Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Mrs. Warren's Daughter - A Story of the Woman's Movement
Author: Johnston, Harry Hamilton, Sir, 1858-1927
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 "Mrs. Warren's Daughter - A Story of the Woman's Movement" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



MRS. WARREN'S DAUGHTER

A Story of the Woman's Movement

By

SIR HARRY JOHNSTON

New York
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
1920


                      TO

              MY JURY OF MATRONS:

     WINIFRED JOHNSTON     ELLA HEPWORTH-DIXON
     CATHERINE WELLS       ANGELA MOND
     BEATRICE SANDS        MARGARET POWYS
     ANNETTE HENDERSON     FLORENCE FELLOWES
     MARY LEVY             RAY ROCKMAN-BRAHAM
     FLORENCE TRAVERS      MAUD PARRY


       THIS BOOK IS AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED,
     IN THE KNOWLEDGE THAT--IN THE MAIN--IT HAS
           THEIR SYMPATHY AND APPROVAL.

                             H. H. JOHNSTON

     POLING,
     _March, 1920_



PREFACE


The earlier part of Vivien Warren's life and that of her mother,
Catherine Warren, was told by Mr. George Bernard Shaw in his play,
"Mrs. Warren's Profession," published first in 1898.

(_Plays Pleasant and Unpleasant_: 1. _Unpleasant_. Constable and
Co., 6th Edition.)

I have his permission to continue the story from 1898 onwards. To
understand my sequel it is not necessary to have read the play which
so brilliantly placed the Warren problem before us. But as most
persons of average good education have found Mr. Shaw's comedies
necessary to their mental furnishing, their understanding of
contemporary life, it is probable that all who would be drawn to
this book are already acquainted with the story of Mrs. Warren, and
will be interested in learning what happened after that story was
laid down by Mr. Shaw in 1897. I would in addition placate hostile
or peevish reviewers by reminding them of the continuity of human
histories; of biographies, real--though a little disguised by the
sauce of fiction--and unreal--because entitled _Life and Letters, by
His Widow_. The best novel or life-story ever written does not
commence with its opening page. The real commencement goes back to
the Stone ages or at any rate to the antecedent circumstances which
led up to the crisis or the formation of the characters portrayed.
Mr. Pickwick had a father, a grandfather; a mother in a mob-cap; in
the eighteenth century. It is permissible to speculate on their
stories and dispositions. Neither does a novel or a biography end
with the final page of its convenient instalment.

When you lay down the book which describes the pathetic failure of
Lord Randolph Churchill, you do so with curiosity as to what will
become of Winston. With a pre-knowledge of the Pickwick Club, one
may usefully employ the imagination in tracing out the possible
careers of Sam Weller's chubby little boys; grown into old men, and
themselves, perchance, leaving progeny that may have married into
the peerage from the Turf, or have entered the War Cabinet at the
beckoning of Mr. Lloyd George.

I know of descendants of Madame de Brinvilliers in England who have
helped to found the Y.W.C.A.; and collateral offshoots from the
Charlotte Corday stock who are sternly opposed to the assassination
of statesmen-journalists.

So, I have taken on myself the continuation of the story outlined
twenty-three years ago by Mr. Shaw in its late Victorian stage. _He_
had a prior claim to do so; just as he might have shown us the
life--but not the letters, for she was illiterate--of Catherine
Warren's mother, the frier of fish and letter of lodgings on Tower
Hill in the 'forties and 'fifties of the last century; and of the
young Lieutenant Warren of the Tower garrison who lodged and
cohabited with her at intervals between 1850 and 1854, when he went
out to the Crimea and there died of frost-bite and neglected wounds.
Mr. Shaw has waived such claims, having, as Vivie's grandmother
would have said, "other fish to fry." But for this I should not have
ventured to take up the tale, as I hold an author while he lives has
a prescriptive right to his creations. I shall feel no bitterness in
Nirvana if, after my death, another continues the story of Vivie or
of her friends and collateral relations, under circumstances which I
shall not live to see.

In justice to Mr. Shaw I should state that the present book is
entirely my own, and that though he has not renounced a polite
interest in Vivie he is in no way responsible for her career and
behaviour. He may even be annoyed at both.

                                             H. H. JOHNSTON.



        CONTENTS


CHAPTER
        PREFACE BY THE AUTHOR
      I VIVIE AND NORIE
     II HONORIA AND HER FRIENDS
    III DAVID VAVASOUR WILLIAMS
     IV PONTYSTRAD
      V READING FOR THE BAR
     VI THE ROSSITERS
    VII HONORIA AGAIN
   VIII THE BRITISH CHURCH
     IX DAVID IS CALLED TO THE BAR
      X THE SHILLITO CASE
     XI DAVID GOES ABROAD
    XII VIVIE RETURNS
   XIII THE SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT
    XIV MILITANCY
     XV IMPRISONMENT
    XVI BRUSSELS AND THE WAR: 1914
   XVII THE GERMANS IN BRUSSELS: 1915-1916
  XVIII THE BOMB IN PORTLAND PLACE
    XIX BERTIE ADAMS
     XX AFTER THE ARMISTICE
        L'ENVOI



MRS. WARREN'S DAUGHTER



CHAPTER I

VIVIE AND NORIE


The date when this story begins is a Saturday afternoon in June,
1900, about 3 p.m. The scene is the western room of a suite of
offices on the fifth floor of a house in Chancery Lane, the offices
of _Fraser and Warren_, Consultant Actuaries and Accountants. There
is a long window facing west, the central part of which is open,
affording a passage out on to a parapet. Through this window, and
still better from the parapet outside, may be seen the picturesque
spires and turrets of the Law Courts, a glimpse here and there of
the mellow, red-brick, white-windowed houses of New Square, the
tree-tops of Lincoln's Inn Fields, and the hint beyond a steepled
and chimneyed horizon of the wooded heights of Highgate. All this
outlook is flooded with the brilliant sunshine of June, scarcely
dimmed by the city smoke and fumes.

In the room itself there are on each of the tables vases of flowers
and a bunch of dark red roses on the top of the many pigeon-holed
bureau at which Vivien Warren is seated. The walls are mainly
covered with book-shelves well filled with consultative works on
many diverse subjects. There is another series of shelves crowded
with neat, green, tin boxes containing the papers of clients. A dark
green-and-purple portière partly conceals the entry into a washing
place which is further fitted with a gas stove for cooking and
cupboards for crockery and provisions. At the opposite end of the
room is a door which opens into a small bedroom. The fireplace in
the main room is fitted with the best and least smelly kind of gas
stove obtainable in 1900.

There are two square tables covered with piles of documents neatly
tied with green tape and ranged round the central vase of flowers; a
heavy, squat earthenware vase not easily knocked over; and there is
a second bureau with pigeon-holes and a roll top, similar to the one
at which Vivien Warren is seated. This is for the senior partner,
Honoria Fraser. Between the bureaus there is plenty of space for
access to the long west window and consequently to the parapet which
can be used like a balcony. Two small arm-chairs in green leather on
either side of the fireplace, two office chairs at the tables and a
revolving chair at each bureau complete the furniture of the
partners' room of _Fraser and Warren_ as you would have seen it
twenty years ago.

The rest of their offices consisted of a landing from which a lift
and a staircase descended, a waiting-room for clients, pleasantly
furnished, a room in which two female clerks worked, and off this a
small room tenanted by an office boy. You may also add in
imagination an excellent lavatory for the clerks, two telephones
(one in the partners' room), hidden safes, wall-maps; and you must
visualize everything as pleasing in colour--green, white, and
purple--flooded with light; clean, tidy, and admirably adapted for
business in the City.

Vivien Warren, as already mentioned, was, as the curtain goes up,
seated at her bureau, reading a letter. The letter was headed "Camp
Hospital, Colesberg, Cape Colony, May 2, 1900"; and ran thus:--

     DEAREST VIVIE,--

     Here I am still, but my leg is mending fast. The enteric was
     the worse trouble. That is over and done with, though I am
     the colour of a pig-skin saddle. My leg won't let me frisk
     just yet, but otherwise I feel as strong as a horse.

     When I was bowled over three months ago and the enteric got
     hold of me, on top of the bullet through my thigh, I lost my
     self-control and asked the people here to cable to you to
     come and nurse me. It was silly perhaps--the nursing here is
     quite efficient--and if any one was to have come out on my
     account it ought to have been the poor old mater, who wanted
     to very much. But somehow I could only think of _you_. I
     wanted you more than I'd ever done before. I hoped somehow
     your heart might be touched and you might come out and nurse
     me, and then out of pity marry me. Won't you do so? Owing to
     my stiff leg I dare say I shall be invalided out of the Army
     and get a small wound pension. And I've a project which will
     make lots of money--up in Rhodesia--a tip I've had from a
     man in the know. I'm going to take up some land near
     Salisbury. Ripping country and climate and all that. It
     would suit you down to the ground. You could put all that
     Warren business behind you, forget it all, drop the name,
     start a new career as Mrs. Frank Gardner, and find an
     eternally devoted husband in the man that signs this letter.

     I've been out here long enough to be up to all the ropes,
     and I'd already made a bit of money in Rhodesia before the
     war broke out and I got a commission. At any rate I've
     enough to start on as a married man, enough to give you a
     decent outfit and your passage out here and have a honeymoon
     before we start work on our future home. Darling Vivie! Do
     think about it. You'd never regret it. I'm a very different
     Frank to the silly ass you knew in the old Haslemere days.
     Now here's a five pound note to cover the cost of a full
     cable to say "yes," and when you'll be ready to start. When
     I get your answer--somehow I feel it'll _be_ "yes"--I'll
     send you a draft on a London bank to pay for a suitable
     trousseau and your passage from London to Cape Town, and _of
     course_ I'll come and meet you there, where we can be
     married. I shan't sleep properly till I get your "yes."

                         Your ever loving and always faithful
                                                 FRANK.

     P.S. There's a poor fellow here in the same ward dying--I
     should say--of necrosis of the jaw--Vavasour Williams is his
     name or a part of his name. His father was at Cambridge with
     my old man, and--isn't it rum?--he was a pupil of
     _Praddy's_!! He mucked his school and 'varsity career,
     thought next he'd like to be an architect or a scene
     painter. My dad recommended Praddy as a master. He worked in
     the Praed studio, but got the chuck over some foolery. Then
     as he couldn't face his poor old Governor, he enlisted in
     the Bechuanaland Border police, came out to South Africa and
     got let in for this show. The doctors and nurses give him
     about a month and he doesn't know it. He can't talk much
     owing to his jaw being tied up--usually he writes me
     messages, all about going home and being a good boy, turning
     over a new leaf, and so on. I suppose the last person you
     ever see nowadays is the Revd. Sam Gardner? You know they
     howked him out of Woodcote? He got "preferment" as he calls
     it, and a cure of souls at Margate. Rather rough on the dear
     old mater--bless her, _always_--She so liked the Hindhead
     country. But if you run up against Praddy you might let him
     know and he might get into touch with Vavasour Williams's
     people--twig?--F.G.

Vivie rose to her feet half-way through this letter and finished it
standing by the window.

She was tall--say, five feet eight; about twenty-five years of age;
with a well-developed, athletic figure, set off by a smart,
tailor-made gown of grey cloth. Yet although she might be called a
handsome woman she would easily have passed for a good-looking young
man of twenty, had she been wearing male costume.

Her brown-gold hair was disposed of with the least ostentation
possible and with no fluffiness. Her eyebrows were too well
furnished for femininity and nearly met when she frowned--a too
frequent practice, as was the belligerent look from her steely grey
eyes with their beautiful Irish setting of long dark lashes. She had
a straight nose and firm rounded chin, a rather determined look
about the mouth--lower lip too much drawn in as if from perpetual
self-repression. But all this severity disappeared when she smiled
and showed her faultless teeth. The complexion was clear though a
little tanned from deliberate exposure in athletics. Altogether a
woman that might have been described as "jolly good-looking," if it
had not been that whenever any man looked at her something hostile
and forbidding came into the countenance, and the eyebrows formed an
angry bar of hazel-brown above the dark-lashed eyes. But her "young
man" look won for her many a feminine friendship which she
impatiently repelled; for sentimentality disgusted her.

The door of the partners' room opened and in walked Honoria Fraser.
She was probably three years older than Vivie and likewise a
well-favoured woman, a little more matronly in appearance, somewhat
after the style of a married actress who really loves her husband
and has preserved her own looks wonderfully, though no one would
take her for less than twenty-eight.

At the sight of her, Vivie lost her frown and tossed the letter on
to the bureau.

Honoria Fraser had been lunching with friends in Portland Place.

_Honoria_: "What a swotter you are! I _thought_ I should find you
here. I suppose the staff departed punctually at One? I've come
back expressly from the Michael Rossiters to carry you off to
them--or rather to Kew. They're going to have tea with the
Thiselton-Dyers and then revel in azaleas and roses. I shall go out
and charter a hansom and we'll drive down ... it'll be some
compensation for your having worked extra hard whilst I've been
away....

"I met such a delightful man at the Rossiters'!" (slightly flushing)
"Don't look at me so reproachfully! There _are_ delightful men--a
few--in existence. This one has been wounded in South Africa and
he's so good-looking, though the back of his head is scarred and
he'll always walk with a limp.... Now then! Why do you look so
solemn? Put on your hat..."

_Vivie_: "I look solemn because I'm just considering a proposal of
marriage--or rather, the fewest words in which I can refuse it. I
don't think I want to go to Kew at all ... much sooner we had tea
together, here, on the roof..."

_Norie_: "I suppose it's Frank Gardner again, as I see his
handwriting on that envelope. Well I'm sorry about Kew--I should
have enjoyed it..."

_Vivie_ (bitterly): "I expect it's that 'delightful man' that
attracts you."

_Norie_: "Nonsense! I'm vowed to virginity, like you are ... I
really don't care if I never see Major Armstrong again ... though he
certainly _is_ rather a darling ... very good-looking ... and, d'you
know, he's almost a Pro-Boer, though the Boers ambushed him.... Says
this war's a beastly mistake....

"Well: I'll have tea here instead, if you like, and we can talk
business, which we haven't done for a fortnight. I must get out of
the way of paying visits in the country. They make one so
discontented with the City afterwards. I've had a feeling lately I
should like to have been a farmer.... Too much of the work of the
firm has been thrown on you.... But there's lots and lots I want to
talk over. I abandon Kew, willingly, and as to Major Armstrong....
However he can always find my address if he cares to..."

_Vivie_ (sits down in one of the arm chairs and Norie takes the
other): "Oh don't pity me. I love hard work and work which interests
me. And as to working for _you_, you know there's nothing I
wouldn't..."

_Norie_: "Oh stow that!... You've been a full-fledged partner for a
year and ought to be getting callous or suspicious ... I _did_ take
some money out of the petty cash yesterday. I must remember to put
it down. I took quite a lot ... for theatre tickets ... and you may
be suspecting Bertie Adams ... we can't call this an Adamless Eden,
can we? I wonder why we keep an office boy and not an office girl? I
suppose such things will soon be coming into being. We've women
clerks and typewriteresses ... Adams, I notice, is growing, and he
has the trace of a moustache and is already devoted to you ...
dog-like..."

_Vivie_: "He's still more devoted to cricket, fortunately; and as
soon as Rose and Lilian had gone he was off too.... Only, I fancy,
he discards Regent's Park now in favour of Hendon or Herne Hill..."

_Norie_: "Now, about Frank Gardner..."

_Vivie_: "Yes, that cablegram.... Let's frame it and send it off as
soon as we can; then get tea ready. Talking of tea: I was just
thinking before Frank's letter came how much good you'd done me--in
many other ways than setting me up in business."

_Norie_: "Shut up!..."

_Vivie_: "How, when we first worked together, I used to think it
necessary to imitate men by drinking an occasional whiskey and
soda--though I loathe spirits--and smoking a cigar--ugh!--And how
you drew me back to tea and a self-respecting womanliness--China
tea, of course, and cigarettes. Why _should_ we have wanted to be
like men?... much better to be the New Woman....

"As to Frank's cablegram..." (Goes to bureau, tries over several
drafts of message, consults Postal Guide as to cable rates _per_
word, and reads aloud) ... "How's this? 'Captain Frank Gardner Camp
Hospital Colesberg Cape Colony. Sorry must say no Best wishes
recovery writing. Vivie.' That'll cost just Two pounds and out of
the balance I shall buy a good parcel of books to send him, and some
strawberries and cakes for our tea." (Therewith she puts on hat
carefully--for she is always very particular, in a young-gentlemanly
way, about her appearance--goes out to send off cablegram from
Chancery Lane post-office, buy strawberries and cakes from Fleet
Street shops, and so back to the office by four o'clock. Meantime
Norie is reading through some of the recent correspondence on the
file.)

_Vivie_ (on her return): "Pouf! It _was_ hot in Fleet Street! I'm
sorry for poor Frankie, because he seems so to have set his heart on
marrying me. But I do hope he will take this answer as _final_."

_Norie_: "I suppose you are not refusing him for the same old
reason--that vague suggestion that he might be your half-brother?"

_Vivie_: "Oh _no_! Besides I pretty well know for a fact he isn't,
he simply couldn't be. I'm absolutely sure my father wasn't Sam
Gardner, any more than George Crofts was. I believe it was a young
Irish seminarist, some student for the priesthood whom my mother met
in Belgium the year before I was born. If I ever find out more I
will tell you. _You_ haven't seen 'Soapy Sam,' the Vicar of
Woodcote, or that beast, George Crofts; but if you _had_, you'd be
as sure as I am that neither of them was _my_ father--thank
goodness! As to Frank--yes--for a short time I _was_ fond of
him--till I learnt about my mother's 'profession.' It was rather a
silly sort of fondness. He was two years younger than I; I suppose
my feeling for him was half motherly ... I neither encouraged him
nor did I repel him. I think I was experimenting ... I rather wanted
to know what it felt like to be kissed by a man. Frank was a nice
creature, so far as a man can be. But all those horrid revelations
that broke up our summer stay at Haslemere four years ago--when I
ran away to you--gave me an utter disgust for marriage. And what a
life mine would have been if I had married him then; or after he
went out to South Africa! _Ghastly_! Want of money would have made
us hate one another and Frank would have been sure to become
patronizing. Because I was without a father in the legitimate way he
would have thought he was conferring a great honour on me by
marrying me, and would probably have expected me to drudge for him
while he idled his time away.... Oh, when I think what a life I have
led here, with you, full of interesting work and bright prospects,
free from money anxieties--dearest, dearest Norie--I can't thank you
enough. No, I'm not going to be sentimental--the New Woman is never
that. I'm going to get the tea ready; and after we've had tea on the
balcony we really must go into business matters. Your being away so
much the last fortnight, things have accumulated that I did not like
to decide for myself..."

_Norie_ (speaking rather louder as Vivie is now busy in the
adjoining roomlet, boiling the kettle on the gas stove and preparing
the tea): "Yes. And I've got _lots_ to talk over with you. All sorts
of plans have come into my head. I don't know whether I have been
eating anything more than usually brain stimulating--everything has
a physical basis--but I have come back from this scattered holiday
full of new ideas."

Presently they are seated on camp-stools sipping tea, eating
strawberries and cakes, under the striped sun-blind.

_Norie_ continues: "Do you remember Beryl Clarges at Newnham?"

_Vivie_: "Yes--the pretty girl--short, curly hair, brown eyes,
rather full lips, good at mathematics--hockey ... purposely shocked
you by her outspokenness--well?"

_Norie_: "Well, she's had a baby ... a month ago ... awful rumpus
with her people ... Father's Dean Clarges ... Norwich or Ely, I
forget which ... They've put her in a Nursing Home in Seymour
Street. Mother wears a lace mantilla and cries softly. Beryl went
wrong, as they call it, with an architect."

_Vivie_: "Pass your cup ... Don't take _all_ the strawberries
(_Norie_: "Sorry! Absence of mind--I've left you three fat ones")
Architect? Strange! I always thought all architects were like
Praddy--had no passions except for bricks and mortar and chiselled
stone and twirligig iron grilles ... perhaps just a thrill over a
nude statue. Why, till you told me this I'd as soon have trusted my
daughter--if I had one--with an architect as with a Colonel of
Engineers--You know! The kind that believes in the identity of the
Ten Lost Tribes with the British and is a True Protestant! Poor
Beryl! But how? what? when? why?"

_Norie_: "I think it began at Cambridge--the acquaintance did ...
Later, it developed into a passion. He had already one wife in
Sussex somewhere and four children. He took a flat for her in
Town--a studio--because Berry had given up mathematics and was going
in for sculpture; and there, whenever he could get away from
Storrington or some such place and from his City office, he used to
visit Beryl. This had been going on for three years. But last
February she had to break it to her mother that she was six months
gone. The other wife knows all about it but refuses to divorce the
naughty architect, and at the same time has cut off supplies--What
_cowards_ men are and how _little_ women stand by women! And then
it's a poor deanery and Beryl has five younger brothers that have
got to be educated. Her sculpture was little more than commissions
executed for her architect's building and I expect that resource
will now disappear ... I half think I shall bring her in here, when
she is well again. She's got a very good head-piece and you know we
are expanding our business ... She'd make a good House Agent ... She
writes sometimes for _Country Life_..."

_Vivie_: "Ye-es.... But you can't provide for many more of our
college-mates. Any more gone wrong?"

_Norie_: "It depends how you qualify 'wrong.' I really don't see
that it is 'wronger' for a young woman to yield to 'storgé' and have
a baby out of wedlock than for a man to engender that baby. Society
doesn't damn the man, unless he is a Cabinet Minister or a Cleric;
but it does its best to ruin the woman ... unless she's an actress
or a singer. If a woman likes to go through all the misery of
pregnancy and the pangs of delivery on her own account and without
being legally tied up with a man, why can't she? Beryl, at any rate,
is quite unashamed, and says she shall have as many children as her
earnings support ... that it will be great fun choosing their
sires--more variety in their types.... Is _she_ the New Woman, I
wonder?"

_Vivie_: "Well the whole thing bores me ... I suppose I am
embittered and disgusted. I'm sick of all this sexual nonsense....
Yes, after all, I approve of the marriage tie: it takes away the
romance of love, and it's that romance which is usually so
time-wasting and so dangerous. It conceals often a host of horrors
... But I'm a sort of neuter. All I want in life is hard work ... a
cause to fight for.... Revenge ... revenge on Man. God! How I hate
men; how I despise them! We can do anything they can if we train and
educate. I have taken to your business because it is one of the
crafty paths we can follow to creep into Man's fastnesses of the
Law, the Stock-Market, the Banks and Actuarial work..."

_Norie_: "My dear! You have quite a platform manner already. I
predict you will soon be addressing audiences of rebellious
women.... But I am more the Booker Washington of my sex. I want
women to work--even at quite humble things--before they insist on
equal rights with man. At any rate I want to help them to make an
honest livelihood without depending on some one man.... Business
seems to be good, eh? If the first half of this year is equalled by
the second, I should think there would be a profit to be divided of
quite a thousand pounds?"

_Vivie_: "Quite. Of course we are regular pirates. None of the
actuarial or accountancy corporations will admit women, so we can't
pass exams and call ourselves chartered actuaries or incorporated
accountants. But if women clients choose to consult us there is no
law to prevent them, or to make our giving advice illegal. So we
advise and estimate and do accounts and calculate probabilities.
Then although we can't call ourselves Solicitors we can--or at any
rate we do--give legal advice. We can't figure on the Stock
Exchange, but we can advise clients about their investments and buy
and sell stock and real estate (By the bye I want you to give me
your opinion on the tithe question, the liability on that Kent fruit
farm). We are consulted on contracts ... I'm going to start a women
authors' branch, and perhaps a tourist agency. Some day we will have
a women's publishing business, we'll set up a women's printing
press, a paper mill.... Of course as you know I am working hard on
law ... not only to understand men's roguery in every direction, but
so that if necessary I can add pleading in the courts to some other
woman's solicitor work. That's going to be my first struggle with
Man: to claim admittance to the Bar.... If we can once breach that
rampart the Vote must inevitably follow. Oh _how_ we have been dumb
before our shearers! The rottenness of Man's law.... The perjury,
corruption, waste of time, special pleading that go on in our male
courts of _in_justice, the verdicts of male juries!"

_Norie_: "Just so. But can't you find a little time to be social?
Why be so morose? For instance, why not come and be introduced to
Michael Rossiter? He's a dear--amazingly clever--a kind of
prophet--Your one confidant, Stead, thinks a lot of him."

_Vivie_: "_Dear_ Norie--I can't. I swore two years ago I would drop
Society and run no risk of being found out as 'Mrs. Warren's
daughter.' That beast George Crofts revenged himself because I
wouldn't marry him by letting it be known here and there that I
_was_ the daughter of the 'notorious Mrs. Warren'; whereupon several
of the people I liked--you remember?--dropped me--the Burne-Joneses,
the Lacrevys. Or if it wasn't Crofts some other swine did. But for
the fact that it would upset our style as a firm I could change my
name: call myself something quite different....

"D'you know, I've sometimes thought I'd cut my hair short and dress
in men's clothes, and go out into the world as a man ... my voice is
almost a tenor--_Such_ a lark! I'd get admitted to the Bar. But the
nuisance about that would be the references. I'm an outlaw, you see,
through no fault of mine.... I couldn't give _you_ as a reference,
and I don't know any man who would be generous enough to take the
risk of participating in the fraud.... unless it were Praed--good
old Praddy. I'm sure it's been done now and again. They call Judge
FitzSimmons 'an old woman.' Well, d'you know, I believe he _is_ ...
a wise old woman."

_Norie_: "Well: bide a wee, till our firm is doing a roaring
business: I can pretend then to take in a male partner, p'raps.
Rose and Lilian are very hard-working and we can't afford to lose
them yet. If you appeared one morning dressed as a young man they
might throw up their jobs and go elsewhere..."

_Vivie_: "You may be quite sure I won't let _you_ down. Moreover I
haven't the money for any vagaries yet, though I have an instinct
that it is coming. You know those Charles Davis shares I bought at
5_s._ 3_d._? Well, they rose to 29_s._ whilst you were away; so I
sold out. We had three hundred, and that, less commissions, made
about £350 profit; the boldest coup we have had yet. And all because
I spotted that new find of emery powder in Tripoli, saw it in a
Consular Report....

"I want to be rich and therefore powerful, Norie! Then people will
forget fast enough about my shameful parentage."

_Norie_: "How _is_ she? Do you ever hear from or of her now?"

_Vivie_: "I haven't heard _from_ her for two years, since I left her
letters unanswered. But I hear _of_ her every now and again. No. Not
through Crofts. I suppose you know--if you take any interest in that
wretch--that since he married the American quakeress he took his
name off the _Warren Hotels Company_ and sold out much of his
interest. He is now living in great respectability, breeding race
horses. They even say he has given up whiskey. He has got a son and
has endowed six cots in a Children's hospital. No. I think it must
be _mother_ who has notices posted to me, probably through that
scoundrel, Bax Strangeways ... generally in the _London Argus_ and
the _Vie-de-Paris_--cracking up the Warren Hotels in Brussels,
Berlin, Buda-Pest and Roquebrune. _What_ a comedy!...

"There's my Aunt Liz at Winchester--Mrs. Canon Burstall--won't know
me--I'm too compromising. But I'm sure her money-bags have been
filled at one time--perhaps are still--out of the profits on
mother's 'Hotels.'..."

_Norie_: "I didn't remember your aunt was married ... or rather I
suppose I did, but thought she was a widow, real or _soi-disant_..."

_Vivie_: "So she is, after four years of happy married life! My
'uncle' Canon Burstall--Oh what a screaming joke the whole thing
is!... I doubt if he was aware he had a niece.... Don't you remember
he was killed in the Alps last autumn?..."

_Norie_: "I remember your going down to see your aunt after you
broke off relations with your mother in--in--1897...?"

_Vivie_: "Yes. I wanted to see how the land lay and not judge any
one unfairly. Besides I--I--didn't like being dependent entirely on
you--at that time--for support: and Praed was in Italy. I knew that
Aunt Liz, like mother, was illegitimate--and guessed she had once
made her living in the higher walks of prostitution--she was a
stockbroker's mistress at one time--. But she had married and
settled down at Winchester ... She met her Canon--the Alpine
traveller ... in Switzerland. I felt if she took no money from
mother's 'houses,' I could perhaps make a home with her, or at any
rate have _some_ kith and kin to go to. She had no children....
But--I must have told you all this years ago?--she almost pushed me
out of her house for fear I should stay till the Canon came in from
the afternoon service; denied everything; threatened me as though I
was a blackmailer; almost looked as if she could have killed me and
buried me in the garden of the Canonry....

"I've examined the business of the _Warren Hotels Ltd._ since then,
but it's a private company, and all its doings are so cleverly
concealed.... Aunt Liz doesn't figure amongst the shareholders any
more than Crofts does. That horrid Bax holds most of the shares now,
and mother the rest.... Yet Aunt Liz must be rich and she certainly
didn't get it from the Canon, who only left a net personality of
under £4,000.... I read his will at Somerset House.... She has had
her portrait in the _Queen_ because she gave a large subscription to
the underpinning of Winchester Cathedral and the restoration of
Wolvesey as a clergy house.... Mother must be very rich, I should
judge, from certain indications. I expect _she_ will retire from the
'Hotels,' some day, wipe out the past, and buy a new present with
her money.... She'll have _her_ portrait in the _Queen_ some day as
a Vice-President of the Girls' Friendly Society!... And yet she's
such a gambler and a rake that she _may_ get pinched over the White
Slave traffic.... I was on tenterhooks over that Lewissohn case the
other day, fearing every moment to see mother's name mixed up with
it, or else an allusion to her 'Hotels.' But I fancy she has been
wise enough--indeed I should guess that Aunt Liz had long ago warned
her to leave England alone as a recruiting ground and to collect her
chambermaids, waitresses, musicians, typists from the Continent
only--Austria, Alsace, Bohemia, Belgium, Italy, the Rhineland,
Paris, Russia, Poland. Knowing what we British people are, can't you
almost predict the _bias_ of Aunt Liz's mind? How she would solace
herself that her dividends were not derived from the prostitution of
English girls but only of 'foreigners'?..."

_Norie_: "You seem to have studied the geography of the business
pretty thoroughly!..."

_Vivie_ (bitterly): "Yes. I have talked it over with Stead from time
to time. I believe he has only spared mother and the Warren Hotels
out of consideration for me ... He wants me to change my surname and
give myself a chance..."

_Norie_: "I see" (pausing). "Of course it is rather an idea, as you
refuse to disguise yourself by marriage. You'd change your name and
then listen with equanimity to fulminations against the Warren
Hotels. But there would be an awkwardness in the firm. We oughtn't
to change our title just as we are getting a good clientèle.... I
must think ... If only we could pretend you'd been left some
property--but that sort of lie is soon found out!--and had to change
your name to--to--to. Oh well, we could soon think of some name
beginning with a W--Walters, Waddilove--Waddilove is a delicious
name in cold weather, suggesting cotton-wool or a warm duvet--or
Wilson--or Wilberforce. But I'm afraid the staff--Rose Mullet and
Lily Steynes and the amorous Bertie Adams--would think it odd, put
two and two together, and guess right. Warren, after all, is such a
common name. And we've got so used to our three helpers, we could
hardly turn them off, and take on new people whom perhaps we
couldn't trust.... We must think it over....

"Now I must go back to Queen Anne's Mansions and sit a little while
with Mummy. Come and dine with us? There'll only be us three ... no
horrid man to fall in love with you.... You needn't put on a low
dress ... and we'll go to the dress circle at some play afterwards."

_Vivie_: "But those papers on my desk? I must have your opinion for
or against..."

_Norie_: "All right. It's half-past five. I'll give them half an
hour's study whilst you wash up the tea things and titivate. Then
we'll take a hansom to Quansions: the Underground is so grimy."



CHAPTER II

HONORIA AND HER FRIENDS


The story of Honoria Fraser was something like this: partly
guesswork, I admit. Although I know her well I can only put her past
together by deductions based on a few admitted facts, one or two
letters and occasional unfinished sentences, interrupted by
people coming in. Is it not _always_ thus with our friends and
acquaintances? I long to know all about them from their birth
(including date and place of birth and parentage) onwards; what the
father's profession was and why on earth he married the mother
(after I saw the daguerreotype portrait), and how they became
possessed of so much money, and why she went back to live with _her_
mother between the birth of her second child and the near advent of
her third. But in how very few cases do we know their whole story,
do we even care to know more than is sufficient for our purpose in
issuing or accepting invitations? There are the Dombeys--the Gorings
as they're now called, who live near us. I've seen the tombstone of
Lucilla Smith in Goring churchyard, but I don't know _for a fact_
that Lord Goring was the father of Lucilla's son (who was killed in
the war). I guess he was, from this and that, from what Mrs. Legg
told me, and what I overheard at the Sterns'. If he wasn't, then he
has only himself to thank for the wrong assumption: I mean, from his
goings-on.

Then again, the Clementses, who live at the Grange. I feel
instinctively they are _nice_ people, but I haven't the least idea
who _she_ was and how _he_ made his money, though from his acreage
and his motors I am entitled to assume he has a large income. She
seems to know a lot about Spain; but I don't feel encouraged to ask
her: "Was your father in the wine trade? Is _that_ why you know
Xeres so well?" Clements himself has in his study an enlarged
photograph of a handsome woman with a kind of mourning wreath round
the frame--beautifully carved. Is it the portrait of a former wife?
Or of a sister who committed suicide? Or was it merely bought in
Venice for the sake of the carving? Perhaps I shall know some
day--if it matters. In a moment of expansion during the Railway
Strike, Mrs. Clements will say: "_That_ was poor Walter's first. She
died of acute dyspepsia, poor thing, on their marriage tour, and was
buried at Venice. Don't ever allude to it because he feels it so
dreadfully." And my curiosity will have been rewarded for its long
and patient restraint. Clements' little finger on his left hand is
mutilated. I have never asked why--a lawn-mowing machine? Or a bite
from some passionate mistress in a buried past? I note silently that
he disapproves of palmistry--

But about Honoria Fraser, to whom I was introduced by Mr. George
Bernard Shaw twenty years ago: She was born in 1872, as _Who's Who_
will tell you; also that she was the daughter and eldest child of a
famous physician (Sir Meldrum Fraser) who wrought some marvellous
cures in the 'sixties, 'seventies and 'eighties, chiefly by dieting
and psycho-therapy. (He got his knighthood in the first jubilee year
for reducing to reasonable proportions the figure of good-hearted,
thoroughly kindly, and much loved Princess Mary of Oxford.)
He--Honoria's father--was married to a beautiful woman, a relation
of Bessie Rayner Parkes, with inherited advanced views on the Rights
and Position of Woman. Lady Fraser was, indeed, an early type of
Suffragist and also wrote some poetry which was far from bad. They
had two children: Honoria, born, as I say, in 1872; and John (John
Stuart Mill Fraser was his full name--too great a burden to be
borne) four years later than Honoria, who was devoted to him,
idolized him, as did his mother and father. Honoria went to Bedford
College and Newnham; John to one of the two most famous of our
public schools (I need not be more precise), with Cambridge in view
afterwards.

But in the case of John a tragedy occurred. He had risen to be head
of the school; statesmen with little affectation applauded him on
speech days. He had been brilliant as a batsman, was a champion
swimmer, and _facile princeps_ in the ineptitudes of the classics;
and showed a dazzling originality in other studies scarcely within
the school curriculum. Further he was growing out of boy gawkiness
into a handsome youth of an Apolline mould, when, on the morning of
his eighteenth birthday, he was found dead in his bed, with a bottle
of cyanide of potassium on the bed-table to explain why.

All else was wrapt in mystery ... at any rate it was a mystery I
have no wish to lay bare. The death and the inquest verdict,
"Suicide while of unsound mind, due to overstudy," broke his
father's heart and his mother's: in the metaphorical meaning of
course, because the heart is an unemotional pump and it is the brain
and the nerve centres that suffer from our emotions. Sir Meldrum
Fraser died a year after his son. He left a fortune of eighty
thousand pounds. Half of this went at once to Honoria and the other
half to the life-use of Lady Fraser with a reversion to her
daughter.

Honoria after her father's death left Cambridge and moved her mother
from Harley Street to Queen Anne's Mansions so that with her
shattered nerves and loss of interest in life she might have no
household worries, or at any rate nothing worse than remonstrating
with the still-room maids on the twice-boiled water brought in for
the making of tea; or with the culinary department over the
monotonous character of the savouries or the tepid ice creams which
dissolved so rapidly into fruit-juice when they were served after a
house-dinner.[1] Honoria herself, mistress of a clear two thousand
pounds a year, and more in prospect, carried out plans formed while
still at Newnham after her brother's death. She, like Vivien Warren,
her three-years-younger friend and college-mate, was a great
mathematician--a thing I never could be and a status I am incapable
of understanding; consequently one I view at first with the deepest
respect. I am quite astonished when I meet a male or female
mathematician and find they require food as I do, are less quick at
adding up bridge scores, lose rather than win at Goodwood, and write
down the "down" train instead of the "up" in their memorabilia. But
there it is. They have only to apply sines and co-sines, tangents
and logarithms to a stock exchange quotation for me to grovel before
their superior wisdom and consult them at every turn in life.

  [Footnote 1: This, of course, was twenty, years ago.--H.H.J.]

Honoria had resolved to turn her great acquirements in Algebra and
the Higher Mathematics to practical purposes. Being the ignoramus
that I am--in this direction--I cannot say how it was to be done;
but both she and Vivie had grasped the possibilities which lay
before exceptionally well-educated women on the Stock Exchange, in
the Provision markets, in the Law, in Insurance calculations, and
generally in steering other and weaker women through the
difficulties and pitfalls of our age; when in nine cases out of
thirteen (Honoria worked out the ratio) women of large or moderate
means have only dishonest male proficients to guide them.

Moreover Honoria's purpose was two-fold. She wished to help women in
their business affairs, but she also wanted to find careers for
women. She, like Vivien Warren, was a nascent suffragist--perhaps a
born suffragist, a reasoned one; because the ferment had been in her
mother, and her grandmother was a friend of Lydia Becker and a
cousin of Mrs. Belloc. John's death had been a horrible numbing
shock to Honoria, and she felt hardly in her right mind for three
months afterwards. Then on reflection it left some tarnish on her
family, even if the memory of the dear dead boy, the too brilliant
boy, softened from the poignancy of utter disappointment into a
tender sorrow and an infinite pity and forgiveness.

But the tragedy turned her thoughts from marriage to some mission of
well-doing. She determined to devote that proportion of her
inheritance which would have been John's share to this end: the
liberation and redemption of women.

She was no "anti-man," like Vivie. She liked men, if truth were
told, a tiny wee bit more than women. But she wished in the moods
that followed her brother's death in 1894 to be a mother by
adoption, a refuge for the fallen, the bewildered, the unstrung. She
helped young men back into the path of respectability and
wage-earning as well as young women. She was even, when opportunity
offered, a matchmaker.

Being heiress eventually to £4,000 a year (a large income in pre-war
days) and of attractive appearance, she had no lack of suitors, even
though she thought modern dancing inane, and had little skill at
ball-games. I have indicated her appearance by some few phrases
already; but to enable you to visualize her more definitely I might
be more precise. She was a tall woman rather than large built, like
the young Juno when first wooed by Jove. Where she departed from the
Junonian type she turned towards Venus rather than Minerva; in spite
of being a mathematician. You meet with her sisters in physical
beauty among the Americans of Pennsylvania, where, to a stock mainly
Anglo-Saxon, is added a delicious strain of Gallic race; or you see
her again among the Cape Dutch women who have had French Huguenot
great grandparents. It is perhaps rather impertinent continuing
this analysis of her charm, seeing that she lives and flourishes
more than ever, twenty years after the opening of my story; not very
different in outward appearance at 48, as Lady Armstrong--for of
course, as you guess already, she married Major--afterwards Sir
Petworth--Armstrong--than she was at twenty-eight, the partner,
friend and helper of Vivien Warren.

Being in comfortable circumstances, highly educated, handsome,
attractive, with a mezzo-soprano voice of rare beauty and great
skill as a piano-forte accompanyist, she had not only suitors who
took her rejection without bitterness, but hosts of friends. She
knew all the nice London people of her day: Lady Feenix, who in some
ways resembled her, Diana Dombey, who did not _quite_ approve of
her, being a little uncertain yet about welcoming the New Woman, all
the Ritchies, married and unmarried, Lady Brownlow, the Duchess of
Bedford (Adeline), the Michael Fosters, most of the Stracheys (she
liked the ones I liked), the Hubert Parrys, the Ripons (how she
admired Lady Ripon, as who did not!), Mrs. Alfred Lyttelton, Miss
Lena Ashwell, the Bernard Shaws, the Wilfred Meynells, the H.G.
Wellses, the Sidney Webbs; and--leaving uninstanced a number of
other delightful, warm-blooded, pleasant-voiced, natural-mannered
people--the Rossiters.

Or at least, Michael Rossiter. For although you could tolerate for
his sake Mrs. Rossiter, and even find her a source of quiet
amusement, you could hardly say you liked her--not in the way you
could say it of most of the men and women I have specified. Michael
Rossiter, who comes into this story, ought really if there were a
discriminating wide-awake, up-to-date Providence--which there is
not--to have met Honoria when she was twenty. (At nineteen such a
woman is still immature; and moreover until she was twenty, Honoria
had not mastered the Binomial Theorem.) Had he married her at that
period he would himself have been about twenty-seven which is quite
soon enough for a great man of science to marry and procreate
geniuses. But as a matter of fact, when he came down to Cambridge
in--? 1892--to deliver a course of Vacation lectures on embryology,
he was already two years married to Linda Bennet, an heiress, the
daughter and niece (her parents died when she was young and she
lived with an uncle and aunt) of very rich manufacturers at Leeds.

So, though his eye, quick to discern beauty, and his brain tentacles
ready to detect intelligence combined with a lovely nature, soon
singled out Honoria Fraser, amongst a host of less attractive
girl-graduates, he had no more thought of falling in love with her
than with a princess of the blood-royal. He might, long since,
within a month of his marriage have found out his Linda to be a
pretty little simpleton with a brain incapable of taking in any more
than it had learnt at a Scarborough finishing school; but he was too
instinctive a gentleman to indulge in any flirtation, any deviation
whatever from mental or physical monogamy. For he remembered always
that it was his wife's money which had enabled him to pursue his
great researches without the heart-breaking delays, limitations and
insufficiencies involved in Government or Royal Society grants; and
that Linda had not only endowed him with all her worldly goods--all
but those he had insisted in putting into settlement--but that she
had given him all her heart and confidence as well.

Still, he liked Honoria. She was eager to learn much else beyond the
hard-grained muses of the square and cube; she was the daughter of a
prosperous and boldly experimental physician, whose wife was a
champion of women's rights. So he pressed Honoria to come with her
mother and make the acquaintance of himself and Linda in Portland
Place.

Why was Michael Rossiter wedded to Linda Bennet when he was no more
than twenty-five, and she just past her coming of age? Because fresh
from Edinburgh and Cambridge and with a reputation for unusual
intuition in Biology and Chemistry he had come to be Science master
at a great College in the North, and thus meeting Linda at the
Philosophical Institute of Leeds had caused her to fall in love with
him whilst he lectured on the Cainozoic fauna of Yorkshire. He was
himself a Northumbrian of borderland stock: something of the Dane
and Angle, the Pict and Briton with a dash of the Gypsy folk: a
blend which makes the Northumbrian people so much more productive of
manly beauty, intellectual vivacity, bold originality than the
slow-witted, bulky, crafty Saxons of Yorkshire or the under-sized,
rugged-featured Britons of Lancashire.

Linda fell in love all in one evening with his fiery eyes, black
beard, the Northumbrian burr of his pronunciation, and the daring of
his utterances, though she could scarcely grasp one of his
hypotheses. Her uncle and aunt being narrowly pietistic she was
bored to death with the Old Testament, and Rossiter's scarcely
concealed contempt for the Mosaic story of creation captured her
intellect; while the physical attraction she felt was that which the
tall, handsome, resolute brunet has for the blue-eyed fluffy little
blonde. She openly made love to him over the tea and coffee served
at the "soirée" which followed the lecture. Her slow-witted guardian
had no objection to offer; and there were not wanting go-betweens to
urge on Rossiter with stories of her wealth and the expanding value
of her financial interests. He wanted to marry; he was touched by
her ill-concealed passion, found her pretty and appealingly
childlike. So, after a short wooing, he married her and her five
thousand pounds a year, and settled down in Park Crescent, Portland
Place, so as to be near the Zoo and Tudell's dissecting rooms, to
have the Royal Botanic gardens within three minutes' walk, and the
opportunity of turning a large studio in the rear of his house into
a well-equipped chemical and dissecting laboratory. One of his close
pursuits at that time was the analysis of the Thyroid gland and its
functions, its over or under development in British statesmen,
dramatic authors and East End immigrants.



CHAPTER III

DAVID VAVASOUR WILLIAMS


It is in the spring of 1901. A fine warm evening, but at eight
o'clock the dusk is already on the verge of darkness as Honoria
emerges from the lift at her Chancery Lane Office (near the corner
of Carey Street), puts her latch-key into the door of the partners'
room, and finds herself confronting the silhouette of a young man
against the western glow of the big window.

