! How beastly everything was!

He put down the tumbler without drinking, went to the window and looked
out. The still hot darkness which greeted him made him feel again the
obscure distress of his dream. He was aware of apprehension. Dawn could
not be so very far off; yet he felt sunk to the lips in the heavy night.

If only he could have a good drink of something very cold! This wish
made him think again of his mother. He knew she did not require much
sleep, and sometimes read during part of the night; he also knew that
she kept some iced lemonade on the table beside her bed. Now the thought
of his mother's lemonade enticed him.

He hesitated for a moment, then stuck his feet into a pair of red
Turkish slippers without heels, buttoned the jacket of his pyjamas,
which he had thrown open because of the heat, took his candle in
hand, and shuffled--he always shuffled when he had on the ridiculous
slippers--to the door.

There he paused.

The landing was fairly wide. It looked dreary and deserted in the
darkness defined by the light from his candle. He could see the head
of the staircase, the shallow wooden steps disappearing into the empty
blackness in which the ground floor of the house was shrouded; he could
see the door of his mother's bedroom. As he stared at it, considering
whether his thirst justified him in waking her up--for, if she were
asleep, he felt pretty sure she would wake however softly he crept into
her room--he saw that the door was partly open. Perhaps his mother had
found the heat too great, and had tried to create a draught by opening
her door. There was darkness in the aperture. She wasn't reading, then.
Probably she was asleep. He was infernally thirsty; the door was open;
the lemonade was almost within reach; he resolved to risk it. Carefully
shading the candle with one hand he crept across the landing, adroitly
abandoned his slippers outside the door, and on naked feet entered his
mother's room.

His eyes immediately rested on the tall jug of lemonade, which stood on
a small table, with a glass and some books, beside the big, low bed.
He stole towards it, always shielding the candle with his hand, and not
looking at the bed lest his glance might, perhaps, disturb the sleeper
he supposed to be in it. He reached the table, and was about to lay a
desirous hand upon the jug, when it occurred to him that, in doing this,
he would expose the candle ray. Better blow the candle out! He located
the jug, and was on the edge of action--his lips were pursed for the
puff--when the dead silence of the room struck him. Could any one,
even his remarkably quiet mother, sleep without making even the tiniest
sound? He shot a glance at the bed. There was no one in it. He bent
down. It had not been slept in that night.

Jimmy stood, with his mouth open, staring at the large, neat, unruffled
bed. What the dickens could the mater be up to? She must, of course, be
sitting up in her small sitting-room next door to the bedroom. Evidently
the heat had made her sleepless.

He took a pull at the lemonade, went to the sitting-room door and softly
opened it, at the same time exclaiming, "I say, mater----"

Darkness and emptiness confronted him.

He shut the door rather hurriedly, and again stood considering.
Something cracked. He started, and the candle rattled in his hand. A
disagreeable sensation was stealing upon him. He would not, of course,
have acknowledged that an unpleasant feeling of loneliness, almost of
desertion. The servants slept in a small wing of the villa, shut off
from the main part of the house by double doors. Mrs. Clarke detested
hearing the servants at night, and had taken good care to make such
hearing impossible. Jimmy began to feel isolated.

Where could the mater be? And what could she be doing?

For a moment he thought of returning to his room, shutting himself in
and waiting for the dawn, which would change everything--would make
everything seem quite usual and reasonable. But something in the depths
of him, speaking in a disagreeably distinct voice, remarked, "That's
right! Be a funk stick!" And his young cheeks flushed red, although he
was alone. Immediately he went out on to the landing, thrust his feet
again into the red slippers, and boldly started down the stairs into the
black depths below. Holding the candle tightly, and trying to shuffle
with manly decision, he explored the sitting-rooms and the dining-room.
All of them were empty and dark.

Now Jimmy began to feel "rotten." Horrid fears for his mother bristled
up in his mind. His young imagination got to work and summoned up
ugly things before him. He saw his mother ravished away from him
by unspeakable men--Turks, Armenians, Greeks, Albanians--God knows
whom--and carried off to some unknown and frightful fate; he saw her
dead, murdered; he saw her dead, stricken by some sudden and horrible
illness. His heart thumped. He could hear it. It seemed to be beating
in his ears. And then he began to feel brave, to feel an intrepidity of
desperation. He must act. That was certain. It was his obvious business
to jolly well get to work and do something. His first thought was to
rush upstairs, to rouse the servants, to call up Sonia, his mother's
confidential maid, to--the pavilion!