_Norie_ (inwardly rather frightened): "Hullo! Who are _you_ and what
are you doing here?"

_Vivie_ (mimicking a considerate, cringing burglar): "Sorry to
startle you, lidy, but I don't mean no 'arm. I'll go quiet. Me
name's D.V. Williams..."

_Norie_: "You absurd creature! But you shouldn't play such pranks on
these respectable premises. You gave me a _horrid_ start, and I
realized for the first time that I've got a heart. I really must sit
down and pant."

_Vivie_: "I am sorry, dearest. I had not the slightest notion
you would be letting yourself into the office at this hour--8
o'clock--and I was just returning from my crammers..."

_Norie_: "I came for those Cranston papers. Mother is ill. I may
have to sit up with her after Violet Hunt goes, so I thought I would
come here, fetch the bundle of papers and plans, and go through them
in the silent watches of the night, _if_ mother sleeps. But do you
mean to say you have already started this masquerade?"

_Vivie_: "I do. You see Christabel Pankhurst has been turned down
as a barrister. They won't let her qualify for the Bar, because
she's a woman, so they certainly won't let _me_ with my pedigree;
just as, merely because we are women, they won't let us become
Chartered Actuaries or Incorporated Accountants. After we had that
long talk last June I got a set of men's clothes together, a regular
man's outfit. The suit doesn't fit over well but I am rectifying
that by degrees. I went to a general outfitter in Cornhill and told
a cock-and-bull story--as it was an affair of ready cash they didn't
stop to question me about it. I said something about a sea-faring
brother, just my height, a trifle stouter in build--lost all his kit
at sea--been in hospital--now in convalescent home--how I wanted to
save him all the fatigue possible--wouldn't want more than
reach-me-downs at present, etc., etc. They rather flummoxed me at
first by offering a merchant service uniform, but somehow I got over
that, though this serge suit has rather a sea-faring cut. I got so
unnecessarily explanatory with the shopman that he began to pay me
compliments, said my brother must be a good-looking young chap if he
was at all like me. However, I got away with the things in a cab,
and told the cab to drive to St. Paul's station, and on the way
re-directed him here.

"Last autumn I began practising at night-time after all our
familiars had left these premises. Purposely I did not tell you
because I feared your greater caution and instinctive respectability
might discourage me. Otherwise, nobody's spotted me, so far. I'd
intended breaking it to you any day now, because I've gone too far
to draw back, for weal or woe. But either we have been rushed with
business, or you've been anxious about Lady Fraser--How is she?"
(Norie interpolates "Very poorly.") "So truly sorry!--I was
generally just about to tell you when Rose or Lilian--tiresome
things!--would begin most assiduously passing in and out with
papers. Even now I mustn't keep you, with your mother so ill..."

_Norie_ (looking at her wrist-watch): "Violet has very kindly
promised to stay with mother till ten.... I can give you an hour,
though I must take a few minutes off that for the firm's business as
I haven't been here much for three days..." (They talk business for
twenty minutes, during which Norie says: "It's really _rather_ odd,
how those clothes change you! I feel vaguely compromised with a
handsome young man bending over me, his cheek almost touching
mine!"--and Vivie retorts "Oh, _don't_ be an ass!")

_Norie_: "So you really _are_ going to take the plunge?"

_Vivie_: "I really _am_. As soon as it suits your convenience, Vivie
Warren will retire from your firm and go abroad. You must either
replace her by Beryl Clarges or allow Mr. Vavasour Williams"
(Honoria interpolates: "_Ridiculous_ name! How did you think of
it?") "to come and assist in the day-time or after office hours. You
can say to the winds that he is Vivie's first cousin, remarkably
like her in some respects.... Rose Mullet is engaged to be married
and is only--she told me yesterday with many blushes--staying on to
oblige us. Lilian Steynes said the other day that if we were making
any changes in the office, much as she liked her work here, her
mother having died she thought it was her duty to go and live with
her maternal aunt in the country. The aunt thinks she can get her a
post as a brewery clerk at Aylesbury, and she is longing to breed
Aylesbury ducks in her spare time.--There is Bertie Adams, it's
true. There's something so staunch about him and he is so useful
that he and Praed and Stead are the three exceptions I make in my
general hatred of mankind..."

_Norie_: "He will be very much cut up at your going--or seeming to
go."

_Vivie_: "Just so. I think I shall write him a farewell note,
saying it's only for a time: I mean, that I may return later
on--dormant partnership--nothing really changed, don't you know? But
that as Rose and Lilian are going, Mrs.--what does she call herself,
Claridge?"--(Norie interpolates: "Yes, that was her idea: she
doesn't want to blazon the name of Clarges as the symbol of Free
Love, 'cos of the dear old Dean; yet Claridge will not be too much
of a surrender and is sure to invoke respectability, because of the
Hotel")--"Mrs. Claridge, then, is coming in my stead--He's to help
her all he can--and my cousin, who is reading for the Bar, will also
look in when you are very busy. I shall, of course, see about
rooms in one of the Inns of Court--the Temple perhaps. I have
been stealthily watching Fig Tree Court. I _think_ I can get
chambers there--a man is turning out next month--got a Colonial
appointment--I've put my new name down at the lodge and I shall have
to rack my brains for references--you will do for one--or perhaps
not--however that I can work out later. Of course I won't take the
final plunge till I have secured the rooms. Meantime I will use my
bedroom here but promise you I will be awfully prudent..."

_Norie_: "I couldn't possibly have Beryl 'living in,' with a child
hanging about the place; so I think if you _do_ go I shall turn your
bedroom into an apartment which Beryl and I can use for toilet
purposes but where we can range out on book-shelves a whole lot of
our books. Just now they are most inconveniently stored away in
boxes. It's rather tiresome about Beryl. I believe she's going to
have _another_ child. At any rate she says it may be four months
before she can come to work here regularly. I asked her about it the
other day, because if mother gets worse I may be hindered about
coming to the office, and I didn't want you to get overworked,--so I
said to Beryl.... That reminds me, she referred to the coming child
and added that its father was a policeman. Quite a nice creature in
his private life. Of course she's only kidding. I expect it's the
architect all the time. You know how she delighted in shocking us at
Newnham. I wish she hadn't this kink about her. P'raps I'm getting
old-fashioned already--You used to call me 'the Girondist.' But if
the New Woman _is_ to go on the loose and be unmoral like the
rabbits, won't the cause suffer from middle-class opposition?"

_Vivie_: "Perhaps. But it may gain instead the sympathies of the
lower and the upper classes. Why do you bother about Beryl? I agree
with you in disliking all this sexuality..."

_Norie_: "Does one _ever_ quite know why one likes people? There is
_something_ about Beryl that gets over me; and she _is_ a worker.
You know how she grappled with that Norfolk estate business?"

_Vivie_: "Well, it's fortunate she and I have not met since Newnham
days. You must tip her the story that I am going away for a
time--abroad--and that a young--young, because I look a mere boy,
dressed up in men's clothes--a young cousin of mine, learned in the
law, is going to drop in occasionally and do some of the work..."

_Norie_: "I'm afraid I'm rather weak-willed. I _ought_ to stop this
prank before it has gone too far, just as I ought to discourage
Beryl's babies. Your schemes sound so stagey. Off the stage
you never take people in with such flimsy stories and weak
disguises--you'll tie yourself up into knots and finally get sent to
prison.... However.... I can't help being rather tickled by your
idea. It's vilely unjust, men closing two-thirds of the respectable
careers to women, to bachelor women above all..." (A pause, and the
two women look out on a blue London dotted with lemon-coloured,
straw-coloured, mauve-tinted lights, with one cold white radiance
hanging over the invisible Piccadilly Circus)--"Well, go ahead!
Follow your star! I can be confident of one thing, you won't do
anything mean or disgraceful. Deceiving Man while his vile laws and
restrictions remain in force is no crime. Be prudent, so far as
compromising our poor little firm here is concerned, because if you
bring down my grey hairs with sorrow to the grave we shall lose a
valuable source of income. Besides: any public scandal just now in
which I was mixed up might kill my mother. Want any money?"

_Vivie_: "You generous darling! _Never, never_ shall I forget your
kindness and your trust in me. You have at any rate saved one soul
alive." (Honoria deprecates gratitude.) "No, I don't want
money--yet. You made me take and bank £700 last January over that
Rio de Palmas coup--heaps more than my share. Altogether I've got
about £1,000 on deposit at the C. and C. bank, the Temple Bar
branch. I've many gruesome faults, but I _am_ thrifty. I think I can
win through to the Bar on that. Of course, if afterwards briefs
don't come in--"

_Norie_: "Well, there'll always be the partnership which will go on
unaltered. I shall pretend you are only away for a time and your
share shall be regularly paid in to your bank. Of course I shall
meet Mr. Vavasour Williams now and again and I can tell him things
and consult with him. If we think Beryl, after she is installed here
as head clerk--of course I shan't make her a partner for _years_ and
_years_--not at all if she remains flighty--if we think she is
unsuspicious, and Bertie Adams likewise, and the new clerks and the
housekeeper and her husband, there is no reason why you should not
come here fairly often and put in as much work as you can on our
business."

_Vivie_: "Yes. Of course I must be careful of one predicament. I
have studied the regulations about being admitted to the English
Bar. They are very quaint and medieval or early Georgian. You
mayn't be a Chartered Accountant or Actuary--the Lord alone knows
why! I suppose some Lord Chancellor was done in the eye in
Elizabeth's reign by an actuary and laid down that law. Equally you
mayn't be a clergyman. As to that we needn't distress ourselves.
It's rather piteous about the prohibiting Accountants, because as
women we are not allowed to qualify in _any_ capacity as Accountants
or Actuaries; and work here is only permissible by our not
pretending to belong to any recognized body like the Institute of
Actuaries. So that in coming to work for you I must not seem to be
in any way doing the business of Accountants or Actuaries. Indeed it
might be awkward for my scheme if I was too openly associated with
Fraser and Warren.

"I already think of myself as Williams--I shall pose of course as a
Welshman. My appearance _is_ rather Welsh, don't you think? It's the
Irish blood that makes me look Keltic--I'm sure my father was an
Irish student for the priesthood at Louvain, and certain scraps of
information I got out of mother make me believe that _her_ mother
was a pretty Welsh girl from Cardiff, brought over to London Town by
some ship's captain and stranded there, on Tower Hill.

"However, I have still the whole scheme to work out and when I'm
ready to start on it--which will be very soon--I'll let you know.
Now, though I'd love to discuss all the other details, I mustn't
forget your mother will be wanting you--I wish _I_ had a mother to
tend--I wonder" (wistfully) "whether I was too hard on mine?

"D'you mind posting these letters as you go out? I shall change back
to Vivie Warren in a dressing gown, give myself a light supper, and
then put in two hours studying Latin and Norman French. Good night,
dearest!"

Two months after this conversation Vivie decided to pay a call on
an old friend of her mother's, Lewis Maitland Praed, if you want his
full name, a well-known architect, and one of the few male friends
of Catherine Warren who had not also been her lover. Why, he never
quite knew himself. When he first met her she was the boon
companion, the mistress--more or less, and unattached--of a young
barrister, a college friend of Praed's. Kate Warren at that time
called herself Kitty Vavasour; and on the strength of having done a
turn or two on the music halls considered herself an actress with a
right to a professional name. It was in this guise that the "Revd."
Samuel Gardner met her and had that six months' infatuation for her
which afterwards caused him so much disquietude; though it preceded
the taking of his ordination vows by quite a year, and his marriage
to his wife--much too good for him--in 1874. [The Revd. Sam, you may
remember, was the father of the scapegrace Frank who nearly captured
Vivie's young affections and had written from South Africa proposing
marriage at the opening of this story.]

Kate Vavasour in 1872 was an exceedingly pretty girl of nineteen or
twenty; showily dressed, and quick with her tongue. She was
good-natured and jolly, and though Praed himself was the essence of
refinement there was something about her reckless mirth and joy in
life--the immense relief of having passed from the sordid life of a
barmaid to this quasi-ladyhood--that enlisted his sympathies. Though
she was always somebody else's mistress until she developed
her special talent as a manageress of high-class houses of
accommodation, "private hotels" on the Continent, chiefly frequented
by English and American _roués_--Praed kept an eye on her career,
and occasionally rendered her, with some cynicism, unobtrusive
friendly services in disentangling her affairs when complications
threatened. He was an art student in those days of the 'seventies,
possessed of about four hundred a year, beginning to go through the
aesthetic phase, and not decided whether he would emerge a painter
of pictures or an architect of grandiose or fantastic buildings. To
his studio Miss Kitty Vavasour or Miss Kate Warren would often come
and pose for the head and shoulders, or for some draped caryatid
wanted for an ambitious porch in an imaginary millionaire's house in
Kensington Palace Gardens. When in 1897, Vivie had learnt about her
mother's "profession," she had flung off violently from all her
mother's "friends," except "Praddy." She even continued to call him
by this nickname, long ago bestowed on him by her mother. At distant
intervals she would pay him a visit at his house and studio near
Hans Place; when Honoria's advice and assistance did not meet the
case of some grave perplexity.

So one afternoon in June, 1901, she came to his little dwelling with
its large studio, and asked to have a long talk to him, whilst his
parlour-maid--he was still a bachelor--denied him to other callers.
They had tea together and Vivie plunged as quickly as possible into
her problem.

"You know, Praddy dear, I want to be a Barrister. But as a female
they will never call me to the Bar. So I'm going to send Vivien
Warren off for a long absence abroad--the few who think about me
will probably conclude that money has carried the day and that I've
gone to help my mother in her business--and in her absence Mr.
Vavasour Williams will take up the running. David V. Williams--don't
interrupt me--will study for the Bar, eat through his terms--six
dinners a year, isn't it?--pass his examinations, and be called to
the English Bar in about three years from now. Didn't you once have
a pupil called Vavasour Williams?"

_Praed_: "What, David, the Welsh boy? Yes. His name reminded me of
your mother in one of her stages. David Vavasour Williams. I took
him on in--let me see? I think it was in 1895 or early 1896. But how
did you hear about him?"

_Vivie_: "Never mind, or never mind for the moment. Tell me some
more about him."

_Praed_: "Well to sum him up briefly he was what school boys and
subalterns would call 'a rotter.' Not without an almost mordid
cleverness; but the Welsh strain in him which in the father turned
to emotional religion--the father was Vicar or Rector of
Pontystrad--came out in the boy in unhealthy fancies. He had almost
the talent of Aubrey Beardsley. But I didn't think he had a good
influence over my other pupils, so before I planned that Italian
journey--on which you refused to accompany me--I advised him to
leave my tuition--I wasn't modern enough, I said. I also advised him
to make up his mind whether he wanted to be a sane architect--he
despised questions of housemaids' closets and sanitation and lifts
and hot-water supply--or a scene painter. I think he might have had
a great career at Drury Lane over fairy palaces or millionaire
dwellings. But I turned him out of my studio, though I put the fact
less brutally before his father--said I should be absent a long
while in Italy and that I feared the boy was too undisciplined.
Afterwards I think he went into some South African police force..."

_Vivie_: "He did, and died last year in a South African hospital.
Had he--er--er--many relations, I mean did he come of well-known
people?"

_Praed_: "I fancy not. His father was just a dreamy old Welsh
clergyman always seeing visions and believing himself a descendant
of the Druids, Sam Gardner told me; and his mother had either died
long ago or had run away from her husband, I forget which. In a way,
I'm sorry David's dead. He had a sort of weird talent and wild good
looks. By the way, he wasn't altogether unlike _you_."

_Vivie_: "Thank you for the double-edged compliment. However what
you say is very interesting. Well now, my idea is that David
Vavasour Williams did _not_ die in a military hospital; he recovered
and returned, firmly resolved to lead a new life.--Is his father
living by the bye? Did he believe his son was dead?"

_Praed_: "Couldn't tell you, I'm sure. I never took any further
interest in him, and until you mentioned it--I don't know on whose
authority--I didn't know he was dead. On the whole a good riddance
for his people, I should say, especially if he died on the field of
honour. But what lunatic idea has entered your mind with regard to
this poor waster?"

_Vivie_: "Why my idea, as I say, is that D.V.W. got cured of his
necrosis of the jaw--I suppose it is not invariably deadly?--came
home with a much improved morale, studied hard, and became a
barrister, thinking it morally a superior calling to architecture
and scene painting. In short, I shall be from this day forth
Vavasour Williams, law-student! Would it be safe, d'you think, in
that capacity to go down and see his old father?"

_Praed_: "_Vivie_! I _did_ think you were a sober-minded young
woman who would steer clear of--of--crime: for this impersonation
would be a punishable offence..."

_Vivie_: "_Crime_? _What_ nonsense! I should consider I was
justified in a Court of Equity if I burnt down or blew up the Law
Courts or one of the Inns or broke the windows of the Chartered
Institute of Actuaries or the Incorporated Law Society. All these
institutions and many others bar the way to honourable and lucrative
careers for educated women, and a male parliament gives us no
redress, and a male press laughs at us for our feeble attempts to
claim common rights with men. Instead of proceeding to such violence
I am merely resorting to a very harmless guile in getting round the
absurd restrictions imposed by the benchers of the Inns of Court,
namely that all who claim a call to the Bar should not be
_accountants_, _actuaries_, _clergymen_ or _women_. I am going to
give up the accountancy business--or rather, the law has never
allowed either Honoria or me to become chartered accountants, so
there is nothing to give up. To avoid any misapprehension she is
going to change the title on our note paper and brass plate to
'General Inquiry Agents.' That will be sufficiently non-committal.
Well then, as to sex disqualification, a few weeks hence I shall
become David Vavasour Williams, and I presume he was a male? You
don't have to pass a medical examination for the Bar, do you?"

_Praed_: "Really, Vivie, you are _unnecessarily_ coarse..."

_Vivie_: "I don't care if I am, poor outlaw that I am! Every avenue
to an honest and ambitious career seems closed to me, either because
I am a woman or--in women's careers--the few that there are--because
I am Kate Warren's daughter. _I_ am not to blame for my mother's
misdeeds, yet I am being punished for them. That beast of a friend
of yours--that filthy swine, George Crofts--set it about after I
refused to marry him that I was 'Mrs. Warren's Daughter,' and the
few nice people I knew from Cambridge days dropped me, all except
Honoria and her mother."

_Praed_: "Well, _I_ haven't dropped you. _I'll_ always stick by
you" (observes that Vivie is trying to keep back her tears).
"Vivie--_darling_--what do you want me to do? Why not marry me and
spend half my income, take the shelter of my name--I'm an A.R.A.
now--You needn't do more than keep house for me.... I'm rather
a valetudinarian--dare say I shan't trouble you long--we
could have a jolly good time before I went off with a heart
attack--travel--study--write books together--"

_Vivie_ (recovering herself): "Thanks, dear Praddy; you are a brick
and I really--in a way--have quite got to love you. Except an office
boy in Chancery Lane and W.T. Stead, I don't know any other decent
man. But I'm not going to marry any one. I'm going to become
Vavasour Williams--the name is rotten, but you must take what you
can get. Williams is a quiet young man who only desires to be left
alone to earn his living respectably at the Bar, and see there if he
cannot redress the balance in the favour of women. But there is
something you _could_ do for me, and it is for that I came to see
you to-day--by the bye, we have both let our tea grow cold, but _for
goodness' sake_ don't order any more on my account, or else your
parlour-maid will be coming in and out and will see that I've been
crying and you look flushed. What I wanted to ask was this--it's
really very simple--_If Mr. Vavasour Williams, aged twenty-four,
late in South Africa, once your pupil in architecture_ or scene
painting or whatever it was--_gives you as a reference to character,
you are to say the best you can of him_. And, by the bye, he will be
calling to see you very shortly and you could lend further
verisimilitude to your story by renewing acquaintance with him. You
will find him very much improved. In every way he will do you
credit. And what is more, if you don't repel him, he will come and
see you much oftener than his cousin--I'm not ashamed to adopt her
as a cousin--Vivie Warren could have done. Because Vivie, with her
deplorable parentage, had your good name to think of, and visited
you very seldom; whereas there could be raised _no_ objection from
your parlour-maid if Mr. D.V. Williams came rather often to chat
with you and ask your advice. Think it over, dear friend--Good-bye."

Early in July, Norie and Vivie were standing at the open west
window in their partners' room at the office, trying to get a little
fresh air. The staff had just gone its several ways to the suburbs,
glad to have three hours of daylight before it for cricket and
tennis. Confident therefore of not being overheard, Vivie began:
"I've got those rooms in Fig Tree Court. I shall soon be ready to
move my things in. I'll leave some of poor Vivie Warren's effects
behind if you don't mind, in case she comes back some day. Do you
think you can rub along if I take my departure next week? I want to
give myself a fortnight's bicycle holiday in Wales--as D.V.
Williams--a kind of honeymoon with Fate, before I settle down as a
law student. After I come back I can devote much of the summer
recess to our affairs, either openly or after office hours. You
could then take a holiday, in August. You badly need one. What about
Beryl?"

_Norie_: "Beryl is well over her accouchement and is confident of
being able to start work here on August 1.... It's a boy this time.
I haven't seen it, so I can't say whether it resembles a policeman
more than an architect. Besides babies up till the age of six months
only resemble macrocephalic idiots.... I shall be _wary_ with
Beryl--haven't committed myself--ourselves to any engagement beyond
six months. She's amazingly clever, but I should say quite
heartless. Two babies in three years, and both illegitimate--the
real Mrs. Architect very much upset, no doubt, Mr. Architect getting
wilder and wilder in his work through trying to maintain two
establishments--they say he left out all the sanitation in Sir Peter
Robinson's new house and let the builders rush up the walls without
damp courses--and it's killing her father, the Dean. It's not as
though she hid herself away, but she goes out so much! They are
talking of turning her out of her club because of the things she
says before the waitresses..."

_Vivie_: "What things?"

_Norie_: "Why, about its being very healthy to have babies when
you're between the ages of twenty and thirty; and how with this
twilight sleep business she doesn't mind how often; that it's fifty
times more interesting than breeding dogs and cats or guinea-pigs;
and she's surprised more single women don't take it up. I think she
must be détraquée.... I have a faint hope that by taking her in hand
and interesting her in our work--which _entre nous deux_--is turning
out to be very profitable--I may sober her and regularize her. No
doubt in 1950 most women will talk as she does to-day, but the
advance is too abrupt. It not only robs _her_ parents of all
happiness, but it upsets _my_ mother. She now wrings her hands over
her own past and fears that by working so strenuously for the
emancipation of women she has assisted to breach the dam--Can't you
imagine the way the old cats of both sexes go on at her?--the dam
which held up female virtue, and that Society now will be drowned in
a flood of Free Love..."

_Vivie_: "Well! We'll give her a six months' trial here, and see if
our mix-up of advice in Law, Banking, Estate management,
Stock-and-share dealing, Divorce, Private Enquiries, probate, etc.,
does not prove _much_ more interesting than an illicit connection
with a hare-brained architect.... If she proves impossible you'll
pack her off and Vivie shall return and D.V. Williams go abroad....
Don't you think there is something that ought to win over Providence
in that happily chosen name? _D.V._ Williams? And my mother once
actually called herself 'Vavasour.'

"Well, then, barring accidents and the unforeseen, it's agreed I go
on my holiday next Saturday, to return never no more--perhaps--?--"

_Norie_ (with a sigh): "Yes!"

_Vivie_: "How's your mother?"

_Norie_: "Oh, as to her, I'm glad to say '_much_ better.' When I
can get away, after the new clerks and Beryl are installed and
everything is going smoothly, I shall take her to Switzerland, to a
deliciously quiet spot I know and nobody else knows up the
Göschenenthal. The Continent won't be so hot for travelling if we
don't start till the end of August..."

_Vivie:_ "_Then_, dearest ... in case you don't come to the office
any more this week, I'll say good-bye--for--for some time..."

(They grip hands, they hesitate, then kiss each other on the cheek,
a very rare gesture on either's part--and separate with tears in
their eyes.)


The following Monday morning, Bertie Adams, combining in his
adolescent person the functions of office boy, junior clerk, and
general factotum, entered the outer office of Fraser and Warren and
found this letter on his desk:--

     Fraser and Warren          Midland Insurance Chambers,
     General Inquiry Agents     88-90, Chancery Lane, W.C.
                                         July 12, 1901.

     DEAR BERTIE--

     I want to prepare you for something. If you had been an
     ordinary Office boy, I should not have bothered about you or
     confided to you anything concerning the Firm. But you are by
     now almost a clerk, and from the day I joined Miss Fraser in
     this business, you have helped me more than you know--helped
     me not only in my work, but to understand that there _can_
     be good, true, decent-minded, trustworthy ... you won't like
     it if I say "boys" ... young men.

     I am going away for a considerable time, I cannot say how
     long--probably abroad. But Miss Fraser thinks I can still
     help in the work of her firm, so I remain a partner. A
     cousin of mine, Mr. D.V. Williams, may come in occasionally
     to help Miss Fraser. I shall ask him to keep an eye on you.
     Miss Rose Mullet and Miss Steynes are likewise leaving the
     service of the firm. I dare say you know Miss Mullet is
     getting married and how Miss Steynes is going to live at
     Aylesbury. Two other ladies are coming in their place, and
     much of my own work will be undertaken by a Mrs. Claridge,
     whom you will shortly see.

     It is rather sad this change in what has been such a happy
     association of busy people, nobody treading on any one
     else's toes; but there it is! "The old order changeth,
     giving place to the new ... lest one good custom should
     corrupt the world"--you will read in the Tennyson I gave you
     last Christmas. Let's hope it won't be when I return:
     "Change and Decay in all around I see" ... as the rather
     dismal hymn has it.

     Sometimes change is a good thing. You serve a noble mistress
     in Miss Fraser and I am sure you realize the importance of
     her work. It may mean so much for women's careers in the
     next generation. I shan't quite lose touch with you. I dare
     say Miss Fraser, even if I am far away, will write to me
     from time to time and give me news of the office and tell me
     how you get on. Don't be ashamed of being ambitious: keep up
     your studies. Why don't you--but perhaps you do?--join
     evening classes at the Polytechnic?--or at this new London
     School of Economics which is close at hand? Make up your
     mind to be Lord Chancellor some day ... even if it only
     carries you as far as the silk gown of a Q.C. I suppose I
     ought now to write "K.C." A few years ago we all thought the
     State would go to pieces when Victoria died. Yet you see we
     are jogging along pretty well under King Edward. In the same
     way, you will soon get so used to the new Head Clerk, Mrs.
     Claridge, that you will wonder what on earth you saw to
     admire in

                                    VIVIEN WARREN.

This letter came like a cricket ball between the eyes to Bertie
Adams. His adored Miss Warren going away and no clear prospect of
her return--her farewell almost like the last words on a death-bed....
He bowed his head over his folded arms on his office desk, and
gave way to gruff sobs and the brimming over of tear and nose glands
which is the grotesque accompaniment of human sorrow.

He forgot for a while that he was a young man of nineteen with an
unmistakable moustache and the status of a cricket eleven captain.
He was quite the boy again and his feeling for Vivien Warren, which
earlier he had hardly dared to characterize, out of his intense
respect for her, became once more just filial affection.

His good mother was a washerwoman-widow, in whom Honoria Fraser had
interested herself in her Harley Street girlhood. Bertie was the
eldest of six, and his father had been a coal porter who broke his
back tumbling down a cellar when a little "on." Bertie--he now
figured as Mr. Albert Adams in the cricket lists--was a well-grown
youth, rather blunt-featured, but with honest hazel eyes,
fresh-coloured, shock-haired. Vivie had once derided him for trying
to woo his frontal hair into a flattened curl with much pomade ...
he now only sleeked his curly hair with water. You might even have
called him "common." He was of the type that went out to the War
from 1914 to 1918, and won it, despite the many mistakes of our
flurried strategicians: the type that so long as it lasts unspoilt
will make England the predominant partner, and Great Britain the
predominant nation; the type out of which are made the bluejacket
and petty officer, the police sergeant, the engine driver, the
railway guard, solicitor's clerk, merchant service mate, engineer,
air-pilot, chauffeur, army non-commissioned officer, head gardener,
head game-keeper, farm-bailiff, head printer; the trustworthy
manservant, the commissionaire of a City Office; and which in other
avatars ran the British World on an average annual income of £150
before the War. When women of a similar educated lower middle class
come into full equality with men in opportunity, they should marry
the Bertie Adamses of their acquaintance and not the stockbrokers,
butchers, drapers, bookies, professional cricketers or pugilists.
They would then become the mothers of the salvation-generation of
the British people which will found and rule Utopia.

However, Bertie Adams was quite unconscious of all these
possibilities, and thought of himself modestly, rather cheaply.
Swallowing the fourth or fifth sob, he rose from his crouching over
the desk, wiped his face with a wet towel, smoothed his hair, put
straight his turn-over collar and smart tie, and went to his work
with glowing eyes and cheeks; resolved to show Miss Warren that she
had not thought too highly of him.

Nevertheless, when Miss Mullet arrived and giggled over the details
of her trousseau and Lily Steynes discussed the advertisements of
Aylesbury ducks in the current _Exchange and Mart_, he was reserved
and rather sarcastic with them both. He intimated later that he had
long been aware of the coming displacements; but he said not a word
of Vivie's letter.



CHAPTER IV

PONTYSTRAD


On a morning in mid-July, 1901, Mr. D.V. Williams bicycled to
Paddington Station from New Square, Lincoln's Inn. The brown canvas
case fitted to the frame of his male bicycle contained a change of
clothes, a suit of paijamas, a safety razor, tooth-brush, hair-brush
and comb. He himself was wearing a well-cut dark grey suit--Norfolk
jacket, knickerbockers and thick stockings.

Having had his bicycle labelled "Swansea," he entered a first-class
compartment of the South Wales express. Though not lavish on his
expenditure he was travelling first because he still felt a little
uneasy in the presence of men--mostly men of the rougher type.
Perhaps there was a second class in those days; there may be still.
But I have a distinct impression that Mr. Vavasour Williams, law
student, travelled "first" on this occasion: for this was how
he met a person of whom his friend, Honoria Fraser, had often
spoken--Michael Rossiter.

He did not of course--till after they had passed Swindon--know the
name of his travelling companion. Five minutes before the train left
Paddington there entered his compartment of the corridor carriage a
tall man with a short, curly black beard and nice eyes--eyes like
agates in colour. There was a touch of grey about the temples,
otherwise the head hair, when he changed from a hard felt hat to a
soft travelling cap, showed as dark as the beard and moustache. His
frame was strong, muscular and loosely built, and he had clever,
nervous hands with fingers somewhat spatulate. His clothes did not
much suggest the tourist--they seemed more like a too well-worn town
morning suit of dark blue serge; as though he had left home in an
absent-minded mood intent on some hurriedly conceived plan. He cast
one or two quick glances at David; once, indeed, as they got out
into full daylight, away from tunnels and high walls, letting his
glance lengthen into a searching look. Then he busied himself with a
number of scientific periodicals he had brought to read in the
train.

Impelled, he knew not why, to provoke conversation, David asked
(quite needlessly), "This _is_ the South Wales express, I mean the
Swansea train, is it not?"

Blackbeard was struck with the unusualness of the voice--a very
pleasant one to come from the lips of a man--and replied: "It is; at
least I got in under that impression as I am intending to go to
Swansea; but in any case the ticket inspector is sure to come along
the corridor presently and we'll make sure then. We stop at Swindon,
I think, so if we've made a mistake we can rectify it there."

Then after a pause he resumed: "I think you said you were going to
Swansea? Might I ask if you are bound on the same errand as I am? I
mean, are you one of Boyd Dawkins's party to examine the new cave on
the Gower coast?"

_D.V.W._: "Oh no--I--I am going inland from Swansea to--to have a
bicycling tour. I'm going to a place on the river--I don't know how
to pronounce it--at least I've forgotten. The river's name is spelt
Llwchwr."

_Blackbeard_: "You should change your mind and turn south--come and
see these extraordinary caves. Are you interested in palæontology?"
(David hesitates) "What careless people call 'prehistoric animals'
or 'prehistoric man.' They have been ridiculously misled by comic
artists in _Punch_ who imagine a few thousand years of Prehistory
would take us back to the Cretaceous period; really four or five
million years before Man came into existence, when this country and
most other lands swarmed with preposterous reptiles that had become
extinct long before the age of mammals. However, I don't suppose
this interests you. I only spoke because I thought you might be one
of Boyd Dawkins's pupils ... or one of mine."

_David_: "On the contrary, I am very, very much interested in the
subject, but I am afraid it has lain rather outside my line of
studies so far--p'raps I will turn south when I have seen something
of the part of Glamorgan I am going to. I'm really Welsh in origin,
but I know Wales imperfectly because I left it when I was quite
young" ("This'll be good practice," Vivie's brain voice was saying
to herself) ... "I've returned recently from South Africa."

_Blackbeard_: "What were you doing there?"

_David_: "I--I--was in the army ... at least in a police force ... I
got wounded, had to go into hospital--necrosis of the jaw ... I came
home when I got well..."

_Blackbeard_: _"Necrosis of the jaw!_ That was a bad thing. But you
seem to have got over it very well. I can't see any scar from where
I am..."

_David_: "Oh no. It was only a _slight_ touch and I dare say I
exaggerate ... I've left the Army however and now I'm reading
Law..."

Blackbeard thinks at this point that he has gone far enough in
cross-examination and returns to his periodicals and pamphlets. But
there's something he likes--a wistfulness--in the young man's face,
and he can't quite detach his mind to the presence of palæolithic
man in South Wales. At Swindon they both get out--there was still
lingering the practice of taking lunch there--have a hasty lunch
together and more talk, and share a bottle of claret.

On returning to their compartment, Rossiter offers David a cigar but
the young man prefers smoking a cigarette. By this time they have
exchanged names. D.V.W. however is reticent about the South African
War--says it was all too horrible for words, and should never have
taken place and he can't bear to think about it and was knocked out
quite early in the day. Now all he asks is peace and quiet and the
opportunity of studying law in London so that he may become some day
a barrister. Rossiter says--after more talk, "Pity you're going in
for the Bar--we've too many lawyers already. You should take up
Science"--and as far as the Severn Tunnel discourses illuminatingly
on biology, mineralogy, astronomy, chemistry as David-Vivien had
never heard them treated previously. In the Severn Tunnel the noise
of the train silences both professor and listener, who willingly
takes up the position of pupil. Between Newport and Neath, David
thinks he has never met any one so interesting. It has been his
first real induction into the greatest of all books: the Book of the
Earth itself. Rossiter on his part feels indefinably attracted by
this young expatriated Welshman. David does not say much, but what
he does contribute to the conversation shows him a quick thinker and
a person of trained intelligence. Yet somehow the professor of
Biology in the University of London--and many other things
beside--F.R.S., F.Z.S., F.L.S., Gold Medallist of this and that
Academy and University abroad--does not "see" him as a soldier or a
non-commissioned officer in the British Army: law-student is a more
likely qualification. However as they near Swansea, Michael Rossiter
gives Mr. D.V. Williams his card (D.V.W. regrets he cannot
reciprocate but says he has hardly settled down yet to any address)
and--though as a rule he is taciturn in trains and cautious about
making acquaintances--expresses the hope he will call at 1, Park
Crescent some afternoon--"My wife and I are generally at home on
Thursdays"--when all are back in town for the autumn. They separate
at Swansea station.


David spends the night at Swansea, employing some of his time there
by enquiring at the Terminus Hotel as to the roads that lead up the
valley of the Llwchwr, what sort of a place is Pontystrad ("the
bridge by the meadow"), whether any one knows the clergyman of that
parish, Mr.... er ... Howel Vaughan Williams. The "boots" or one of
the "bootses," it appears, comes from the neighbourhood of
Pontystrad and knows the reverend gentleman by sight--a nice old
gentleman--has heard that he's aged much of late years since his son
ran away and disappeared out in Africa. His sight was getting bad,
Boots understood, and he could not see to do all the reading and
writing he was once so great at.

After a rather wakeful night, during which D.V. Williams is more
disturbed by his thoughts and schemes than by the continual noises
of the trains passing into and out of Swansea, he rises early and
drafts a telegram:--


     Revd. Howel Williams, Vicarage, Pontystrad, Glamorgan. Hope
     return home this evening. All is well.

                                          DAVID.

Then pays his bill and tries to mount his bicycle the wrong way to
the great amusement of the Boots; then remembers the right way and
rides off, with the confidence of one long accustomed to bicycling,
through the crowded traffic of Swansea in the direction of Llwchwr.

It was a very hot ride through a very lovely country, now largely
spoilt by mining and metallurgy, along a road that was constantly
climbing up steeply to descend abruptly. David of course could have
travelled by rail to the Pontyffynon station and thence have ridden
back three miles to Pontystrad. But he wished purposely to bicycle
the whole way from Swansea and take in with the eye the land of his
fathers. He was postponing as long as possible the test of meeting
his father, the father of the young n'eer-do-weel who had been lying
for months in a South African field hospital the year before. He
halted for a cup of tea at Llandeilotalybont ... Wales has many
place names like this ... and being there not many miles from
Pontystrad was able to glean more recent and more circumstantial
information about the man he proposed to greet as "father."

At half-past six that evening, having perspired and dried, perspired
and dried, strained a tendon and acquired a headache, he halted
before the gate of the Vicarage garden at Pontystrad, having been
followed thither to his secret annoyance by quite a troop of village
boys of whom he had imprudently asked the way. As they talked Welsh
he could not tell what they were saying, but conjectured that his
telegram had arrived and that he was expected.

Standing under the porch of the house was an old man with a long
white beard like a Druid in spectacles shading his eyes and
expectant...

A bicycle might prove an incumbrance in the ensuing interview, so
David hastily propped his against a fuchsia hedge and hurried
forward to meet the old man, who extended hands to envelop him, not
trusting to his eyes. An old, rosy-cheeked woman in a sunbonnet came
up behind the old man, shrieked out "Master David!" and only waited
with twitching fingers for her own onslaught till the father had
first embraced his prodigal son. This was done at least three times,
accompanied with tears, blessings, prayers, the uplifting of poor
filmy eyes to a cloudless Heaven--"Diolch i Dduw!"--ejaculations as
to the wonder of it--"Rhyfeddol yw yn eiholl ffyrdd"--God's
Providence--His ways are past finding out! "Ni ellir olrain ei
Ragluniaeth!"--"My own dear boy! Fy machgen annwyli!"

Then the old woman took her turn: "Master David! Eh, but you're
changed, mun!"--then a lot of Welsh exclamations, which until the
Welsh can agree to spell their tongue phonetically I shall not
insert--"Five years since you left us! Eh, and I never thought to
see you no more. Some said you wass dead, others that you wass taken
prisoner by the Wild Boars. But here you are, and welcome--indeed--"
Then Master David between the embraces was scanned, a little more
critically than by the purblind father, but with distinct approval.

At last David stood apart in the stone-flagged hall of the Vicarage.
His abundant hair was rumpled, his face was stained by other
people's tears, his collar, tie, dress disordered, and his heart
touched. It was a rare experience in his twenty-four years of
life--he guessed that should be his age--to find himself really
taken on trust, really desired and loved. Honoria's friendship
was a pure and precious thing, but in its very purity carefully
restrained. Praddy's kindness, and the office boy's worship had both
been gratifying to Vivie's self-esteem, but both had to be kept at
bay. Somehow the love of a father and of an old nurse were of a
different category to these other contacts.

All these thoughts passed through David's brain in thirty seconds.
He shook himself, straightened himself, smiled adequately, and tried
to live up to the situation.

"Dear father! And dear ... Nannie! (A bold but successful
deduction). How sweet of you both--greeting me like this. I've come
home a very different David to the one that left you--what was it?
Five--six years ago?--to go to Mr. Praed's studio. I've learnt a lot
in the interval. But I'm so sick of the past, I don't want to talk
about it more than I can help, and I've been in very queer health
since I got ill--and--wounded--in--South Africa. My memory has gone
for many things--I'm afraid I've forgotten all my Welsh, Nannie, but
it'll soon come back, that is, if I may stay here a bit."
(Exclamations from father and nurse: "This is your _home_,
Davy-bach!") "I'm not going to stay too long this time because I've
got my living to earn in London....

"Did you never hear anything about me from ... South Africa ... or
the War Office--or--your old college chum, Mr. Gardner?"

"I heard--my own dear boy--" said the Revd. Howel, again taking him
in his arms in a renewed spasm of affection. "I heard you were
wounded and very ill in the camp hospital at Colesberg. It was a
nursing sister, I think, who sent me the information. I wrote
several times to the War Office, my letters were acknowledged, that
was all. Then Sam Gardner wrote to me from Margate and said his son
had been in the same hospital with you. Later on I saw in a Bristol
paper that this hospital--Colesberg--had fallen into the hands of
the Boers and the Cape insurgents. Then I said to myself 'My poor
boy's been taken prisoner' and as time went on, 'My poor boy's dead,
or he would have written to me.'"

Here the Revd. Howel stopped to wipe his eyes and blow his nose.
David touched through his armour of cynicism, said--Nannie retiring
to prepare the evening meal--"Father dear, though I don't want to
refer too often to the past, I behaved disgracefully some time ago
and the Colonies seemed my only chance of setting myself right. I
did manage to get away from the Boers, but I had not the courage to
present myself before you till I had done something to regain your
good opinion. I have got now good employment in London and I'm even
reading up Law. We will talk of that by and bye but I tell you
now--from my heart--I am a different David to the one you knew, and
you shall never regret taking me back."

Both father and son were crying now, for emotion especially in Wales
is catching. But the father laughed through his tears; and
incoherently thanked God for the return of the prodigal--a fine
upstanding lad--whole and sound. "No taint about _you_, Davy, _I'll_
be bound. Why your voice alone shows you've been a clean liver. It's
music in my ears, and if I could see as well as I can hear I'd wager
you're a handsome lad and have lost much of your foolishness. Davy,
lad" (lowering his voice) "you've no cause to be anxious about
Jenny. She--she--had a boy, but we got her married to a miner--I
made it right with him. She has another child now, but they're being
brought up together. We won't refer to it again. She lives twenty
miles from here, at Gower--and ... and ... there's an end of it....

"Now you won't run away back to London till you're obliged? Where's
your luggage? At Pontyffynon?"

"No," said David, a little non-plussed at evidences of his dissolute
past and this unexpected fatherhood assumed on his account. "I
haven't more luggage than what is contained in my bicycle bag. But
don't let that concern you. I'll go over to Swansea one day or some
nearer town and buy what may be necessary, and I'll stay with you
all my holidays, tell you all my plans, and even after I go back to
London I'll always come down here when I can get away. For the
present I'm going simply to enjoy myself for the first time in my
life. The last four years we'll look on as a horrid dream. What a
paradise you live in." His eye ranged over the two-storeyed,
soundly-built stone house facing south, with mountains behind and
the western sun throwing shafts of warm yellow green over the lawn
and the flower beds; over clumps of elms in the middle, southern
distance, that might have been planted by the Romans (who loved this
part of Wales). Bees, butterflies and swallows were in the air; the
distant lowing of kine, the scent of the roses, the clatter in the
kitchen where Nannie aided by another female servant was preparing
supper, even the barking of a watch dog; aware that something
unusual was going on, completed the impression of the blissful
countryside. "What a paradise you live in! How _could_ I have left
it?"

"Ay, dear lad; I doubt not it looks strange and new to you since
you've been in South Africa and London. But it'll soon seem homelike
enough. And now you'll like to see your room, and have a wash before
supper. Tom, the gardener, shall take in your bicycle and give it a
rub over. I've still got the old one here in the coach-house which
you left behind. Tom's new, since you left. He's not so clever with
the bees as your old friend Evan was, but he's a steadier lad. I
fear me Evan led you into some of your scrapes. The fault was partly
mine. I shouldn't have let you run wild so much, but I was so
wrapped up in my studies--Well, well!"

David was careful to play his part sufficiently to say when shown
into his old bedroom, "Just the same, father; scarcely a bit
altered--but isn't the bed moved--to another place?"

"You're right, my boy--Ah! your memory can't be as bad as you
pretend. Yes, we moved it there, Bridget and I, because the
Archdeacon came once to stay and complained of the draught from the
window."

"The deuce he did!" said David. "Well, _I_ shan't complain of
anything."

His father left him and he then proceeded to lay out the small
store of things he had brought in his bicycle bag, giving special
prominence to the shaving tackle. He had just finished a summary
toilet when there was a tap on the door, and, suppressing an
exclamation of impatience--for he dearly wanted time and solitude
for collected thought--he admitted Bridget.

"Well, Nannie," he said, "come for a gossip?"

"Yess. I can hardly bear to take my eyes off you, for you've
changed, you _have_ changed. And yet, I don't know? You don't look
much older than you wass when you went off to London to be an
architect. Your cheek--" (lifting her hand and stroking it, while
David tried hard not to wince) "Your cheek's as soft and smooth as
it was then, as any young girl's. Wherever you've been, the world
has not treated you very bad. No one would have dreamt you'd been
all the way to South Africa to them Wild Boars. But some men wear
wonderful well. I suppose your father giv' you a bit of a shock?
He's much older looking; and he wassn't suffering, to speak of, from
his sight when you went away. And now he can hardly see to read even
with his new spectol. Old Doctor Murgatroyd can't do nothing for
him--Advises him to go to see some Bristol or London eye-doctor. But
after you seemed to disappear in Africa he had no heart for trying
to get his sight back. He'd sit for hours doing nothing but think
and talk, all about old Welsh times, or Bible times. Of course he
knows hiss services by heart; hiss only job wass with the
Lessons.... But you see, he'd often only have me and the girl and
Tom in church. There's a new preacher up at Little Bethel that's
drawn all the village folk to hear him. But your father'll be a
different man now--you see, he'll be like a boy again. And if you
could stay long enough, you might take him to Bristol--or Clifton I
think it wass--to see if they could do anything about his eyes....

"The past's the past and we aren't going to say no more about it,
and now you've turned over a new leaf--somehow I _can't_ feel you're
the same person--don't go worrying yourself about that slut Jenny.
_She's_ all right. After your baby was born at her mother's, she
went into service at Llanelly and there she met a miner who's at
work on the new coal mine in Gower. He wasn't a bad sort of chap and
when he'd heard her story he said for a matter of twenty pound he'd
marry her and take over her baby. So your father paid the twenty
pounds, and if she'll only keep straight she'll be none the worse
for what's happened. I always said it wass my fault. It wass the
year I had to go away to my sister, and your father had to go to St.
David's, and after all, if it hadn't 'a-been you, it 'd 'a-been
young Evan. Why there's bin some girls in the village have had two
and even three babies before they settled down and got married. Now
we must dish up supper. I've given you lots and lots of pancakes and
the cream and honey you wass always so fond of--you bad boy--" She
ventured a kiss on the smooth cheek of her nursling and heavily
descended the stairs.


David had a very bad night, because to please his old nurse he had
eaten too many of her pancakes with cream and honey. In fact, he had
at last to tip-toe down through a sleeping house cautiously to let
himself out and relieve his feelings by pacing the verandah till the
nausea passed off. After that he lay long awake trying to size up
the situation. He got his thoughts at last into some such shape as
this:--

"It's clear I was a regular young rake before I was sent up to
London to be Praddy's pupil. Apparently I seduced the housemaid or
kitchenmaid--my father's establishment seems to consist of Nannie
who is housekeeper and cook, and a maid who does housework and
helps in the kitchen--and this unfortunate girl who fell a prey to
my solicitations--or more likely misled me--afterwards gave birth to
a child attributed either to my fatherhood or the gardener's. But
the matter has been hushed up by a payment of twenty pounds and the
girl is now married and respectable and ought to give no further
trouble. I suppose that was a climax of naughtiness on my part and
the main reason why I was sent away. The two people who matter most
have received me without doubt or question, but the one to be
wary about is the old nurse, whose very affection makes her
inconveniently inquisitive. _Mem._ get up and lock my door, or else
she may come in with hot water or something in the morning and take
me by surprise.

"The original David is evidently dead and well out of the way. There
can be no harm in my taking his place, at any rate for a few years:
it may give the old man new life and genuine happiness, for I shall
play my part as a good son, and certainly shall cost him nothing.
I'll begin by taking him to an oculist and finding out what is wrong
with his eyes.... Probably only cataract. It may be possible to
effect a cure and he can then finish his book on the history of
Glamorganshire from earliest times. Must remember, by the bye, that
the Welsh change most of the old _m's_ into _f's_ and that this
country is called Forganwg, with the _w_ pronounced like _oo_, and
the _f_ like _v_. Must learn some Welsh. What a nuisance. But
nothing is worth doing if it isn't done well. If I can keep this
deception up this would be a jolly place to come to for occasional
holidays, and I simply couldn't have a better reference to
respectability, sex and station with the benchers of Lincoln's Inn
than 'my father,' the Revd. Howel Williams, Vicar of Pontystrad.
They'll probably want a second or a third reference. Can I rely on
Praddy? Is it possible I might work up my acquaintance with that
professor whom I met in the train? I'll see. Perhaps I could attend
classes of his if he lectures in London."

Then the plotting David fell asleep at last and woke to hear the
loud tapping on his door at eight o'clock, of Bridget, rather
surprised to find the door locked, but entering (when he had garbed
himself in his Norfolk jacket and opened the door), with hot water
for shaving and a cup of tea.

It was a hot July morning, and while he dressed, the southern breeze
came in through the open window scented by the roses and the lemon
verbena growing against the wall. His father was pacing up and down
the hall and the verandah restlessly awaiting him, fearing lest the
whole episode of the day before might not have been one of his
waking dreams. His failing sight made reading almost a torture and
writing more a matter of feeling than visual perception. Time
therefore hung wearisomely on his hands; Bridget was not a good
reader, besides being too busy a housekeeper to have time for it.
Had David really returned to him? Would he sometimes read aloud and
sometimes write his letters, or even the finish of his History? Too
good to be true!

But there was David coming down the stairs, greeting him with tender
affection. "Read and write for you, father? Of course! But before I
go back to London--and unfortunately I _must_ go back early in
August--I'm going to take you to see an oculist--Bristol or Clifton
perhaps--and get your sight restored."

After breakfast, however, the father decided he must take David
round the village, to see and be seen. David was not very anxious to
go, but as the Revd. Howel looked disappointed he gave in.

It had to be got over some time or other. So they first visited the
church, a building in the form of a cross, with an imposing
battlemented tower. Here David asked to inspect the registers and
found therein (while the old gentleman silently prayed or sat in
mute thankfulness in a sunny corner)--the record of his father's
marriage to Mary Vavasour twenty-six years before (Mary was
twenty-three and the Revd. Howel forty at the time) and of his own
baptism two years afterwards.

Then issuing from the church, father and son walked through the
village, the father pointing out the changes for better or worse
that had taken place in four years, and not noticing the vagueness
of his son's memories of either persons or features in the
landscape. The village, like most Welsh villages, was of
white-washed cottages, slate-roofed, but it was embowered with that
luxuriance of foliage and flowers which makes Glamorganshire--out of
sight of the coal-mining--seem an earthly paradise. Every now and
then the Revd. Howel would nudge his son and say: "That man who
spoke was old Goronwy, as big a scoundrel now as he was five years
ago," or he would introduce David to a villager of whom he thought
more favourably. If she were a young woman she generally smirked and
looked sideways; if a man he grunted out a Welsh greeting or only
gave a nod of surly recognition. Several professed fluent
recognition but some said in Welsh "he wasn't a bit like the Mr.
David _they_ had known." Whereupon the Revd. Howel laughed and said:
"Wait till you have been out to South Africa fighting for your king
and country and see if _that_ doesn't change _you_!"

The visit to the Clifton oculist resulted in a great success. The
oculist after two or three days' preparation in a nursing home
performed the operation and advised David then to leave his father
for a few days (promising if any unfavourable symptoms supervened he
would telegraph) so that he might pass the time in sleep as much as
possible, and with no mental stimulation. During this interval David
transferred himself and his bicycle to Swansea, and thence visited
the Gower caves where he ran up against Rossiter once more and
spent delightful hours being inducted into palæontology by Rossiter
and his companions. Then back to--by contrast--boresome Clifton
(except for its Zoological Gardens). After another week his father
was well enough to be escorted home. In another fortnight he might
be able to use his eyes, and soon after that would be able to read
and write--in moderation.

But David could not wait to see his intervention crowned with
complete success. He must keep faith with Honoria who would be
wanting a long holiday in Switzerland; and their joint business must
not suffer by his absence from London. There were, indeed, times
when the peace and comfort and beauty of Pontystrad got hold of him
and he asked himself: "Why not settle down here for the rest of his
life, put aside other ambitions, attempt no more than this initial
fraud, leave the hateful world wherein women had only three chances
to men's seven." Then there would arise once more fierce ambition,
the resolve to avenge Vivien Warren for her handicaps, the desire to
keep tryst with Honoria and to enjoy more of Rossiter's society.
Besides, he ran a constant risk of discovery under the affectionate
but puzzled inspection of the old nurse. In her mind, residence
amongst the "Wild Boars," service in an army, travel and adventure
generally during an absence of five years, as well as emergence from
adolescence into manhood, accounted for much change in physical
appearance, but not sufficiently for the extraordinary change in
_morale_: the contrast between the vicious, untidy, selfish,
insolent boy that had gone off to London with ill-concealed glee in
1896 and this grave-mannered, polite, considerate, pleasant-voiced
young man who had already managed to find good employment in London
before he revealed himself anew to his delighted father.

These doubts David read in Nannie's mind. But he would not give
them time and chance to become more precise and formulated.
Gradually she would become used to the seeming miracle. In the
meantime he would return to London, and if his father's recovery was
complete he would not revisit "home" till Christmas. As soon as he
was able to write, his father would forward him the copy of his
birth-certificate, and he would likewise answer in the sense agreed
upon any letters of reference or enquiry: would state the
apprenticeship to architecture with Praed A.R.A., and then the
impulse to go out to South Africa, the slight wound--David insisted
it was slight, a fuss about nothing, because he had enquired about
necrosis of the jaw and realized that even if he had recovered it
would have left indisputable marks on face and throat. In fact there
were so many complications involved in an escape from the Boers,
only to be justified under the code of honour prevailing in war
time, that he would rather his father said little or nothing about
South Africa but left him to explain all that. A point of view
readily grasped by the Revd. Howel, who to get such a son back would
even have not thought too badly of desertion--and the negative
letters of the War Office said nothing of that.

So early in September, after the most varied, anxious, successful
six weeks in his life--so far--David Vavasour Williams returned to
Fig Tree Court, Inner Temple.



CHAPTER V

READING FOR THE BAR


It had been a hot, windless day in London, in early September.
Though summer was in full swing in the country without a hint of
autumn, the foliage in the squares and gardens of the Inns of Court
was already seared and a little shrivelled. The privet hedges were
almost black green; and the mould in the dismal borders that they
screened looked as though it had never known rain or hose water and
as if it could no more grow bright-tinted flowers than the asbestos
of a gas stove which it resembled in consistency and colour. It was
now an evening, ending one of those days which are peculiarly
disheartening to a Londoner returned from a long stay in the depths
of the country--a country which has hills and streams, ferny
hollows, groups of birches, knolls surmounted with pines, meadows of
lush, emerald-green grass, full-foliaged elms, twisted oaks,
orchards hung with reddening apples, red winding lanes between
unchecked hedges, blue mountains in the far distance, and the
glimpse of a river or of ponds large enough to be called a mere or
even a lake. The exhausted London to which David Williams had
returned a few days previously had lost a few thousands of its
West-end and City population--just, in fact, most of its interesting
if unlikable folk, its people who mattered, its insolent spoilt
darlings whom you liked to recognize in the Carlton atrium, in Hyde
Park, in a box at the theatre: yet the frowsy, worthy millions were
there all the same. The air of its then smelly streets was used up
and had the ammoniac strench of the stable. It was a weary London.
The London actors had not returned from Cornwall and Switzerland.
Provincial companies enjoyed--a little anxiously owing to uncertain
receipts at the box office--a brief license on the boards of famous
play-houses. The newspapers had exhausted the stunt of the silly
season and were at their flattest and most yawn-provoking. The South
African War had reached its dreariest stage....

Bertie Adams on this close September evening had out-stayed the
other employés of _Fraser and Warren_ in their fifth floor office at
No. 88-90 Chancery Lane. He had remained after office hours to do a
little work, a little "self-improvement"; and he was just about to
close the outer office and leave the key with the housekeeper, when
the lift came surging up and out of it stepped a young man in a
summer suit and a bowler hat who, to Bertie's astonishment, not only
dashed straight at the door of the partners' room, but opened its
Yale lock with a latch-key as though long accustomed to do so. "But,
sir!..." exclaimed the junior clerk (his promotion to that rank had
tacitly dated from Vivie Warren's departure). "It's all right," said
the stranger. "I'm Mr. David Williams and I've come to draw up some
notes for Mrs. Claridge. I dare say Miss Fraser has told you I
should work in the office every now and then whilst my cousin--Miss
Warren, you know--is away. You needn't wait, though you can close
the outer office before you go; and, by the bye, you might fetch me
_Who's Who_ for the present year." All this was said a little
breathlessly.

Bertie brought the volume, then only half the size of its present
bulk, because it lacked our new nobility and gave no heed to your
favourite recreation. D.V. Williams stood in the yellow light of the
west window, reading a letter... "Cousin? No! Twin brother,
perhaps; but had she one?..." mused Bertie... and then, that
never-to-be-forgotten voice ... "Here's 'Oo's Oo--er--Hoo's Hoo, I
mean.... Miss..." He only added the last word as by some
sub-conscious instinct.

"_Mister_ Williams," said Vivien-David-Warren Williams, facing him
with resolute eyes. "Be quite clear about that, Adams; _David
Vavasour Williams_, Miss Warren's cousin."

"Indeed I will be, Miss ... Mister ... er ... Sir..." said the
transfigured Bertie (his brain voice saying over and over again in
ecstasy ... "_I_ tumble to it! _I_ tumble to it!"). And then again
"_Indeed_ I will, Mr. Williams. I'm a bit stupidlike this evenin'
... readin' too much.... May I stay and help you, Sir? I'm pretty
quick on the typewriter, Miss Warren may have told you ... Sir ...
and I ain't--I mean--_I am not_--half bad with me shorthand.... You
know--I mean, _she_ would know I'd joined them evenin' classes..."

"Thank you, Adams; but if you have joined the evening classes you
oughtn't to interrupt your attendance there. I can _quite_ manage
here alone and you need not be afraid: I shall leave everything
properly closed. You could give up the key of the outer office as
you go out. You may often find me at work here after office hours,
but that need not disturb you ... and I need hardly say, after all
Miss Fraser and Miss Warren have told me about you, I rely on you to
be at all times thoroughly discreet and not likely to discuss the
work of this firm or my share in it with any one?"...

"Indeed you may ... Mr. Williams ... indeed you may.... Oh! I'm so
happy.... Good-night ... Sir!"

And Adams's heart was too full for attendance at a lecture on Roman
law. He went off instead to the play. He himself belonged now to the
world of romance. He knew of things--and wild horses and red-hot
tweezers should not tear the knowledge from him, or make him
formulate his deductions--he knew of things as amazing, as prodigal
of developments as anything in the problem play enacted beyond the
pit and the stalls; he was the younger brother of Herbert Waring and
the comrade of Jessie Joseph: at that moment deceiving the sleuth
hounds of Stage law by parading in her fiancé's evening dress and
going to prison for his sake.

Beryl Claridge had taken up much of Vivie Warren's work on the 1st
of August in that year, while Honoria Fraser was touring in
Switzerland. Miss Mullet and Miss Steynes were replaced (Steynes
staying on a little later to initiate the new-comers) by two young
women so commonplace yet such efficient machines that their names
are not worth hunting up or inventing. If I have to refer to them I
will call them Miss A. and Miss B.

Beryl Claridge was closely scanned by Bertie Adams, and frequently
compared in his mind with the absent and idealized Vivie. He decided
that although she was shrewd and clever and very good-looking, he
did not like her. She smoked too many cigarettes for 1901. She had
her curly hair "bobbed" (though the term was not invented then). She
put up her feet too high and too often; so much so that the
scandalized Bertie saw she wore black knickerbockers and no
petticoats under her smart "tailor-made." She snapped your head off,
was short, sharp and insolent, joked too much with the spectacled
women clerks (who became her willing slaves); then would ask Bertie
about his best girl and tell him he'd got jolly good teeth, a good
biceps and quite a nice beginning of a moustache.

But she was a worker: no doubt of that! Of course, in the dead
season there were not many clients to shock or to win over by her
nonchalant manners, only a few women who required advice as to
houses, stocks, and shares, law, or private enquiries as to the
good faith of husbands or fiancés. Such as found their way up in the
lift were a little disappointed at seeing Beryl in Vivie's chair or
at not being received by their old friend Honoria Fraser. But Beryl
was too good a business woman to put them off with any license of
speech or manners. For the rest she spent August and early September
in "mugging up" the firm's business. Although deep down in her
curious little heart, under all her affectation of hardness and
insolent disdain of public or family opinion she firmly loved her
architect and the children she had borne him, she desired quite as
passionately to be self-supporting, to earn a sufficient income of
her own, to be dependent on no one. She might have her passing
caprices and her loose and flippant mode of talking, but she wasn't
going to be a failure, a cadger, a parasite, a "fallen" woman. She
fully realized that in England no woman _has_ fallen who is
self-supporting, whose income meets her expenses and who pays her
way. Given those guarantees, all else that she does which is not
actually criminal is eventually put down to mere eccentricity.

So Honoria's offer and Honoria's business provided her with a most
welcome opening. She realized the opportunities that lay before this
Woman's Office for General Inquiries, established in the closing
years of the nineteenth century--this business that before Woman's
enfranchisement nibbled discreetly at the careers and the openings
for profit-making hitherto rigidly reserved for Man. She wasn't
going to let Honoria down. Honoria, she realized, was in herself
equivalent to many thousands of pounds in capital. Her reputation
was flawless. She was known to and esteemed by a host of women of
the upper middle class. Her Cambridge reputation for learning, her
eventual inheritance of eighty thousand pounds were unexpressed
reasons for many a woman of good standing preferring to confide her
affairs to the judgment of _Fraser and Warren_, in preference to
dealing with male legal advisers, male land agents, men on the Stock
Exchange, men in house property business.

So Beryl became in most respects a source of strength to Honoria
Fraser, deprived for a time of the overt co-operation of her junior
partner.

Beryl in the first few weeks of her stay evinced small interest in
the departure of Vivien Warren and her reasons for going abroad. She
had a scheme of her own in which her architect would take a
prominent part, for providing women--authoresses, actresses, or the
wives of the newly enriched--with week-end cottages; the desire for
which was born with the Twentieth century and fostered by the
invention of motors and bicycles. Cases before the firm for opinions
on intricate legal problems Beryl was advised to place before the
consideration of one of Honoria's friends, a law student, Mr. D.V.
Williams, who would shortly be back from his holiday and who had
agreed to look in at the office from time to time and go through
such papers as were set aside for him to read. Beryl had
remarked--without any intention behind it--on seeing some of his
notes initialled V.W. that it was rum he should have the same
initials as that Vivie girl whom she remembered at Newnham ... who
was "so silent and standoffish and easily shocked." But she noticed
later that when Mr. Williams got to work his initials were really
three and not two--D.V.W. One thing with the other: her departure
from the office at the regular closing hour--five--so that she might
see her babies before they were put to bed; Williams's habit of
coming to work after six; kept them from meeting till the October of
1901. When they did meet after Honoria's return from Switzerland,
Beryl scanned the law student critically; decided he was rather
nice-looking but very pre-occupied; perhaps engaged to some girl
whose parents objected; rather mysterious, _quand même_; she had
heard some one say this Mr. David Williams was a cousin or something
of Vivie Warren ... what if he were in love with Vivie and she had
gone away because she had some fad or other about not wanting to
marry? Well! All this could be looked into some other time, if it
were worth bothering about at all. Or could Williams be spoony on
Honoria? After her money? He was much younger--evidently--but young
men adored ripe women, and young girls idolized elderly soldiers.
_C'était à voir_ (Beryl ever since she had been to Paris on a stolen
honeymoon with the architect liked saying things to herself in
French).

Towards the end of October, David received at Fig Tree Court a
letter from his father in Glamorganshire.

                                    Pontystrad Vicarage,
                                     _October_ 20, 1901.

     MY DEAR SON,--

     The improvement in my sight continues. I can now read a
     little every day, by daylight, without pain or fatigue, and
     write letters. I feel I owe you a long one; but I shall
     write a portion each day and not try my eyes unduly.

     I am glad to know you are now settled down in chambers at
     Fig Tree Court in the Temple and have begun your studies for
     the Bar. You could not have taken up a finer profession.
     What seems to me so wonderful is that you should be able to
     earn your living at the same time and be no charge on me. I
     accept your assurances that you need no support; but never
     forget, my dear Son, that if you _do_, I am ready and
     willing to help. You sowed your wild oats--perhaps we both
     exaggerated the sins of the wild years--at any rate you have
     made a noble reparation. What a splendid school the Colonies
     must be! What a difference between the David who left me
     five years ago for Mr. Praed's studio and the David who
     returned to me last summer! I can never be sufficiently
     thankful to Almighty God for the change He has wrought in
     you! No lip religion, but a change of heart. I presume you
     explained everything to the Colonial Office after you got
     back to London and that you are now free to take up a civil
     career? The people out there never sent me any further
     information; but the other day one of my letters to you
     (written after I had received the sad news) returned to me,
     with the information that the hospital you were in had been
     captured by the Boers and that you could not be traced. I
     enclose it. You can now finish up the story yourself and let
     the authorities know how you got away and returned home.

     The other day that impudent baggage Jenny Gorlais came and
     asked to see me ... she said her husband was out of work and
     refused to give her enough money to provide for all her
     children, that he had advised her to apply to _you_ for the
     maintenance of _your_ son! Relying on what you had told me I
     sent for Bridget and we both told her we had made every
     enquiry and now refused absolutely to believe in her stories
     of five years ago--that we were sure you were _not_ the
     father of her eldest child. Bridget, for example, believed
     the postman was its father. Jenny burst into tears, and as
     she did not persist in her claim my heart was moved, and I
     gave her ten shillings, but told her _pretty plainly_ that
     if she ever made such a claim again I should go to the
     police. You should have heard Bridget defending you! _Such_
     a champion. If you want a witness to character for your
     references you should call _her_! She is loud in your
     praise.

                                          _October_ 22.

     There is one thing I want to tell you; and it is easier to
     write it than say it. Your mother did not die when you were
     three years old--much worse: she left me--ran away with an
     engineer who was tracing out the branch railway. He seemed a
     nice young fellow and I had him often up at the Vicarage,
     and _that_ was the way he repaid my hospitality! He wrote to
     me a year afterwards asking me to divorce her. As though a
     Clergyman of the Church of England could do such a thing! I
     had offered to take her back--not then--it would have been a
     mockery--but by putting advertisements into the South Wales
     papers. But after her paramour's letter--which I did not
     answer--I never heard any more about her....

["Damn it all," said David to himself at this juncture of the
letter--he was training himself to swear in a moderate, gentlemanly
way--"Damn it all! Whatever I do, it seems I _cannot_ come from
altogether respectable stock."...]

     You grew up therefore without a mother's care, though good
     Bridget did her best. When you were a child I fear I rather
     neglected you. I was so disappointed and embittered that I
     sought consolation in the legends of our beloved country and
     in Scriptural exegesis. You were rather a naughty boy at
     Swansea Grammar School and somewhat of a scamp at Malvern
     College--Well! we won't go over all that again. I quite
     understand your reticence about the past. Once again I think
     the blame was mine as much as yours. I ought to have
     interested myself more in your pursuits and games ... what a
     pity, by the bye, that you seem to have lost your gift of
     drawing and painting! I do remember how at one time we were
     drawn together over the old Welsh legends and the very
     clever drawings you made of national heroes and
     heroines--they seemed to come on you as quite a surprise
     when I took them out of the old portfolio.

     But about your mother--for it is necessary you should know
     all I can tell you in case you have to answer questions as
     to your parentage. Your mother's name was, as you know, Mary
     Vavasour. It is a common name in South Wales though it seems
     to be Norman French. She came to our Pontystrad school as a
     teacher in 1873. Her father was something to do with mining
     at Merthyr. I fell in love with her--she had a sweet
     face--and married her in 1874. You were born two years
     afterwards. Bridget had been my housekeeper before I was
     married and I asked her to stay on lest your mother should
     be inexperienced at first in the domestic arts. They never
     got on well together and when Mary had recovered from her
     confinement and seemed disposed to take up housekeeping I
     sent away poor Bridget reluctantly and only took her back
     after your mother's flight. Bridget was a second mother to
     you as you know, though I fear you never showed her much
     affection till these later days.


                                          _October_ 23.

     My eyes seem to be improving instead of getting tired with
     the new delights of reading and writing. I owe all this to
     you and to the clever oculist at Clifton. Dr. Murgatroyd
     from Pontyffynon looked in here the other day, to ask about
     your return. He seemed almost to grudge me my restored sight
     because I had got it from other people's advice. Said _he_
     could have advised an operation only he never believed my
     heart would stand it. When I told him they had mixed the
     anæsthetic with oxygen he became quite angry--and exclaimed
     against these new-fangled notions. But I must not use up my
     new found energy writing about him. I want to finish my
     letter in a business-like fashion so that you may know all
     that is necessary to be known about yourself and your
     position. You may have at any moment to answer questions
     before you get called to the Bar, and with your defective
     memory--I am glad to hear things in the past are becoming
     clearer to you--I am sure with God's grace you will wholly
     recover soon from the effects of your wound and your
     illness--What was I writing? I meant to say that you ought
     to know the main facts about your family and your position.

     I was an only son. Your grandfather was a prosperous farmer
     and auctioneer. You have distant cousins, Vaughans and
     Williamses, and some others living at Shrewsbury named
     Price. I have written to none of them about your return
     because they never evinced any interest in me or my
     concerns. Your mother's people, her Vavasour relations at
     Cardiff--did not seem to me to be very respectable, though
     her father was a well-educated man for his position. He
     died--I heard--in a mine accident.

     I am not poorly off for a Welsh clergyman. My mother--a
     Price of Ystrwy--wanted me to go into the Church and
     prevailed on your grandfather to send me first to Malvern
     and next to Cambridge. It was at Cambridge that I met your
     comrade's father--Sam Gardner, I mean. He was rather wild in
     his college days and to tell you the truth, I never cared to
     keep up with him much--he had such very rowdy friends. My
     mother died while I was at Cambridge and in his later years
     your grandfather married again--his housekeeper--and rather
     muddled his affairs, because at one time he was quite well
     off.

     After I was ordained he purchased for me the advowson of
     this living. All that came to me from his estate, however,
     was a sum of about eleven thousand pounds. This used to
     bring me in about five hundred pounds a year, and in
     addition to that was the fluctuating two hundred and fifty
     pounds income from my benefice. I took about three thousand
     pounds out of my capital to pay the debts you ran up, to
     article you to Mr. Praed; and, I must admit, to get my
     "Tales from Taliessin" and "Legends of the Welsh Saints"
     privately printed at Cardiff. I am afraid I wasted much good
     money on the desire to see my Cymraeg studies in print.

     Well: there I am! with about eight or nine thousand pounds
     to leave. I have not altered my will--leaving it all to you,
     subject to an annuity of £50 a year to your faithful Nannie.
     I was projecting an alteration in case of your death, when
     you most happily returned. I may live another ten years yet.
     You have put new life into me. One charge, however, I was
     going to have laid on you; while you were with me I could
     not bear to speak of these matters. If at any time after I'm
     gone you should come across your unhappy mother and find her
     in distressed circumstances, I bid you provide for her, but
     how much, I leave entirely to your judgment. Meantime, here
     I am with an income of nearly £700 a year. I live very
     simply, as you see, but I give away a good deal in local
     charity. The people are getting better wages now; in any
     case they are usually most ungrateful. I feel I should be
     happier if I diverted some of this alms-giving to you. You
     must find this preparatory life very expensive. You must let
     me send you twenty-five pounds every half-year for pocket
     money. Here is a cheque on the South Wales Bank for the
     first instalment. And remember, if you are in _any_
     difficulty about your career that a little money can get
     over do not hesitate to apply to me.

                           Your loving father,
                           HOWEL VAUGHAN WILLIAMS.

     P.S. I have taken five days to write this but see how steady
     the handwriting is. It is a pleasure to me to look on my own
     handwriting again. And I feel I owe it all to you! I also
     forgot in the body of the letter to tell you one curious
     thing. You know we are here on the borders of an interesting
     vein of limestone which runs all round the coal beds. I dare
     say you remember as a boy of fifteen or so spraining your
     ankle in Griffith's Hole? Well Griffith's Hole turns out to
     be the entrance into a wonderful cave in the limestone.
     Hither came the other day a party of scientific men who
     think that majestic first chapter of Genesis to be a
     Babylonian legend! It appears they discovered or thought
     they discovered the remains of Ancient man in Griffith's
     Hole. I invited them to tea at the Vicarage and amongst them
     was a very learned gentleman quite as wise as but less
     aggressive than the others. He was known as "Professor
     Rossiter"; and commenting on the similarity of my name with
     that of a "very agreeable young gentleman" whom he had
     recently seen in Gower, it turned out that you were an
     acquaintance of his. He thinks it a great pity that you are
     reading for the Bar and wishes you had taken up Science
     instead. At any rate he hopes you will go and see him in
     London one day--No. 1 Park Crescent. Portland Place.

                                          H. V. W.

Several times in reading this letter the tears stood in David's
eyes. So much trust and kindness made him momentarily sorry at the
double life he was leading. If it were possible to establish the
death of the wastrel he was personating he would perhaps allow his
"father" to live on in this new-found happiness; but if the real
D.V.W. were alive some effort must be made to help him out of the
slough--perhaps to bring him back. He would try to find out through
Frank Gardner.

Some time before Vivie Warren had taken her departure, she had left
behind in Honoria Fraser's temporary care a Power of Attorney duly
executed in favour of David Vavasour Williams; and reciprocally
D.V.W. had executed another in favour of Vivien Warren. Both these
documents lay securely in the little safe that David had had fitted
into the wall of his sitting-room in Fig Tree Court. Also David had
opened an account in his own name after he got back from Wales, at
the Temple Bar Branch of the C. &. C. Bank. Into this he now paid
the cheque for twenty-five pounds which his father had sent as
pocket money.

A few days afterwards, Vivie Warren reappeared--in spirit--and
indited a letter to Frank Gardner's agents in Cape Town. She was
careful to give no address at the head of the letter and to post it
at Victoria Station. In it she said she was starting on a tour
abroad, but asked him to do what he could to trace the boy who had
lain so grievously ill in the hospital at Colesberg. Had he
recovered after the Boers had taken Colesberg? As a rumour had
reached her that he had, and had even returned to England. She
wanted to know, and if they ever met again would tell him why.
Meanwhile if he got any news would he address it to _her_, care of
Honoria Fraser, Queen Anne's Mansions, St. James's Park; as her own
address would be quite uncertain for the present. Or it would do
quite as well if he wrote to Praddy; but _not_ to his father, which
might only needlessly agitate the old clergyman down in Wales, whom
Vivie by an unexpected chance had come to know.

The first result of this letter a year later was a statement of
Frank's belief, almost certainty, that his acquaintance of the
hospital _had_ died and been buried while the Boers held possession
of Colesberg; and that indeed was the utmost that was ever learnt
about the end of the ill-fated son of Howel Vaughan Williams and
Mary his wife, who were wedded in sunshine and with fair prospects
of happiness in the early summer of 1874.

The new-born David Vavasour Williams having by November settled all
these details, having arranged to pay the very modest rent of
fifty-five pounds for his three rooms at Fig Tree Court, and
twenty-five pounds a year to the housekeeper who was to "do" for him
and another gentleman on the same floor--a gentleman who was most
anxious to be chummy with the new tenant of the opposite chambers
but whose advances were firmly though civilly kept at bay--having
likewise passed his preliminary examination (since he could not avow
that inside his clothes he was a third wrangler), having satisfied
his two "godfathers" of the Bar that he was a fit person to
recommend to the Benchers; having arranged to read with a barrister
in chambers, and settled all other preliminaries of importance:
decided that he would pay an afternoon call on the Rossiters in
Portland Place and see how the land lay there.

Already a strange exhilaration was spreading over David's mind. Life
was not twice but ten times more interesting than it had appeared to
the prejudiced eyes of Vivien Warren. It was as though she--he--had
passed through some magic door, gone through the looking-glass and
was contemplating the same world as the one Vivie had known
for--shall we say fifteen?--years, but a world which viewed from a
different standpoint was quite changed in proportions, in colour, in
the conjunction of events. It was a world in which everything was
made smooth and easy before the semblance of manhood. What a joy to
be rid of skirts and petticoats! To be able to run after and leap on
to an omnibus, to wear the same hat day after day just stuck on top
of her curly head. Not, perhaps, to change her clothes, between her
uprising and her retirement to bed, unless she were going out to
dine. No simpering. No need to ask favours. No compliments. It is
true she felt awkward in the presence of women, not quite the same,
even with Honoria. But with men. What a difference! She felt she had
never really known men before. At first the frank speech, the
expletives, the smoking-room stories made her a little uncomfortable
and occasionally called forth an irrepressible blush. But this was
not to her disadvantage. It made her seem younger, and created a
good impression on her tutors and acquaintances. "A nice modest boy,
fresh from the country--pity to lead him astray--won't preserve his
innocence long--" was the vaguely defined impression, contact with
her--him, I mean--made on most decent male minds. Many a lad comes
up from the country to commence his career in London who knew far
less than the unfortunate Vivie had been compelled to know of the
shady side of life; who is compelled to lead a somewhat retired life
by straitness of means; whose determination towards probity and
regularity of life is respected by the men of law among whom he
finds himself.

But David having decided--he did not quite know why--to pursue his
acquaintance with Professor Rossiter; having written to ask if he
might do so (as a matter of fact he frequently saw Rossiter walking
across the gardens of New Square to go to the museum of the Royal
College of Surgeons: he recollected him immediately but Rossiter did
not reciprocate, being absent-minded); and having received a card
from "Linda Rossiter" to say they would be at home throughout the
winter on Thursdays, between 4 and 6: went on one of those Thursdays
and made definite progress with the great friendship of his life.



CHAPTER VI

THE ROSSITERS


The Rossiters' house in Park Crescent was at the northern end of
Portland Place, and its high-walled garden--the stables that were
afterwards to become a garage--and Michael Rossiter's long,
glass-roofed studio-laboratory--abutted on one of those quiet,
deadly-respectable streets at the back that are called after Devon
or Dorset place names.

The house is now a good deal altered and differently numbered, a
portion of it having been destroyed in one of the 1917 air-raids,
when the Marylebone Road was strewn with its broken glass for twenty
yards. But in the winter of 1901-2 and onwards till 1914 it was a
noted centre of social intercourse between Society and Science. The
Rossiters were well enough off--he made quite two thousand a year
out of his professorial work and his books, and her income which was
£5,000 when she first married had risen to £9,000 after they had
been married ten years; through the increase in value of Leeds town
property. Mrs. Rossiter had had two children, but were both dead,
her facile tears were dried, she satisfied her maternal instinct by
the keeping of three pug dogs which her husband secretly detested.
She also had a scarlet-and-blue macaw and two cockatoos and a
Persian cat; but these last her husband liked or tolerated for their
colour or their biological interest; only, as in the case of the
dogs, he objected (though seldom angrily, out of consideration for
his wife's feelings) to their being so messily and inopportunely
fed.

Linda Rossiter was liable to lose her pets as she had lost her two
children by alternating days of forgetfulness with weeks of lavish
over-attention. But as she readily gave way to tears on the least
remonstrance, Michael in the course of eleven years of married life
remonstrated as little as possible. A clever, tactful parlour-maid
and two good housemaids, a manservant who was devoted to the
"professor" and a taxidermist who assisted him in his experiments
did the rest in keeping the big house tolerably tidy and
presentable. Rossiter himself was too intent on the stars, the gases
of decomposition, the hidden processes of life, miscegenation in
star-fish, microbic diseases in man, beasts, birds and bees, the
glands of the throat, the suprarenal capsules and the chemical
origin of life to care much for æsthetics, for furniture and house
decoration. He was the third son of an impoverished Northumbrian
squire who on his part cared only for the more barbarous
field-sports, and when he could take his mind off them believed that
at some time and place unspecified Almighty God had dictated the
English bible word for word, had established the English Church and
had scrupulously prescribed the functions and limitations of woman.
His wife--Michael Rossiter's tenderly-loved mother--had died from a
neglected prolapsus of the womb, and the old rambling house in
Northumberland situated in superb scenery, had in its furniture
grown more and more hideous to the eye as early and mid-Victorian
fashions and ideals receded and modern taste shook itself free from
what was tawdry, fluffy, stuffy, floppy, messy, cheaply imitative,
fringed and tasselled and secretive.

Michael himself from sheer detestation of the surroundings under
which he had grown to manhood favoured the uncovered, the naked wood
or stone or slate, the bare floor, the wooden settee or
cane-bottomed chair, the massive side-board, the bare mantelpiece
and distempered wall. On the whole, their house in Portland Place
satisfied tolerably well the advanced taste in domestic scenery of
1901. But your eye was caught at once by the additions made by Mrs.
Rossiter. Linda conceived it was her womanly mission to lighten the
severity of Michael's choice in furniture and decorations. She
introduced rickety and expensive screens that were easily knocked
over; photographs in frames which toppled at a breath; covers on
every flat surface that could be covered--occasional tables, tops of
grand pianos. If she did not put frills round piano legs, she placed
tasselled poufs about the drawing-room that every short-sighted
visitor fell over, and used large bows of slightly discoloured
ribbon to mask unneeded brackets. In the reception rooms
food-bestrewn parrot stands were left where they ought never to be
seen; and there were gilt-wired parrot cages; baskets for the pugs
lined with soiled shawls; absurd ornaments, china cats with
exaggerated necks, alabaster figures of stereotyped female beauty
and flowerpot stands of ornate bamboo. She loved portières, and she
would fain have mitigated the bareness of the panelled or
distempered walls; only that here her husband was firm. She
unconsciously mocked the few well-chosen, well-placed pictures on
the walls (which she itched to cover with a "flock" paper) by
placing in the same room on bamboo easels that matched the
be-ribboned flower-stands pastel, crayon, or _gouache_ studies of
the worst possible taste.

Michael's library alone was free from her improvements, though it
was sometimes littered with her work-bags or her work. She had long
ago developed the dreadful mistake that it "helped" Michael at his
work if she brought hers (perfectly futile as a rule) there too. "I
just sit silently in his room, my dear, and stitch or knit something
for poor people in Marrybone--I'm told you mayn't say Mary-le-bone.
I feel it _helps_ Michael to know I'm there, but of course I don't
interrupt him at his _work_."

As a matter of fact she did, confoundedly. But fortunately she soon
grew sleepy or restless. She would yawn, as she believed "prettily,"
but certainly noisily; or she would wonder "how time was going," and
of course her twenty-guinea watch never went, or if it was going was
seldom within one hour of the actual time. Or she would sneeze six
times in succession--little cat-like sneezes that were infinitely
disturbing to a brain on the point of grasping the solution of a
problem. Throughout the winter months she had a little cough. Oh no,
you needn't think I'm preparing the way for decease through
phthisis--it was one of those "kiffy" coughs due in the main to
acidity--too many sweet things in her diet, too little exercise. She
_thought_ she coughed with the greatest discretion but to the jarred
nerves of her husband a few hearty bellows or an asthmatic wheeze
would have been preferable to the fidgety, marmoset-like sounds that
came from under a lace handkerchief. Sometimes he would raise his
eyes to speak sharply; but at the sight of the mild gaze that met
his, the perfect belief that she was a soothing presence in this
room of hard thinking and close writing--this superb room with its
unrivalled library that he owed to the use of her wealth, his angry
look would soften and he would return smile for smile.

Linda though a trifle fretful on occasion, especially with servants,
a little petulant and huffy with a sense of her own dignity and
importance as a rich woman, was completely happy in her marriage.
She had never regretted it for one hour, never swerved from the
conviction that she and Michael were a perfect match--he, tall,
stalwart, black-haired and strong; she "petite"--she loved the
French adjective ever since it had been applied to her at
Scarborough by a sycophantic governess--petite--she would repeat,
blonde, plump, or better still "potelée" (the governess had later
suggested, when she came to tea and hoped to be asked to stay)
_potelée_, blue-eyed and pink-cheeked. Dresden china and all the
stale similes applied to a type of little woman of whom the modern
world has grown intolerant.

It was therefore into this _milieu_ that David found himself
introduced one Thursday at the end of November, 1901. He had walked
the short distance from Great Portland Street station. It was a fine
day with a red sunset, and a lemon-coloured, thin moon-crescent
above the sunset. The trees and bushes of Park Crescent were a
background of dull blue haze. The surface of the broad roads was dry
and polished, so his neat, patent-leather boots would still be fit
for drawing-room carpets.

A footman in a very plain livery--here Michael was firm--opened the
massive door. David passed between some statuary of too frank a
style for Linda's modest taste and was taken over by a butler of
severe aspect who announced him into the great drawing-room as Mr.
David Williams.

He recognized Rossiter at once, standing up with a tea-cup and
saucer, and presumed that a fluffy, much be-furbelowed little lady
at the main tea-table was Mrs. Rossiter, since she wore no hat.
There was besides a rather alarming concourse of men and women of
the world as he kept his eyes firmly fixed on Mrs. Rossiter for his
immediate goal.

Rossiter met him half-way, shook hands cordially and introduced him
to his wife who bowed with one of her "sweet" looks. For the moment
David did not interest her. She was much more interested in trying
to give an impression of profundity to Lady Feenix who was
commenting on the professor's discoveries of the strange properties
of the thyroid gland. A few introductions were effected--Lady
Towcester, Lady Flower, Miss Knipper-Totes, Lady Dombey, Mr.
Lacrevy, Professor Ray Lankester, Mr. and Mrs. Gosse--and naturally
for the most part David only half caught their names while they,
without masking their indifference, closed their ears to his ("Some
student or other from his classes, I suppose--rather nicely dressed,
rather too good-looking for a young man"); and Rossiter, who had
been interrupted first by Mrs. Rossiter asking him to observe that
Lady Dombey had nothing on her plate, and secondly by David's
entrance, resumed his discourse. Goodness knew that he didn't _want_
to discourse on these occasions, but Society expected it of him.
There were quite twenty--twenty-two--people present and most of
them--all the women--wanted to go away and say four hours
afterwards:

"We were (I was) at the Rossiters this afternoon, and the Professor
was fascinating" ("great," "profoundly interesting," "shocking, my
dear," "scandalous," "disturbing," "illuminating," "more-than-usually-
enthralling-only-she-_would_-keep-interrupting-why-_is_-she-such-a-fool?")
according to the idiosyncrasy of the diner-out. "He talked to us
about the thyroid gland--I don't believe poor Bob's got one, between
ourselves--and how if you enlarged it or reduced it you'd adjust
people's characters to suit the needs of Society; and all about
chimpanzi's blood--I believe he _vivisects_ half through the night
in that studio behind the house--being the same as ours; and then
Ray Lankester and Chalmers Mitchell argued about the cæca--cæcums,
you know--something to do with appendicitis--of the mammalia, and
altogether we had a high old time--I _always_ learn something on
their Thursdays."

Well: Rossiter resumed his description of an experiment he was
making--quite an everyday one, of course, for there were at least
three men present to whom he wasn't going to give away clues
prematurely. An experiment on the motor biallaxis of dormice.

[Mrs. Rossiter had six months previously bought a dormouse in a cage
at a bazaar, and after idolizing it for a week had forgotten all
about it. Her husband had rescued it half starved; his assistant had
fed it up in the laboratory, and they had tried a few experiments on
it with painless drugs with astonishing results.]

The recital really was interesting and entirely outside the
priggishness of Science, but it was marred in consecutiveness and
simplicity by Mrs. Rossiter's interruptions. "Michael dear, Lady
Dombey's cup!" Or: "Mike, could you cut that cake and hand it
round?" Or, if she didn't interrupt her husband she started stories
and side-issues of her own in a voice that was quite distinctly
heard, about a new stitch in crochet she had seen in the _Queen_, or
her inspection of the East Marrybone soup kitchen.

However when all had taken as much tea and cakes and _marrons
glacés_ as they cared for--David was so shy that he had only one cup
of tea and one piece of tea-cake--the large group broke up into five
smaller ones. The few gradually converged, and dropping all nonsense
discussed biology like good 'uns, David listening eager-eyed and
enthralled at the marvels just beginning to peep out of the
dissecting and vivisecting rooms and chemical laboratories in the
opening years of the Twentieth century. Then one by one they all
departed; but as David was going too Rossiter detained him by a
kindly pressure on the arm--a contact which sent a half-pleasant,
half-disagreeable thrill through his nerves.

"Don't hurry away unless you really _are_ pressed for time. I want
to show you some of my specimens and the place where I work."

David followed him--after taking his leave of Mrs. Rossiter who
accepted his polite sentences--a little stammered--with a slightly
pompous acquiescence--followed him to the library and then through a
curtained door down some steps into a great studio-laboratory,
provided (behind screens) with washing places, and full of
mysteries, with cupboards and shelves and further rooms beyond and a
smell of chloride of lime combined with alcoholic preservatives and
undefined chemicals. After a tour round this domain in which David
was only slightly interested--for lack of the right education
and imagination--so far he--or--she had only the mind of a
mathematician--Rossiter led him back into the library, drew out
chairs, indicated cigarettes--even whiskey and soda if he wanted
it--David declined--and then began to say what was at the back of
his mind:--

"We met first in the train, the South Wales Express, you remember? I
fancy you told me then that you had been in South Africa, in this
bungled war, and had been either wounded or ill in some way. In fact
you went so far as to say you had had 'necrosis of the jaw,' a thing
I politely doubted because whatever it was it has left no
perceptible scar. Of course it's damned impertinent of me to
cross-examine you at all, or to ask _why_ you went to and why you
left South Africa. But I don't mind confessing you inspire me with a
good deal of interest.