Suddenly he remembered the pavilion, and all the books on its shelves.
His mother might be there. She might have been sleepless, might have
felt sure she couldn't sleep, and so have stayed up. She might be
reading in the darkness. She was afraid of nothing. Darkness and
solitude wouldn't hinder her from wandering about if the fancy to wander
took her. She wouldn't, of course, go outside the gates, but--he now
felt sure she was somewhere in the garden.

He looked round. He was standing by the grand piano in the drawing-room,
and he now noticed for the first time that the French window which gave
on to the rose garden was open. That settled it. He put the candle down,
hurried out into the garden and called, "Mater!"

No voice replied except the fountain's voice. The purring water rose
in the darkness and fell among the lilies, rose and fell, active and
indifferent, like a living thing withdrawn from him, wrapped in its own
mystery.

"Mater!" he called again, in a louder, more resolute, voice. "Mater!
Mater!"

* * * * *

In an absolutely still night a voice can travel very far. On the highest
terrace of the garden in the blackness of the pavilion Mrs. Clarke moved
sharply. She sat straight up on the divan, rigid, with her hands pressed
palm downwards on the cushions. Dion had heard nothing, and did not
understand the reason for her abrupt, almost violent, movement.

"Why . . . ?" he began.

She caught his wrist and held it tightly, compressing her fingers on it
with a fierce force that amazed him.

"Mater!"

Had he really heard the word, or had he imagined it?

"Mater!"

He had heard it.

"It's Jimmy!"

She had her thin lips close to his ear. She still held his wrist in a
grip of iron.

"He's at the bottom of the garden. He'll come up here. He won't wait. Go
down and meet him."

"But----"

"Go down! I'll hide among the trees. Let him come up here, or bring him
up. He must come. Be sure he comes inside. While you go I'll light the
lamp. I can do it in a moment. You couldn't sleep. You came here to
read. Of course you know nothing about me. Keep him here for five or
ten minutes. You can come down then and help him to look for me. Go at
once."

She took away her hand.

"My whole future depends upon you!"

Dion got up and went out. As he went he heard her strike a match.

Scarcely knowing for a moment what he was doing, acting mechanically,
in obedience to instinct, but always feeling a sort of terrible driving
force behind him, he traversed the terrace on which the pavilion stood,
passed the great plane tree and the wooden seat, and began to descend.
As he did so he heard again Jimmy's voice crying:

"Mater!"

"Jimmy!" he called out, in a loud voice, hurrying on.

As the sound died away he knew it had been nonchalant. Surely she had
made it so!

"Jimmy!" he called again. "What's up. What's the matter?"

There was no immediate reply, but in the deep silence Dion heard
hurrying steps, and then:

"Mr. Leith!"

"Hallo!"

"Mr. Leith--it is you, is it?"

"Yes. What on earth's the matter?"

"Stop a sec! I----"

The feet were pounding upward. Almost directly, in pyjamas and the
slippers, which somehow still remained with him, Jimmy stood by Dion in
the dark, breathing hard.

"Jimmy, what's the matter? What has happened?"

"I say, why are you here?"

"I couldn't sleep. The night was so hot. I had nothing to read in my
rooms. Besides they're stuck down right against the quay. You know your
mother's kind enough to let me have a key of the garden gate. I thought
I might get more air on the top terrace. I was reading in the pavilion
when I thought I heard a call."

"Then the mater isn't there?"

"Your mother?"

"Yes!"

"Of course not. Come on up!"

Dion took the boy by the arm with decision, and slowly led him upwards.

"What's this about your mother? Do you mean she isn't asleep?"

"Asleep? She isn't in her bedroom! She hasn't been there!"

"Hasn't been there?"

"Hasn't been to bed at all! I've been to her sitting-room--you know,
upstairs--she isn't there. I've been in all the rooms. She isn't
anywhere. She must be somewhere about here."

They had arrived in front of the pavilion backed by trees. Looking in,
Dion saw a lighted lamp. The slide of jeweled glass had been removed
from it. A white ray fell on an open book laid on a table.

"I was reading here"--he looked--"a thing called 'The Kasidah.' Sit
down!" He pulled the boy down. "Now what is all this? Your mother must
be in the house."

"But I tell you she isn't!"