"Now the other day--as you know--I made the acquaintance of your
father in Wales--at Pontystrad. I told him I had shown a young
fellow some of those Gower caves and how his name was--like your
father's, 'Williams.' Of course we soon came to an understanding.
Then your father spoke of you in _high_ praise. What a delightful
nature was yours, how considerate and kind you were--don't blush,
though I admit it becomes you--Well you can pretty well guess how he
went on. But what interested me particularly was his next
admission: how different you were as a lad--rather more than the
ordinary wild oats--eh? And how completely an absence in South
Africa had changed you. You must forgive my cheek in dissecting your
character like this. My excuse is that you yourself had rather
vaguely referred to some wound or blood poisoning or operation, on
the jaw or the throat. Not to beat about the bush any more, the idea
came into my mind that _if_ in some way the knife or the enemy's
bullet had interfered with your thyroid gland--Twig what I mean? I
mean, that if your old man has not been exaggerating and that the
difference between the naughty boy whom he sent up to London
in--what was it? 1896?--and the perfectly behaved, good sort of chap
that you are _now_ is no more than what usually happens when young
men lose their cubbishness, _why_--_why_--do you take me?--I ask
myself whether the change had come about through some interference
with the thyroid gland. Do you understand? And I thought, seeing how
intensely interesting this research has become, you might have told
me more about it. Just what _did_ happen to you; where you were
wounded, who attended to you, what operation was performed on the
throat--only the rum thing is there seems to be no scar--well: now
_you_ help me out, that is unless you feel more inclined to say,
'What the _hell_ does it matter to _you_?'"...

David by this time has grown scarlet with embarrassment and
confusion. But he endeavoured to meet the situation.

"My character _has_ changed during the last five years, and
especially so since I came back from South Africa. But I am quite
sure it was not due to any operation, on the throat or anywhere
else. I really don't know _why_ I told you that silly falsehood in
the train--about necrosis of the jaw. The fact is that when I was in
hospital--at--Colesberg, a friend of mine in the same ward used--to
chaff me--and say I was going to have necrosis. I had got knocked
over one day--by--the--wind of a shell and thought I was done for,
but it really was next to nothing. P'raps I had a dose of fever on
top. At any rate they kept me in hospital, and one morning the
doctors disappeared and the Boers marched in and when I got well
enough I managed to escape and get away to--er--Cape Town and so
returned--with some money--my friend Frank Gardner lent me." (At
this stage the sick-at-heart Vivie was saying to herself, "_What_ an
account I'm laying up for Frank to honour when he comes back--if he
_does_ come back.") "I don't know _why_ I tell you all this, except
that I ought never to have misled you at the start. But _if_ you are
a kind and good man"--David's voice broke here--"You will forget all
about it and not upset my father, I can _assure_ you I haven't done
_anything_ really wrong. I haven't deserted--some day--perhaps--I
can tell you all about it. But at present all that South African
episode is just a horrid dream--I was more sinned against than
sinning" (tears were rather in the voice at this stage). "I want to
forget all about it--and settle down and vex my father no more. I
want to read for the Bar--a soldier's life is the very _opposite_ to
what I should choose if I were a free agent. But you will trust me,
won't you? You will believe me when I say I've done _nothing_ wrong,
nothing that you, if you knew all the facts, would call wrong...?"

Speech here trailed off into emotion. Despite the severest
self-restraint the bosom rose and fell. A few tears trickled down
the smooth cheeks--it was an ingratiating boy on the verge of
manhood that Rossiter saw before him. He hastened to say:

"My _dear_ chap! Don't say another word, unless you like to
blackguard me for my impertinence in putting these questions. I
_quite_ understand. We'll consider the whole thing erased from our
memories. Go on studying for the Bar with all your might, if you
must take up so barren a profession and won't become my pupil in
biology--Great openings, I can tell you, coming now in that
direction." (A pause.)

"But if it's of any interest to you, just come here as often as you
like in your spare time--either to tea with Mrs. Rossiter or to see
me at work on my experiments. I've taken a great liking to you, if
you'll allow me to say so. I think there's good stuff in you. A
young man reading for the Bar in London is none the worse for a few
friends. He must often feel pretty lonely on a Sunday, for example.
And he may also--now I'm going to be impertinent and paternal
again--he may also pick up undesirable acquaintances, male--and
female. Don't you get feeling lonely, with your home far away in
Wales. Consider yourself free of this place at any rate, and my wife
and I can introduce you to some other people you might like to know.
I might introduce you to Mark Stansfield the Q.C. Do you know any
one in London, by the bye?"

"Oh yes," said David, smiling with all but one tear dried on a still
coloured cheek. "I know Honoria Fraser--I know Mr. Praed the
architect--"

"The A.R.A.? Of course; you or your father said you had
been his pupil. H'm. Praed. Yes, I visualize him. Rather a
dilettante--whimsical--I didn't like what I heard of him at one
time. However it's no affair of mine. And Honoria Fraser! She's
simply one of the best women I know. It's curious she wasn't
here--At least I didn't see her--this afternoon. She's a friend of
my wife's. I knew her when she was at Newnham. She had a great
friend--what was it? Violet? No, Vera? Vivien--yes that was it,
_Vivien_ Warren. Of course! Why that business she started for women
in the City somewhere is called _Fraser and Warren_. She was always
wanting to bring this Vivien Warren here. Said she had such a pretty
colouring. I own I rather like to see a pretty woman. But she didn't
come" (pulls at his pipe and thrusts another cigarette on David).
"Went abroad. Seemed rather morose. Some one who came with Honoria
said she had a bad mother, and Honoria very rightly shut him up. By
the bye, _where_ and _how_ did you come to meet Honoria first?"

(David was on the point of saying--he was so unstrung--"Why we were
at Newnham together." Then resolved to tell another whopper--Indeed
I am told there is a fascination in certain circumstances about
lying--and replied): "Vivien Warren was my cousin. She was a
Vavasour on her mother's side--from South Wales--and my mother was a
Vavasour too--" And as the disguised Vivie said this, some inkling
came into her mind that there _was_ a real relationship between
Catharine Warren _née_ Vavasour and the Mary Vavasour who was
David's mother. A spasm of joy flashed through her at the
possibility of her story being in some slight degree true.

"I see," said Rossiter, satisfied, and feeling now that the
interview had lasted long enough and that there would be just time
to glance at his assistant's afternoon work before he dressed for
dinner....

"Well, old chap. Good-bye for the present. Come often and see us and
look upon me--I must be fifteen years older than you are--What,
_twenty-four_? Impossible! You don't look a day older than
twenty--in fact, if you hadn't told me you'd been in South
Africa--However as I was saying, look on me as _in loco parentis_
while you _are_ in London. I'll show you the way out into the hall.
Shall they call you a cab? No? You're quite right. It's a splendid
night for January. Where do you live? Here, write it down in my
address book.... '7 Fig Tree Court, Temple'--What a jolly address!
Are there fig trees in the Temple ... still? P'raps descended from
cuttings or layers the poor Templars brought from the Holy Land."


David returned to Fig Tree Court and his studies of criminology. But
his body and mind thrilled with the experiences of the afternoon;
and the musty records in works of repellent binding and close,
unsympathetic print of nineteenth century forgery, poisoning,
assaults-on-the-person, and cruelty-to-children cases for once
failed to hold his close attention. He sat all through the evening
after a supper of bread and cheese and ginger beer in his snug,
small room, furnished principally with well-filled book-shelves. The
room had a glowing fire and a green-shaded reading lamp. He sat
staring beyond his law books at visions, waking dreams that came and
went. The dangers of exposure that opened before him were in these
dreams, but there were other mind-pictures that filled his life with
a glow of colour. How different from the drab horizons that
encircled poor Vivie Warren less than a year ago! Poor Vivie, whom
even FitzJohn's Avenue at Hampstead had rejected, who had long since
been dropped--no doubt on account of rumours concerning her
mother--by the few acquaintances she had made at Cambridge, who had
parents living in South Kensington, Bayswater, and Bloomsbury. Here
was Portland Place receiving her in her guise as David Williams with
open arms. Men and women looked at her kindly, interestedly, and she
could look back at them without that protective frown. At night she
could walk about the town, go to the theatre, stroll along the
Embankment and attract no man's offensive attentions. She could
enter where she liked for a meal, a cup of tea, frequent the museum
of the Royal College of Surgeons when she would without waiting for
a "ladies" day; stop to look at a street fight, cause no sour looks
if she entered a smoking compartment on the train, mingle with the
man-world unquestioned, unhindered, unnoticed, exciting at most a
pleasant off-hand camaraderie due to her youth and good looks.

Should she go on with the bold adventure? A thousand times yes!
David should break no law in Vivie's code of honour, do real wrong
to no one; but Vivie should see the life best worth living in London
from a man's standpoint.

David however must be armed at every point and have his course
clearly marked out before his contemplation. He must steep himself
in the geography of South Africa--Why not get Rossiter to propose
him as a fellow of the Royal Geographical Society? That _would_ be a
lark because they wouldn't admit women as members: they had refused
Honoria Fraser. David must read up--somewhere--the history of the
South African War as far as it went. He had better find out
something about the Bechuanaland Police Force; how as a member of
such a force he could have drifted as far south as the vicinity of
Colesberg; how thereabouts he could have got sick enough--he
certainly would say nothing more about a wound--to have been put
into hospital. He must find out how he could have escaped from the
Boers and come back to England without getting into difficulties
with the military or the Colonial Office or whoever had any kind of
control over the members of the Bechuanaland Border Police....

But the whole South African episode had better be dropped. Rossiter,
after his appeal, would set himself to forget and ignore it. It must
be damped down in the poor old father's mind as of relative
unimportance--after all, his father was a recluse who did not have
many visitors ... by the bye, he must remember to write on the
morrow and explain why he could not come down for Christmas or the
New Year ... would promise a good long visit in the Easter holidays
instead--Must remember that resolution to learn up some Welsh. What
a nuisance it was that you couldn't buy anywhere in London or in
South Wales any book about modern conversation in Welsh. The sort of
Welsh you learnt in the old-fashioned books, which were all that
could be got, was Biblical language--Some one had told David that if
you went into Smithfield Market in the early morning you might meet
the Welsh farmers and stock-drivers who had come up from Wales
during the night and who held forth in the Cymric tongue over their
beasts. But probably their language was such as would shock
Nannie.... Supposing Frank Gardner did come to England? In that case
it might be safer to confide in Frank. He was harum-scarum, but he
was chivalrous and he pitied Vivie. Besides he was a prime
appreciator of a lark. Should she even tell Rossiter? No, of
_course_ not. That was just one of the advantages of being "David."
As "David" she could form a sincere and inspiring friendship with
Rossiter which would be utterly beyond her reach as "Vivie." How
pale beside the comradeship of Honoria now appeared the hand-grips,
the hearty male free-masonry of a man like Rossiter. How ungrateful
however even to make such an admission to herself....

At present the only people who knew of her prank and guessed or knew
her purpose were Honoria and Bertie Adams. Honoria! what a noble
woman, what a true friend. Somehow, now she was David, she saw
Honoria in a different light. Poor Norie! She too had her wistful
leanings, her sorrows and disappointments. What a good thing it
would be if her mother decided to die--of course she would, could,
never say any such thing to Norie--to die and set free Honoria to
marry Major Petworth Armstrong! She felt Norie still hankered after
him, but perhaps kept him at bay partly because of her mother's
molluscous clingings--No! she wouldn't even sneer at Lady Fraser.
Lady Fraser had been one of the early champions of Woman's rights.
Very likely it was a dread of Vivie's sneers and disappointment that
had mainly kept back Norie from accepting Major Armstrong's
advances. Well, when next they met she--Vivie--or better still
David--would set that right.



CHAPTER VII

HONORIA AGAIN


                              7, Fig Tree Court, Temple.
                                     _March_ 20, 1902.


     DEAR HONORIA,--

     I am going down to spend Easter with my people in South
     Wales. Before I leave I should so very much like a long talk
     with you where we can talk freely and undisturbed. That is
     impossible at the Office for a hundred reasons, especially
     now that Beryl Claridge has taken to working early in her
     new-found zeal, while Bertie Adams deems it his duty to stay
     late. I am--really, truly--grieved to hear that your mother
     is so ill again. I would not ask to meet her--even if she
     was well enough to receive people--because she does not know
     me and when one is as ill as she is, the introduction to a
     stranger is a horrid jar. But if you _could_ fit in say an
     hour's detachment from her side--is it "bed-side" or is she
     able to get up?--and could receive me in your own
     sitting-room, why then we could have that full and free talk
     I should like on your affairs and on mine and on the joint
     affairs of _Fraser and Warren_.

                               Yours sincerely,
                                          D. V. W.


     DEAR DAVID,--

     Come by all means. The wish for a talk is fully reciprocated
     on my side. Mother generally tries to sleep in the afternoon
     between three and six, and a Nurse is then with her.

                               Yours sincerely,
                                          H. F.

"Mr. David Williams wishes to see you, Miss," said a waiter,
meeting Honoria on a Thursday afternoon, as she was emerging into
their tiny hall from her mother's room.

"Show him up, please.... Ah _there_ you are, _David_. We must both
talk rather low as mother is easily waked. Come into my study;
fortunately it is at the other end of the flat."

        *       *       *       *       *

They reach the study, and Honoria closes the door softly but firmly
behind them.

"We never do kiss as a rule, having long ago given up such a messy
form of greeting; but certainly we wouldn't under these
circumstances lest we could be seen from the opposite windows and
thought to be 'engaged'; but though I may seem a little frigid in
greeting you, it is only because of the clothes you are
wearing'--You understand, don't you--?"

"Quite, dearest. We cannot be too careful. Besides we long ago
agreed to be modern and sanitary in our manners."

"Won't you smoke?"

"Well, perhaps it would be more restful," said David, "more manly;
but as a matter of fact of late I have been rather 'off' smoking. It
is very wasteful, and as far as I am concerned it never produced
much effect--either way--on the nerves. Still, it gives one a nice
manly flavour. I always liked the smell of a smoking-room.... And
your mother: how is she?"

"Very bad, I fear. The doctor tells me she can't last much longer,
and hypocritical as the phrase sounds I couldn't wish her to, unless
these pains can be mitigated, and this dreadful distress in
breathing.... I wonder if some day _I_ shall be like that, and if
behind my back a daughter will be saying she couldn't wish me to
live much longer, unless, etc. I shall miss her _frightfully_, if
she does die.... Armstrong has been more than kind. He has got a
woman's heart for tenderness. He thinks every day of some fresh
palliative until the doctors quite dislike him. Fortunately his
kindness gives mother a fleeting gleam of pleasure. She wants me to
marry him--I don't know, I'm sure.... Whilst she's so bad I don't
feel I could take any interest in love-making--and I suppose we
_should_ make love in a perfunctory way--We're all of us so bound by
conventions. We try to feel dismal at funerals, when often the
weather is radiant and the ride down to Brookwood most exhilarating.
And love-making is supposed to go with marriage ... heigh-ho! What
should you say if I _did_ marry--Major Armstrong...? Did you ever
hear of such a ridiculous name as Petworth? I should have to call
him 'Pet' and every one would think I had gone sentimental in middle
age. How _can_ parents be so unthinking about Christian names? He
can't see the thing as I do; it is almost the only subject on which
he is 'huffy.' _You_ are the other, about which more anon. He says
the Petworth property meant _everything_ to the Armstrongs, to _his_
branch of the Armstrongs. But for that, they might have been any
other kind of Armstrong--it always kept him straight at school and
in the army, he says, to remember he was an Armstrong of Petworth.
They have held that poor little property (_I_ call it) alongside the
Egmonts and the Leconfields for three hundred years, though they've
been miserably poor. His second name is James--Petworth James
Armstrong. But he loathes being called 'Jimmy.'

"Of course, dear, I've no illusions. I'm not bad to look at--indeed
I sometimes quite admire my figure when I see myself after my bath
in the cheval glass--but I'm pretty well sure that one of the
factors in Pet's admiration for me was my income. Mother, it seems,
has a little of her own, from one of her aunts, and if the poor
darling is taken--though it is simply horrid considering that
_if_--only that she has talked so freely to Army--I think I like
'Army' far better than 'Pet'--Well I mean she's been trying to tell
him ever since he first came to call that when she is gone I shall
have, all told, in my own right, Five thousand a year. So I took the
first opportunity of letting _him_ know that Two thousand a year of
that would be held in reserve for the work of the firm and for the
Woman's Cause generally.... Look here, I won't babble on much
longer.... I know you're dying to make _me_ confidences.... We'll
ring for tea to be sent in here, and whilst the waiter is coming and
going--Don't they take _such_ a time about it, when they're _de
trop_?--we'll talk of ordinary things that can be shouted from the
_house tops_.

"I haven't been to the Office for three days. Does everything seem
to be going on all right?"

_David_: "Quite all right. Bertie Adams tries dumbly to express in
his eyes his determination to see the firm and me through all our
troubles and adventures. I wish I could convey a discreet hint to
him not to be so _blatantly_ discreet. If there were a Sherlock
Holmes about the place he would spot at once that Adams and I shared
a secret.... But about Beryl--" (Enter waiter....)

_Honoria_ (to waiter): "Oh--er--tea for two please. Remember it must
be China and the still-room maids _must_ see that the water has been
fresh-boiled. And buttered toast--or if you've got muffins...? You
have? Well, then muffins; and of course jam and cake. And--would you
mind--you always try, I know--bringing the things in very
quietly--here--? Because Lady Fraser is so easily waked..."

(The Swiss waiter goes out, firmly convinced that Honoria's anxiety
for her lady mother is really due to the desire that the mother
should not interrupt a flirtation and a clandestine tea.)

_Honoria_: "Well, about Beryl?"

_David_: "Beryl, I should say, is going to become a great woman of
business. But for that, and--I think--a curious streak of fidelity
to her vacillating architect ('How happy could I be with either,'
don't you know, _he_ seems to feel--just now they say he is living
steadily at Storrington with his wife No. 1, who is ill, poor
thing) ... but for that and this, I think Beryl would enjoy a
flirtation with me. She can't quite make me out, and my unwavering
severity of manner. Her cross-questioning sometimes is maddening--or
it might become so, but that with both of us--you and me--retiring
so much into the background she has to lead such a strenuous life
and see one after the other the more important clients. Of
course--here's the tea..."

(Brief interval during which the waiter does much unnecessary laying
out of the tea until Honoria says: "Don't let me keep you. I know
you are busy at this time. I will ring if we want anything.") David
continues: "Of course I come in for my share of the work after six.
On one point Beryl is firm; she doesn't mind coming at nine or at
eight or at half-past seven in the morning, but she _must_ be back
in Chelsea by half-past five to see her babies, wash them and put
them to bed. She has a tiny little house, she tells me, near
Trafalgar Square, and fortunately she's got an excellent and devoted
nurse, one of those rare treasures that questions nothing and is
only interested in the business in hand. She and a cook-general make
up the establishment. Before Mrs. Architect No. 1 became ill, Mr.
Architect used to visit her there pretty regularly, and is assumed
to be Mr. Claridge.... Well: to finish up about Beryl: I think
you--we--can trust her. She may be odd in her notions of morality,
but in finance or business she's as honest--as--a man."

"My dear Vivie--I mean David--what a strange thing for _you_ to
say! I suppose it is part of your make-up--goes with the clothes and
that turn-over collar, and the little safety pin through the tie--?"

_David_: "No, I said it deliberately. Men are mostly hateful things,
but I think in business they're more dependable than women--think
more about telling a lie or letting any one down. The point for you
to seize on is this--if you haven't noticed it already: that Beryl
has become an uncommonly good business woman. And what's more, my
dear, you've improved _her_ just as you improved _me_" (Honoria
deprecates this with a gesture, as she sits looking into the fire).
"Beryl's talk is getting ever so much less reckless. And she takes
jolly good care not to scandalize a client. She finds Adams--she
tells me--so severe at the least jest or personality that she only
talks to him now on business matters, and finds him a great
stand-by; and the other day she told Miss A.--as you call the senior
clerk--she ought to be ashamed of herself, bringing in a copy of the
_Vie Parisienne_. The way she settled Mrs. Gordon's affairs--you
remember, No. 3875 you catalogued the case--was masterly; and Mrs.
G. has insisted on paying 5 per cent. commission on the recovered
property. And it was Beryl who found out that leakage in the
'Variegated Tea Rooms' statement of accounts. I hadn't spotted it.
No. I think we needn't be anxious about Beryl, especially whilst I
am in Wales and you are giving yourself up--as you ought to do--to
your mother. But it's coming to _this_, Honoria--" (Enter waiter.
David says "Oh, damn," half audibly. Waiter is confirmed in his
suspicions, but as he likes Honoria immensely resolves to say
nothing about them in the Steward's room. She is such a kind young
lady. He explains he has come to take the tea things away, and
Honoria replies "Capital idea! Now, David, you'll be able to have
the whole table for your accounts!").... "It's coming to _this_,
Honoria," says David, clearing his throat, "that you will soon be
wanting not to be bothered any more with the affairs of _Fraser and
Warren_, and after I really get into the Law business I too shall
require to detach myself. Let us therefore be thankful that Beryl is
shaping so well. I rather think this summer you will have to get
more office accommodation and give her some more responsible women
to help her.... _Now_ finish what you were saying about Major
Armstrong."

_Honoria_: "Of _course_ I shall marry him some day. I suppose I felt
that the day after I first met him. But it amuses me to be under no
illusion. I am sure this is what happened two years ago--or whenever
it was he came back wounded from your favourite haunt, South Africa.
Michael Rossiter--who likes 'Army' enormously--I think they were at
school or college together--said to Linda, his wife: 'Here's
Armstrong. One of the best. Wants to marry. Wife must have a little
money, otherwise he'll have to go on letting Petworth Manor. And
here's Honoria Fraser, one of the finest women I've ever met.
Getting a little long in the tooth--or will be soon. Let's bring 'em
together and make a match of it.'

"So we are each convoked for a luncheon, with a projected
adjournment to Kew--which _you_ spoilt--and there it is. But joking
apart, 'Army' is a dear and I am sure by now he wants me even more
than my money--and I certainly want him. I'm rising thirty and I
long for children and don't want 'em to come to me too late in
life."

_David_: "You said he didn't like _me_..."

_Honoria_: "Oh that was half nonsense. When we all met last Sunday
at the Rossiters he became very jealous and suspicious. Asked who
was that whipper-snapper--I said you neither whipped nor snapped,
especially if kindly treated. He said then who was that Madonna
young man--a phrase it appears he'd picked up from Lord Cromer,
who used to apply it to every new arrival from the Foreign
Office--Armstrong was once his military secretary. I was surprised
to hear he thought you womanish--I spoke of your fencing,
riding,--was just going to add 'hockey,' and 'croquet': then
remembered they might be thought feminine pastimes, so referred to
your swimming. Military men always respect a good swimmer; I fancy
because many of them funk the water.... I was just going on to
explain that you were a cousin of a great friend of mine and helped
me in my business, when a commissionaire came from Quansions in a
hansom to say that mother was feeling very bad again. 'Army' and I
went back in the hansom, but I was crying a little and being a
gentleman he did not press his suit..."

Enter Lady Fraser's nurse on tiptoe. Says in a very hushed voice
"Major Armstrong has called, Miss Fraser. He came to ask about Lady
Fraser. I said if anything she was a bit better and had had a good
sleep. He then asked if he might see you."

_Honoria_: "Certainly. Would you mind showing him in here? It will
save my ringing for the waiter."

Enter Major Armstrong. At the sight of David he flushes and looks
fierce.

_Honoria_: "So glad you've come, dear Major. I hear mother has had a
good nap. I must go to her presently. You know David Vavasour
Williams?--Davy! You really _must_ leave out your second name! It
gets so fatiguing having to say it every time I introduce you."

Armstrong bows stiffly and David, standing with one well-shaped foot
in a neat boot on the curb of the fireplace, looks up and returns
the bow.

_Honoria_: "This won't do. You are two of my dearest friends, and
yet you hardly greet one another. I always determined from the age
of fifteen onwards I would never pass my life as men and women in a
novel do--letting misunderstandings creep on and on where fifty
words might settle them. _Army!_ You've often asked me to marry
you--or at least so I've understood your broken sentences. I never
refused you in so many words. Now I say distinctly 'Yes'--if you'll
have me. Only, you know quite well I can't actually marry you whilst
mother lies so ill..."

Major Armstrong, very red in the face, in a mixture of exultation,
sympathy and annoyance that the affairs of his heart are being
discussed before a whipper-snapper stranger--says: "_Honoria!_ Do
you _mean_ it? Oh..."

_Honoria_: "Of course I mean it! And if I drew back you could now
have a breach-of-promise-of-marriage action, with David as an
important witness. D.V.W.--who by the bye is a cousin of my
_greatest friend_--my friend for life, whether you like her--as you
ought to do--or not--Vivie Warren.... David is reading for the Bar;
and besides being your witness to what I have just said, might--if
you deferred your action long enough--be your Counsel.... Now look
here," (with a catch in the voice) "you two dear things. My nerves
are all to bits.... I haven't slept properly for nights and nights.
David, dear, if you _must_ talk any more business before you go down
to Wales, you must come and see me to-morrow.... Darling mother! I
can't _bear_ the thought you may not live to see my happiness."
(David discreetly withdraws without a formal good-bye, and as he
goes out and the firelight flickers up, sees Armstrong take Honoria
in his arms.)



CHAPTER VIII

THE BRITISH CHURCH


David had read hard all through Hilary term with Mr. Stansfield of
the Inner Temple; he had passed examinations brilliantly; he had
solved knotty problems in the legal line for _Fraser and Warren_,
and as already related he had begun to go out into Society. Indeed,
starting from the Rossiters' Thursdays and Praed's studio suppers,
he was being taken up by persons of influence who were pleased to
find him witty, possessed of a charming voice, of quiet but
unassailable manners. Opinions differed as to his good looks. Some
women proclaimed him as adorable, rather Sphynx-like, you know, but
quite fascinating with his well-marked eye-brows, his dark and curly
lashes, the rich warm tints of his complexion, the unfathomable grey
eyes and short upper lip with the down of adolescence upon it. Other
women without assigning any reason admitted he did not produce any
effect on their sensibility--they disliked law students, they said,
even if they were of a literary turn; they also disliked curates and
shopwalkers and sidesmen ... and Sunday-school teachers. Give them
_manly_ men; avowed soldiers and sailors, riders to hounds,
sportsmen, big game hunters, game-keepers, chauffeurs--the
chauffeur was becoming a new factor in Society, Bernard Shaw's
"superman"--prize-fighters, meat-salesmen--then you knew where you
were.

Similarly men were divided in their judgment of him. Some liked him
very much, they couldn't quite say why. Others spoke of him
contemptuously, like Major Armstrong had done. This was due partly
to certain women being inclined to run after him--and therefore to
jealousy on behalf of the professional lady-killer of the
military species--and partly to a vague feeling that he was
enigmatic--Sphynx-like, as some women said. He was too silent
sometimes, especially if the conversation amongst men tended towards
racy stories; he was sarcastic and nimble-witted when he did speak.
And he was not easily bullied. If he encountered an insolent person,
he gave full effect to his five feet eight inches, the look from his
grey eyes was unwavering as though he tacitly accepted the
challenge, there was an invisible rapier hanging from his left hip,
a poise of the body which expressed dauntless courage.

Honoria's stories of his skill in fencing, riding, swimming,
ball-games, helped him here. They were perfectly true or
sufficiently true--_mutatis mutandis_--and when put to the test
stood the test. David indeed found it well during this first season
in Town to hire a hack and ride a little in the Park--it only added
one way and another about fifty pounds to his outlay and impressed
certain of the Benchers who were beginning to turn an eye on him.
One elderly judge--also a Park rider--developed an almost
inconvenient interest in him; asked him to dinner, introduced him to
his daughters, and wanted to know a deal too much as to his position
and prospects.

On the whole, it was a distinct relief from a public position, from
this increasing number of town acquaintances, this broader and
broader track strewn with cunning pitfalls, to lock up his rooms and
go off to Wales for the Easter holidays. Easter was late that
year--or it has to be for the purpose of my story--and David was
fortunate in the weather and the temperature. If West Glamorganshire
had looked richly, grandiosely beautiful in full summer, it had an
exquisite, if quite different charm in early spring, in April. The
great trees were spangled with emerald leaf-buds; the cherries, tame
and wild, the black-thorn, the plums and pears in orchards and on
old, old, grey walls, were in full blossom of virgin white. The
apple trees in course of time showed pink buds. The gardens
were full of wall-flowers--the inhabited country smelt of
wall-flowers--purple flags, narcissi, hyacinths. The woodland was
exquisitely strewn with primroses. In the glades rose innumerable
spears of purple half-opened bluebells; the eye ranged over an
anemone-dotted sward in this direction; over clusters of smalt-blue
dog violets in another. Ladies'-smocks and cowslips made every
meadow delicious; and the banks of the lowland streams were
gorgeously gilded with king-cups. The mountains on fine days were
blue and purple in the far distance; pale green and grey in the
foreground. Under the April showers and sun-shafts they became
tragic, enchanted, horrific, paradisiac. Even the mining towns were
bearable--in the spring sunshine. If man had left no effort untried
to pile hideosity on hideosity, flat ugliness on nauseous squalor,
he had not been able to affect the arch of the heavens in its lucid
blue, all smokes and vapours driven away by the spring winds; he had
not been able to neutralize the vast views visible from the miners'
sordid, one-storeyed dwellings, the panorama of hill and plain, of
glistening water, towering peaks, and larch forests of emerald green
amid the blue-Scotch pines and the black-green yews.

David in previous letters, looking into his father's budget, had
shown him he could afford to keep a pony and a pony cart. This
therefore was waiting for him at the little station with the
gardener to drive. But in a week, David, already a good horseman,
had learnt to drive under the gardener's teaching, and then was able
to take his delighted father out for whole-day trips to revel in the
beauties of the scenery.

They would have with them a wicker basket containing an ample lunch
prepared by the generous hands of Bridget. They would stop at
some spot on a mountain pass; tether the pony, sit on a plaid
shawl thrown over a boulder, and feast their eyes on green
mountain-shoulders reared against the pale blue sky; or gaze across
ravines not unworthy of Switzerland. Or they would put up pony and
cart at some village inn, explore old battlemented churches and
churchyards with seventeenth and eighteenth century headstones, so
far more tasteful and seemly than the hideous death memorials of the
nineteenth century. And ever and again the old father, looking more
and more like a Druid, would recite that charming Spring song, the
104th Psalm; or fragments of Welsh poetry sounding very good in
Welsh--as no doubt Greek poetry does in properly pronounced Greek,
but being singularly bald and vague in its references to earth, sea,
sky and flora when translated into plain English.

David expressed some such opinions which rather scandalized his
father who had grown up in the conventional school of unbounded,
unreasoning reverence for the Hebrew, Greek and Keltic classics.
From that they passed to the great problems, the undeterminable
problems of the Universe; the awful littleness of men--mere lice,
perhaps, on the scurfy body of a shrinking, dying planet of a
fifth-rate sun, one of a billion other suns. The Revd. Howel like
most of the Christian clergy of all times of course never looked at
the midnight sky or gave any thought to the terrors and mysteries of
astronomy, a science so modern, in fact, that it only came into real
existence two or three hundred years ago; and is even now only taken
seriously by about ten thousand people in Europe and America. Where,
in this measureless universe--which indeed might only be one of
several universes--was God to be found? A God that had been upset by
the dietary of a small desert tribe, who fussed over burnt
sacrifices and the fat of rams at one time; at another objected to
censuses; at another and a later date wanted a human sacrifice to
placate his wrath; or who had washed out the world's fauna and flora
in a flood which had left no geological evidence to attest its
having taken place. "Did you ever think about the Dinosaurs,
father?" said David at the end of some such tirade--an outburst of
free-thinking which in earlier years might have upset that father to
wrath and angry protest, but which now for some reason only left him
dazed and absent-minded. (It was the Colonies that had done it, he
thought, and the studio talk of that dilettante architect. By and
bye, David would distinguish himself at the Bar, marry and settle
down, and resume the orthodox outlook of the English--or as he liked
to call it--the British Church.)

"The Dinosaurs, my boy? No. What were they?"

_David_: "The real Dragons, the Dragons of the prime, that swarmed
over England and Wales and Scotland, and Europe, Asia, and North
America--and I dare say Africa too. One of the most stupendous facts
of what you call 'creation,' though perhaps only one amongst many
skin diseases that have afflicted the planet--Well the Dinosaurs
went on developing and evolving and perfecting--so Rossiter
says--for three million years or so--Then they were scrap-heaped.
What a waste of creative energy!..."

_Father_: "Ah it's Rossiter who puts all these ideas into your head,
is it?"

_David_ (flushing); "Oh dear no! I used to think about them at (is
about to say 'Newnham,' but substitutes 'Malvern')--at Malvern--"

_Father_ (drily): "I'm glad to hear you thought about
something--serious--at any rate--then, in the midst of your scrapes
and truancies--but go on, dear boy. It's a delight to me to hear you
speak. It reminds me--I mean your voice does--of your poor mother.
You know I loved her very tenderly, David, and though it is all past
and done with I believe I should forgive her _now_, if she only came
back to me. I'm sometimes _so_ lonely, boy. I wish you'd marry and
settle down here--there's lots of room for you--some nice girl--and
give me grandchildren before I die. But I suppose I must be patient
and wait first for your call to the Bar. What a dreary long time it
all takes! Why can't they, with one so clever, shorten the term of
probation? Or why wait for that to marry? I could give you an
allowance. As soon as you were called you could then follow the
South Wales circuit--well, go on about your Dinosaurs. I seem to
remember Professor Owen invented them--but _he_ never wavered in his
faith and was the great opponent of that rash man, Darwin. Oh, _I_
remember now the old controversies--what a stalwart was the Bishop
of Winchester! They couldn't bear him at their Scientific
meetings--there was one at Bath, if I recollect right, and he put
them all to the right-about. What about your Dinosaurs? I'm not
denying their existence; it's only the estimates of time that are so
ridiculous. God made them and destroyed them in the great Flood, of
which their fossil remains are the evidence--"

David however would desist from pursuing such futile arguments; feel
surprised, indeed, at his own outbreaks, except that he hated
insincerity. However new and disturbing to his father were these
flashes of the New Learning, in his outward conduct he was orthodox
and extremely well-behaved. The spiritual exercises of the Revd.
Howel had become jejune, and limited very much by his failing sight.
The recovery after the operation had come too late in life to bring
about any expansion of public or private devotions. Family prayers
were reduced to the recital from memory of an exhortation, a
confession, and an absolution, followed by the Lord's Prayer and a
benediction. Services in the church were limited to Morning and
Evening prayers, with Communion on the first Sunday in the month,
and a sermon following Morning prayer. There was no one to play the
organ if the schoolmistress failed to turn up--as she often did.
David however scrupulously turned the normal congregation of
five--Bridget, the maid of the time-being, the gardener-groom, the
sexton, and a baker-church-warden--into six by his unvarying
attendance. In the course of half his stay the rumour of his being
present and of his good looks and great spiritual improvement
attracted quite a considerable congregation, chiefly of young women
and a few sheepish youths; so that his father was at one and the
same time exhilarated and embarrassed. Was this to be a Church
revival? If so, he readily pardoned David his theories on the
Dinosaurs and his doubts as to the unvarying evidence of Divine
Wisdom in the story of Creation.

If any other consideration than a deep affection for this dear old
man and repentance for his unwise ebullitions of Free Thought had
guided David in the matter it was an utter detestation of the
services and the influence of the Calvinist Chapel in the village,
the Little Bethel, presided over by Pastor Prytherch, a fanatical
blacksmith, who alternated spells of secret drunkenness and episodes
of animalism by orgies of self-abasement, during which he--in
half-confessing his own lapses--attributed freely and unrebukedly
the same vices to the male half of his overflowing congregation.
These out-pourings--"Pechadur truenus wyf i! Arglwydd madden i
mi!"--extempore prayers, psalms chanted with a swaying of the body,
hymns sung uproariously, scripture read with an accompaniment of
groans, hysteric laughter, and interjections of assent, and a
rambling discourse--lasting fully an hour, were in the Welsh
language; and David on his three or four visits--and it can be
imagined what a sensation _they_ caused! The Vicar's son--himself
perhaps about to confess his sins!--understood very little of the
subject matter, save from the extravagant gestures of the
participants. But he soon made up his mind that religion for
religion, that expressed by the English--"Well, father, you are
right--the 'British'"--Church in Wales was many hundred times
superior in reasonableness and stability to the negroid ebullitions
of the Calvinists. As a matter of fact they were scarcely more
followers of the reformer Calvin than they were of Ignatius Loyola;
it was just a symptomatic outbreak of some prehistoric Iberian,
Silurian form of worship, something deeply planted in the soil of
Wales, something far older than Druidism, something contemporary
with the beliefs of Neolithic days.

Eighteen years ago, much of Wales was as enslaved by whiskey as are
still Keltic Scotland, Keltiberian Ireland, Lancashire, London and
wicked little Kent. It was only saved from going under completely by
decennial religious revivals, which for three months or so were
followed by total abstinence and a fierce-eyed continence.

Just about this time--during David's extended spring holiday in
Wales (he had brought many law books down with him to read)--there
had begun one of the newspaper-made-famous Revivals. It was led by a
young prophet--a football half-back or whatever they are called,
though I, who prefer thoroughness, would, if I played football,
offer up the whole of my back to bear the brunt--who saw visions of
Teutonically-conceived angels with wings, who heard "voices," was in
constant communication with the Redeemer of Mankind and on familiar
terms with God, had a lovely tenor voice and moved emotional men and
hysterical, love-sick women to tears, even to bellowings by his
prayers and songs. He had for some weeks been confined in publicity
to half-contemptuous paragraphs in the South Wales Press. Then the
_Daily Chronicle_ took him up. Their well-known, emotional-article
writer, Mr. Sigsbee, saw "copy" in him, and--to do him justice (for
there I agreed with him)--a chance to pierce the armour of the
hand-in-glove-with-Government distillers, so went down to Wales to
write him up. For three weeks he became more interesting than a
Cabinet Minister. Indeed Cabinet Ministers or those who aspired to
become such at the next turn of the wheel truckled to him. Some were
afraid he might become a small Messiah and lead Wales into open
revolt; others that he might smash the whiskey trade and impair the
revenue. Mr. Lloyd George going to address a pro-Boer meeting at
Aberystwith (was it?) encountered him at a railway junction,
attended by a court of ex-footballers and reformed roysterers, and
said in the hearing of a reporter "I must fight with the Sword of
the Flesh; but you fight with the Sword of the Spirit"--whatever
that may have meant--and I do not pretend to complete accuracy of
remembrance--I only know I felt very angry with the whole movement
at the time, because it delayed indefinitely the _Daily Chronicle's_
review of my new book. Well this Evan--in all such movements an Evan
is inevitable--Evan Gwyllim Jones--with the black eyes, abundant
black hair, beautiful features (he was a handsome lad) and glorious
voice, addressed meetings in the open air and in every available
building of four walls. Thousands withdrew their names from
foot-ballery, nigh on Two Millions must have taken the pledge--and
not merely an anti-whiskey pledge but a fierce renunciation of the
most diluted alcohol as well; and approximately two hundred and
fifty thousand confessed their sins of unchastity and swore to be
reborn Galahads for the rest of their lives. It was a spiritual
Spring-cleaning, as drastic and as overdone as are the domestic
upheavals known by that name. But it did a vast deal of good, all
the same, to South Wales; and though it was a seventh wave, the tide
of temperance, thrift, cleanliness, bodily and spiritual, has risen
to a higher level of average in the beautiful romantic Principality
ever since. Evan Gwyllim Jones, however, overdid it. He had to
retire from the world to a Home--some said even to a Mental
Hospital. Six months afterwards he emerged, cured of his "voices,"
much plumper, and--perhaps--poor soul--shorn of some of his
illusions and ideals; but he married a grocer's widow of Cardiff,
and the _Daily Chronicle_ mentioned him no more.

The infection of his meetings however penetrated to the agricultural
district in which Pontystrad was situated. Five villages went
completely off their heads. The blacksmith-pastor had to be put
under temporary restraint. Quite decent-looking, unsuspected folk
confessed to far worse sins than they had ever committed. There
arose an aristocracy of outcasts. Three inns where little worse than
bad beer was sold were gutted, respectable farmers' wives drank
Eau-de-Cologne instead of spirits, several over-due marriages took
place, there were a number of premature births, and the membership
of the football clubs was disastrously reduced. Such excitement was
generated that little work was done, and the illegitimate birth rate
of west Glamorganshire--always high--for the opening months of 1903
became even higher.

David was enlisted by the employers of labour, the farmers,
chemical works, mining and smelting-works managers, squires, and
postmasters to restore order. He preached against the Revivalists.
Not with any lack of sympathy, any apology for the real ills which
they denounced. He spoke with emphasis against the loosening of
morality, recommended early marriage, and above all _education_;
denounced the consumption of alcohol so strenuously and convincedly
that then and there as he spoke he resolved himself henceforth to
abstain from anything stronger than lager beer or the lighter
French and German wines. But he threw cold water resolutely on the
fantastical nonsense that accompanied these emotional outbursts of
so-called religion; invited his hearers to study--at any rate
elementarily--astronomy and biology; did not run down football but
advised a moderate interest only being taken in such futile sports;
recommended volunteering and an acquaintance with rifles as far
preferable, seeing that we always stood in danger of a European war
or of a drastic revival of insolent conservatism.

Then he made his appeal to the women. He spoke of the dangers of
this hysteria; the need there was for level-headed house-keeping
women in our councils; how they should first qualify for and then
demand the suffrage, having already attained the civic vote. (Here
some of the employers of labour disapproved, plucked at his arm or
hem of his reefer jacket, and one squire lumbered off the platform.)
But he held on, warming with a theme that hitherto had hardly
interested him. His speeches were above the heads of his peasant
audiences; but they were a more sensitive harp to play on than the
average Anglo-Saxon audience. Many women wept, only decorously, as
he outlined their influence in a reformed village, a purified
Principality. The men applauded frantically because, despite some
prudent reserves, there seemed to be a promise of revolt in his
suggestions. David felt the electric thrill of the orator in harmony
with his audience; who for that reason will strive for further
triumphs, more resounding perorations. He introduced scraps of
Welsh--all his auto-intoxicated brain could remember (How physically
true was that taunt of Dizzy's--"Inebriated with the exuberance of
his own verbosity!").

And the delighted audience shouted back "You're the man we want!
Into Parliament you shall go, Davy-bach" and much else. So David
restored the five villages to sobriety in life and faith, yet left
them with a new enthusiasm kindled. Before he departed on his return
to London and the grind of his profession, he had effected another
change. Because he had spoken as he had spoken and touched the
hearts of emotional people, they came trickling back to his father's
church, to the "British" Church, as David now called it. Little
Bethel was empty, and the pastor-blacksmith not yet out of the
asylum at Swansea. The Revd. Howel Williams trod on air. His sermons
became terribly long and involved, but that was no drawback in the
minds of his Welsh auditory; though it made his son swear inwardly
and reconciled him to the approaching return to Fig Tree Court. The
old Druid felt inspired to convince the hundred people present that
the Church they had returned to _was_ the Church of their fathers,
not only back to Roman times, when Glamorganshire was basking in an
Italian civilization, but further still. He showed how the Druids
were rather to be described as Ante-Christian than Anti--with an
_i_; and played ponderously on this quip. In Druidism, he
observed--I am sure I cannot think why, but it was his hobby--you
had a remarkable foreshadowing of Christianity; the idea of the
human sacrifice, the Atonement, the Communion of Saints, the mystic
Vine, which he clumsily identified with the mistletoe, and what not
else. He read portions of his privately-published _Tales of
Taliessin_. In short such happiness radiated from his pink-cheeked
face and recovered eyes that David regretted in no wise his own
lapses into conventional, stereotyped religion. The Church of
Britain might be stiff and stomachered, as the offspring of
Elizabeth, but it was stately, it was respectable--as outwardly was
the great virgin Queen--and it was easy to live with. Only he
counselled his father to do two things: never to preach for more
than half-an-hour--even if it meant keeping a small American clock
going inside the pulpit-ledge; and to obtain a curate, so that the
new enthusiasm might not cool and his father verging on seventy,
might not overstrain himself. He pointed out that by letting off
most of the glebe land and pretermitting David's "pocket-money" he
might secure a young and energetic Welsh-speaking curate, the
remainder of whose living-wage would--he felt sure--be found out of
the diocesan funds of St. David's bishopric.

The Revd. Howel let him have his way (This was after David had
returned to Fig Tree Court) and by the following June a stalwart
young curate was lodged in the village and took over the bulk of the
progressive church work from the fumbling hands of the dear old
Vicar. He was a thoroughly good sort, this curate, troubled by no
possible doubts whatever, a fervent tee-totaller, a half-back or
whole back--I forget which--at football, a good boxer, and an
unwearied organizer. Little Bethel was sold and eventually turned
into a seed-merchant's repository and drying-room. The curate in
course of time married the squire's daughter and I dare say long
afterwards succeeded the Revd. Howel Vaughan Williams when the
latter died--but that date is still far ahead of my story. At any
rate--isn't it _droll_ how these things come about?--David's action
in this matter, undertaken he hardly knew why--did much to fetter
Mr. Lloyd George's subsequent attempts to disestablish the British
Church in Wales.

What did Bridget think of all this, of the spiritual evolution of
her nursling, of his identity with the vicious, shifty, idle youth
whose uncanny gift of design seemed to have been completely lost
after his stay in South Africa? David Vavasour Williams had left
home to the relief of his father and the whole village, if even to
the half-pitying regret of his old nurse, in 1896. He had spent a
year or more in Mr. Praed's studio studying to be an architect or a
scene painter. Then somehow or other he did not get on with Mr.
Praed and he enlisted impulsively in a South African Police force
(in the Army, it seemed to Bridget). He had somehow become involved
in a war with a South African people, called by Bridget "the Wild
Boars"; he is wounded or ill in hospital; is little heard of, almost
presumed dead. Throughout all these five years he scarcely ever
writes to his forgiving father; maintains latterly a sulky silence.
Then, suddenly in the summer of 1901, returns; preceded only by a
telegram but apparently vouched for by this Mr. Praed; and announces
himself as having forgotten his Welsh and most of the events of his
youth, but having acquired a changed heart, and an anxiety to make
up for past ill-behaviour by a present good conduct which seems
almost miraculous.

Well: miracles were easily believed in by Bridget. Perhaps his
father's prayers had been answered. Providence sometimes meted out
an overwhelming boon to really good people. David was certainly a
Vavasour, if there was nothing Williamsy about his looks.... His
mother, in Mrs. Bridget Evanwy's private opinion, had been a
hussy.... Was David his father's son? Hadn't she once caught Mrs.
Howel Williams kissing a young stranger behind a holly bush and
wasn't that why Bridget had really been sent away? She had returned
to take charge of the pretty, motherless little boy when she herself
was a widow disappointed of children, and the child was only three.
Would she ever turn against her nursling now, above all, when he was
showing himself such a son to his old father? Not she. He might be
who and what he would. He was giving another ten years of renewed
life to the dear old Druid and the continuance of a comfortable home
to his old Nannie.

They talked a great deal up at Little Bethel of a "change of
heart." Perhaps such things really took place, though Bridget Evanwy
from a shrewd appraisement of the Welsh nature doubted it. She would
like to, but couldn't quite believe that an angel from heaven had
taken possession of David's body and come here to play a divine
part; because David sometimes talked so strangely--seemed not only
to doubt the existence of a heavenly host, but even of Something
beyond, so awful in Bridget's mind that she hardly liked to define
it in words, though in her own Welsh tongue it was so earthily
styled "the Big Man."

However, at all costs, she would stand by David ... and without
quite knowing why, she decided that on all future visits she herself
would "do out" his room, would attend to him exclusively. The "girl"
was a chatterer, albeit she looked upon Mr. David with eyes of awe
and a most respectful admiration, while David on his part scarcely
bestowed on her a glance.



CHAPTER IX

DAVID IS CALLED TO THE BAR


1902 was the year of King Edward's break-down in health but of his
ultimate Coronation; it was the year in which Mr. Arthur Balfour
became premier; it was the year in which motors became really
well-known, familiar objects in the London streets, and hansoms (I
think) had to adopt taximeter clocks on the eve of their
displacement by taxi-cabs. It was likewise the year in which the
South African War was finally wound up and the star of Joseph
Chamberlain paled to its setting, and Mrs. Pankhurst and her
daughter Christabel founded the Women's Social and Political Union
at Manchester.

In 1903, the Fiscal controversy absorbed much of public attention,
the War Office was once more reformed, women's skirts still swept
the pavement and encumbered the ball-room, a Peeress wrote
to the _Times_ to complain of Modern Manners, Surrey beat
Something-or-other at the Oval, and modern Cricket was voted dull.

In 1904, the Russo-Japanese War was concluded, and _Fraser and
Warren_ received a year's notice from the Midland Insurance Co. that
they must vacate their premises on the fifth floor of Nos. 88-90
Chancery Lane. The business of _F. and W._ had grown so considerable
that, as the affairs of the Midland Insurance Co. had slackened, it
became intolerable to hear the lift going up and down to the fifth
floor all through the day. The housekeeper also thought it odd that
a well-dressed young gentleman should steal in and up, day after
day, after office hours to work apparently alone in _Fraser and
Warren's_ partners' room. _Fraser and Warren_ over the hand of its
junior partner, Mrs. Claridge, accepted the notice. Their business
had quite overgrown these inconveniently situated offices and a move
to the West End was projected. Mrs. Claridge's scheme for week-end
cottages had been enormously successful and had put much money not
only into the coffers of _Fraser and Warren_ but into the banking
account of that clever architect, Francis Brimley Storrington.

[I find I made an absurd mistake earlier in this book in charging
the too amorous architect with a home at "Storrington." His home
really was in a midland garden city which he had designed, but his
name--a not uncommon one--was Storrington.]

In the autumn of 1902, poor Lady Fraser died. In January, 1903,
Honoria married the impatient Colonel Armstrong. In January, 1904,
she had her first baby--a boy.

At the close of 1904 Beryl Claridge made proposals to Honoria Fraser
relative to a change in the constitution of _Fraser and Warren_.
Honoria was to have an interest still as a sleeping partner in the
concern and some voice in its management and policy. But she was to
take no active share of the office work and "Warren" was to pass out
of it altogether. Beryl pointed out it was rather a farce when the
middle partner--she herself had been made the junior partner a year
before--was perpetually and mysteriously absent, year after year,
engaged seemingly on work of her own abroad. Her architect
semi-husband moreover, who if not in the firm was doing an
increasing share of its business, wanted to know _more_ about Vivien
Warren. "Was she or was she not the daughter of the 'notorious' Mrs.
Warren; because if so..." He took of course a highly virtuous line.
Like so many other people he compounded for the sins he was
inclined to by being severe towards the misdoings of others. _His_
case--he would say to Beryl when they were together at Chelsea--was
_sui generis_, quite exceptional, they were really in a way
perfectly good people--_Tout savoir c'est tout pardonner, etc._;
whereas the _things_ that were _said_ about Mrs. Warren!... And
though Vivien was nothing nearer sin than being her daughter, still
if it were known or known more widely that _she_ was the Warren in
_Fraser and Warren_, why the wives of the wealthier clergy, for
example, and a number of Quakeresses would withdraw their affairs
from the firm's management. Whereas if only his little Berry could
become the boss, _he_ knew where to get "big money" to put behind
the Firm's dealings. The idea was all right; an association for the
special management on thoroughly honest lines of women's affairs.
They'd better get rid of that hulking young clerk, Bertie Adams, and
staff the entire concern with capable women. He himself would always
remain in the background, giving them ideas from time to time, and
if any were taken up merely being paid his fees and commissions.

David Vavasour Williams, privately consulted by Norie, put forward
no objection. He disliked Beryl and was increasingly shy of his
rather clandestine work on the fifth floor of the Midland Insurance
Chambers; besides, if and when he were called to the Bar, he would
have to cease all connection with _Fraser and Warren_. The consent
of Vivie was obtained through the Power of Attorney she had left
behind. A new deed of partnership was drawn up. Honoria insisted
that Vivien Warren must be bought out for Three Thousand pounds,
which amount was put temporarily to the banking account of David
Vavasour Williams; she herself received another Three Thousand and a
small percentage of the future profits and a share in the direction
of affairs of THE WOMEN'S CO-OPERATIVE ASSOCIATION (_Fraser and
Claridge_) so long as she left a capital of Five Thousand pounds at
their disposal.

So in 1905 David with Three Thousand pounds purchased an annuity of
£210 a year for Vivien Warren. That investment would save Vivie from
becoming at any time penniless and dependent, and consequently would
subserve the same purpose for her cousin and agent, David V.
Williams.

Going to the C. and C. Bank, Temple Bar branch, to take stock of
Vivie's affairs, he found a Thousand pounds had been paid in to her
current account. Ascertaining the name of the payee to be L.M.
Praed, he hurried off at the first opportunity to Praed's studio.
Praed was entertaining a large party of young men and women to tea
and the exhibition of some wild futurist drawings and a few rather
striking designs for stage scenery and book covers. David had
perforce to keep his questions bottled up and take part in the
rather vapid conversation that was going on between young men with
_glabre_ faces and high-pitched voices and women with rather wild
eyes.

[It struck David about this time that women were getting a little
out of hand, strained, over-inclined to laugh mirthless laughter,
greedy for sensuality, sensation, sincerity, sweetmeats. Something.
Even if they satisfied some fleeting passion or jealousy by
marrying, they soon wanted to be de-married, separated, divorced, to
don male costume, to go on the amateur stage and act Salome parts on
Sunday afternoons that most ladies of the real Stage had refused;
while the men that went about with them in these troops from
restaurant to restaurant, studio to studio, music hall to café
chantant, Brighton to Monte Carlo, Sandown to Goodwood, were shifty,
too well-dressed, too near neutrality in sex, without defined
professions, known by nicknames only, spend-thrifts, spongers,
bankrupts, and collectors of needless bric-à-brac.]

However this mob at last quitted Praddy's premises and he and David
were left alone.

Praed yawned, and almost intentionally knocked over an easel with a
semi-obscene drawing on it of a Sphynx with swelling breasts
embracing a lean young man against his will.

_David_: "Praddy! why do you tolerate such people and why prostitute
your studio to such unwholesome art?"

_Praed_: "My dear David! This is _indeed_ Satan rebuking sin. Why
there are three designs here--one I've just knocked over--beastly,
wasn't it?--that _you _ left with me when you went off at a tangent
to South Africa.... Really, we ought to have _some_ continuity you
know....

"But I agree with you.... I'm sick of the whole business of this
Nouvel Art and L'Art Nouveau, about Aubrey Beardsley and the
disgusting 'nineties generally--But what _will_ you? If Miss Vivie
Warren had condescended to accept me as a husband she might have
brought a wholesome atmosphere into my life and swept away all
this ... inspired me perhaps with some final ambition for the little
that remains of my stock of energy.... Heigh-ho! Well: what is the
quarrel now? The life I lead, the people who come here?"

_David_: "No. I hardly came about that; though dear old Praddy, I
wish I had time to look after you ... Perhaps later.... No: what I
came to ask was: what _did_ you mean the other day by paying in a
Thousand Pounds to Vivie Warren's account at her bank? She's not in
want of money so far as I know, and you can't be so very rich, even
though you design three millionaire's houses a year. Who gave you
the money to pay in to my--to Vivie's account?"

_Praed_: "Well, when Vivie herself comes to ask me, p'raps I'll
tell; but I can't see how it concerns _you_. Why not stop and
dine--à l'imprévu, but I dare say my housekeeper can rake something
together or it may not be too late to send out for a paté. We can
then talk of other things. When are you going to get your call?"

_David_: "Sorry, dear old chap, but I can't stay to dinner. I'm not
going anywhere else but I've got some papers I _must_ study before I
go to bed. But I'll stop another half-hour at any rate. Don't ring
for lights or turn up the electric lamps. I would sooner sit in the
dark studio and put my question. Who has given me that thousand
pounds?"

_Praed_: "That's _my_ business: _I_ haven't! I shan't give or lend
Vivie a penny till she consents to marry me. As to the rest, take it
and be thankful. You're not certain to get any more and I happen to
know it had what you would call a 'clean origin.'"

_David_: "You mean it didn't come from those 'Hotels'?"

_Praed_: "Well, at any rate not directly. Don't be a romantic ass, a
tiresome fool, and give me any trouble about it. A certain person I
imagine must have heard that _Fraser and Warren_ had been wound up
and couldn't bear the thought of your being hard up in consequence
... doesn't know you got a share of the purchase-money..."

       *       *       *       *       *

David decided at any rate for the present to accept the addition to
his capital--you can perhaps push principle _too_ far; or, once you
plunge into affairs, you cease to be quite so high-souled. At any
rate nothing in David's middle-class mind was so horrible as penury
and the impotence that comes with it. How many months or years would
lie ahead of him before fees could be gained and a professional
income be earned? Besides he wanted to take Bertie Adams into his
service as a Clerk. A barrister must have a clerk, and David in his
peculiar circumstances could only engage one acquainted more or
less with his secret.

So Bertie Adams fulfilled the ambition he had cherished for three
years--he felt all along it was coming true. And when David was
called to the Bar--which he was with all the stately ceremonial of a
Call night at the Inner Temple in the Easter term of 1905, more
elbow room was acquired at Fig Tree Court, and Bertie Adams was
installed there as clerk to Mr. David Vavasour Williams, who had
residential chambers on the third floor, and a fair-sized Office and
small private room on the second floor. Bertie's mother had "washed"
for both Honoria and Vivie in their respective dwellings for years,
and for David after he came to live at Fig Tree Court. A substantial
douceur to the "housekeeper" had facilitated this, for in the part
of the Temple where lies Fig Tree Court the residents do not call
their ministrants "laundresses," but "housekeepers." Curiously
enough the accounts were always tendered to the absent Vivie Warren,
but Mrs. Adams noted no discrepancy in their being paid by her son
or in an unmarried lady living in the Temple under the name of David
Williams.

Installed as clerk and advised by his employer to court one of the
fair daughters of the housekeeper (Mrs. Laidly) with a view to
marriage and settling down in premises hard-by, Bertie Adams (who
like David had spent his time well between 1901 and 1905 and was now
an accomplished and serviceable barrister's clerk) soon set to work
to chum up with other clerks in this clerical hive and get for his
master small briefs, small chances for defending undefended cases in
which hapless women were concerned.

But before we deal with the career of David at the Bar, which of
course did not properly commence--even as a brilliant junior--till
the early months of 1906, let us glance at the way in which he had
passed the intervening space of time between his return from Wales
in May, 1902, and the spending of his Long Vacation of 1905 as an
Esquire by the Common Law of England called to the Bar, and entitled
to wear a becoming grey wig and gown.

He had begun in 1900 by studying Latin, Norman French--so greatly
drawn on in law terms--and English History. In the summer of 1901,
by one of those subterfuges winked at then, he had obtained two
rooms, sublet to him by a member of the Inn, in Fig Tree Court,
Inner Temple. In the autumn of that year, having made sure of his
parentage and his finance, he had approached the necessary
authorities with a view to his being admitted a member of the Inner
Temple, which meant filling up a form of declaration that he, David
Vavasour Williams, of Pontystrad, Glamorgan, a British subject, aged
twenty-four, son of the Revd. Howel Vaughan Williams, Clerk in Holy
Orders, of Pontystrad in the County of Glamorgan, was desirous of
being admitted a Student of the Honourable Society of the Inner
Temple for the purpose of being called to the Bar or of practising
under the Bar; and that he would not either directly or indirectly
apply for or take out any certificate to practise directly or
indirectly as a Pleader, Conveyancer or Draftsman in Equity without
the special permission of the Masters of the Bench of the said
Honourable Society of the Inner Temple.

Further, David declared with less assurance but perhaps within the
four corners of the bare truth that he had not acted directly or
indirectly in the capacity of a Solicitor, Attorney-at-law, Writer
to the Signet or in about thirteen other specified legal positions;
that he was not a Chartered, Incorporated or Professional Accountant
("A good job we changed the device of the Firm," he thought), a Land
Agent, a Surveyor, Patent Agent, Consulting Engineer, or even as a
clerk to any such officer. Which made him rather shivery about what
he _had_ been doing for _Fraser and Warren_, but there was little
risk that any one would find out--And finally he declared that he
was not in Trade or an undischarged bankrupt.

The next and most difficult step was to obtain two separate
Certificates from two separate barristers each of five years'
standing, to the effect that he was what he stated himself to be.
This required much thinking out, and was one of the reasons why he
did not go down as promised and spend his Christmas and New Year
with his father.

Instead he wrote to Pontystrad explaining how important it was he
should get admitted as a Student in time to commence work in Hilary
term. Did his father know any such luminary of the law or any two
such luminaries? His father regretted that he only knew of one such
barrister of over five years' standing: the distinguished son of an
old Cambridge chum. To him he wrote, venturing to recall himself,
the more eagerly since this son of an old friend was himself a
Welshman and already distinguished by his having entered Parliament,
served with the Welsh Party, written a book on Welsh history, and
married a lady of considerable wealth.

Next David applied to Rossiter with the result--as we have
seen--that he got an introduction to Mr. Stansfield. So he obtained
from Mr. Price and Mr. Stansfield the two certificates to the effect
that "David Vavasour Williams has been introduced to me by letter of
introduction from the Revd. Howel Williams" (or "Professor Michael
Rossiter, F.R.S.") "and has been seen by me; and that I, Mark
Stansfield, Barrister-at-law, King's Counsel" (or "John Price,
Barrister-at-law, Member of Parliament") "believe the said David
Vavasour Williams to be a gentleman of respectability and a proper
person to be admitted a Student of the Honourable Society of the
Inner Temple with a view to being called to the Bar."

Copies of the letters of introduction accompanied the two
certificates. These of course were not obtained without several
visits to the unsuspicious guarantors; or at least one to Mr. Price
in Paper Buildings, for whom it was enough that David claimed to be
Welsh and showed a very keen interest in the Welsh tongue and its
Indo-German affinities, and three or four to Mr. Mark Stansfield,
K.C., one of the nicest, kindliest and most learned persons David
had ever met, whom he grieved deeply at deceiving. Stansfield had a
high opinion of Rossiter. The fact that he recommended David was
quite sufficient to secure his "guarantee." But apart from that, he
felt himself greatly drawn towards this rather shy, grave,
nice-looking young fellow with the steady eyes and the keen
intelligence. He had him to dine and to lunch; drew him out--as far
as David thought it prudent to go--and was surprised David had never
been to a University ("Only to Malvern--and then I studied with an
architect in London--Who? Mr. Praed, A.R.A.--but then I travelled
for a bit, and after that I felt more than ever I wanted to go in
for the Bar"--said David, with a charming smile which lit up his
young face ordinarily so staid). Stansfield consented that David
should come and read with him, and in many ways facilitated his
progress so materially and so kindly that more than once the
compunctious young Welshman thought of discarding the impersonation;
and might have done so had not this most estimable Stansfield died
of pneumonia in the last year of David's studenthood.

Of course the preliminary examination was easily and quickly passed.
David translated his bit of Caesar's commentaries, answered
brilliantly the questions about Alfred the Great, the Anglo-Norman
kings, the Constitutions of Clarendon, Magna Charta and Mortmain,
Henry the Eighth and the Reformation, the Civil War and
Protectorate of Cromwell, the Bill of Rights and the Holy Alliance.
He paid his fees and his "caution" money; he ate the requisite six
dinners--or more, as he found them excellent and convenient--in each
term, attended all the lectures that interested him, and passed the
subsidiary examinations on them with fair or even high credit; and
finally got through his "Call-to-the-Bar" examination with tolerable
success; at any rate he passed. A friend of the deceased
Stansfield--whose death was always one of the scars in Vivie's
memory--introduced him to one of the Masters of the Bench who signed
his "call" papers. He once more made a declaration to the effect
that he was not a person in Holy Orders, that he was not a
Solicitor, Attorney-at-law, Writer to the Signet, etc., etc., a
Chartered, Incorporated or Professional Accountant; and again that
if called to the Bar, he would never become a member of the abhorred
professions over and over again enumerated; and was duly warned that
without special permission of the Masters of the Bench of the Inner
Temple he might not practise "under the Bar"--whatever that may mean
(I dare say it is some low-down procedure, only allowed in times of
scarcity). Then after having his name "screened" for twelve days in
all the Halls of the four Inns, and going in fear and trembling that
some one might turn up and object, he finally received his call to
the Bar on April 22 (if April 22 in that year was on a Sunday, then
on the following Monday) and was "called" at the Term Dinner where
he took wine with the Masters. He remembered seeing present at the
great table on the dais, besides the usual red-faced generals and
whiskered admirals, simpering statesmen, and his dearly loved
friend, Michael Rossiter--representing Science,--a more sinister
face. This was the well-known philanthropist and race-horse breeder,
Sir George Crofts, Bart., M.P. for a Norfolk borough. Their eyes
met, curiously interlocked for a moment. Sir George wondered to
himself where the dooce he had seen that, type of face before, those
grey eyes with the dark lashes. "Gad! he reminds me of Kitty Warren!
Well, I'll be damned" (he was eventually) "I wonder whether the old
gal had a son as well as that spitfire Vivie?!"

Michael whispered a word or two to one of the Masters, and David was
presently summoned to attend the Benchers and their distinguished
guests in the inner chamber to which they withdrew for wine and
dessert. Rossiter made room for him, and he had to drink a glass of
port with the Benchers. Every one was very gracious. Rossiter said:
"I was a sort of godfather to him, don't you know. David! you must
do me credit and make haste to take silk and become a Judge." Crofts
moved from where he sat next to a Bishop. ("Damn it all! I like
bein' respectable, but why _will_ they always put me next a Bishop
or an Archdeacon? It spoils all my best stories.") He came
over--dragging his chair--to Rossiter and said "I say! Will you
introduce me to our young friend here?" He was duly introduced.
"H'm, Williams? _That_ doesn't tell me much. But somehow your face
reminds me awfully of--of--some one I used to know. J'ever have a
sister?" "No," said David.

Crofts, he noticed, had aged very much in the intervening eight
years. He must now be no more than--58? But he had become very stout
and obviously suffered from blood pressure without knowing it. He
moved away a little, and David heard him talking to a Master about
Lady Crofts, who had come up to London for the season and how they
were both very anxious about his boy--"Yes, he had two children, a
boy and a girl, bless 'em--The boy had been ill with measles and
wasn't makin' quite the quick recovery they expected. What an
anxiety children were, weren't they? Though we wouldn't be without
'em, would we?" The Bencher assented out of civility, though as a
matter of fact he was an old bachelor and detested children or
anything younger than twenty-one.

David after his call was presented with a bill to pay of £99. 10_s._
His father hearing of this, insisted on sending him a cheque for
£150 out of his savings, adding he should be deeply hurt if it was
not accepted and no more said about it. How soon was David coming
down to see South Wales once more gloriously clothed with spring?


[Much of this review of the years between 1901 and 1905, many of
these sweet remembrances are being taken from Vivie's brain as she
lies on a hard bed in 1913, musing over the past days when, despite
occasional frights and anxieties, she was transcendently happy. Oh
"Sorrow's Crown of Sorrow, the remembering happier days!" She
recalled the articles she used to write from the Common Room or
Library of the Inn; how well they were received and paid for by the
editors of daily and weekly journals; what a lark they were, when
for instance she would raise a debate in the _Saturday Review_:
"Should Women be admitted to the Bar?" Or an appeal in the _Daily
News_ to do away with the Disabilities of Women. How poor
Stansfield, before he died, said he had never met any young fellow
with a tenderer heart for women, and advised him to marry whilst he
still had youth and fire. She remembered David's social success at
the great houses in the West End. How he might have gone out into
Society and shone more, much more, only he had to consider prudence
and expense; the curious women who fell in love with him, and whom
he had gently, tactfully to keep at arm's length. She remembered the
eager discussions in the Temple Debating Society, or at the "Moots"
of Gray's Inn, her successes there as an orator and a close
reasoner; how boy students formed ardent friendships for her and
prophesied her future success in Parliament, would have her promise
to take them into the Cabinet which David was to form when an
electorate swept him into power and sent the antiquated old rotters
of that day into the limbo of deserved occlusion.

She saw and heard once more the amused delight of Honoria Armstrong
over her success, and the latent jealousy of the uxorious Colonel
Armstrong if she came too often to see Honoria in Sloane Street: And
she remembered--Oh God! _How_ she remembered--the close association
in those three priceless years with her "godfather" Michael
Rossiter; Rossiter who shaped her mind--it would never take a
different turn--who was patient with her stupidity and petulance; an
elder brother, a robust yet tactful chaffer; a banisher of too much
sensibility, a constant encouragement to effort and success.
Rossiter, she knew, with her woman's instinct, was innocently in
love with her, but believed all the time he was satisfying his
craving for a son to train, a disciple who might succeed him: for he
still believed that David when he had been called to the Bar and had
flirted awhile with Themis, would yet turn his great and growing
abilities to the service of Science.

And Mrs. Rossiter in those times: Vivie smiled at the thought of her
undefined jealousy. She was anxious to be civil to a young man of
whom Michael thought so highly. She sympathized with his regret that
they had no children, but why could he not take up with one of her
cousin Bennet's boys from Manchester, or Sophy's son from
Northallerton, or one of his own brother's or sister's children? How
on earth did he become acquainted with this young man from South
Wales? But she was determined not to be separated in any way from
her husband, and so she sat with them as often and as long as she
could in the library. The studio-laboratory she could not stand with
its horrid smell of chemicals; she also dreaded vaguely that
vivisection went on there--Michael of course had a license, though
he was far too tender-hearted to torture sentient creatures. Still
he did odd things with frogs and rats and goats and monkeys; and her
dread was that she might one day burst in on one of these sacrifices
to science and see a transformed Michael, blood-stained, wielding a
knife and dangerous if interrupted in his pursuit of a discovery.

But as the long talks and conferences of the two friends--really not
so far separated in age as one of them thought--generally took place
in the library, she assisted at a large proportion of them. Rossiter
would not have had it otherwise, though to David she was at times
excessively irksome. Her husband had long viewed her as a lay figure
on these occasions. He rarely replied to her flat remarks, her
inconsequent platitudes, her yawns and quite transparent signals
that it was time for the visitor to go. Sometimes David took her
hints and left: he had no business to make himself a bore to any
one. Sometimes however Michael at last roused to consciousness of
the fretful little presence would say "What? Sweety? _You_ still up.
Trot off to bed, my poppet, or you'll lose the roses in your
cheeks."

The roses in Mrs. Rossiter's cheeks at that time were beginning to
be a trifle eczematous and of a fixed quality. Nevertheless, though
she tossed her head a little as she took up her "work" and swished
out of the great heavy door--which David opened--she was pleased to
think that Michael cared for her complexion and was solicitous about
her rest.

And Vivie's eyes swam a little as she thought about the death of
Mark Stansfield, and the genuine tears that flowed down the cheeks
of his pupils when they learnt one raw February morning from the
housekeeper of his chambers that he had died at daybreak. "A better
man never lived" they agreed. And they were right.

And she smiled again as she thought of some amongst those pupils,
the young dogs of those days, the lovers of actresses of the minor
order--ballet girls, it might have been; of the larks that went on
sometimes within and without the staid precincts of the Temple.
Harmless larks they were; but such as she had to withdraw from
discreetly. She played lawn tennis with them, she fenced
surprisingly well; but she had refused to join the "Devil's
Own"--the Inns of Court Volunteers, for prudent reasons; and though
it had leaked out that she was a good swimmer--that tiresome
impulsive Honoria had spread it abroad--she resolutely declined to
give proofs of her prowess in swimming baths. Her associates were
not so young as the undergraduates she had met in Newnham days: they
were an average ten years older. Their language at times made David
blush, but they had more discretion and reserve than the University
student, and they respected his desire to withdraw himself into
himself occasionally, and to abstain from their noisier amusements
without questioning his camaraderie.

At this point in her smiling reminiscences, the wardress clanged
open the door and slammed down a mug of cocoa and a slab of brown
bread; and rapped out some orders in such a martinet utterance that
they were difficult to understand. (Don't be alarmed! She isn't
about to be executed for having deceived the Benchers of the Inner
Temple in 1905; she is only in prison for a suffragist offence).]


I can't wind up this chapter somehow without more or less finishing
the story of Beryl Claridge. She has been a source of anxiety to my
wife--who has read these chapters one by one as they left my
typewriter. "Was it wise to bring her in?" "Well, but my dear, she
was rather a common type of the New Woman in the early nineteen
hundreds." "Yes--but--"

Of course the latent anxiety was that she might end up respectably.
And so she did. In 1906, the first Mrs. Storrington died at Ware
(Ware was where the architect husband had his legitimate home). She
had long been ill, increasingly ill of some terrible form of anæmia
which had followed the birth of her fourth child. She slowly faded
away, poor thing; and about the time David was returning from a
triumphant Christmas and New Year at Pontystrad--the Curate and his
young wife had made a most delightful partie carrée and David had
kissed the very slightly protesting Bridget under the native
mistletoe--Mrs. Storrington breathed her last, while her faithless
yet long forgiven Francis knelt by her bedside in agonies of
unavailing grief.

Well: she died and was buried, and her four children, ranging from
nine to sixteen, sobbed very much and mourned for darling Mummie
without the slightest suspicion ("'twas better so," she had always
thought) that Dad had poisoned her wells of happiness ever since he
took up with that minx at Cambridge in the very year in which
long-legged Claribel was born. A few months after the poor lady was
consigned (under a really lovely cenotaph designed by her husband)
to Ware Churchyard--no, it was to Ware cemetery; Dad introduced them
all to a very sprightly and good-looking widow, Mrs. Claridge, who
had also been bereaved years ago and left with two perfect ducks of
children, four and five years old, to whom Claribel took
instinctively (the elder ones sniffed a little, disliking "kids").

Then about Christmas time, 1906, Dad told them that Mrs. Claridge
was going to make him happy by coming to tend his motherless
children; was going to be his wife. Francis, the eldest, stomped
about the garden at Ware and swore he would go back to Rugby during
the holidays; Elspeth, the gaunt girl of fourteen and Agnes, a
dreamy and endearing child, cried themselves to sleep in each
other's arms. Claribel, however, quite approved. And whether they
liked it or not, in January, 1907, the marriage took place--at the
Registrar's--and Beryl came to live for a short time at Ware,
bringing ducksome Margery and adorable Podge. In less than a month
Beryl had won over all her step-children, except Francis, who held
out till Easter, but was reduced to allegiance by the hampers she
sent to him at Rugby--; in three months they had all moved to a much
sweller house on the Chelsea Embankment. Father--Beryl voted "Dad" a
little lower-middle class--Father had somehow become connected with
some great business establishment of which Mother was the head.
Together they were making pots of money. Francis would go to
Sandhurst, Elspeth to a finishing school in Paris (her ambition),
and the others would spend the fine months of the year rollicking
with Margery and Podge on the Sussex coast.

In 1907, also, they became aware that their new mother was not alone
in the world. A stately lady whose eyes seemed once to have done a
deal of weeping (they were destined alas! to do much more, for three
of her gallant, handsome sons were killed in the War, and _that_
finally killed the poor old Dean of Thetford), who wore a graceful
Spanish mantilla of black lace when in draughty places, came to see
them after they had moved to Garden Corner on the Chelsea
Embankment. She turned out to be the mother of Mrs. Beryl and was
quite inclined to be their grandmother as well as Margery's and
Podge's. But her husband the Dean was--it appeared--too great an
invalid to come up to town.

The second Mrs. Storrington, who was a woman of boundless energy,
could work all day with secretaries, and could dance all night, gave
brilliant parties in the season at her large Chelsea house. But she
never invited to them Mr. David Vavasour Williams, that rising young
barrister who had become so famous as a pleader of the causes of
friendless women.



CHAPTER X

THE SHILLITO CASE


In the autumn of 1905, increase among women of the idea of full
citizenship made rapid strides. There was a feeling in the air that
Balfour must soon resign or go to the country, that a Liberal
Ministry would succeed to power, and that being Liberal it could
scarcely, in reason or with any logic, refuse to enlarge the
franchise to the advantage of the female half of the community.
These idealizers of the Liberal Party, which had really definitely
ceased to be Liberal in 1894, had a rude awakening. Annie Kenney and
Christabel Pankhurst dared to act as if they were men, and asked Sir
Edward Grey at his Manchester meeting in October, 1905, if a Liberal
Administration would give Votes to Women, should it be placed in
power at the next Election. Answer they had none, from the platform;
but the male audience rose in their hundreds, struck these audacious
hussies in the face, scratched and slapped them (this was the rôle
of the boys), and hustled them out into the street, bleeding and
dishevelled. Here for attempting to explain the causes of their
expulsion they were arrested by the police, and the following
morning were sent to prison, having declined to pay the fines
illegally imposed on them.

This incident made a great impression on the newspaper-reading
public, because at that time the Press boycott on the Woman Suffrage
movement had not set in. It gave David much to think about, and he
found Honoria Fraser and several of his men and women friends had
joined the Woman Suffrage movement and were determined that the new
Liberal Government should not shirk the issue; an issue on which
many members of Parliament had been returned as acquiescent in the
principle. On that account they had received the whole-hearted
support of many, women owing allegiance to the Liberal Party.

At first of course the new Government was too busy in allotting the
loaves and fishes of Office and in handing out the peerages,
baronetcies, knighthoods, Governorships, private secretaryships, and
promotions among the civil servants which had--not to put too fine a
point on it--been purchased by large and small contributions to the
Party Chest.

[Such a procedure seems to be inseparable from our present Party
system. In this respect the Conservatives are no better than the
Liberals; and it is always possible that in a different way the
Labour Party when It comes into power will be similarly inclined to
reward those who have furnished the sinews of war. The House of
Commons in the last Act which revised the conditions of elections of
members of Parliament was careful to leave open many avenues along
which Money might attain to the heart of things.]

But at length all such matters were settled, and the Cabinet was
free to face the steady demand of the women leaders of the
Suffrage movement; a demand that at any rate _some_ measure of
enfranchisement should be granted to the women of the British Isles
without delay.

We all know how this demand was received by the leading men of the
Liberal Party and by the more prominent Liberals among their
supporters in the House; with evasions, silences, sneers, angry
refusals, hasty promises given to-day (when Ministers were
frightened) and broken to-morrow; with a whole series of
discreditable tongue-in-the-cheek tricks of Parliamentary
procedure; till at last the onlooker must have wondered at and felt
grateful for our British phlegm; surprised that so little actual
harm was done (except to the bodies of the Suffragists), that no
Home Secretary or Police Inspector or magistrate, no flippant
talker-out of would-be-serious Franchise Bills was assassinated,
trounced, tarred and feathered, kidnapped, nose-tweaked, or even
mud-bespattered. (I am reproducing here the growing comprehension of
the problem as it shaped in Vivie's mind, under the hat and
waistcoat of David Williams.)

Honoria, faithful to her old resolve, continued to devote the
greater part of the Two Thousand a year she had set aside for the
Woman's Cause to financing the new Suffrage movement; and
incidentally she brought grist to David's mill by recommending him
as Counsel to many women in distress, arrested Suffragists. In 1906,
1907 and 1908 he made himself increasingly famous by his pleadings
in court on behalf of women who with dauntless courage and at the
cost of much bodily pain and even at the risk of death had forcibly
called attention to this grave defect in the British polity, the
withholding of the ordinary rights of tax-paying citizens from adult
women.

Where the Suffragist was poor he asked no fee, or a small fee was
paid by some Suffragist Association. But he gained much renown over
his advocacy; he became quite a well-known personality outside as
well as inside the Law Courts and Police-stations by 1908. His
pleadings were sometimes so moving, so passionate that--_teste_
Mrs. Pankhurst--"burly policemen in court had tears trickling down
their faces" as he described the courage, the flawless private
lives, the selfless devotion to a noble cause of these women
agitating for the rights of their sex--rich and poor, old and young.
Juries flinched from the verdict which some bitter-faced judge
enjoined; magistrates swerved from executing the secret orders of
the Home Office; policemen--again--for they are most of them decent
fellows--resigned their positions in the Force, sooner than carry
out the draconian policy of the Home Secretary.

But of course concurrently he lost many a friend and friendship in
the Inns of Court. There were even growls that he should be
disbarred--after this espousal of the Suffrage cause had been made
manifest for three years. He might have been, but that he had other
compeers, below and above his abilities and position; advocates like
Lord Robert Brinsley, the famous son of the Marquis of Wiltshire. If
Williams was to be disbarred, why they would have to take the same
course with a Brinsley who also defended women law-breakers,
fighting for their constitutional rights. And of course such a
procedure as _that_ was unthinkable. Yet where a Brinsley sailed
unhampered, undangered over these troubled waters, poor David often
came near to crashing on the rocks. "To hear the fellow talk," said
one angry K.C. in the Library at the Inner Temple, "you'd think he
was a woman himself!" "Egad" said his brother K.C.--yes, he
really _did_ say "Egad," the oath still lingers in the Inns of
Court--"Egad, he looks like one. No hair on his face and I'll lay he
doesn't shave."

There were of course other briefs he held, for payment or for love
of justice; young women who had killed their babies (as to these he
was far from sentimental; he only defended where the woman had any
claim to sympathy or mitigation of the unreal death sentence);
breach of promise actions where the woman had been grossly wronged;
affiliation cases in high life--or the nearest to high life that
makes a claim on the man for his fatherhood. He was a deadly
prosecutor in cases where women had been robbed by their male
trustees, or injured in any other way wherein, in those days, the
woman was at a disadvantage and the marriage laws were unjust.

One way and another, with the zealous aid and business-like care of
his interests by his clerk, Albert Adams, David must have earned
between 1906 and the autumn of 1908, an average Three hundred a
year. As he paid Adams £150 a year and allowed him certain
perquisites, and lived within his own fixed income (from his annuity
and investments) of £290 a year, this meant a profit of about £500.
This was raised at a leap to £1,500 by the fees and the special gift
he received for defending Lady Shillito.

The "Shillito Case," an indictment for murder, was tried at the
winter assize of the North-eastern Circuit, January or February,
1909. I dare say you have forgotten all about it now: Lady Shillito
changed her name, married again (eventually), and was lost in the
crowd--she may even, eleven years afterwards, be reading this novel
at the riper age of forty and be startled out of her well-fed apathy
by the revival of acute memories.

There have been not a few similar cases before and since of
comparatively young, beautiful women murdering their elderly,
objectionable husbands in a clever cattish way, and of course
getting off through lack of evidence or with a short term of
imprisonment. (They were always treated in prison far more tenderly
than were Suffragettes, and the average wardress adored them and
obtained for them many little alleviations of their lot before the
Home Secretary gave way and released them.) Nowadays the War and the
pressing necessities of life, the coal famine, the milk famine, the
railway strikes have robbed such cases of all or nearly all their
interest. I could quite believe that women in similar circumstances
continue to murder their elderly husbands, and the doctors and
coroners and relations on "his" side tacitly agree not to raise a
fuss in the presence of much graver subjects of apprehension.

I can also understand why these beautiful-women-elderly-husband
cases scarcely starred our Island story prior to the 'fifties of
the last century. It was only when chemical analysis had approached
its present standard of perfection that the presence of the more
subtle poisons could be detected in the stomach and intestines, and
that the young and beautiful wife could be charged with and found
guilty of the deed by the damning evidence of an analytical chemist.

It was Rossiter who secured for David the conduct of Lady Shillito's
defence. Arbella[1] Shillito was his second cousin, a Rossiter by
birth, and would fain have married Michael herself, only that he was
not at that time thinking of marriage, and when his thoughts turned
that way--the very day after, as it were--he met Linda Bennet and
her thousands a year. But he retained a half humorous liking for
this handsome young woman.

  [Footnote 1: An old Northumbrian variant of Arabella.]

Arbella, disappointed over Michael--though she was a mere slip of a
girl at the time--next decided that she must marry money. When she
was twenty-one she met Grimthorpe Shillito, an immensely rich man of
Newcastle-on-Tyne, whose foundries poured out big guns and many
other things made of iron and steel combined with acids and brains.
Grimthorpe was a curious-looking person, even at forty; in
appearance a mixture of Julius Caesar, several unpleasant-featured
Doges of Venice, and Voltaire in middle age. His looks were not
entirely his fault and doubtless acquired for him, in his moral
character, a worse definition than he deserved. He had travelled
much in his pursuit of metallurgy and chemistry; at forty he saw
rising before him the prospect of a peerage, due either for his
extraordinary discoveries and inventions in our use of steel, or
easily purchasable out of his immense wealth. What is the good of a
peerage if it ends with your life? He was not without his vanities,
though one of the most cynical men of his cynical period.

He arrived therefore at the decision that he would marry some young
and buxom creature of decent birth and fit in appearance to be a
peeress, and decided on Arbella Rossiter.

After a gulp or two and several _moues_ behind his back, she
accepted him. A brilliant marriage ceremony followed, conducted by a
Bishop and an Archdeacon. And then Arbella was carried off to live
in a Bluebeard's Castle he possessed on the Northumbrian coast.

In the three years following her marriage she gave him two boys,
with which he was content, especially as his own health began to
fail a little just then. At the end of four years of marriage with
this cynical, Italianate tyrant, Arbella got very sick of him and
thought more and more tenderly of a certain subaltern in the Cavalry
whom she had once declined to marry on £500 a year. This subaltern
had returned from the South African war, a Colonel and still
extremely good-looking. They had met again at a garden party and
fallen once more deeply in love. If only her tiresome old Borgia
would die--was the thought that came too often into the mind of
Arbella, now entering the "thirties" of life, and with the least
possible misgiving of her Colonel's constancy if she became
presently "_un peu trop mûre_."

She noticed at this time that Grimthorpe Shillito went on several
occasions to London to consult a specialist. He complained of
indigestion, was rather thin, and balder than ever, and difficult to
please in his food and appetite.

This was her opportunity. She would have said, had she been
convicted, that he had driven her to it by his cruelties: that's as
may be.--She consulted the family doctor who attended to the
household of Bluebeard's Castle; suggested that Sir Grimthorpe (they
had just knighted him) might be the better for a strychnine tonic;
she had read somewhere that strychnine did wonders for middle-aged
men who had led rather a rackety life in their early manhood.

The family doctor who disliked her and suspected her, as you or I
wouldn't have done, but doctors think of everything, feigned to
agree; and supplied her with little phials of _aqua distillata_
flavoured with quinine. He himself was puzzled over Sir Grimthorpe's
condition but was a little offended at not being personally
consulted.

The fact was that Sir G. had a very poor opinion of his abilities in
diagnosis and being naturally secretive and generally cussed,
preferred consulting a London specialist. He wasn't then Sir
Grimthorpe, the specialist wasn't very certain that it _was_ cancer
on the liver, and amid his multitude of consulters did not, unless
aroused, remember very clearly the case of a Mr. Shillito from
somewhere up in the North.

But Shillito pondered gravely over the specialist's carefully
guarded phrases about "growths, possibly malign, but at the same
time--difficult to be sure quite so soon--perhaps harmless, might of
course be merely severe suppressed jaundice." When the pains
began--he hated the idea of operations, and knew that any operation
on the liver only at best staved off the dread, inevitable end for a
year or a few months--When the pains began, he had grown utterly
tired of life; so he compounded a subtle poison--he was a great
chemist and had--only his wife knew not of this--a cabinet which
contained a variety of mineral, vegetable, and acid poisons; and
kept the draught in a secret locker in his bedroom. Meantime
Arbella, who after all was human, was tortured at the sight of his
tortures. She felt she must end it, or her nerves would give way.
She trebled, she quintupled the dose of _aqua distillata_ embittered
with quinine. One night when the night nurse was sleeping ("resting
her eyes," she called it) the wretched man stole from his bed to
the night nursery and kissed both his boys. He then swiftly took the
phial from its hiding place and drank the contents and died in one
ghastly minute.

When the night nurse awoke he was crisped in a horrible _rigor_. On
the night table was the phial with the remains of the draught. She
had noticed in the last day or two Lady Shillito fussing a good deal
about the sick man, pressing on him doses of a colourless medicine.
_What if she had stolen in while the nurse was asleep and placed a
finally fatal draught by the bedside?_ From that she proceeded to
argue (when she had leisure to think it out) that she _hadn't_ been
to sleep, had merely been resting her eyes. And she was now sure
that whilst she had closed those orbs she had heard--as indeed she
had, only it was Sir Grimthorpe himself--some one stealing into the
room.

She communicated her suspicions to the doctor. The latter knew his
patient had not died of anything he had prescribed, but concluded
that Lady Shillito, wishing to be through with the business, had
prepared a fulminating dose obtained elsewhere; and insisted on
autopsy with a colleague, to whom he more than hinted his
suspicions. Together they found the strychnine they were looking for--not
very much, but the proportion that was combined by Shillito
with less traceable drugs to make the death process more rapid--and
quite overlooked the signs of cancer in the liver.

The outcome was that Lady Shillito at the inquest found herself "in
a very unpleasant position" and was placed under arrest, and later
charged with the murder of her husband.

Believing herself guilty she summoned all her resolution to her aid,
admitted nothing, appealed to Michael Rossiter and others for
advice. Thus David was drawn into the business.

[But this doesn't sound very credible, you will say. "If the
husband felt he could not face the agony of death by cancer, why
didn't he leave a note saying so, and every one would have
understood and been quite 'nice' about it?" I really can't say.
Perhaps he wished to leave trouble for her behind him; perhaps he
divined the reason why she thought a day nurse unnecessary, and
insisted on giving him his day medicines with her own fair hands.
Perhaps he hoped for an open verdict. Perhaps he wasn't quite right
in his mind. I have told you the story as I remember it and my
memory is not perfect. Personally I've always been a bit sorry for
Grimthorpe. It is quite possible that all those hints as to his
"queerness" were invented by his wife to excuse herself. I only know
that Science benefited greatly from his researches, and that he
bequeathed some priceless collections to both branches of the
British Museum. Some one once told me he had a heart somewhere and
had loved intensely a sister much younger than himself and had only
begun to be "queer" and secretive and bald after her premature
death. I think also that in the last year of his life he was greatly
embittered at not getting the expected peerage; after the trouble
and disagreeableness he had gone through to obtain heirs for this
distinction this poor little attempt at immortality which it is in
the power of a Prime Minister to bestow.]