Dion had sat down between Jimmy and the opening on to the terrace. It
occurred to him that he ought to have induced the boy to sit with his
back to the terrace and his face turned towards the room. It was too
late to do that now.

"I tell you she isn't!" Jimmy repeated, with a sort of almost fierce
defiance.

He was staring hard at Dion. His hair was almost wildly disordered, and
his face looked pale and angry in the ray of the lamp. Dion felt that
there was suspicion in his eyes. Surely those eyes were demanding of him
the woman who was hiding among the trees.

"Where have you looked?" he said.

"I tell you I've looked everywhere," said Jimmy, doggedly.

"Did you mother go to bed when you did?"

"No. I went very early. I was so infernally sleepy."

"Where did you leave her?"

"In the drawing-room. She was playing the piano. But what's the good of
that? What time did you come here?"

"I! Oh, not till very late indeed."

"Were there any lights showing when you came?"

"Lights! No! But it was ever so much too late for that."

"Did you go on to the terrace by the drawing-room?"

"No. I came straight up here. It never occurred to me that any one
would be up at such an hour. Besides, I didn't want to disturb any one,
especially your mother."

"Well, just now I found the drawing-room window wide open, and mater's
bed hasn't been touched. What do you make of that?"

Before Dion could reply the boy abruptly started up.

"I heard something. I know I did."

As naturally as he could Dion got between Jimmy and the opening on to
the terrace, and, forestalling the boy, looked out. He saw nothing; he
could not have said with truth that any definite sound reached his
ears; but he felt that at that exact moment Mrs. Clarke escaped from the
terrace, and began to glide down towards the house below.

"There's nothing! Come and see for yourself," he said casually.

Jimmy pushed by him, then stood perfectly still, staring at the darkness
and listening intently.

"I don't hear it now!" he acknowledged gruffly.

"What did you think you heard?"

"I _did_ hear something. I couldn't tell you what it was."

"Have you looked all through the garden?"

"You know I haven't. You heard me calling down at the bottom. You must
have, because you answered me."

"We'd better have a good look now. Just wait one minute while I put out
the lamp. I'll put away the book I was reading, too."

"Right you are!" said the boy, still gruffly.

He waited on the terrace while Dion went into the pavilion. As Dion took
up "The Kasidah" he glanced down at the page at which Mrs. Clarke had
chanced to set the book open, and read:

     "Do what thy manhood bids thee do, from
         None but self expect applause----"

With a feeling of cold and abject soul-nausea he shut the book, put
it away on a bookshelf in which he saw a gap, and went to turn out the
lamp. As the flame flickered and died out he heard Jimmy's foot shift on
the terrace.


"Do what thy manhood bids thee do----"


Dion stood for a moment in the dark. He was in a darkness greater than
any which reigned in the pavilion. His soul seemed to him to be pressing
against it, to be hemmed in by it as by towering walls of iron. For
an instant he shut his eyes. And when he did that he saw, low down, a
little boy's figure, two small outstretched hands groping.

Robin!

"Aren't you coming, Mr. Leith? What's the matter?"

"I was just seeing that the lamp was thoroughly out."

"Well----"

Dion came out.

"We'll look all over the garden. But if your mother had been in it she
must have heard you calling her. I did, although I was inside there
reading."

"I know. I thought of that too," returned Jimmy.

And Dion fancied that the boy's voice was very cold; Dion fancied this
but he was not sure. His conscience might be tricking him. He hoped that
it was tricking him.

"We'd better look among the trees," he said. "And then we'll go to the
terrace below."

"It's no use looking among the trees," Jimmy returned. "If she was up
here she must have heard us talking all this time."

Abruptly he led the way to the steps near the plane tree. Dion followed
him slowly. Was it possible that Jimmy had guessed? Was it possible that
Jimmy had caught a glimpse of his mother escaping? The boy's manner was
surely almost hostile.

They searched the garden in silence, and at length found themselves by
the fountain close to the French window of the drawing-room.

"You mother must be in the house," said Dion firmly.

"But I know she isn't!" Jimmy retorted, with a sort of dull fixed
obstinacy.

"Did you rouse the servants?"

"No."

"Where do they sleep?"

"Away from us, by themselves."

"You'd better go and look again. If you can't find your mother perhaps
you'd better wake the servants."

"I know," said Jimmy, in a voice that had suddenly changed, become
brighter, more eager--"I'll go to Sonia."

"Your mother's maid? That's it. She may know something. I'll wait down
here at the window. Got a