The Grand Jury returned a true bill against Lady Shillito. David had
been studying the case from the morrow of the inquest, that is as
soon as Rossiter had learnt of the coming trouble. The latter though
he regarded Cousin Arbella as a rather amusing minx, an interesting
type in modern psychology (though really her type is as old
as--say--the Hallstadt period) had no wish to see her convicted of
murder. Furthermore he was getting so increasingly interested in
this clever David Williams that he would have liked to make his
fortune by helping him to a sensational success as a pleader, to
one of those cases which if successfully conducted mark out a path
to the Bench. So he insisted that David Williams be briefed for the
defence, and well fee'ed, in order that he might be able to devote
all his time to the investigation of the mystery. David had an
uphill task. He went down to the North in November, 1908, conferred
with Lady Shillito's solicitors, and at great length with the
curiously calm, ironly-resolved Lady Shillito herself. The evidence
was too much against her for him to prevent her being committed for
trial and lodged in reasonably comfortable quarters in Newcastle
jail, or for the Grand Jury to find no true bill of indictment. But
between these stages in the process and the actual trial for murder
in February, 1909, David worked hard and accumulated conclusive
evidence (with Rossiter's help) to prove his client's innocence of
the deed of which she believed herself guilty. To punish her as she
deserved he allowed her to think herself guilty till his defence of
her began.

The prospect of a death on the gallows did not perturb Lady Shillito
in the least. She was perfectly certain that if found guilty her
beauty and station in life would avail to have the death penalty
commuted to a term of imprisonment which she would spend in the
Infirmary. Still, that would ruin her life pretty conclusively. She
would issue from prison a broken woman, whom in spite of her
wealth--if she retained any--no impossibly-faithful Colonel would
marry at the age of forty-five or fifty. So she followed the opening
hours of the trial with a dry mouth.

With the help of Rossiter and of many and minute researches David
got on the track of the consultation in Harley Street, the warning
given of the possible cancer. He found in Sir Grimthorpe's
laboratory sufficient strychnine to kill an army. He was privately
informed by the family doctor (who didn't want to press matters to
a tragedy) that although he fully believed Arbella capable of the
deed, she certainly had--so far as the doctor's prescriptions were
concerned--obtained nothing from him which could have killed her
husband, even if she had centupled the dose.

Lady Shillito appeared in the dock dressed as much as possible like
Mary, Queen of Scots on her trial; and was attended by a hospital
nurse with restoratives and carminatives. The Jury retired for a
quarter of an hour only, and returned a verdict of _Not Guilty_. The
Court was rent with applause, and the Judge commented very severely
on such a breach of decorum, apparently unknown to him in previous
annals of our courts of justice. Lady Shillito fainted and the nurse
fussed, and the Judge in his private room sent for Mr. Williams and
complimented him handsomely on his magnificent conduct of the case.
"Of course she _meant_ to poison him; but I quite agree with the
Jury, she didn't. He saved her the trouble. Now I suppose she'll
marry again. Well! I pity her next husband. Come and have lunch with
me."

And in the course of the meal, His Ludship spoke warmly to Mr.
Williams of the bright prospects that lay before him if he would
drop those foolish Suffragette cases.

David returned to London with Rossiter and remained silent all the
way. His companion believed him to be very tired, and refrained from
provoking conversation, but surrounded him with a quiet, fatherly
care. Arrived at King's Cross Rossiter said: "Don't go on to your
chambers. My motor's here. It can take your luggage on with mine to
Portland Place. You can have a wash and a rest and a talk when
you're rested; and after we've dined and talked the motor shall come
round and take you back to Fig Tree Court."

Mrs. Rossiter was there to greet them, and whilst David went to wash
and rest and prepare himself for dinner, she chirrupped over her
big husband, and asked endless and sometimes pointless questions
about the trial and the verdict. "Did Michael believe she really
_had_ done it? She, for one, could believe anything about a woman
who obviously dyed her hair and improved her eyebrows. (Of course
Michael said he didn't, or the questions, as to why, how, when might
have gone on for hours). Was Mr. Williams's defence of Arbella so
very wonderful as the evening papers said? Why could he not have
gone straight home and rested _there_? It would have been so much
nicer to have had Mike all to herself on his return, and not have
this tiresome, melancholy young man spending the evening with them
... really _some_ people had _no_ tact ... could _not_ see they were
_de trop_. Why didn't Mr. Williams marry some nice girl and make a
home for himself? Not well enough off? Rubbish! She had known plenty
young couples marry and live very happily on Two hundred and fifty a
year, and Mr. Williams must surely be earning that? And if he must
always be dining out and spending the evening with other people, why
did he not make himself more 'general?' Not _always_ be absorbed in
her husband. Of course she understood that while Arbella's fate hung
in the balance they had to study the case together and have long
confabulations over poisons in the Lab'rat'ry...!" (This last
detestable word was a great worry to Mrs. Rossiter. Sometimes she
succeeded in suppressing as many vowels as possible; at others she
felt impelled to give them fuller values and call it "labóratorry.")
And so on, for an hour or so till dinner was announced.

David sat silent all through this meal, under Mrs. Rossiter's
mixture of mirthless badinage: "We shall have you now proposing to
Lady Shillito after saving her life! I expect her husband won't have
altered his will as she didn't poison him, and she must have had
quite thirty thousand pounds settled on her.... They do say however
she's a great _flirt_..." Indiscreet questions: "How much will you
make out of this case? You don't know? I thought barristers had all
that marked on their briefs? And didn't she give you 'refreshers,'
as they call them, from time to time? What was it like seeing her in
prison? Was she handcuffed? Or chained? What did she wear when she
was tried?" And inconsequent remarks: "I remember my mamma--she died
when I was only fourteen--used to dream she was being tried for
murder. It distressed her very much because, as she said, she
couldn't have hurt a fly. What do _you_ dream about, Mr. Williams?
Some pretty young lady, I'll be bound. I dream about such _funny_
things, but I nearly always forget what they were just as I am going
to tell Michael. But I did remember one dream just before Michael
went down to Newcastle to join you ... was it about mermaids? No. It
was about _you_--wasn't that funny? And you seemed to be dressed as
a mermaid--no, I suppose it must have been a mer_man_--and you were
trying to follow Michael up the rocks by walking on your tail; and
it seemed to hurt you awfully. Of course I know what it all came
from. Michael had wanted me to read Hans Andersen's fairy
stories--don't you think they're pretty? I do; but sometimes they
are about rather silly things, skewers and lucifer matches ... and I
had spent the afternoon at the Zoo. Michael's a fellow, of course,
and I use his ticket and always feel quite at home there ... and at
the Zoo that day I had seen one of the sea-lions trying to walk on
his tail.... Oh, _how_ I laughed! But what made me associate the
sea-lion with you and mermaids, I cannot say, but then as poor papa
used to say, 'Dreams are funny things'..."

David's replies were hardly audible, and to his hostess's pressing
entreaties that he would try this dish or not pass that, he did not
answer at all. He felt, indeed, as though the muscles of his throat
would not let him swallow and if he opened his mouth wide enough to
utter a consecutive speech he would burst out crying. A great
desire--almost unknown to Vivie hitherto--seized him to get away
to some lonely spot and cry and cry, give full vent to some
unprecedented fit of hysteria. He could not look at Rossiter though
he knew that Michael's eyes were resting on his face, because if he
attempted to reply to the earnest gaze by a reassuring smile, the
lips would tremble and the tears would fall.

At last when the dessert was reached and the servants--_do_ they
never feel telepathically at such moments that some one person
seated at the table, crumbling bread, wishes them miles away and
loathes their quiet ministrations?--the servants had withdrawn for a
brief respite till they reappeared with coffee, David rose to his
feet and stammered out something about not being well--would they
order the motor and let him go? And as he spoke, and tried to speak
in a level, "society" voice, his aching eyes saw the electric lamps,
the glinting silver, Mrs. Rossiter's pink, foolish face and crisp
little flaxen curls, Rossiter's bearded countenance with its honest,
concerned look all waltzing round and round in a dizzying whirl. He
made the usual vain clutches at unreal supports, and fainted into
Rossiter's arms.

The latter carried him with little effort into the cool library and
laid him down on a couch. Mrs. Rossiter followed, full of
exclamations, vain questions, and suggestions of inapplicable or
unsuitable remedies. Rossiter paid little heed to her, and proceeded
to remove David's collar and tie and open his shirt front in order
to place a hand over the heart. Suddenly he looked up and round on
his wife, and said with a peremptoriness which admitted of no
questioning: "Go and see that one of the spare bedrooms is got
ready, a fire lit, and so on. Get this done _quickly_, and meantime
leave him to me. I have got restoratives here close at hand."

Mrs. Rossiter awed into silence summoned the housemaid and
parlour-maid and hindered them as much as possible in the task of
getting a room ready.

Meantime the sub-conscious David sighed a great deal and presently
wept a great deal in convulsive sobs, and then opened his eyes and
saw the tourbillon of whirling elements settling down into
Rossiter's grave, handsome face--yes, but a gravity somehow
interpenetrated by love, a love not ashamed to show itself--bending
over him with great concern. The secret had been guessed, was known;
and as they held each other with their eyes as though the world were
well lost in this discovery, their lips met in one kiss, and for a
minute Vivie's arms were round Michael's neck, for just one
unforgettable moment, a moment she felt she would cheerfully have
died to have lived through.

They were soon unlaced, for sharp little high-heeled footsteps on
the tiled passage and the clinketing of trinkets announced the
return of Mrs. Rossiter.

Vivie became David once more, but left behind her the glad tears of
relief that were coursing down David's cheeks.

Mrs. Rossiter thought this was a very odd way for a barrister to
celebrate his winning a great case at the criminal courts, and
turned away in delicacy from the spectacle of a dishevelled and
obviously lachrymose young man with one arm dangling and the other
thrown negligently over the back of the leather couch. "Mr.
Williams's room is ready, Michael," she said primly. "All right,
dear; thank you. I will help Williams up to bed and have his luggage
sent up. He will be quite well to-morrow if he can get to sleep. You
needn't bother any more, dearie. Go into the drawing-room and I
will join you there presently."

Rossiter gave the rather shuddery, shivery, teeth-clacking David an
arm till he saw him into the bedroom and resting on the bedroom
sofa. Then he drew up a chair and said in low but distinct tones:--

"Look here. I know you want to make me an explanation. Well! It can
wait. A little more of this strain and you'll be having brain
fever. Sleep if you can, and eat all the breakfast Linda sends you
up in the morning. Get up at eleven to-morrow and if you are fit
then to drive out in my motor, return to your chambers. When you
have calmed down to a normal pulse, write to me all you want to
say. No one shall read it but me ... I'll burn it afterwards or
send it back to you under seal. But at the present time, it may be
easier for both of us if our communications are only written and
not spoken. We have both been tried rather high; and both of us are
human, however high-principled. If you write, register the
letter.... Good-night..."

This that follows is probably what Vivie wrote to Michael. He burnt
the long letter when he had finished reading it though he made
excerpts in a pocket-book. But I can more or less correctly surmise
how she would put her case; how she typed it herself in the solitude
of two evenings; how, indeed, her nervous break-down was made the
reason for fending off all clients and denying herself to all
callers.

"I am not David Vavasour Williams. I am Vivien Warren, the daughter
of a woman who runs a series of disreputable Private Hotels on the
Continent. I had no avowed father, nor had my mother, who likewise
was illegitimate. She was probably the daughter of a Lieutenant
Warren who was killed in the Crimea, and _her_ mother's name was
Vavasour. My grandmother was probably--I can only deal with
probabilities and possibilities in this undocumented past--a Welsh
woman of Cardiff, and I should not be surprised if I were a sort of
cousin of the man I am personating.

"He was the ne'er-do-weel, only son of a Welsh vicar, a pupil of
Praed's, who went out to South Africa and died or was killed in the
war.

"You have met my adopted father. He fully believes I am the bad son,
the prodigal son, returned and reformed. He has grown to love me so
much that it really seems to have put new life into him. I have
helped him to get his affairs straight, and I think I may say he has
gained by this substitution of one son for another, even though the
new son is a daughter! I have taken none of his money, other than
small sums he has thrust on me. I have some money of my own, earned
in Honoria's firm, for I was the 'Warren' of her 'Fraser and
Warren.' She has known my secret all along, hasn't quite approved,
but was overborne by me in my resolve to show what a woman--in
disguise, it may be--could do at the Bar.

"Michael! I started out twelve years ago--and the dreadful thing is
I am now _thirty-four_ in true truth! to conquer Man, and a man has
conquered me! I wanted to show that woman could compete with man in
all careers, and especially in the Law. So she can--have I not shown
it by what I have done? But it is a drawn battle. I have realized
that if some men are bad--rotten--others, like you--are supremely
good. I love you as I never thought I could love any one. I cannot
trust myself to write down how much I love you: it would read
shamefully and be too much a surrender of my first principle of
self-respect.

"I am going to throw up the whole D.V.W. business. It has put us in
a false relation which was exasperating me and puzzling you.
Moreover the disguise was wearing very thin. Only those two loyal
souls, Honoria Fraser and Albert Adams, were cognizant of the
secret, but it was being guessed at and almost guessed right, in
certain quarters. Professional jealousy was on my track. I never
fainted before in my life--so far as I can remember--but I might
have done so elsewhere than in your dear house, after the strain of
such an effort as I made to save that worthless woman--she was your
cousin, which is why I fought for her so hard--How often is not
justice deflected by Love! I might, somewhere else, when
over-strained have had a fit of hysterics; and my disguise would
have been penetrated by eyes less merciful than yours. Then would
have come exposure and its consequences--damaging to You (_I_ should
not have mattered), to my poor old 'father' down in Wales--whom I
sincerely love--to Praddy, to Honoria....

"Let me be thankful to get off so easily! _Somme toute_, I have had
a glorious time, have seen the world from the man's point of
view--and I can assure you that from his point of view it is a jolly
place to live in--_He_ can walk up and down the Strand and receive
no insult.

"Well now, to relieve your anxieties, I will tell you, that after a
brief visit to South Wales to recuperate from the exertions of that
trial, Mr. David Williams the famous young barrister at the Criminal
Bar will go abroad to investigate the White Slave Traffic. Miss
Vivien Warren privately believes--and hopes--that the horrors of
this traffic in British womanhood are greatly exaggerated. The lot
in life of many of these young women is so bad in their native land
that they cannot make it worse by going abroad, no matter in what
avowed career. But Mr. David Williams takes rather a higher line and
is resolved in any case to get at the Truth. Miss Warren, nathless,
has her misgivings anent her old mamma, and would like to know what
that old lady is doing at the present time, and whether she is past
reform. Miss Warren even has her moments of doubt as to the
flawless perfection of her own life: whether the path of duty in
1897 did not rather lie in the direction of a serious attempt to be
a daughter to her wayward mother and reclaim her then, instead of
going off at a tangent as the mannish type of New Woman, to whom
applicable Mathematics are everything and human affections very
little. I suppose the truth, the commonplace truth is, that rather
late in life, Vivien Warren has fallen in love in the old-fashioned
way--How Nature mocks at us!--and now sees things somewhat
differently. At any rate, David and Vivie, fused into one
personality, are going abroad for a protracted period ... going out
of your life, my dearest, for it is better so. Linda has every right
to you and Science is a jealous mistress. Moreover poor, outcast
Vivie has her own bitter pride. She is resolved to show that a woman
_can_ cultivate strength of character and an unflinching sobriety of
conduct, even when born of such doubtful stock as mine, even when
devoid of all religious faith. I know you love me, I glory in the
knowledge, but I know that you likewise are more strongly bound by
principles of right conduct because like myself you have no sham
theology....

"Michael! _why_ are we tortured like this? Why mayn't we love where
we please? Is this discipline necessary to the improvement of the
race? I only know that if we sinned against these human laws and
conventions, your great career in Science--and again, why in
Science? Lightness in love does not seem to affect the career of
orchestral conductors, actors, singers, play-wrights and house
painters--why weren't you one of these, and not a High Priest of the
only real religion? I only know also that if I fell, so many people
would have the satisfaction of saying: 'There! _what_ did I say?
What's bred in the bone comes out in the flesh. _That's_ how the
Woman's Movement's goin' to end, you take my word for it! They'll
get a man somewhere, somehow, and then they'll clear out of it.'

"I think I said before--I meant to say, at any rate, so as to ease
your mind: I'm all right as regards financial matters. I have a life
annuity and some useful savings. I shall give Bertie Adams a year's
salary; and if you feel, dear friend, you _must_ put forth your hand
to help me, help _him_ instead to get another position. He has a
wife and a young family, and for his class is just about as good a
chap as I have ever met--this is 'David' speaking! If you can do
nothing you may be sure Vivie will, even if she has to borrow
unclean money from her wicked old mother to keep Bertie Adams from
financial anxiety and his pretty young wife and the child they are
so proud of....

"I must finish this gigantic letter somewhere, though I'm not going
to stop writing to you. I couldn't--I should lose all hold on life
if I did. For the purpose of correspondence and finishing up things,
I shall be 'David Williams' for some time longer. You know his
address in Wales? Pontystrad Vicarage, Pontyffynon, Glamorgan, if
you've forgotten it. He'll be there till April, and then begin his
foreign tour and write to you at intervals from the Continent. As to
Vivie, I think she won't return to life and activity till the autumn
and _then_ she'll make things hum. She'll throw all the energy of
frustrated love into the Woman's Cause, and get 'em the Vote
somehow...!"


Early in the genesis of the book. I appointed a jury of matrons to
judge each chapter before it went to the Press, and to decide
whether it was suited to the restrictions of the circulating
library, and whether it would cause real distress or perturbation to
three persons whom we chose as representative readers of decent
fiction: Admiral Broadbent, Lady Percy Mountjoye, and old Mrs.
Bridges (Mrs. Bridges was said to have had a heart attack after
reading THE GAY-DOMBEYS--I did not wish her to have another). This
jury of broad-minded women of the world decided that Rossiter's
reply to Vivie's very long epistle should not see the light. He
himself would probably--had he known we were discussing his
affairs--have been thankful for this decision; because twelve hours
after he had written it he was heartily ashamed of his momentary
lapse from high principles, ashamed that the woman in the case
should have shown herself truer metal. He resolved, so far as our
poor human resolves are worth anything, to remain inflexibly true to
his devoted Linda and to his career in biological Science. He knew
too well that if he were caught in adultery it would be all over
with the great theories he was working to establish. The Royal
Society would condemn them. Besides, so fine a resolve as Vivie's,
to live on the heights must be respected.

At the same time, it is certain that for the next three months he
muddled his experiments, confused his arguments, lost his temper
with a colleague on the Council of the Zoological Society, kicked
the pugs--even caused the most unbearable two of them to be poisoned
by his assistant--and lied in attributing their deaths to other
causes. He promised the weeping Linda a Pom instead; he said "Hell!"
when the macaw interrupted them with raucous screams. He let pass
all sorts of misprints in his article on the Ductless Glands for the
_Encyclopaedia Scotica_, he was always losing the thread of his
discourse in his lectures at the London Institution and University
College; and he spent too much of his valuable time writing hugely
long letters on all sorts of subjects to David Williams.

David--or Vivie--replied much more laconically. In the first place
he--she--had had her say in the one big outpouring from which I
have quoted so freely; in the second she did not wish to stoke up
these fires lest they should become volcanic and break up a happy
home and a great career. She wrote once saying: "If ever you were in
trouble of any kind; if Linda should die before me, for example, I
would come back to you from the ends of the earth and even if I were
legitimately married to the Prince of Monaco; come back and serve
you as a drudge, as a butt for your wit, as a sick nurse. But
meantime, Michael, you must play the game."

And so after this three months' frenzy was past, he did. It was not
always easy. Linda's devotion was touching. She perceived--though
she hardly liked admitting it--that her husband missed the society
of "that" Mr. Williams, in whom she, for one, never could see
anything particularly striking, and who was now travelling abroad on
a quest it would be indelicate to particularize, and one that in
_her_ opinion should have been taken up by a far older man, the
father of a grown-up family. She strove to replace Williams as an
intelligent companion in the Library and even in the Laboratory. She
gave up works of charity and espionage in Marylebone and many of her
trips into Society, to sit more often with the dear Professor, and
was a little distressed by his groans which seemed to be quite
unprovoked by her remarks or her actions. However as the months went
by, Rossiter buckled down more to his work, and Mrs. Rossiter
noticed that he engaged a new assistant at £300 a year to take
charge of his enormous correspondence. Mr. Bertie Adams seemed a
nice young man, though also afflicted at times with something that
gave melancholy to his gaze. But he had a good little wife who came
to make a home for him in Marylebone. Mrs. Rossiter being a kindly
woman went to call on her and was entirely taken up with their one
child whom she frequently asked to tea and found much more
interesting than the new Pom. "But it's got such a funny name,
Michael; I mean funny for their station in life. It's a girl and
they call it 'Vivvy,' which is short for Vivien. I told Mrs. Adams
she must have been reading Tennyson's _Idylls of the King_; but she
said 'No, she wasn't much of a reader: Adams was, and it was some
lady's name in a story that had stuck in his head, and that as her
mother's name was Susan and his was Jane, she hadn't minded.'"



CHAPTER XI

DAVID GOES ABROAD


David Williams had an enthusiastic greeting when he went home to
Pontystrad for the Easter of 1909. It was an early Easter that year,
whether you like it or not; it suits my story better so, because
then David can turn up in Brussels at the end of April, and yet have
attended to a host of necessary things before his departure on a
long absence.

He first of all devoted himself to making the old Vicar happy for a
few weeks in a rather blustery, showery March-April. His father was
full of wonderment and exultation over the honourable publicity his
barrister son had attained. "You'll be a Judge, Davy; at any rate a
K.C., before I'm dead! But marry, boy, _marry_. _That's_ what you
must do now. Marry and give me grandchildren." The burly curate
privately thought David a bit morbid in his passionate devotion to
the Woman's Cause, and this White Slave Traffic all rot. He had
worked sufficiently in the bad towns of the South Welsh coast and
had had an initiation into the lower-living parts of Birmingham and
London to be skeptical about the existence of these poor, deluded
virgins, lured from their humble respectable homes and thrust by
Shakespearean procuresses, bawds, and bullies into an impure life.
If they went to these places abroad it was probably with the hope of
greater gains, better food, and stricter medical attention. However,
he kept most of these thoughts to himself and his wife, the squire's
daughter; who as she somehow thought David _ought_ to have married
_her_, was a little bit sentimental about him and considered he was
a Galahad.

Old Nannie remained as usual wistfully puzzled, half fearing the
explanation of the enigma if it ever came.

Returned to London and Fig Tree Court--which he was soon
vacating--David obtained through his and her bankers a passport for
himself and another for Miss Vivien Warren, thirty-four, British
subject, and so forth, travelling on the Continent, a lady of
independent means. He re-arranged all David's and Vivie's money
matters, stored such of Vivie's property and his own as was
indispensable at Honoria Armstrong's house in Kensington, and left a
box containing a complete man's outfit in charge of Bertie Adams;
bade farewell as "David Williams" and "Uncle David" to Honoria and
her two babies, and to the still unkindly-looking Colonel Armstrong
(who very much resented the "uncle" business, which was perhaps why
Honoria out of a wholesome _taquinage_ kept it up); and called in
for a farewell chat with dear old Praddy--beginning to look a bit
shaky and rather too much bossed by his parlour-maid. Honoria had
said as he departed "Do try to run up against Vivie somewhere abroad
and tell her I shan't be happy till she returns and takes up her
abode among us once more. 'Army' is _longing_ to know her." ('Army'
didn't look it.) "Now pettums! Wave handikins to Uncle David. He's
goin' broadies. 'Army' dear, would you ask them to whistle for a
taxi? I know David doesn't want to walk all the way back to the
Temple in those lovely button boots."

Praed told him all he wanted to know about the localities of the
Warren Private Hotels; most of all, that at which Vivie's mother
resided in the Rue Royale, Brussels.

So at this establishment a well but plainly dressed English lady,
scarcely looking her age (thirty-four) turned up one morning, and
sent in a card to the lady-proprietress, Mme. Varennes. This card
was closely scanned by a heavy-featured Flemish girl who took it
upstairs to an _appartement_ on the first floor. She read:

          _Miss Vivien Warren_

and vaguely noted the resemblance of the two names Varennes and
Warren, and the fact that the establishment in which she earned a
lucrative wage was one of the "Warren" Hotels.

With very short delay, Vivie was invited to ascend in a lift to the
first floor and was shown in to a gorgeously furnished bedroom
which, through an open door, gave a glimpse of an attractive boudoir
or sitting-room beyond, and beyond that again the plane trees of a
great boulevard breaking into delicate green leaf. A woman of
painted middle age in a _descente de lit_ that in its opulence
matched the hangings and furniture of the room, had been reclining
on a sofa, drinking chocolate and reading a newspaper. She rose
shakily to her feet, when the door closed behind Vivie, tottered
forward to meet her, and exclaimed rather theatrically "My
_daughter_ ... come back to me ... after all these years!" (a few
tears ran down the rouged cheeks).

"Steady on, mother," said Vivie, propping her up, and feeling oh! so
clean and pure and fresh and wholesome by contrast with this
worn-out woman of pleasure. "Lie down again on your sofa, go on with
your _petit déjeuner_--which is surely rather late? There were signs
and appetizing smells of the larger meal being imminent as I passed
through the hotel. Now just lie down until you want to dress--if you
like, I'll help you dress" (swallowing hard to choke down a little
shudder of repulsion). "I'm not in any hurry. I've come to Brussels
to go into matters thoroughly. For the present, I am staying at the
Hotel Grimaud."

Mrs. Warren was convulsively sobbing and ruining the complexion she
had just made up, before she changed out of her _descente de lit_:
"Why not stop here, dearie? Don't laugh! There's _lots_ that do and
never suspect for one minute it ain't like any other hotel; though
from all I see and hear, _all_ hotels are pretty much the same
now-a-days, whether they're called by my name or not. Of course a
man might find out pretty quick, but not a woman who wasn't in the
business herself. Why we actually _encourage_ decent women to come
here when we ain't pressed for room. They give the place a better
tone, don't you know. There's two clergyman's sisters come here most
autumns and stop and stop and don't notice anything. They come in
here and chat with me, and once they said they liked foreign
gentlemen better than their own fellow-countrymen: 'their manners
are so _affable_.' Why it was partly through people like that, that
I got to hear every now and then what _you_ was up to. Oh, I wasn't
taken in long by that David Williams business. Praddy didn't give
you away--to speak of, when I sent you that thousand pounds--Lord, I
was glad you kept it! But what fixed me was your portrait in the
_Daily Mirror_ a couple of years ago as 'the Brilliant young
Advocate, Mr. David Vavasour Williams.' Somehow the 'Vavasour'
seemed to fit in all right, though what you wanted with
my--ahem--maiden name, with what was pore mother's _reel_ name,
before she lived with your grandfather--Well as I say, I soon saw
through the whole bag o' tricks--But _what_ a lark! Beat anythink
_I_ ever did. What have you done with your duds? Gone back to bein'
Vivie once more?--"

_Vivie_: "I'll tell you all about it in good time. But I would
rather not stay here all the same. I've found a quiet hotel near the
station. I will come and see you if you can make it easy for me; but
what I should very much prefer, if you can only get away from this
horrid place, is that you should come and see _me_. Why shouldn't
you give yourself a fortnight's holiday and go off with me to
Louvain ... or to Spa ... or some other quiet place where we can
talk over everything to our heart's content?"

_Mrs. Warren_: "Not a bad idea. Do me a lot of good. I was feeling
awfully down, Vivie, when you came. I wasn't altogether taken aback
at your coming, dearie, 'cos Praddy had given me a kind of a hint
you might turn up. But somehow, though everything goes well in
business--we seldom had so busy a time as during this last
Humanitarian Congress of the Powers--all the diplomats came
here--mostly the old ones, the old and respectable--oh we _all_ like
respectability--yet I never 'ad such low spirits. My gals used to
come in here and find me cryin' as often as not.... 'Comment,
Madame,' they used to say, 'pourquoi pleurez vous? Tout va si bien!
_Quelle_ clientele, et pas chiche'--I suppose you understand French?
However about this trip to the country, look on it as _settled_.
I'll pack up now and away we go in the afternoon. And not to any of
your measly Hotels or village inns. Why I've got me _own_ country
place and me _own_ auto. Villa de Beau-séjour, a mile or so beyond
the lovely beech woods of Tervueren. Ain't so far from Louvain, so's
I can send you on there one day--Ah! There's some one you'd like to
see in Louvain, if I mistake not! You always was one for findin' out
things, and maybe I'll tell you more, now you've come back to me,
than what I'd a done with you standing up so stiff and proud and me
unfit to take up the hem of your skirt.... How I do ramble. Suppose
it's old age comin' on" (shudders). "About this Villa de Beau-séjour
... It was once a farm house, and even now it's the farm where I get
me eggs and milk and butter an' the fruit and vegetables for this
hotel. _He_ gave it to me--you know whom I mean by '_He_'? ... don't
do to talk too loud in a place like this.... They say he's pretty
bad just now, not likely to live much longer. I was his mistress
once, years ago--at least I was more a confidante than anything
else. _How_ he used to laugh at my stories! 'Que tu es une
drôlesse,' he used to say. I never used to mince matters and we were
none the worse for that. Bless you, he wasn't as bad as they painted
him, 'long of all this fuss about the blacks. As I say, he gave me
the Villa de Beau-séjour, and used to say if I behaved myself he
might some day make me 'Baronne de Beau-séjour.' How'd you have
liked that, eh? Sort of morganatic Queen? I lay I'd have put some
good management into the runnin' of those places. Aïe! How they used
to swindle 'im, and he believing himself always such a sharp man of
business! When that Vaughan hussy..."

_Vivie_: "Very well. We'll go to Villa Beau-séjour. But don't give
me too many of your reminiscences or I may leave you after all and
go back to England. Whilst I'm with you, you must give up rouge and
patchouli and the kind of conversation that goes with them. I'm out
here trying to do my duty and duty is always unpleasant. I don't
want to be a kill-joy, but don't give me more of that side of your
character than you can help. It--it makes me sick, mother..."

[Mrs. Warren--or Madame Varennes--whimpers a little, but soon cheers
up, rings the bell for her maid preparatory to dressing and being
the business woman over her preparations for departure. She notes
the address of Vivie's hotel and promises to call for her there in
the _auto_ at three o'clock. Vivie leaves her, descends the richly
carpeted stairs--the lift is worked by an odiously pretty, little,
plump soubrette dressed as a page boy--and goes out into the street.
Several lounging men stare hard at her, but decide she is too
English, too plainly dressed, and a little too old to neddle with.
This last consideration is apparent to Vivie's intelligence and she
muses on it with a wistful little smile, half humour, half regret.
She will at her leisure write a whole description of the scene to
Michael.]

Those who come after us will never realize how delightful was
foreign travel before the War, before that War which installed
damnable Dora in power in all the countries of Europe, especially
France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, and Holland. They will not
conceive it possible that the getting of a passport (as a mere means
of rapidly establishing one's identity at bank or post-office) was a
simple transaction done through a banker or a tourist agency, the
enclosing of stamps and the payment of a shilling or two; that there
was no question of _visas_ entailing endless humiliation and
back-breaking delays, waiting about in ante-rooms and empty
apartments of squalid, desolating ugliness situate always in the
most odious parts of a town. But the Foreign Offices of Europe were
agreed on one topic, and this was that having got their feet back on
the necks of the people, their serfs of the glebe should not, save
under circumstances hateful, fatiguing, unhealthy and humiliating,
travel through the lands that once were beautiful and bountiful and
are so no longer.

So: Vivie, never having consciously been abroad before (though she
was later to learn she had actually been born in Brussels), began to
experience all the delights of travel in a foreign land. She woke up
the next morning to the country pleasures of Villa Beau-séjour, a
preposterous chateau-villa it might be, but attached to a charming
Flemish farm; with cows and pigs, geese and ducks, plump poultry and
white pigeons, with clumps of poplars and copses of hawthorns and
wild cherry trees which joined the little domain on to the splendid
forest of Tervueren. There were the friendly, super-intelligent big
dogs, like bastard St. Bernards or mastiffs in breed, that drew the
little carts which carried the produce of the farm to the markets
or to Brussels. There were cheery Flemish farm servants and buxom
dairy or poultry women, their wives; none of them particularly aware
that there was anything discreditable about Madame Varennes. They
may have vaguely remembered she had once lived under High
protection, but that, if anything, added to her prestige in their
eyes. She was an English lady who for purposes of business and may
be of _la haute politique_ chose to live in Belgium. She was a kind
mistress and a generous _patronne_. Vivie as her daughter was
assured of their respect, and by her polite behaviour won their
liking as well.

"You know, Viv, old girl," said Mrs. Warren one day, "if you played
your cards all right, this pretty place might be yours after I'd
gone. Why don't yer pick up a decent husband somewhere and drop all
this foolishness about the Suffragettes? He needn't know too much
about me, d'yer see? And if you looked at things sensible-like,
you'd come in for a pot of money some day; and whilst I lived I'd
make you a good allowance--"

"It's no use, dear mother"--involuntarily she said "dear": her
heart was hungry for affection, Wales was rapidly passing out of her
sphere, David's business must soon be wound up in that quarter and
where else had she to go? "So long as you keep on with those Hotels
I can't touch a penny. I oughtn't to have kept that thousand, only
Praddy assured me it was 'clean' money."

_Mrs. W._: "So it was. I won it at Monte. I don't often gamble now,
I hate losing money. But we'd had a splendid season at Roquebrune
and I sat down one day at the tables, a bit reckless-like. Seemed as
if I couldn't lose. When I got up and left I had won Thirty thousand
francs. So I says to myself: 'This shall go to my little girl: I'll
send it through Praddy and he'll pay it into her bank. Then I shan't
feel anxious about her.'"

"Mother! what a strange creature you are! Such a mixture of good and
bad--for I suppose it _is_ bad, I feel somehow it _is_ bad,
trafficking in women's bodies, as they put it sensationally. Towards
me you have always been compact of kindness; you took every
precaution to have me brought up well, out of knowledge of any
impurity; and well and modernly educated. You left me quite free to
marry whom I liked ... but ... but ... you stuck to this horrible
career..."

"Well, Vivie. I did. But did you make any great effort to turn me
from it? Besides, _is_ it horrible? I won't promise much for Berlin
and Buda-Pest or even Vienna, because I haven't been in those
directions for ever so long, and the Germans are reg'lar getting out
of hand, they are, working up for something. I dessay if you looked
in at the Warren Hotels in those places you might find lots to say
against 'em. But you couldn't say the places I supervise here and at
Roquebrune are so bad? _I_ won't stop your looking into 'em. The
girls are treated right down well. Looked after if they fall sick
and given every encouragement to marry well. I even call those two
places--I've giv' up me Paris house this ten years--I even call them
my 'marriage markets.' Ah! an' I've given in my time not a few
_dots_ to decent girls that had found a good husband _dans la
clientèle_. Why they're no more than what you might call hotels a
bit larkier than what other Hotels are. I've never in all my twenty
years of Brussels management had a row with the police.... And as to
all this rot about the White Slave Traffic that you seem so excited
about ... well I'm not saying there's nothin' in it.... Antwerp,
Hamburg, Rotterdam--you'd hear some funny stories there ... but only
if you went as David Williams in your man's kit--My! what a wheeze
that's bin!... And from all they tell me, that place in South
America--Buenos Aires, is a reg'lar Hell. But ... God bless my soul
... there's nothin' to fuss about here. Our young ladies would take
on like anything if you forced them to go away from my care. It's
gettin' near the time when we close our Roquebrune establishment for
the summer, an' the girls'll all be goin' back to their homes in the
mountains and fattenin' up on new milk; still if you go there before
the middle of May you'll see things pretty much as they are in the
season; and what's more you'll see plenty of perfectly respectable
people stoppin' there. Of course the prices are high. But look at
the luxury! What that wicked Bax used to call 'All the Home
Comforts.' He liked 'is joke. I hear he's settlin' down at home with
his old Dutch. She's bin awful good to him, I must say. _I_ couldn't
stand 'im long. I don't often lose me temper but I did with him,
after he got licked by Paul Dombey, and I threw an inkpot at his
head and ain't seen him for a matter of thirteen or fourteen year.
He sold out all his shares in the Warren Hotels when he came a
cropper."

"Well, mother, I'll have a look round. I'm truly glad you're quit of
the German and Austrian horrors, though you must bear the blame for
having organized them in the first place. I will presently put on
David Williams's clothes and see what I _can_ see of them. But if
you want me to be a daughter to you, you'll take the first and the
readiest opportunity of removing your name from these--_ach_!--these
legacies of the Nineteenth century. You'll wind up the Warren
Hotels' Company, and as to the two houses you've got here and at
Roquebrune, you'll turn them now into decent places where no
indecency is tolerated."

_Mrs. Warren_: "I'll think it over and I don't say as I won't give
in to you. I'm tired of a rackety life and I'm proud of you and ...
and ... (cries) ... ashamed of meself ... ashamed whenever I look at
you. Though I've never bin what I call _bad_. I've helped many a
lame dog over a stile.... That's partly how you came into
existence--almost the only time I've ever been in love--Many years
ago--why, girl, you must be--getting on for thirty-five--let me see
... (muses). Yes, it was in the winter of '73-74. I'd bin at Ostende
with a young barrister from London ... him I told you about once,
who used to write plays, and we came on to Brussels because he had
some business with the Belgian Government. He left me pretty much to
myself just then, though quite open-handed, don't you know.... One
day I was walking through one of the poorer streets where the people
was very Flemish, and I stood looking up at an old doorway--Dunno'
why--S'pose I thought it picturesque--reminded me of Praddy's
drawin's. And an old woman comes up and says in French, 'Madame est
Anglaise?' In those days I couldn't hardly speak a word o' French,
but I said 'Oui.' Then she wants me to come upstairs but I thought
it was some trap. However as far as I could make out there was a
young Irishman there, she said, lying very sick of a fever and
seemingly had no friends.

"Well: I took down the address and the next day I came there with
the concierge of the hotel where we were staying, and under his
protection we went upstairs. My! it was a beastly place--and your
poor father--for he _was_ your father--was tossing about and raving,
with burning cheeks and huge eyes, just like yours. Well! I had
plenty of money just then, so with the help of that concierge we
found a decent lodging--they wasn't so partic'lar then about
infection or they didn't think typhoid infectious--I took him there
in an ambulance, engaged a nurse, and in a fortnight he was
recovering. He turned out to be a seminarist--I think they called
it--from Ireland who was going to be trained for the priesthood at
Louvain--lots of Irish used to come there in those days. And somehow
a fit of naughtiness had overcome him--he was only twenty--and he
thought he'd like to see a bit of the world. So he'd sloped from
his college and had a bit of a spree at Brussels and Ostende. Then
he was took with this fever--

"His name was Fergus O'Conor and he always said he was descended
from the real old Irish Kings, and he was some kind of a Fenian. I
mean he used to go on something terrible against the English, and
say he would never rest till they were drove out of Ireland. When he
got well again he was that handsome--well I've never seen any one
like him, unless it's you. I expect when you dress up as David
Williams you're the image of what he was when I fell in love with
him.

"And I did. And when me barrister friend--Mr. FitzSimmons--teased me
about it, and wanted me--he having finished his business--to return
with him to London I refused. Bein' a bit free with me speech in
those days I dessay I said 'Go to Hell.' But he only laughed and
left me fifty pounds.

"Well, I lived with this young student for a matter of six months. A
lovely time we had, till he began gettin' melancholy--matter of no
money partly. He tried bein' a journalist.

"Then the Church got him back. There came about a reg'lar change in
him, and just at the time when _you_ was comin' along. He woke up
one night in a cold sweat and said he was eternally damned.
'Nonsense,' I says, 'it's them crayfish; you ought never to eat that
bisque soup...'

"But he meant it. He went back to Louvain--where I'm goin' to take
you in a day or two--and I suppose they made him do all sorts of
penances before they gave him absolution. But he stuck to it. In due
time he became a priest and entered one of them religious houses.
They think a lot of him at Louvain. I've seen him once or twice but
I can't bear to meet his eyes--they're somethin' like yours--make me
feel a reg'lar Jezebel. And as to you? Well, when he left me I
hadn't got much money left; so, before I begged a passage back to
England, I called in at the very hotel where you found me the other
day, and where me an' my barrister friend had been stayin'. I'd got
to know the proprietress a little--real kind-'earted woman she was.
She said to me 'See here. You stop with me and help me in the bureau
and have your baby. I'll look after you. And when you can get about
again, stop on and help me in my business. I reckon you're the type
of woman I've bin looking out for this long while.' And that's how
the first of the Warren Hotels was started and that's where you were
born ... in October, Eighteen--seventy--five--"

(Vivie gave a little shudder, but her mother's thoughts were so
intent on the past that she did not perceive it.)

_Mrs. Warren_: "Dj'ever see yer Aunt Liz?"

Vivie told her of the grim experiences already touched on in Chapter
I.

_Mrs. Warren_: "Well she dropped _me_--_com_pletely--from the time
she married that Canon. And I respected her. She was comfortably
off, her past was dead and done with. D'yer think _I_ wanted to
bother 'er? Not I. It depends so much on the way you was born and
brought up. If Liz had been the child of a respectable married
couple that could give her a good start in life, 'probability is
she'd have run straight from the first. Dunno about me. I was always
a bit larky. And yet d'you know, I think if yer father hadn't been a
sort of young god, with his head in the skies, and no reg'lar
income, if he'd a married me and been kind to me ... I should have
been an honest woman all the rest of me life....

"What do _you_ feel about morality? You don't seem to have much
faith in religion, yet you've always taken a high line--and somehow
I'm glad you have--about things that never seemed to me to matter
much. We're given these passions and desires--and my! don't it hurt,
falling in love!--and then the clergy, though they're awful
humbugs, tells us we must deny our cravings..."

_Vivie_: "In the main the clergy are right in what they preach
though they give the wrong reasons. We must try to regulate our
passions or they will master us, stifle what is really good in us.
My solution of this problem which I am so sick of discussing.... But
let's finish with it while we are about it--my solution is that the
State and the Community should do their utmost to encourage,
subsidize, reward early marriages; and at the same time facilitate
in a reasonable degree divorce. Apply both these remedies and you
would go far to wipe out prostitution, which I think perfectly
horrible--I--I should like to penalize it. Perhaps it is the Irish
ascetic in my constitution. A good many early marriages might be
failures. Well then, at the end of ten years these should be
dissolvable, with proper provision made for the children. I think
many a couple if they knew that after a time and without scandal
their partnership could be dissolved wouldn't, when the time came,
want it. While on the other hand if you made the tie not
everlastingly binding, young people--especially if they hadn't to
trouble about means--would get married without hesitation or delay.
I should not only encourage that, but I should give every woman a
heavy bonus for bringing a living child into the world.... Now let's
talk of something else. When are you going to take me to Louvain?"

        *       *       *       *       *

They went to Louvain a few days later and Vivie's newly awakened
senses for the beautiful in art revelled in the glorious
architecture, so much of which was afterwards wrecked in the War.

Walking beneath the planes in a narrow street between monastic
buildings, they descried a gaunt, stately figure of a Father
Superior of some great Order. "There!" said Mrs. Warren; "that's
him, that's your father." They quickened their pace and were
presently alongside him. He flashed his great, grey eagle eyes for a
contemptuous second on the face of Mrs. Warren, who was all of a
tremble and could not meet the gaze. Vivie, he scarcely glanced at
as he strode towards a doorway which engulfed him, though the eyes
she had inherited would have met his unflinchingly.

       *       *       *       *       *

David Williams duly visited Antwerp, Rotterdam, Hamburg, Berlin,
Vienna, and Buda-Pest. Much of what he saw disgusted, even revolted,
him, but he found few of his fellow-countrywomen held captive and
crying to be delivered from a life of infamy. On his return to
England in the autumn of 1909, he published the results of his
observations; but they had very little effect on continental public
opinion.

However Mrs. Warren in due course turned her two establishments into
hotels that gradually acquired a well-founded character of propriety
and were in time included amongst those recommended to quiet,
studious people by first class tourist agencies. Their names were
changed respectively from Hotel Leopold II to Hotel Edouard-Sept,
from The Homestead, Roquebrune, to Hotel du Royaume-Uni. Mrs. Warren
or Mme. Varennes retired completely from the management, but
arranged to retain for her own use the magnificently furnished
_appartement_ on the first floor of the Hotel Edouard-Sept at
Brussels, where Vivie had seen her in the late spring of 1909. She
still continued to receive a certain income from these two admirably
managed hostelries.

Constrained by Vivie she bestowed large donations on charitable and
educational institutions affecting the welfare of women and
established a fund of Ten thousand pounds for the promotion of Woman
Suffrage in Great Britain, which fund was to be at Vivie's
disposal. But even with these sacrifices to _bienséance_ she
remained a lady of considerable fortune.

She resisted however all invitations to make her home in England.
"No, dear; I've got used to foreign ways. I hate my own people;
they're such damned hypocrites; and the cooking don't suit my taste,
accustomed to the best."

But she gave up brandy except as a very occasional _chasse_ after
the postprandial coffee. She no longer dyed her hair and used very
little rouge and no scent but lavender. Her hair turned a warm white
colour, and dressed à la Pompadour made her look what she probably
was at heart--quite a decent sort.



CHAPTER XII

VIVIE RETURNS


Honoria Armstrong, faithful in friendship and purpose as few people
are (though she abated never a whit her love for her dear, fierce,
blue-eyed, bristly-moustached, battle-scarred, bullying husband)
prepared for Vivie's return in the autumn of 1909 by securing for
her occupancy a nice little one-storeyed house in a Kensington back
street; one of those houses--I doubt not, now tenanted by
millionaires who don't want a large household, just a roof over
their heads--that remain over from the early nineteenth century,
when Kensington was emerging from a country village into villadom.
The broad, quiet road, named after our late dear Queen, has nothing
but these detached or semi-detached little _cottages ornés_,
one-storeyed villas with a studio behind, or two-storeyed components
of "terraces," for about a quarter of a mile; and just before the
War, building speculators were wont to pace its pavements with a
hungry gaze directed to left and right buying up in imagination all
this wasted space, pulling down these pretty stucco nests, and
building in their place castles of flats, high into the air. I don't
suppose this district will escape much longer the destruction of its
graceful flowering trees and vivid gardens, its air of an opulent
village; it will match with the rest of Kensingtonia in huge,
handsome buildings and be much sought after by the people who devote
their lives--till they commit suicide--to illicit love and the
Victory Balls at the Albert Hall. But in 1909--would that we were
all back in 1909!--it was as nice a part of London as a busy,
energetic, sober-living spinster, in the movement, yet liking home
retirement and lilac-scented privacy--could desire to inhabit, at
the absurd rental of fifty pounds a year, with comparatively low
rates, and the need for only one hard-working, self-respecting
Suffragette maid, with the monthly assistance of a charwoman of
advanced views.

There Vivie took up her abode in November of the year indicated.
Honoria lived not far away, next door but one to the Parrys in
Kensington Square. She--Vivie--was aware that Colonel Armstrong did
not altogether like her, couldn't "place" her, felt she wasn't "one
of us," and therefore despite Honoria's many invitations to run in
and out and not to mind dear old "Army" who was _always_ like that
at first, just as their Chow was--she exercised considerable
discretion about her frequentation of the Armstrong household,
though she generally attended Honoria's Suffrage meetings, held
whenever the Colonel was called away to Aldershot or Hythe.

Honoria by this time--the close of 1909--was the mother of four
lovely, healthy, happy children. She would give birth to a fifth the
following June (1910), and then perhaps she would stop. She often
said about this time--touching wood as she did so--"could any woman
be happier?" She was so happy that she believed in God, went
sometimes to St. Mary Abbott's or St. Paul's, Knightsbridge--the
music was so jolly--and gave largely to cheerful charities as well
as to the Suffrage Cause. She would in the approach to Christmas,
1909, look round and survey her happiness: could any one have a more
satisfactory husband? Of course he was a man and had silly mannish
prejudices, but then without them he would not be so lovable. Her
children--two boys and two girls--could you find greater darlings if
you spent a week among the well-bred childern playing round the
Round Pond? Such _natural_ children with really original remarks
and untrained ideas; not artificial Peter Pans who wistfully didn't
want to grow up; not slavish little mimics of the Children's stories
in vogue, pretending to play at Red Indians--when every one knew
that Red Indians nowadays dressed like all the other citizens of the
United States and Canada and sat in Congress and cultivated
political "pulls" or sold patent medicines; or who said "Good
hunting" and other Mowgli shibboleths to mystified relations from
the mid-nineteenth century country towns; nor children who teased
the cat or interfered with the cook or stole jam or did anything
else that was obsolete; or decried Sullivan's music in favour of
Debussy's or of Scarlatini's 17th century _tiraliras_; or wore
spectacles and had to have their front teeth in gold clamps. Just
clear-eyed, good-tempered, good-looking, roguish and spontaneously
natural and reasonably self-willed children, who adored their
parents and did not openly mock at the Elishas that called on them.

Then there were Honoria's friends. I gave a sort of list of them in
Chapter II--which I am told has caused considerable offence, not by
what was put _in_ but to those who were left out. But they needn't
mind: if the protesters were nice people according to my standard,
you may be sure Honoria knew them. But of all her friends none was
dearer and closer--save her husband--than Vivie Warren--pal of pals,
brave comrade of the unflinching eyes. And somehow Vivie (since she
fell in love with Michael Rossiter) was ten times dearer than she
had been before: she was more understanding; she had a brighter eye,
a much greater sense of humour; she was tenderer; she liked children
as she never had done in bygone years, and was soon adopted by the
four children in Kensington Square as "Aunt Vivie" (They also--the
two elder ones--had a vague remembrance of an Uncle David who had
brought them toys and sweetmeats in a dim past). Aunt Vivie and
Mummie used to get up the most amusing Suffrage meetings in the
long, narrow garden behind the house; or they combined forces with
Lady Maud Parry, and spoke in lilting contralto or mezzo-soprano
(with the compliant tenor or baritone of here and there a captive
man) across the two gardens. Or somehow they commandeered the Square
Garden on the pretext of a vast Garden Party, at which every one
talked and laughed at once over their Suffrage views.

Yes: Honoria was happy then, as indeed she had been during most of
her life, except when her brother died and her mother died. What did
she lack for happiness? Nothing that this world can give in the
opening twentieth century ... not even a very good pianola or a
motor. I feel somehow it was almost unfair (in my rage at the
inequality of treatment meted out by the Powers Beyond). Shall not
General Sir Petworth Armstrong die in the great débacle of the
world-wide War? I shall see, later. And yet I feel that this nucleus
of pure happiness housed in Kensington Square--or at Petworth
Manor--was to the little world that revolved round the Armstrongs
like a good radiator in a cold house. It warmed many a chilly nature
into fructification; it healed many a scar, it brightened many a
humble life, like that of Bertie Adams's hard-working, washerwoman
mother, or the game-keeper's crippled child at Petworth or the
newest, suburbanest little employé of _Fraser and Claridge's_ huge
establishment in the Brompton Road. It pulled straight the wayward
life of some young subaltern, about to come a cropper, but who after
a talk or two with that jolly Mrs. Armstrong took quite a different
course and made a decent marriage. It conjoined with many of the
social activities for good of one who might have been her twin
sister--Suzanne Feenix--only that Suzanne was twenty years older and
perhaps an inch or two shorter. Dear woman! My remembrance flashes a
kiss to your astral cheek--which in reality I should never have
dared to salute, so great was my awe of Colonel Armstrong's
muscles--as, at any reasonable time before or after the birth of
your last child in June, 1910, you stand in the hall of your sunny,
eighteenth century house, with the gold and green glint of the
Kensington garden behind you: saying with your glad eyes and bonny
mouth "Come to our Suffrage Party? _Such_ a lark! We've got Mrs.
Pankhurst here and the Police daren't raid us; they're so afraid of
'Army.' Of course he's away, but he knows _perfectly well_ what I'm
doing. He's _quite_ given in. Now Michael, you show Sir Harry and
Lady Johnston to the front seats..."

(I looked round for the rather gloomy presence of Michael Rossiter,
but it was his little golden-haired god-son she meant.)

You shall have your general back safe from the wars, with a wound
that gives only honour, a reasonable number of well-earned
decorations, and a reputation for rather better strategy than
Aldershot generally produces; and he shall live out his wholesome
life alongside yours, still dispensing happiness, even under a
Labour Government: till, as Burton used to wind up his Arabian
Nights love stories, "there came to them the Destroyer of delight
and the Sunderer of societies."


Honoria acted towards the Suffrage movement somewhat as in
older-fashioned days of Second Empire laxity well-to-do people
evaded military service under conscription by paying a substitute to
take their place in the fighting line. On account of her husband,
and the children she had just had or was going to have, she did not
throw herself into the physical struggle; but she still continued
out of her brother's ear-marked money to subsidize the cause. Rather
regretfully, she looked on from a motor, a balcony, a front window
or the safe plinth of some huge statue, whilst her comrades, with
less to risk physically and socially, matched their strength of
will, their trained muscles, their agility, astuteness and feminine
charm (seldom without some effect) against the brute force and
imperturbability of the Police.

The struggle waxed hot and fierce in the early months of 1910. Vivie
held herself somewhat in the background also, not wishing to strike
publicly and effectively until she was sure for what principle she
endangered her life and liberty. Nevertheless she became a resource
of rising importance to the Suffrage cause. She was known to have
had a clever barrister cousin who for some reasons best known to
himself had of late kept in the background--ill-health, said some;
an unfortunate love affair, said another. But his pamphlet on the
White Slave Traffic on the Continent showed that he was still at
work. Vivie was thought to be fully equal in her knowledge of the
law to her cousin, though not allowed to qualify for the Bar. Case
after case was referred to her with the hope that if she could not
solve it, she might submit it to her cousin's judgment. In this way,
excellent legal advice was forthcoming which drove the Home Office
officials from one quandary to another.

But Vivie in the spring of 1910, looking back on nearly twelve
months of womanly life (save for David's summer of continental
travel) decided that she didn't like being a woman, so far as Woman
was dressed in 1910 and for three or four hundred years previously.

As "David" this had been more or less her costume: an undershirt
(two, in very cold weather), a pair of pants coming down to the
ankle, and well-fitting woollen socks on the feet. A shirt,
sometimes in day-time all of one piece with its turn-over collar; at
worst with a separate collar and a tie passed through it. Braces
that really braced and held up the nether garment of trousers; a
waistcoat buttoning fairly high up (no pneumonia blouse)--two
waistcoats if she liked, or a dandy slip buttoned innocently inside
the single vest to suggest the white lie of a second inner vest.
Over the waistcoat a coat or jacket. On the head a hat which fitted
the head in thirty seconds (allowing for David's shock of hair).
Lace-up or button boots, with perhaps at most six buttons; gloves
with one button; spats--if David wanted to be very dressy--with
three buttons. On top of all this a warm, easily-fitting overcoat or
a mackintosh. If you were really dressing to kill (as a man) it
might take half an hour; if merely to go about your business and not
be specially remarked for foppishness, twenty minutes. To divest
yourself of all this and get into paijamas and so to bed: ten
minutes. But when Vivie returned to herself and went about the world
of 1909-1910, and merely wished to pass as an inconspicuous, modest
woman she had to spend _hours_ in dressing and undressing, and this
is what she had to wear and waste so much of her time in adjusting
and removing:--

Next the skin, merino combinations, unwieldy garments requiring a
contortionist's education to put on without entangling your front
and hind limbs. The "combies" were specially buttoned with an
infinitude of small, scarcely visible buttons, which always wanted
sewing on and replacing, and were peevish about remaining in the
button hole. Often, too, the "combies" (I really can't keep writing
the full name) had to be tied here and there with little white
ribbons which preferred getting into a knot (no wonder the average
woman has a temper!). When the "combies" went to the wash, all these
ribbonlets had to be taken out, specially washed, specially ironed,
and ingeniously threaded back into position.

Next to the combinations, proceeding outwards, came the corset, a
most serious affair. This exceedingly expensive instrument of
torture was compounded chiefly of silk (which easily frayed) and
whale-bone. Many good women of the middle class have gone to their
graves for three hundred years believing that Almighty God had
specially created toothless whales of the Family _Balænidæ_ solely
for the purpose of providing women with the only possible ingredient
for a corset; and for three hundred years, brave seamen of the
Dutch, British and Basque nations had gone to a watery grave to
procure for women this indispensable aid to correct clothing. But
these filaments of horny palatal processes are unamiable. Though
sheathed in silk or cotton, they, after the violent movements of a
Suffragette or a charwoman, break through the restraining sheath and
run into the body under the fifth rib, or press forward on to the
thigh. Which is why you often see a woman's face in an omnibus
express severe pain and her lips utter the exclamation "Aïe, Aïe."
Then this confounded corset had to be laced with pink ribbons at the
back and in front and both lacings demanded unusual suppleness of
arms and sense of touch in finger-tips; and when the corset went to
the wash the ribbons had to be drawn out, washed, ironed, and
threaded again.

From the front of the corset hung two elastic suspenders as yet
awaiting their prey. But first must be drawn on the silk or
stockinette knickerbockers which in the 1910 woman replaced the
piteously laughable drawers of the Victorian period. Then the
suspenders clutched the rims of the stockings with an arrangement of
nickel and rubber which no _man_ would have tolerated for its
inefficiency but would have thrown back in the face of the shopman
and have been charged with assault. In times of stress, at public
meetings the suspenders would release the stockings from their hold,
and the latter roll about the ankles of the embarrassed pleader for
Woman's Rights ("Who would be free, themselves must strike the
blow," and first of all throttle the modiste, thought Vivie).

Then there was the camisole that concealed the corset and had to be
"pinned" in with safety pins. The knickerbockers might not seek the
aid of braces; but they must be kept up by an elastic band. Over
the camisole, in 1910, came a blouse, pernickety and shiftless about
its waist fastening; and finally a hobble skirt, chiefly kept up by
safety pins, and so cut below as to hamper free movement of the
limbs as much as possible.

Day-boots often had as many as twenty-one buttons--and, mind you,
not _sham_, buttons, as I used to think, out of swagger; but every
button demanded entrance into a practicable button hole. Or the
boots themselves were mere shoes with many buttoned spats drawn over
them. All the boots had high heels and the woman walked so as to put
a severe strain on her arched instep in order that she might bring
on by degrees "flat foot" for surgical treatment.

Who shall describe the hats of 1910?--and before and since--in all
but the very poorest women? They were enormous; and so were the
hat-boxes; and they could only be held on to the head by running
hatpins through wisps of hair.

I will not portray the evening dresses that it sometimes takes a
kindly husband an hour to fasten, with "press-buttons" and hooks and
eyes; and poor Vivie had no husband and depended on her suffragette
maid because at all costs she mustn't look dowdy or the woman's
cause might suffer at Mrs. Pethick Lawrence's receptions.

As to night gear: of course Vivie being a free agent slept in
David's paijamas. She had long ago cut the Gordian knots of her
be-ribboned, girdled night gowns in favour of the Indian garment.
But can you wonder after this true recital of the simplest forms of
a decent woman's costume in 1909-1910 and even now (a recital drawn
from a paper on _Woman's dress_ delivered by David on one of the
last occasions in which he appeared at the Debating Society of the
Inner Temple--and checked by my jury of matrons)--can you wonder
that Vivie took very hardly to giving up a man's life in the clothes
of David Williams? How she vowed to herself--fruitlessly, because
now she is one of the best-dressed women in town (in a quiet
way)--that she would one day enfranchise women in their costume as
in their citizenship? This will never be done until the modistes of
Paris, in some great popular uprising, are strangled and burnt on
the Place de la Concorde.

At the 1910 (January) Election, Michael Rossiter had been returned
as M.P. for one of the Midland Universities. His Science had
certainly suffered from his suppressed love for Vivie, a passion
which secretly tortured him, yet for which he dared ask no respite.
He thought it was about time that _real_ men of Science entered
Parliament to check the utter mismanagement of public affairs which
had been going on since 1900. He proposed to himself to make a
succession of brilliant speeches (he really was an admirable and
fluent lecturer) on Anthropology, Chemistry--Chemistry ought
to appeal, even to City men because it made such a lot of
money--Ethnology, Hygiene, Geography, Economic Botany, Regional
Zoology, Germ Diseases, Agriculture, etc., etc.; _and_ the absolute
necessity of giving Woman the same electoral privileges as Man. He
was always well inclined that way, but after he realized that David
was Vivie he became almost an embittered Suffragist.

The Speaker took care that he had little scope for his Anthropology,
Economic Botany, Chemistry, Hygiene, etc., on Votes of Supply: but
he got in some nasty blows in the Woman's cause, and in fact was so
strangely rancorous that Ministers looked at him evilly and arranged
that he was not placed on the committee of the Conciliation Bill;
that amusing farce with which the Liberal Ministry sought in 1910 to
stave off the Suffrage dilemma.

Rossiter and Vivie seldom met except at public receptions. Every now
and again he came to Suffrage meetings when she was going to speak;
and how well she spoke then! How real it all seemed to her! How
handsome she looked (even at 36) and how near she was to tears and a
breakdown; while his eyes burned; and when he got home poor little
Linda was in despair over her poor distraught Michael, who could
find no happiness or contentment in Ten Thousand a year, great fame
as the chief inventor of the Ductless Glands, and the man who had
issued a taxonomic classification of the _Bovidae_ which even
satisfied _me_.

What a cruel force is Love! Or is the cruelty in human disciplinary
laws? Here were two persons eminently suited to be mates, calculated
while still in the prime of life to procreate offspring that would
be a credit to the nation, who asked for nothing more in life than
to lie in each other's arms--after which no doubt they would have
arisen and performed the most wonderful feats in inductive science
or in embroidery or mathematics. And they were inwardly raging,
losing their appetites, sleeping very badly yet eschewing drugs,
pursuing will-of-the-wisps in politics, wasting the best years of
their lives ... from a sense of duty, that sense of duty which has
made the Nordic White man the dominant race on the earth. "We suffer
individually but we gain collectively," Rossiter said to himself.

In May, 1910, King Edward died, and all these gladiators, male and
female, willingly declared a Truce in the Suffrage battle, to obtain
a much needed rest in the weary conflict. As soon as political
activities were resumed, the Conciliation Bill by the energies of
the Liberal Whips was talked out (wasn't it?). At any rate it came
to nothing for that Session. Vivie took this as a decision. She
openly declared that the Vote never would be given by the House of
Commons or House of Lords until it was wrung from the Legislature by
a complete dislocation of public affairs, the nearest approach to a
revolution women could bring about without rifles and cannon.

Meantime she refused to be duped by Ministers or by amiable
go-betweens. She resolved instead, perhaps for the last time, to
resume the clothes and status of David Williams, go down to Wales,
and stay with her father who was dying by slow degrees.

The letters which the curate had written from time to time to D.V.
Williams, Esq., care of Michael Rossiter, Esq., F.R.S., and usually
forwarded on by Bertie Adams, had told David how much the Revd.
Howel Williams had failed since the cold spring of 1909, and how in
the colder spring of 1910 he had once or twice narrowly survived
influenza. In July, 1910, he was dying of heart failure.
Nevertheless the return of David, his well-beloved, brought to him a
flicker of renewed life, a little pink in the cheeks, and some
garrulity.

He could hardly bear his darling son out of his sight, except for
the narrowest margin of necessary sleep; and often David slept
sitting up in an arm-chair in the Vicar's bedroom. The Revd. Howel
said nothing more about grandchildren; often--with a finer
sense--spoke to him not as though he were a son, but as a beloved
daughter. At last he died in his sleep one night, holding David's
hand, looking so ineffably happy that the impostor inwardly gloried
in his imposture as in one of the best deeds of his chequered life.

       *       *       *       *       *

The will, of course, had not been changed, and David inherited all
his "father's" property. Out of it he settled £500 on the
miner's--or rather Jenny's--son who probably _was_ the offspring of
the real David Williams's boyish amour. He provided a handsome
annuity for poor, shaken, old Nannie; and the rest of the money
after paying all expenses he laid out on the endowment of a Village
Hall for games and study, social meetings and political discussions,
together with provision for an annual stipend of a hundred pounds
for the Vicar or curate of the parish who should run this Hall:
which was to be a lasting memorial to the Reverend Howel Vaughan
Williams, so learned in the lore of Wales.

Having settled all these matters to his satisfaction, and certainly
to that of the Revd. Cadwalladr Jones (who succeeded as Vicar of
Pontystrad by a wise nudging and monetary pressure on the part of
the late Vicar's son), David returned to London at the close of
1910, took off his clothes and shed his personality. It was bruited
that he had gone abroad to nurse a health that was seriously
impaired through his incredible exertions over the Shillito case. He
left his cousin Vivie free to espouse the Suffrage cause, even unto
the extremest militancy.



CHAPTER XIII

THE SUFFRAGE MOVEMENT


The Conciliation Bill which was intended to give the Parliamentary
Vote to a little over one million women had passed its Second
reading on July 12, 1910, by a majority of 110 votes; in spite of
the bitter opposition of the Premier, the Chancellor of the
Exchequer, the Home Secretary, the President of the Board of Trade,
and the Secretary for the Colonies. The Premier's arguments against
it were, firstly, that "Women were Women"--this of course was a
deplorable fact--and that "the balance of power might fall into
their hands without the physical force necessary to impose their
decisions, etc., etc."; and finally "that in Force lay the ultimate
appeal" (rather a dangerous incitement to the sincere militants).
The Chancellor of the Exchequer took up a more subtle attitude than
the undisguised, grumpy hostility of his leader.

His arguments at the time reminded me of an episode in East Africa
thirty years ago. A certain independent Chief tolerated the presence
on his territory of a plucky band of missionary pioneers. He did not
care about Christianity but he liked the trade goods the
missionaries brought to purchase food and pay for labour in the
erection of a station. These trade goods they kept in a storehouse
made of wattle and daub. But this temporary building was not proof
against cunning attempts at burglary on the part of the natives. The
missionaries at length went to the Chief (who was clothed
shamelessly in the stolen calicoes) and sought redress. "All
right," said the potentate, who kept a fretful realm in awe, "_But_
you have no proof it _is_ my people who break in and steal. You just
catch one in the act, and _then_ you'll see what I'll do."

So the Oxford and Cambridge athletic missionaries sat up night after
night under some camouflage and at last their patience was rewarded
by the capture of a naked, oily-skinned negro who emerged from a
tunnel he had dug under the store-foundations. Then they bore him
off to the Yao chieftain.

"_Now_ we know where we are," said the Chief. "You've proved your
complaint. We'll have him burnt to death, after lunch, in the market
place. I presume you've brought a lunch-basket?"

"Oh no!" said the horrified propagandists: "We don't want such a
penalty as _that_..."

"Very good" said the Chief, "then we'll behead him..." "No! No!"

"Crucify him?"--"No! No!"--"Peg him down over a Driver Ants' nest?"
"No! No!"

"Then, if you don't want _any_ rational punishment, he shall go
free." And free he went.

In the same way the Chancellor of the Exchequer of those days was so
hard to please over Suffrage measures that none brought forward was
democratic enough, far-reaching and overwhelming enough to secure
his adhesion. He was therefore forced to torpedo the Conciliation
Bill, to snatch away the half-loaf that was better than no bread at
all. He spoke and voted against these tentative measures of feminine
enfranchisement, with tongue in cheek, no doubt, and hand linked in
that of Lulu Grandcourt whose opposition to any vote being given to
woman and whole attitude towards the sex was so bitter that he had
to be reminded by Lord Aloysius Brinsley (who like his brother
Robert was a convinced Suffragist) that after all he, Lulu
Grandcourt, had deigned to be born of a woman, had even--maybe--been
spanked by one.

The Speaker had hinted on the occasion of the second reading of the
Concilition Bill and at a later raising of the same question that
there might arise all sorts of obstacles to wreck the Woman's
Franchise measure in Committee; obstacles that apparently need not
be taken into account as dangerous to any measure affecting male
interests. Therefore many of the M.P.'s timorously voted for the
second reading of the Conciliation Bill in order to stand well with
their Constituencies, yet looked to the Premier to trip it up by
some adroit use of Parliamentary jiu-jitsu. They were not
disappointed in their ideal politician. The Bill after it had passed
its second reading by a large majority was referred to a Committee
of the whole House, which seemingly is fatal to any measure that
seeks to become law.

So the stale summer of 1910 wore itself away in recriminations,
hopings against probability that the newer types of Liberal
statesmen were honest men, keepers of promises, not merely--as
Vivie said in one of the many speeches that got her into
trouble--"Bridge-players, first and foremost, golf-players when they
couldn't play bridge, or speculators on the Stock Exchange,
champagne drinkers; and prone to eat at their Lucullus banquets,
public and private, till they sometimes fainted with indigestion."

My! But she was bitter in her Hyde Park speeches and at her Albert
Hall meetings against this band of mock-liberals who had seized the
impulse of the country towards reform which had grown up under the
Chamberlain era to instal themselves in power with the financial
backing of great Americo-German-Jewish internationalists, who in
those early years of the Twentieth century were ready to stake their
dollars on the Free Trade British Empire if they might guide its
policy.

[Very likely if they had obtained the complete guidance they sought
for they might have staved off this ruinous war by telling Germany
bluntly she must keep her hands off France and Belgium; they might
also have seen to it that the War Office _was_ reformed and the
British army ready to fulfil Lord Haldane's promises; for there is
no doubt they had ability even if they despised the instruments they
worked with.]

But as I say, Vivie was a bitter and most effective speaker. She
inflamed to action many a warm-hearted person like myself, like
Rossiter (who got into trouble--though it was hushed up--in
1910-1911 for slapping the face of a Secretary of State who spoke
slightingly of the women Suffragists and their motives). Yet I seem
to be stranded now, with a few others, in my pre-war enthusiasm over
the woman's cause, or, later, my horror at the German treatment of
Belgium.

Where are the snows of yester-year; where is the animosity which in
the years between the burking of the Conciliation Bill and the
spring of 1914 grew up between the disinterested Reformers who
wanted Woman enfranchised and the Liberal ministers who fought so
doggedly, so unscrupulously, against such a rational completion of
representative government? The other day I glanced at a newspaper
and saw that Sir Michael and Lady Rossiter had been dining at the
Ritz with the Grandcourts, Princess Belasco, Sir Abel Batterby, the
great Police Surgeon, knighted for his skill and discretion in
forcible feeding, and the George Bounderbys (G.B. was the venomous
Private Secretary of a former Chancellor of the Exchequer and put
him up to most of his anti-suffrage dodges); and meeting Vivien
Rossiter soon afterwards I said, "How _could_ you?" "How could I
what?" "Dine with the people you once hated." "Oh I don't know, it's
all past and done with; we've got the Vote and somehow after those
years in Brussels I seem to have no hates and few loves
left"--However this is anticipating. I only insert this protest
because I may seem to be expressing a bitterness the protagonists
have ceased to feel, a triumph at the victory of their cause which
produces in them merely a yawn.

Where is Mrs. Pankhurst? Somehow one thought she would never rest
till she was in the Cabinet. And Christabel? And Annie Kenney?
Married perchance to some permanent under Secretary of State and
viewing "direct action" with growing disapproval.

And the Pethick Lawrences? Some one told me the other day that
they'd almost forgotten what it felt like to be forcibly fed.

But in November, 1910, we all--we that were whole-hearted reformers,
true Liberals, not wolves in sheep's clothing, took very much to
heart what happened on the 18th of that month, when the Prime
Minister of the time announced that the Conference between the House
of Lords and the House of Commons on the Veto question having broken
down he had advised His Majesty to dissolve Parliament. This meant
that the Conciliation Bill was _finally_ done for; while the
declaration of the Prime Minister as to the future Programme of the
Liberal Party, if it was returned to power, excluded any mention of
a Woman's enfranchisement Bill.

On Black Friday, November 18th, Vivie was present at the meeting in
Caxton Hall when Mrs. Pankhurst explained the position to the
Suffragist women assembled there. Her blood was fired by the recital
of their wrongs and she was prominent among the four hundred and
fifty volunteers who came forward to accompany Mrs. Pankhurst, Dr.
Garret Anderson and Susan Knipper-Totes (the two last, infirm old
ladies) when they proposed to march to the Houses of Parliament to
exercise their right of presenting a petition.

The women proceeded to Parliament Square in small groups so as to
keep within the letter of the law. Some like Vivie carried banners
with pitiful devices--"Where there's a Bill there's a Way," "Women's
Will Beats Asquith's Skill," and so on.... She wished she had given
more direct attention to these mottoes, but much of this procedure
had been got up on impulse and little preparation made. It was near
to four o'clock on a fine November afternoon when the four hundred
and fifty women began their movement towards Parliament Square. A
red sun was sinking behind the House of Lords, the blue of the misty
buildings and street openings was enhanced by the lemon yellow
lights of the newly-lit lamps. The avenues converging on the Houses
of Parliament were choked with people, and vehicles had to be
diverted from the streets. The men in the watching crowd covered the
pavements and island "refuges," leaving the roadways to the little
groups of struggling women, and the large force--a thousand or
more--of opposing police.

It was said at the time that the Government of the day, realizing by
their action or inaction in the House of Commons they had provoked
this movement of Mrs. Pankhurst's, had prepared the policy with
which to meet it. As on the eve of a General Election it might be
awkward if they made many arrests of women--perchance Liberal
women--on their way to the House to present a petition or escort a
deputation, the police should be instructed instead to repel the
Suffragists by force, to give them a taste of that "frightfulness"
which became afterwards so familiar a weapon in the Prussian
armoury. Some said also that the Government looked to the crowd
which was allowed to form unchecked on the pavements, the crowd of
rough men and boys--costers from Lambeth, longshore men from the
barges on the unembanked Westminster riverside, errand boys,
soldiers, sailors, clerks returning home, warehousemen, the tag-rag
and bob-tail generally of London when a row is brewing--looked to
this crowd to catch fire from the brutality of the police
(uniformed and in plain clothes) and really give the women
clamouring for the Vote "what for"; teach them a lesson as to what
the roused male can do when the female passes the limits of domestic
license. A few deaths might result (and did), and many injuries, but
the treatment they received would make such an impression on Mrs.
Pankhurst's followers that they would at last realize the futility
of measuring their puny force against the muscle of man. Force, as
the Premier had just said, must be the decisive factor.

But unfortunately for these calculations the large male crowd took
quite a different line. The day had gone by when men and boys were
wont to cry to some expounding Suffragette: "Go home and mind yer
biby." Dimly these toilers and moilers, these loafers and wasters
now understood that women of a courage rarely matched in man were
fighting for the cause of all ill-governed, mal-administered,
swindled, exploited people of either sex. The mass of men, _in_ the
mass, is chivalrous. It admires pluck, patience, and persistency. So
the crowd instead of aiding the police to knock sense into the women
began to take sides with the buffeted, brutalized and bleeding
Suffragettes.

Fortunately before the real fighting began, and no doubt as a stroke
of policy on the part of some Police Inspector, Mrs. Pankhurst
convoying the two frail old ladies--Dr. Garret Anderson and Susan
Knipper-Totes--champions of the Vote when Woman Suffrage was outside
practical politics--had reached the steps of the Strangers' entrance
to the House of Commons. From this point of 'vantage a few of the
older leaders of the deputation were able to witness the four or
five hours' struggle in and around Parliament Square, the Abbey,
Parliament Street, Great George Street which made Black Friday one
of the note-worthy days in British history--though, _more nostro_,
it will be long before it is inserted in school books.

Here, while something like panic signalized the Legislative Chamber
and Cabinet ministers scurried in and out like flurried rabbits and
finally took refuge in their private rooms--here was fought out the
decisive battle between physical and moral force over the suffrage
question. The women were so _exaltées_ that they were ready to face
death for their cause. The police were so exasperated that they saw
red and some went mad with sex mania. It was a horrible spectacle in
detail. Men with foam on their moustaches were gripping women by the
breasts, tearing open their clothing, and proceeding to rabid
indecencies. Or, if not sex-mad, they twisted their arms, turned
back their thumbs to dislocation, rained blows with fists on pale
faces, covering them with blood. They tore out golden hair or thin
grey locks with equal disregard. Mounted police were summoned to
overawe the crowd, which by this time whether suffragist and female,
or neutral, non-committal and male, was giving the police on foot a
very nasty time. The four hundred and fifty women of the original
impulse had increased to several thousand. Dusk had long since
deepened into a night lit up with arc lamps and the golden radiance
of great gas-lamp clusters. Flares were lighted to enable the police
to see better what they were doing and who were their assailants.
But the women showed complete indifference to the horses; and the
horses with that exquisite forbearance that the horse can show to
the distraught human, did their utmost not to trample on small feet
and outspread hands.

Here and there humanity asserted itself. One policeman--helmetless,
his fair, blond face scratched and bleeding--had in berserkr rage
felled a young woman in the semi-darkness. He bore his senseless
victim into the shelter of some nook or cloister and turned on her
his bull's eye lantern. She was a beautiful creature, in private
life a waitress at a tea shop. Her hat was gone and her hair
streamed over her drooping face and slender shoulders. The policeman
overcome with remorse exclaimed--mentioning the Home Secretary's
name "---- be damned; this ain't the job for a decent man." The
Suffragette revived under his care. He escorted her home, resigned
from the police force, married her and I believe has lived happily
ever afterwards, if he was not killed in the War.

Vivie had struggled for about two hours to reach the precincts of
the House, with or without her banner. Probably without, because she
had freely used its staff as a weapon of defence, and her former
skill in fencing stood her in good stead. But at last she was
gripped by two constables, one of them an oldish man and the other a
plain-clothes policeman, whom several spectators had singled out for
his pleasure in needless brutalities.

These men proceeded to give her "punishment," and involuntarily she
shrieked with mingled agony of pain and outraged sex-revolt. A man
who had paused irresolutely on the kerb of a street refuge came to
her aid. He dealt the grey-haired constable a blow that sent him
reeling and then seized the plain-clothes man by his coat collar. A
struggle ensued which ended in the intervener being flung with such
violence on the kerb stone that he was temporarily stunned.
Presently he found himself being dragged along with his heels
dangling, while Vivie, described in language which my jury of
matrons will not allow me to repeat, was being propelled alongside
him, her clothes nearly torn off her, to some police station where
they were placed under arrest. As soon as they had recovered breath
and complete consciousness, had wiped the blood from cut heads,
noses, and lips, they looked hard at each other. "Thank you _so_
much," said Vivie, "it _was_ good of you." "That's enough," said
her defender, "it wanted the voice to make me sure; but somehow I
thought all along it _was_ Vivie. Don't you know me? Frank Gardner!"


While waiting for the formalities to be concluded and their
transference to cells in which they were to pass the night, Frank
told Vivie briefly that he had returned from Rhodesia a prosperous
man on a brief holiday leaving his wife and children to await his
return. Hearing there was likely to be an unusual row that evening
over the Suffrage question he had sauntered down from the Strand to
see what was going on and had been haunted by the conviction that he
would meet Vivie in the middle of the conflict. But when he rushed
to her defence his action was instinctive, the impulse of any
red-blooded man to defend a woman that was being brutally
maltreated.


The next morning they were haled before the magistrate. Michael
Rossiter was in court as a spectator, feverishly anxious to pay
Vivie's fine or to find bail, or in all and every way to come to her
relief. He seemed rather mystified at the sight of Frank Gardner
arraigned with her. But presently the prosecuting counsel for the
Chief Commissioner of Police arrived and told the astonished
magistrate it was the wish of the Home Secretary that the prisoners
in the dock should all be discharged, Vivie and Frank Gardner among
them. At any rate no evidence would be tendered by the prosecution.

So they were released, as also was each fresh batch of prisoners
brought in after them. Vivie went in a cab to her house in the
Victoria Road; Frank back to his hotel. Both had promised to
foregather at Rossiter's house in Portland Place at lunch.

Hitherto Vivie had refrained from entering No. 1 Park Crescent. She
had not seen it or Mrs. Rossiter since David's attack of faintness
and hysteria in February, 1909, nearly two years ago. Why she went
now she scarcely knew, logically. It was unwise to renew relations
too closely with Rossiter, who showed his solicitude for her far too
plainly in his face. The introduction to Linda Rossiter in her
female form would be embarrassing and would doubtless set that good
lady questioning and speculating.

Yet she felt she must see Rossiter--writing was always dangerous and
inadequate--and reason with him; beg him not to spoil his own
chances in life for her, not lose his head in politics and personal
animosities on her behalf, as he seemed likely to do. Already people
were speaking of him as a parallel to ----, and ----, and ---- (you
can fill the blanks for yourself with the names of great men of
science who have become ineffective, quarrelsome, isolated members
of Parliament); saying it was a great loss to Science and no gain to
the legislature.

As to Frank Gardner, she was equally eager for a long explanatory
talk with him. Except that her life had inured her to surprises and
unexpected meetings, it was sufficiently amazing that Frank and she,
who had not seen each other or touched hands for thirteen years,
should meet thus in a dangerous scuffle in a dense struggling crowd
outside the Houses of Parliament. She must so arrange matters after
lunch that Frank should not prevent her hour's talk with Rossiter,
yet should have the long explanation he himself deserved. An idea.
She would telephone to Praddy and invite herself and Frank to tea at
his studio after she had left the Rossiters.

Mrs. Rossiter was used to unexpected guests at lunch. People on
terms of familiarity dropped in, or the Professor detained some
colleague or pupil and made him sit down to the meal which was
always prepared and seated for four. Therefore she was not
particularly taken aback when her husband appeared at five minutes
to one in the little drawing-room and after requesting that the
macaw and the cockatoo might be removed for the nonce to a back
room--as they made sustained conversation impossible, announced that
he expected momently--ah! there was the bell--two persons whose
acquaintance he was sure Linda would like to make. One was Captain
Frank Gardner, who owned a big ranch in Rhodesia, and--er--the
other--oh no! no relation--was Miss Warren....

"What, one of the Warrens of Huddersfield? Well, I never! And where
did you pick her up? Strange she shouldn't have written to me she
was coming up to town! I could--"

"No, this is a Miss Vivien Warren--"

"Vivien? How curious, why that is the name of the Adams's little
girl--"

"A Miss Vivien Warren," went on Rossiter patiently--"a well-known
Suffragist who--"

"Oh Michael! _Not_ a Suffragette!" wailed Mrs. Rossiter, imagining
vitriol was about to be thrown over the surviving pug and damage
done generally to the furniture--But at this moment the butler
announced: "Captain Frank Gardner and Miss Warren."

Gardner was well enough, a lean soldierly-looking man, brown with
the African sun, with pleasant twinkling blue eyes, a thick
moustache and curly hair, just a little thin on the top. His face
was rather scarred with African adventure and did not show much
special trace of his last night's tussle with the police. There was
a cut at the back of his head where he had fallen on the kerb stone
but that was neatly plastered, and you do not turn your back much on
a hostess, at any rate on first introduction.

But Vivie had obviously been in the wars. She had--frankly--a black
eye, a cut and swollen lip, and her ordinarily well-shaped nose was
a trifle swollen and reddened. But her eyes likewise were twinkling,
though the bruised one was bloodshot.

"I'm sorry, Mrs. Rossiter, to be introduced to you like this. I
don't know _what_ you will think of me. It's the first time I've
been in a really bad row.... We were trying to get to the House of
Commons, but the police interfered and gave us the full privileges
of a man as regards their fists. Captain Gardner here--who is an old
friend of mine--intervened, or I'm afraid I shouldn't have got off
as cheaply as I did. And your husband kindly came to the police
court to testify to our good character, and then invited us to
lunch."

_Mrs. Rossiter_: "Why how your voice reminds me of some one who used
to come here a good deal at one time--a Mr. David Williams. I
suppose he isn't any relation?"

_Vivie_ (while Frank Gardner looks a little astonished): "Oh--my
cousin. I knew you knew him. He has often talked to me about you.
I'll tell you about David by and bye, Frank."

At this interchange of Christian names Mrs. Rossiter thinks she
understands the situation: they are engaged, have been since last
night's rescue. But what _extraordinary_ people the dear Professor
_does_ pick up! Have _they_ got ductless glands, she wonders?

Rossiter who has been fidgeting through this dialogue considers that
lunch is ready, so they proceed to the small dining-room, "the
breakfast-room." Mrs. Rossiter was always very proud of having a
_small_ drawing-room (otherwise, "me boudwor") and a _small_
dining-room. It prepared the way for greater magnificence at big
parties and also enabled one to be cosier with a few friends.

At luncheon:

_Mrs. Rossiter_ to _Frank Gardner_, archly: "I suppose you've come
home to be married?"

_Frank_: "Oh no! I'm not a bigamist, I've got a wife already and
four children, and jolly glad I shall be to get back to 'em. I can't
stand much of the English climate, after getting so used to South
African sunshine. No. I came on a business trip to England, leaving
my old dear out at the farm near Salisbury, with the kids--we've got
a nice English governess who helps her to look after 'em. A year or
two hence I hope to bring 'em over to see the old country and we may
have to put the eldest to school: children run wild so in South
Africa. As to Miss Warren, she's an old friend of mine and a very
dear one. I hadn't seen her for--for--thirteen years, when the sound
of her voice--She's got one of those voices you never forget--the
sound of her voice came up out of that beastly crowd of gladiators
yesterday, and I found her being hammered by two policemen. I pretty
well laid one out, though I hadn't used my fists for a matter of ten
years. Then I got knocked over myself, I passed a night in a police
cell feeling pretty sick and positively maddened at not being able
to ask any questions. Then at last morning came, I had a wash and
brush up--the police after all aren't bad chaps, and most of 'em
seemed jolly well ashamed of last night's doin's--Then I met Vivie
in Court and your husband too. He took me on trust and I'm awfully
grateful to him. I've got a dear old mater down in Kent--Margate,
don't you know--my dad's still alive, Vivie!--and she'd have been
awfully cut up at hearing her son had been spending the night in a
police cell and was goin' to be fined for rioting, only fortunately
the Home Secretary said we weren't to be punished.... But Professor
Rossiter's coming on the scene was a grand thing. Besides being an
M.P., I needn't tell _you_, Mrs. Rossiter, he has a world-wide
reputation. Oh, we read your books, sir, out in South Africa, _I_
can tell you--Well--er--and here we are--and I'm monopolizing the
conversation."

Vivie sat opposite her old lover, and near to the man who loved her
now with such ill-concealed passion that his hand trembled for her
very proximity. She felt strangely elated, strangely gay, at times
inclined to laugh as she caught sight of her bruised and puffy
face in an opposite mirror, yet happy in the knowledge that
notwithstanding the thirteen years of separation, her repeated
rejection of his early love, her battered appearance, Frank still
felt tenderly towards her, still remembered the timbre of her voice.
Her mouth was too sore and swollen to make eating very pleasant. She
trifled with her food but she felt young and full of gay adventure.
Mrs. Rossiter a little overwhelmed with all the information Gardner
had poured out, a little irritated also at the dancing light in
Vivie's eyes, turned her questionings on her.

_Mrs. Rossiter_: "I suppose you are the Miss Warren who speaks so
much. I often see your name in the papers, especially in _Votes for
Women_ that the Professor takes in. Isn't it funny that a man should
care so much about women getting the vote? I'm sure _I_ don't want
it. I'm _quite_ content to exercise _my_ influence through _him_,
especially now he's in Parliament. But then I have my home to look
after, and I'm _much_ too busy to go out and about and mix myself up
in politics. I'm quite content to leave all that to the menfolk."

_Vivie_: "Quite so. In your position no doubt I should do the same;
but you see I haven't any menfolk. There is my mother, but she
prefers to live abroad, and as she is comfortably off she can employ
servants to look after her." (This hint of wealth a little reassured
Mrs. Rossiter, who believed most Suffragettes to be adventuresses.)
"So, as I have no ties I prefer to give myself up to the service of
women in general. When they have the vote and other privileges of
men, then of course I can attend to my private interests and
pursuits--mathematical calculations, insurance risks--"

_Mrs. Rossiter_: "It is _extraordinary_ how like your voice is to
your cousin's. If I shut my eyes I could think he was back again.
Not," (she added hastily) "that he has not, no doubt, _plenty_ to do
abroad. Do you ever see him now? Why does he not marry and settle
down? One never hears of him now as a barrister. But then he used to
_feel_ his cases too much. The last time he was here he fainted and
had to stay here all night.

"And yet he had won his case and got his--what do you say? client?
off--I dare say you remember it? She was my husband's cousin though
we hardly liked to say so at the time: it is so unpleasant having a
murder in the family. Fortunately she was let off; I mean, the jury
said 'not guilty,' though personally I--However that is neither here
nor there, and since then she's married Colonel Kesteven--Won't you
have some pheasant? No? I remember your cousin used to have a very
poor appetite, especially when one of his cases was on. _How_ he
used--excuse my saying so--how he used to tire poor Michael--Mr.
Rossiter! Talk, talk, talk! in the evenings, and I knew the
Professor had his lectures to prepare, but hints were thrown away on
Mr. David."

Rossiter broke in:

"Now what would you like to do in the afternoon, Miss Warren? And
Gardner? You, by the bye, have the first claim on our hospitality.
You have just arrived from Africa and the only thing we have done
for you, so far, is to drag you into a disgraceful row."

_Frank_: "Well, _I_ should like a glimpse of the Zoo. I'm quite
willing to pay my shilling and give no more trouble, but if Vivie is
going there too we could all walk up together. After that I'm going
to revisit an old acquaintance of mine and Vivie's, Praed the
architect--lives somewhere in Chelsea if I remember right--"

_Vivie_: "In Hans Place. I don't particularly want to go to the Zoo.
I look so odd I might over-excite the monkeys. I think I should like
to try a restful visit to the Royal Botanic. I'm so fond of their
collection of weird succulent plants--things that look like stones
and suddenly produce superb flowers."

_Mrs. Rossiter_: "We belong to the Botanic as well as to the Zoo.
_I_ could take you there after lunch."

_Rossiter_: "You forget, dearie, you've got to open that Bazaar in
Marylebone Town Hall--"

_Linda_: "Oh, have I? To be sure. But it's Lady Goring that does the
opening, I'm _much_ too nervous. Still I promised to come. Would
Miss Warren care to come with me?"

_Vivie_: "I should have liked to awfully: I love bazaars; but just
at this moment I'm thinking more of those succulent plants ... and
my battered face."

_Rossiter_: "I'll make up your minds for you. We'll _all_ drive to
the Zoo in Linda's motor. Gardner shall look at the animals and then
find his way to Hans Place. I'll escort Miss Warren to the Botanic,
and then come on and pick you up, Linda, at the Town Hall."

That statement seemed to satisfy every one, so after coffee and a
glance round the laboratory and the last experiments, they proceeded
to the Zoo, with at least an hour's daylight at their disposal.

Rossiter and Vivie were at last alone within the charmed circle of
the Botanic Gardens. They made their way slowly to the great Palm
House and thence up twisty iron steps to a nook like a tree refuge
in New Guinea, among palm boles and extravagant aroid growths.

"Now Michael," said Vivie--despite her bruised face she looked very
elegant in her grey costume, grey hat, and grey suède gloves, and he
had to exercise great self-restraint, remember that he was known by
sight to most of the gardeners and to the ubiquitous secretary, in
order to refrain from crushing her to his side: "Now Michael: I want
a serious talk to you, a talk which will last for another eighteen
months--which is about the time that has elapsed since we had our
last--You're _not_ keeping the pact we made."

"What was that?"

"Why you promised me that your--your--love--No! I won't misuse that
word--Your friendship for me should not spoil your life, your
career, or make Linda unhappy. Yet it is doing all three. You've
lived in a continual agitation since you got into Parliament, and
now you'll be involved in more electioneering in order to be
returned once more. Meantime your science has come to a dead stop.
And it's so far more important for us than getting the Vote. All
this franchise agitation is on a much lower plane. It amuses and
interests me. It keeps me from thinking too much about you.
Besides, I am naturally rather combative; I secretly enjoy these
rough-and-tumbles with constituted authority. I also really _do_
think it is a _beastly_ shame, this preference shown for man, in
most of the careers and in the franchise. But don't you worry
_yourself_ unduly about it. If I really thought that you cared so
much about me that it was turning you away from _our_ religion,
scientific research, I'd go over to Brussels to my mother and stay
there. I really would; and I really will if you don't stop following
me about from meeting to meeting and going mad over the Suffrage
question in the House. Is it true that you struck a Cabinet minister
the other day? Mr. ----?"

_Rossiter_: "Yes, it's true, and he asked for it. If I am
unreasonable what are _they_? ----, ----, _and_ ----? Why have they
such a bitter feeling against your sex? Have they had no mothers, no
sweethearts, no sisters, no wives? If I'd never met you I should
still have been a Suffragist. I think I _was_ one, as a boy,
watching what my mother suffered from my father, and how he collared
all her money--I suppose it was before the Married Woman's Property
Act--and grudged her any for her dress, her little comforts, her
books, or even for proper medical advice. And to hear these Liberal
Cabinet Ministers--_Liberal_, mind you--talk about women, often with
the filthy phrases of the street--Well: he got a smack on the jaw
and decided to treat the incident as a trifling one ... his private
secretary patched it up somehow, but I expressed no regret....

"Well, darling, I'll try to do as you wish. I'll try to shut you out
of my thoughts and return to my experiments, when I'm not on
platforms or in the House. I think I shall get in again--it's a mere
matter of money, and thanks to Linda that isn't wanting. I'm not
going to withdraw from politics, you bet, however disenchanted I may
be. It's because the decent, honest, educated men withdraw that
legislation and administration are left to the case-hardened rogues
... and the uneducated ... and the cranks. But don't make things
_too_ hard for me. Keep out of prison ... keep off hunger
strikes--If you're going to be man-handled by the police--Ah! _why_
wasn't _I_ there, instead of in the House? Gardner had all the
luck.... I was glad to hear he was married."

_Vivie_: "Oh you needn't be jealous of poor Frank. And he'll soon be
back in South Africa. You needn't be jealous of _any_ one. I'm all
yours--in spirit--for all time. Now we must be going: it's getting
dusk and we should be irretrievably ruined if we were locked up in
this dilapidated old palm house. Besides, I'm to meet Frank at
Praddy's studio in order to tell him the history of the last
thirteen years."

As they walked away: "You know, Michael, I'm still hoping we may be
friends without being lovers. I wonder whether Linda would get to
like me?"

At Praed's studio. Lewis Maitland Praed is looking older. He must be
now--November, 1910--about fifty-eight or fifty-nine. But he has
still a certain elegance, the look of a lesser Leighton about him.
Frank has been there already for half an hour, and the tea-table
has been, so to speak, deflowered. Vivie accepts a cup, a muffin,
and a marron glacé. Then says, "Now, dear Praddy, summon your
mistress, _dons l'honnête sens du mot_, and have this tea-table
cleared so that we can have a hugely long and uninterrupted talk. I
have got to give Frank a summary of all that I've done in the past
thirteen years. Meanwhile Frank, as your record, I feel convinced,
is so blameless and normal that it could be told before any
parlour-maid, you start off whilst she is taking away the tea,
fiddling with the stove, and prolonging to the uttermost her
services to a master who has become her slave."

The parlour-maid enters, and casts more than one searching glance at
Vivie's bruised features, but performs her duties in a workmanlike
manner.

_Frank_: "My story? Oh well, it's a happy one on the whole--very
happy. Soon as the war was over, I got busy in Rhodesia and pitched
on a perfect site for a stock and fruit farm. The B.S.A. Co. was
good to me because I'd known Cecil Rhodes and Dr. Jim; and by
nineteen four I was going well, they'd made me a magistrate, and
some of my mining shares had turned out trumps. Then Westlock came
out as Governor General, and Lady Enid had brought out with her a
jolly nice girl as governess to her children. She was the daughter
of a parson in Hertfordshire near the Brinsley estates. Well, I
won't say--bein' the soul of truth--that I fell in love with
her--straight away--because I don't think I ever fell deep in
love--straight away--with any girl but you, Vivie. But I did feel,
as it was hopeless askin' you to marry me, here was the wife I
wanted. She was good enough to accept me and the Westlocks were
awfully kind and made everything easy. Lady Enid's a perfect
brick--and, by the bye, she's a great Suffragist too. Well: we were
married at Pretoria in 1904, and now we've got four children; a
sturdy young Frank, a golupshous Vivie--oh, I told Muriel
everything, she's the sort of woman you can--And the other two are
called Bertha after my mother and Charlotte after Mrs. Bernard
Shaw. I sent you, Vivie--a newspaper with the announcement of my
marriage--Dj'ever get it?"

_Vivie_: "Never. But I was undergoing a sea-change of my own, just
then, which I will tell you all about presently."

_Frank_: "Well then. I came back to England on a hurried visit. You
remember, Praddy? But you were away in Italy and I couldn't find
Vivie anywhere. I called round at where your office was--Fraser and
Warren--where we parted in 1897--and there was no more Fraser and
Warren. Nobody knew anything about what had become of you. P'raps I
might have found out, but I got a bit huffy, thought you might have
written me a line about my marriage. I did write to Miss Fraser, but
the letter was returned from the Dead Letter office," (_Vivie_: "She
married Colonel Armstrong.") "Well, there it is! By some devilish
lucky chance I had no sooner got to London from Southhampton, day
before yesterday, than some one told me all about the expected row
between the Suffragettes and the police. Thought I'd go and see for
myself what this meant. No idea before how far the thing had gone,
or what brutes the police could be. Had a sort of notion, don't know
why, that dear old Viv would be in it, up to the neck. Got mixed up
in the crowd and helped a woman or two out of it. Lady Feenix--they
said it was--picked up some and took 'em into her motor. And then I
heard a cry which could only be in Vivie's voice--dear old
Viv--(leans forward with shining eyes to press her hand) and ...
there we are. How're the bruises?"

_Vivie_: "Oh, they ache rather, but it is such _joy_ to have such
friends as you and Praddy and Michael Rossiter, that I don't mind
_what_ I go through..."

_Frank_: "But I say, Viv, about this Rossiter man. He seems awfully
gone on you...?"

_Vivie_ (flushing in the firelight): "Does he? It's only friendship.
I really don't see them often but he came to my assistance once at a
critical time. And now that Praddy's all-powerful parlour-maid's
definitely left us, I will tell you _my_ story."

So she does, between five and half-past six, almost without
interruption from the spell-bound Frank--who says it licks any novel
he ever read, and she ought to turn it into a novel--with a happy
ending--or from Praed who is at times a little somnolent. Then at
half-past six, the practical Frank says:

"Look here, you chaps, I could go on listening till midnight, but
what's the matter with a bit of dinner? I dare say Praddy's
parlour-maid might turn sour if we asked her at a moment's notice to
find dinner for three. Why not come out and dine with me at the Hans
Crescent Hotel? Close by. I'll get a quiet table and we can finish
our talk there. To-morrow I must go down to Margate to see the dear
old mater, and it may be a week before I'm up again."

They adjourn to the hostelry mentioned.

Over coffee and cigarettes, Vivie makes this appeal to Frank: "Now
Frank, you know all my story. Tell me first, what really became of
the real David Williams, the young man you met in the hospital and
wrote to me about?"

_Frank_: "'Pon my life I don't know. I never heard one word about
him after I got clear of the hospital myself. You know it fell into
Boer hands during that rising in Cape Colony. I expect the 'real'
David Williams, as you call him, died from neglected wounds or
typhoid--or recovered and took to drink, or went up country and got
knocked on the head by the natives for interfering with their
women--Good riddance of bad rubbish, I expect. What do you want me
to do? I'll swear to anything in reason."

_Vivie_: "I want you to do this. Run down one day before you go back
to Africa, to South Wales, to Pontystrad--It's not far from
Swansea--And call at the Vicarage on the pretext that you've come to
enquire about David Vavasour Williams whom you once knew in South
Africa. It'll give verisimilitude to my stories. They'll probably
say they haven't seen him for ever so long, but that you can hear of
him through Professor Rossiter. I dare say it's a silly idea of
mine, but what I fear sometimes--is that if the fact comes out that
_I_ was David Williams, some Vaughan or Price or other Williams may
call the old man's will in question and get it put into Chancery,
get the money taken away from poor old Bridget Evanwy and the
village hall which I've endowed. That's all. If it wasn't that I've
disposed of my supposed father's money in the way I think he would
have liked best, I shouldn't care a hang if they found out the trick
I'd played on the Benchers. D'you see?"

_Frank_: "I see."

The next day Vivie wisely spent in bed, healing her wounds and
resting her limbs which after the mental excitement was over ached
horribly. Honoria came round and listened, applauded, pitied,
laughed and concurred.

But she was well enough on the following Tuesday after Black Friday
to attend another meeting of the W.S.P.U. at Caxton Hall, to hear
one more ambiguous, tricky, many-ways-to-be-interpreted promise of
the then Prime Minister. Mrs. Pankhurst pointing out the vagueness
of these assurances announced her intention then and there of going
round to Downing Street to ask for a more definite wording. Vivie
and many others followed this dauntless lady. Their visit was
unexpected, the police force was small and the Suffragettes had two
of the Cabinet Ministers at their mercy. They contented themselves
by shaking, hustling, frightening but not otherwise injuring their
victims before the latter were rescued and put into taxi-cabs.



CHAPTER XIV

MILITANCY


                                The Lilacs,
                                  Victoria Road, S.W.
                                   _December_ 31, 1910.

     DEAR MICHAEL,--

     I'm so glad you got returned all right by your University. I
     feared very much your championship of the Woman's Cause
     might have told against you. But these newer Universities
     are more liberal-minded.

     I am keeping my promise to tell you of any important move I
     am making. So this is to inform you, _in very strict
     confidence_, of my latest dodge. For the effective
     organization of my particular branch of the W.S.P.U.
     activities, I must have an office. "The Lilacs" is far too
     small, and besides I shrink from having my little home
     raided or too much visited even by confederates. I learned
     the other day that the old Fraser and Warren offices on the
     top floor of 88-90 Chancery Lane were vacant. The Midland
     Insurance Co. that occupied nearly all the building has
     cleared out and the block is to be given over to a multitude
     of small undertakings. Well: I secured our old rooms! Simply
     splendid, with the two safes that Honoria, untold ages ago,
     fitted into the walls, and hid so cleverly that if there is
     no treachery it would be hard for the police to find them
     and raid them. The Midland Insurance Co. did not behave well
     to Fraser and Warren, so Beryl Storrington, when she was
     clearing out said nothing about the safes, which were not
     noticed by the Company. Honoria kept the keys and now hands
     them over to me.

     The W.S.P.U. has taken--also under an alias--other offices
     on the same side of the way, at No. 94, top storey. We find
     we can, by using the fire escape, pass over the intervening
     roofs and reach the parapet outside the "partners' room" at
     the 88-90 building. I shall once again make use of the
     little room next the partners' office as a bedroom or
     rather, "tiring" room, where I can if necessary effect
     changes of costume. I have taken the new offices in the name
     of Mr. Michaelis[1] for a special reason; and with some
     modifications of David's costume I have appeared in person
     to assume possession of them. I generally enter No. 94
     dressed as Vivie Warren. All this may sound very silly to
     you, like playing at conspiracy. But these precautions seem
     to be necessary. The Government is beginning to take
     Suffragism seriously, and a whole department at New Scotland
     Yard has been organized to cope with our activities.

       [Footnote 1: Michaelis, I believe, was a Greek merchant
       dealing with sponges, emery powder, coral, and other
       products of the Mediterranean shores whose acquaintance
       Vivie had originally made when interested in the shares of
       that Levantine house, Charles Davis and Co. Of Ionian birth
       he had become a naturalized British subject, but having
       grown wealthy had decided to transfer himself to Athens and
       enter political life. He had consented amusedly to Vivie's
       adoption of his name for her new tenancy and had given her
       an old passport, which you could do in the days that knew
       not Dora--she resembling him somewhat in appearance. He was
       aware of her Suffragist activities and guessed she might
       want it occasionally for eluding the police on trips
       abroad.--H.H.J.]

     One reason I have in writing this letter--a letter I hope
     you will burn after you have read and noted its contents--is
     to ask you to lend me for a while the services of Bertie
     Adams as clerk. Of course I shall insist on paying his
     salary whilst I employ him, and indemnifying him for
     anything he may suffer in my service--that of the W.S.P.U. I
     am fairly well off for money now. Besides the funds the
     W.S.P.U. places at my disposal, I have the interest on
     mother's Ten Thousand pounds, and she would give me more if
     I asked for it. She has quite taken to the idea of spending
     her ill-gotten gains on the Enfranchisement of Women! (I am
     going over to see her for a week or so, when it is not quite
     so cold.)

     What business am I going specially to undertake in Mr.
     Michaelis's office on the top storey of 88-90? I will tell
     you. Scotland Yard is getting busy about us, the
     Suffragists, trying to find out all it can that is
     detrimental to our personal characters, our upbringing, our
     progeniture, our businesses and our relations; whether we
     had a forger in the family, whether I am the daughter of the
     "notorious" Mrs. Warren, whether Mrs. Canon Burstall is
     really my aunt and whether she couldn't be brought to use
     her private influence on me to keep me quiet, in case it
     came out that Kate Warren was her sister, and that she led
     Kate into that way of life wherein she earned her shameful
     livelihood. I have had one or two covert hints from Aunt Liz
     promising to open up relations _if_ only I'll behave myself!
     Scotland Yard has already had the sorry triumph of causing
     one or two of our most prominent workers to retire from the
     ranks because they were not properly married or had been
     married after the eldest child was born; or had once "been
     in trouble," over some peccadillo, or had had a son or a
     sister who though now upright and prosperous had once been
     in the clutches of the law.

     Now my idea is to turn the tables on all this. I myself am
     impeccable in a real court of equity. My avatar as David
     Williams was by way of being a superb adventure. I only
     retired from the harmless imposture lest I might compromise
     you, and you are so far gone in politics now that the
     revelation--if it came about--that you were deceived by me
     and by my "father"--would do you no harm. For a number of
     reasons I know pretty well that the Benchers would not make
     themselves ridiculous by having the story of my successful
     entry into their citadel told in open court. I have in fact,
     through a devious channel, received the assurance that if I
     do not resume this character (of D.V.W.) nothing more will
     be said. What, then, have I to fear? My mother _s'est bien
     rangée_. She leads a life of the most respectable. If they
     challenge her, she can counter with some of the most piquant
     scandals of the last thirty years.

     My own careful study of criminology and the assiduous
     searchings of Albert Adams in the same direction; my
     mother's anecdotes of the lives of statesmen,
     police-magistrates, prosecuting counsel, judges,
     press-editors--many of whom have enjoyed her hospitality
     abroad--have given me numerous hints in what direction to
     pursue my researches. Consequently the office of Mr.
     Michaelis will be the Criminal Investigation Department of
     the W.S.P.U. I feel instinctively I am touching pitch and
     that you will disapprove ... but if we are to fight with
     clean hands, _que Messieurs les Assassins commencent_! If
     Scotland Yards drops slander and infamous suggestions as a
     weapon we will let our poisoned arrows rust in the armoury.

     How _beastly_ all this is! _Why_ do they drive us to these
     extremes? I know already enough to blast the characters of
     several among our public men. Yet I know in so doing I
     should wreck the life-happiness of faithful wives, believing
     sisters or daughters, or bright-faced children. Perhaps I
     won't, when it comes to the pinch. But somehow, I think, if
     they guess I have this knowledge in my possession, they will
     leave David Williams and Kate Warren alone.

     Sometimes, d'you know, I wake up in the middle of the night
     at the Lilacs or in my reconstituted bedroom at 88-90, and
     wish I were quit of all this Suffrage business, all this
     vain struggle against predominant man--and away with you on
     a Pacific Island. Then I realize that we should have large
     cockroaches and innumerable sand fleas in our new home, that
     we should have broken Linda's heart, have set back the
     Suffrage cause as much as Parnell's adultery postponed Home
     Rule; and above all that I am already thirty-five and shall
     soon be thirty-six and that it wouldn't be very long before
     you in comfort-loving middle age sighed for the well-ordered
     life of No. 1, Park Crescent, Portland Place!

     On the whole, I think the most rational line I can take is
     to continue resolutely this struggle for the Vote. With the
     Vote must come the opening of Parliament to women. I'm not
     too old to aspire to be some day Secretary of State for Home
     Affairs. Because the General Post Office has already become
     interested in my correspondence, and because this is really
     a "pivotal" letter I am not trusting it to the post but am
     calling with it at No. 1 and handing it personally to your
     butler. I look to you to destroy it when you have read its
     contents--if you go to that length.

                                           Yours,
                                                  VIVIE.

Rossiter read this letter an hour or so after it had been delivered,
frowned a good deal, made notes in one of his memorandum books; then
tore the sheets of typewriting into four and placed them on the
fire. Having satisfied himself that the flames had caught them, he
went up with a sullen face to dress for dinner: Linda was giving a
New Year's Eve dinner to friends and relations and he had to play
the part of host with assumed heartiness.

In the perversity of fate, one piece of the typewritten letter
escaped the burning except along the edge. A puff of air from the
chimney or the opened door, as Linda entered the room, lifted it off
the cinders and deposited it on the hearth. Linda had dressed early
for the party, had felt a little hurt at the locked door of
Michael's dressing-room, and had come with some vague intention into
his study, to see perhaps if the fire was burning brightly: because
to avoid unnecessary journies upstairs they would receive their
guests to-night in the study and thence pass to the dining-room.
But the fire had gone sulky, as fires do sometimes even with
well-behaved chimneys and first-class coal. She noted the charred
portion of paper lying untidily on the hearth, with typewriting on
its upper surface. Picking it up she read inside the scorched
margin:


         ria kept the keys and now             them over to me.
      W.S.P.U. has taken--also under an alias--other of
          same side of the way, at No. 94, top storey. We
         using the fire-escape, pass over the intervening r
       reach the parapet outside the "partners' room" at the
       ding.    I shall once again make use of the little room
           tners' office as a bedroom or rather "tiring" room, w
           if necessary effect changes of costume. I have tak
             ces in the name of Mr. Michaelis for a special reas
         ome modifications of David's costume I have appeared in p
       ssume possession of them. I generally enter No. 94 dressed a
   Warren. All this may sound very silly to you, like pla


"Warren!" That name stood out clear. Did it mean the suffragette,
Vivien Warren, who had sometimes been here, and in whose adventures
her husband seemed so unbecomingly interested? One of the great
ladies who were Anti-Suffragists and had already decoyed Mrs.
Rossiter within their drawing-rooms had referred with great
disapproval to Miss Warren as the daughter of a most notorious woman
whom their husbands wouldn't hear mentioned because of her shocking
past. And David, David of course must be that tiresome David
Williams, supposed to be a cousin of Vivien Warren, but really
seeming in these allusions to be a disguise in which this bold
female deceived people. And "Mr. Michaelis?" Could that be her own
Michael? The shameless baggage! She choked at the thought. Was it a
conspiracy into which they were luring her husband, already rather
compromised as a man of science by his enthusiasm for the Suffrage
cause? People used to speak of Michael almost with awe, he was so
clever, he made such wonderful discoveries. Now, since he had become
a politician he had many enemies, and several ladies of high title
referred to him contemptuously even in her hearing and cut _her_
without compunction, though she had Ten thousand a year. She felt
all the same a profound conviction that Michael was the most
honourable of men. Yet why all this mystery? The W.S.P.U.? Those
letters stood for some more than usually malignant Suffrage Society.
She had seen the letters often in "Votes for Women."...

Her musings here were stayed by the sound of her husband's steps in
the passage. Hastily she thrust the half sheet of charred paper into
her corsage and brushed off the fragments of the burnt edges from
her laces; then turned and affected to be tidying the writing table
as Michael came in.

_Rossiter_: "Linda! Surely not putting my papers in order--or rather
disorder? I thought you were far too intimate with my likes and
dislikes to do that!... Why, what's the matter?"

_Linda_: "Oh nothing. I was only seeing if they had made up your
fire. I--I--haven't touched anything."

(Rossiter looked anxiously at the grate, but was relieved to see
nothing but burnt, shrivelled squares of paper. He poked the fire
fiercely and at any rate demolished the remains of Vivie's letter.)

_Rossiter_: "Yes: it isn't very cheerful. They must brighten it
while we are at dinner; though as we shall go to the drawing-room
afterwards we shan't need a huge fire here. There! It looks better
after that poke. I threw some papers on it to start a flame just
before I went up to dress.... Why dearie! What cold hands and what
flushed cheeks!"...

_Linda_: "Oh Michael! You'll always love me, won't you? I--I know
I'm not clever, not half clever enough for you. But I _do_ try to
help you all I can. I--I--" (Sobs.)

_Rossiter_ (really distressed): "_Of course_ I love you! What silly
notion have you got into your head?" (He asks himself anxiously
"Surely all that letter was burnt before she came in?") "Come! Pull
yourself together. Be worthy of that dress. It is such a beauty."

_Linda_: "I thought you'd like it. I remembered your saying that
blue always became me." (Dabs at her eyes with a small lace
handkerchief.)

Loud double knocks begin to sound. Dinner guests are soon announced.
Linda and Michael receive them heartily. Rossiter--as many a public
man does and has to do--shoves his vain regrets, remorse, anxiety,
weary longing for the unattainable--somewhere to the back of his
brain, where these feelings will not revive till he lies awake at
three in the morning; and prepares to entertain half-a-dozen hearty
men and buxom women who are easily impressed by a little spoon-fed
science. Linda is soon distracted from the scrap of paper in her
bosom and gives all her attention to her cousins and grown-up school
friends from Bradford and Northallerton who are delighted to see the
New Year in amid the gaieties of London.

But before she rings for her maid and undresses that night, she
locks the burnt fragment in a secret drawer of her desk.


The Ministry which was returned to power in December, 1910, had to
plan during the first half of 1911 to keep the Suffragists becalmed
with promises and prevent their making any public protest which
might mar the Coronation festivities. So various Conciliation Bills
were allowed to be read to the House of Commons and to reach Second
readings at which they were passed with huge majorities. Then they
came to nothingness by being referred to a Committee of the whole
House. Still a hope of some solution was dangled before the
oft-deluded women, who could hardly believe that British Ministers
of State would be such breakers of promises and tellers of
falsehoods. In November, 1911, there being no reason for further
dissembling, the Government made the announcement that it was
contemplating a Manhood Suffrage Bill, which would override
altogether the petty question as to whether a proportion of women
should or should not enjoy the franchise. This new electoral measure
was to be designed for men only, but--the Government opined--it
might be susceptible of amendment so as to admit women likewise.

[Probably the Government had satisfied itself beforehand that,
acting on some unwritten code of Parliamentary procedure, the
Speaker would rule out such an amendment as unconstitutional. At any
rate, this is what he did in 1913.]

The wrath of the oft-deluded women flamed out with immediate
resentment when the purport of this trick was discerned. Led by Mrs.
Pethick Lawrence a band of more than a thousand women and men (and
some of the presumed men were, like Vivie, women in men's clothes,
as it enabled them to move about with more agility and also to
escape identification) entered Whitehall and Parliament Street armed
with hammers and stones. They broke all the windows they could in
the fronts of the Government offices and at the residences of
Ministers of State. Vivie found herself shadowed everywhere by
Bertie Adams though she had given him no orders to join the crowd,
indeed had begged him to mind his own business and go home. "This
_is_ my business," he had said curtly, and for once masterfully, and
she gave way. Though Vivie for her own reasons carried no hammer or
stone and as one of the principal organizers of the militant
movement had been requested by the inner Council of the W.S.P.U. to
keep out of prison as long as possible, she could not help cheering
on the boldest and bravest in the mild violence of their protest. To
the angry police she seemed merely an impertinent young man, hardly
worth arresting when they could barely master the two hundred and
twenty-three arch offenders with glass-breaking weapons in their
hands. So a constable contented himself with marching on her feet
with all his weight and thrusting his elbows violently into her
breast.

She well-nigh fainted with the pain; in fact would have fallen in
the crowd but for the interposition of Adams who carried her out of
it to the corner of Parliament Street, where he pounced on one of
the many taxis that crawled about the outskirts of the shouting,
swaying crowd, sure of a fare from either police or escaping
Suffragists. Feeling certain that some policeman had not left the
disguised Vivie entirely unobserved--indeed Bertie had half thought
he caught the words above the din: "That's David Williams, that is,"
he told the taxi man to drive along the Embankment to the Temple. By
the time they had reached the nearest access on that side of
Fountain Court, Vivie was sufficiently recovered from her semi-swoon
to get out, and leaning heavily on Bertie's arm, limp slowly through
the intricacies of the Temple and out into Fleet Street by
Sergeant's Inn. Then with fresh efforts and further halts they made
their way to 94, Chancery Lane.

Some one was sitting up here with one electric light on, ready for
any development connected with W.S.P.U. work that night. To
her--fortunately it was a woman--Bertie handed over his stricken
chief, and then made his way home to his little house in Marylebone
and a questioning and not too satisfied wife. The Suffragette in
charge of the top storey at 94 knew something, fortunately, of first
aid, was deft of hands and full of sympathy. Vivie's--or Mr.
Michaelis's--lace-up boots were carefully removed and the poor
crushed and bleeding toes washed with warm water. The collar was
taken off and the shirt unbuttoned revealing a terrible bruise on
the sternum where the policeman's elbow had struck her--better
however there, though it had nearly broken the breastbone, than on
either side, as such a blow might have given rise to cancer. As it
was, Vivie when she coughed spat blood.

A cup of hot bovril and an hour's rest on a long chair and she was
ready, supremely anxious indeed, to try the last adventure: an
excursion across the roofs and up and down fire-escapes on to the
parapet of her own especial dwelling, the old offices of Fraser and
Warren at No. 88-90. The great window of the partners' room opened
to her manipulations--it had been carefully left unbolted before
her departure for Caxton Hall; and aided cautiously and cleverly by
her suffragette helper, Vivie at last found herself--or Mr.
Michaelis did--in the snug little bedroom that knew her chiefly in
her male form.

Here she was destined to lie up for several weeks till the feet and
the chest were healed and sound again. Hither by the normal entrance
came a woman suffragette surgeon to heal, and Vivie's woman clerk to
act as secretary; whilst Adams typed away in the outer office on Mr.
Michaelis's business or went on long and mysterious errands. Hither
also came the little maid from the Lilacs, bringing needed changes
of clothes, letters, and messages from Honoria. A stout young man
with a fresh colour went up in the lift at No. 94 to the flat or
office of "Algernon Mainwaring," and then skipped along the winding
way between the chimney stacks and up and down short iron ladders
till he too reached the parapet, entered through the opened
casement, and revealed himself as a great W.S.P.U. leader, costumed
like Vivie as a male, but in reality a buxom young woman only
waiting for the Vote to be won to espouse her young man--shop
steward--and begin a large family of children. From this leader,
Vivie received humbly the strictest injunctions to engage in no more
disabling work for the present, to keep out of police clutches and
the risk of going to prison or of attracting too much police
attention at 88-90 Chancery Lane. "You are our brain-centre at
present. Our offices for show and for raiding by the police have
been at Clifford's Inn and are now in Lincoln's Inn. But the really
precious information we possess is ... well, you know where it is:
walls may have ears ... your time for public testimony hasn't come
yet ... we'll let you know fast enough when it has and _you_ won't
flinch, _I'm_ quite sure..."

As a matter of fact, though Vivie's intelligence and inventiveness,
her knowledge of criminal law, of lawyers and of city business, her
wide education, her command of French (improved by the frequent
trips to Brussels--where indeed she deposited securely in her
mother's keeping some of the funds and the more remarkable documents
of the Suffrage cause) and her possession of monetary supplies were
not to be despised: as a figure-head, she was of doubtful value.
There was always that mother in the background. If Vivie was in
court for a suffrage offence of a grave character the prosecuting
Counsel would be sure to rake up the "notorious Mrs. Warren" and
drag in the White Slave Traffic, to bewilder a jury and throw
discredit on the militant side of the Suffrage cause. Of course if
the true story of Vivie were fully known, she would rise triumphant
from such a recital.... Still ... throw plenty of mud and some of
it will stick.... And what _was_ her full, true story? Even in the
pure passion of the fight for liberty among these young and
middle-aged women, the tongue of scandal occasionally wagged in
moments of lassitude, discouragement, undeception. At such times
some weaker sister with a vulgar mind, or a mind with vulgar streaks
in it, might hint at the great interest taken in Vivie by a
distinguished man of science who had become an M.P. and a raging
suffragist. Or indecorum would be hinted in the relations between
this enigmatic woman, so prone seemingly to don male costume, and
the burly clerk who attended her so faithfully and had brought her
home on the night of Mrs. Pethick Lawrence's spirited raid.

So much so, that Vivie with a sigh, as soon as she attained
convalescence was fain to send for Bertie and tell him with
unanswerable decision that he must return to his work with Rossiter
and thither she would send from time to time special instructions if
he could help her business in any way.

This was done in January, 1912. Vivie's feet were now healed and the
woman surgeon was satisfied that she could walk on them without
displacing the reset bones. The slight fracture in the breastbone
had repaired itself by one of Nature's magic processes. So one day
our battered heroine doffed the invalid garments of Michaelis and
donned those of any well-dressed woman of 1912, including a thick
veil. Thus attired she passed from the parapet to the fire-escape
(recalling the agony these gymnastics had caused her the previous
November), and from the fire-escape to the roof of No. 92
(continuous with the roof of 94), and past the chimney stacks, into
the top storey of 94, and so on down to the street, where a taxi was
waiting to convey her to the Lilacs.

(The W.S.P.U., by the bye, to bluff Scotland Yard had added to the
name of "Algernon Mainwaring, 5th Floor," the qualification of
"Hygienic Corset-maker," as an explanation--possibly--of why so many
women found their way to the top storey of No. 94.)

Arrived at the Lilacs, Vivie took up for a brief spell the life of
an ordinary young woman of the well-to-do middle class, seriously
interested in the suffrage question but non-militant. She attended
several of Honoria's or Mrs. Fawcett's suffrage parties or public
meetings and occasionally spoke and spoke well. She also went over
to Brussels twice in 1912 to keep in touch with her mother. Mrs.
Warren had had one or two slight warnings that a life of pleasure
saps the strongest constitution.[1] She lived now mainly at her
farm, the Villa Beau-séjour, and only occasionally occupied her
_appartement_ in the Rue Royale. She must have been about fifty-nine
in the spring of 1912, and was beginning to "soigner son salut,"
that is to say to take stock of her past life, apologize for it to
herself and see how she could atone reasonably for what she had done
wrong. A decade or two earlier she would have turned to religion,
inevitably to that most attractive and logical form, the religion
expounded by the Holy Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church. She would
have confessed her past, slightly or very considerably _gazée_, to
some indulgent confessor, have been pardoned, and have presented a
handsome sum to an ecclesiastical charity or work of piety. But she
had survived into a skeptical age and she had conceived an immense
respect for her clever daughter. Vivie should be her spiritual
director; and Vivie's idea put before her at their reconciliation
three years previously had seemed the most practical way of making
amends to Woman for having made money in the past out of the
economic and physiological weakness of women. She had fined herself
Ten Thousand pounds then; and out of her remaining capital of Fifty
or Sixty thousand (all willed with what else she possessed to her
daughter) she would pay over more if Vivie demanded it as further
reparation. Still, she found the frequentation of churches soothing
and gave much and often to the mildly beseeching Little Sisters of
the Poor when they made their rounds in town or suburbs.

  [Footnote 1: Or so the observers say who haven't had a life of
  pleasure.]

"What do you think about Religion, Viv old girl?" she said one day
in the Eastertide of 1912, when Vivie was spending a delicious
fortnight at Villa Beau-séjour.

"Personally," said Vivie, "I hate all religions, so far as I have
had time to study them. They bind up with undisputed ethics more or
less preposterous theories concerning life and death, the properties
of matter, man, God, the universe, the laws of nature, the food we
should eat, the relations of the sexes, the quality of the weekly
day of rest. Gradually they push indisputable ethics on one side and
are ready to apply torture, death, or social ostracism to the
support of these preposterous theories and explanations of God and
Man. Such theories"--went on Vivie, though her mother's attention
had wandered to some escaped poultry that were scratching
disastrously in seed beds--"Such theories and explanations, mark
you--_do_ listen, mother, since you asked the question..."

"I'm listenin', dearie, but you talk like a book and I don't know
what some of your words mean--What's ethics?"

"Well 'ethics' means er--er--'morality'; it comes from a Greek word
meaning 'character.'..."

_Mrs. Warren_: "You talk like a book--"

_Vivie_: "I do sometimes, when I remember something I've read. But
now I've lost my thread.... What I meant to finish up with was
something like this 'Such theories and explanations were formulated
several hundred, or more than two thousand years ago, in times when
Man's knowledge of himself, of his surroundings, of the earth and
the universe was almost non-existent, yet they are preserved to our
times as sacred revelations, though they are not superior to the
fancies and fetish rites of a savage.' There! All that answer is
quoted from Professor Rossiter's little book (_Home University
Library_, "The Growth of the Human Mind")."

_Mrs. Warren_: "Rossiter! Is that the man you're sweet on?"

_Vivie_: "Don't put it so coarsely. There is a great friendship
between us. We belong to a later generation than you. A man and a
woman can be friends now without becoming lovers."

_Mrs. Warren_: "Go _on_! Don't humbug me. Men and women's the same
as when I was young. I'm sorry, all the same, dear girl. There are
you, growin' middle-aged and not married to some good-'earted chap
as 'd give you three-four children I could pet in me old age.
Wodjer want to go fallin' in love with some chap as 'as got a wife
already? _I_ know your principles. There's iron in yer blood, same
as there is in that proud priest, your father. I know you'd break
your 'eart sooner 'n have a good time with the professor. My! It
seems to me Love's as bad as Religion for bringin' about sorrer!"

_Vivie_: "If you mean that it is answerable for the same intense
happiness and even more intense _un_happiness, I suppose you're
right. I'm _miserable_, mother, and it's some relief to me to say
so. If I could become honourably the wife of Michael Rossiter I'm
afraid I should let Suffrage have the go-by. But as I can't, why
this struggle for the vote is the only thing that keeps me going. I
shall fight for it for another ten years, and by that time certain
physiological changes may have taken place in me, and my feelings
towards Rossiter will have calmed down."

(Here Mrs. Warren proceeded to call out rather disharmoniously in
Flemish to the poultry woman, and asked why the something-or-other
she let the Houdans spoil the seed beds.)

_Mrs. Warren_ resuming: "Well it's clear you're your father's
daughter. 'E'd 'ave gone on--_did_ go on--in just such a way. 'Im
and me were jolly well suited to one another. I'd got to reg'lar
love 'im. I'd 'a bin a true wife to him, and 'ave worked my fingers
to the bone for 'im, and you bet I'd 'ave made a livin' somehow. And
he'd have written some jolly good books and 'ave made lots of money.
But no! This beastly Religion comes in with its scare of Hell fire
and back 'e goes to the priests and 'is prayers and 'is penances.
The last ten years or so 'e's bin filled up with pride. 'Is passions
'ave died down and 'e thinks 'imself an awful swell as the head of
his Order. And they do say as 'e's got 'is fingers in several pies
and is a reg'lar old conspirator, working up the Irish to do
something against England. Yer know since I've made my peace with
you.... _Ain't_ it a rum go, by the bye? Ten or twenty years ago
it'd 'a bin 'my peace with God.' I dunno nothin' about God--can't
see 'im at the end of a telescope, anyways. But I _can_ see you,
Vivie, and there's no one livin' I respect more" (speaks with real
feeling).... "Well, as I was sayin', since I'd set myself right with
you and wound up the business of the hotels I ain't so easy cowed by
'is looks as I used to be. So every now and then it amuses me to run
over in my auto to Louvain and stroll about there and watch 'im as
'e comes out for 'is promenade, pretendin' to be readin' a breviary
or some holy book. I know it riles 'im....

"Well, but for high principles, 'e and I might 'a bin as 'appy as
'appy and 'ad a large family. And there was nothin' to stop 'im
a-marryin' me, if that was all he wanted to feel comfortable about
it. But jus' see. He's had a life that seems to me downright
sterile, and I--well, I ain't been _really_ happy till we made it up
three years ago" (leans over, and kisses Vivie a little
timorously).

"Now there's you, burning yourself out 'cos your high principles
won't let you go for once in a way on the spree with this
Rossiter--s'posin' 'e's game, of course.... You've too much pride to
throw yourself at his head. But if he loves you as bad as you loves
'im, why don't you ask him" (instinctively the old ministress of
love speaks here) "ask 'im to take you over to Paris for a trip?
I'll lay 'e 'as to go over now'n again to the Sorbonne or one of
them scientific institutes. _She'd_ never come to 'ear of it. An'
after one or two such honeymoons you'd soon get tired of 'im,
specially now you're gettin' on a bit in years, and may be you'd
settle down quietly after that. Or if you ain't reg'lar set on
_'im_, why not giv' up this suffrage business and live a bit with me
here? There's plenty of upstanding, decent, Belgian men in good
positions as'd like to have an English wife. _They_ wouldn't look
too shy at my money..."

_Vivie_: "Get thee behind me, Satan! Mother, you oughtn't to make
such propositions. Don't you understand, we must all have a religion
somewhere. Some principle to which we sacrifice ourselves. Rossiter
would be horrified if he could hear you. His mistress is Science,
besides which he is really devoted to his wife and would do nothing
that could hurt her. You don't know England, it's clear. Supposing
for one moment I could consent--and I couldn't--we should be found
out to a certainty, and then Michael's career would be ruined.

"My religion, though I sometimes weary of it and sneer at it, is
Women's Rights: women must have precisely the same rights as men, no
disqualification whatever based merely on their being women. Did you
read those disgusting letters in the _Times_ by the surgeon, the
midwifery man, Sir Wrigsby Blane? Declaring that the demand for the
Vote was based on immorality, and pretending that once a month, till
they were fifty, and for several years _after_ they were fifty,
women were not responsible for their actions, because of what he
vaguely called 'physiological processes.' What poisonous rubbish!
You know as well as I do that in most cases it makes little or no
difference; and if it does, what about men? Aren't _they_ at certain
times not their normal selves? When they're full up with wine or
beer or whiskey, when they're courting, when they're pursuing some
illicit love, when after fifty they get a little odd in their ways
through this, that and the other internal trouble or change of
function? What's true of the one sex is equally true of the other.
Most men and women between twenty and sixty jolly well know what
they want, and generally they want something reasonable. We don't
legislate for the freaks, the unbalanced, the abnormal; or if we do
restrict the vote in those cases, let's restrict it for males as
well as females--But don't you see at the same time what a text I
should furnish to this malign creature if I ran away to Paris with
Michael, and made the slightest false step ... even though it had no
bearing on the main argument?..."

At this juncture Vivie, whose obsession leads her more and more to
address every one as a public meeting--is interrupted by the smiling
_bonne à tout faire_ who announces that _le déjeuner de Madame est
servi_, and the two women gathering up books and shawls go in to the
gay little _saile-à-manger_ of the Villa Beau-séjour.

On Vivie's return to London, after her Easter holiday, she threw
herself with added zest into the Suffrage struggle. The fortnight of
good feeding, of quiet nights and lazy days under her mother's roof
had done her much good. She was not quite so thin, the dark circles
under her grey eyes had vanished, and she found not only in herself
but even in the most middle-aged of her associates a delightful
spirit of tomboyishness in their swelling revolt against the Liberal
leaders. It was specially during the remainder of 1912 that Vivie
noted the enormous good which the Suffrage movement had done and was
doing to British women. It was producing a splendid camaraderie
between high and low. Heroines like Lady Constance Lytton
mingled as sister with equally heroic charwomen, factory girls,
typewriteresses, waitresses and hospital nurses. Women doctors of
Science, Music, and Medicine came down into the streets and did the
bravest actions to present their rights before a public that now
began to take them seriously. Debutantes, no longer quivering with
fright at entering the Royal Presence, modestly but audibly called
their Sovereign's attention to the injustice of Mr. Asquith's
attitude towards women, while princesses of the Blood Royal had
difficulty in not applauding. Many a tame cat had left the fire-side
and the skirts of an inane old mother (who had plenty of people to
look after her selfish wants) and emerged, dazed at first, into a
world that was unknown to her. Such had thrown away their crochet
hooks, their tatting-shuttles and fashion articles, their Church
almanacs, and Girl's Own Library books, and read and talked of
social, sexual, and industrial problems that have got to be faced
and solved. Colour came into their cheeks, assurance into their
faded manners, sense and sensibility into their talk; and whatever
happened afterwards they were never crammed back again into the
prison of Victorian spinsterhood. They learnt rough cooking, skilled
confectionery, typewriting, bicycling, jiu-jitsu perhaps. "The
maidens came, they talked, they sang, they read; till she not fair
began to gather light, and she that was became her former beauty
treble" sang in prophecy, sixty years before, the greatest of poets
and the poet-prophet of Woman's Emancipation. Many a woman has
directly owed the lengthened, happier, usefuller life that became
hers from 1910-1911-1912 onwards to the Suffrage movement for the
Liberation of Women.

The crises of 1912 moreover were not so acute as bitterly to envenom
the struggle in the way that happened during the two following
years. There was always some hope that the Ministry might permit the
passing of an amendment to the Franchise Bill which would in some
degree affirm the principle of Female Suffrage. It is true that a
certain liveliness was maintained by the Suffragettes. The W.S.P.U.
dared not relax in its militancy lest Ministers should think the
struggle waning and Woman already tiring of her claims. The vaunted
Manhood Suffrage Bill had been introduced by an anti-woman-suffrage
Quaker Minister and its Second reading been proposed by an equally
anti-feminist Secretary of State--this was in June-July, 1912; and
no member of the Cabinet had risen to say a word in favour of the
Women's claims. Still, something might be done in Committee, in the
autumn Session--if there were one--or in the following year. There
was a simmering in the Suffragist ranks rather than any alarming
explosion. In March, before Vivie went to Brussels, Mrs. Pankhurst
had carried out a window-smashing raid on Bond Street and Regent
Street and the clubs of Piccadilly, during which among the two
hundred and nineteen arrests there were brought to light as
"revolutionaries" two elderly women surgeons of great distinction
and one female Doctor of Music. In revenge the police had raided the
W.S.P.U. offices at Clifford's Inn, an event long foreseen and
provided against in the neighbouring Chancery Lane.

The Irish Nationalist Party had shown its marked hostility to the
enfranchisement of women in any Irish Parliament and so a few
impulsive Irish women had thrown things at Nationalist M.P.'s
without hurting them. Mr. Lansbury had spoken the plain truth to the
Prime Minister in the House of Commons and had been denied access to
that Chamber where Truth is so seldom welcome.

In July the slumbering movement towards resisting the payment of
taxes by vote-less women woke up into real activity, and there were
many ludicrous and pathetic scenes organized often by Vivie and
Bertie Adams at which household effects were sold and bought in by
friends to satisfy the claims of a tax-collector. In the autumn
Vivie and others of the W.S.P.U. organized great pilgrimages--the
marches of the Brown Women--from Scotland, Wales, Devon and Norfolk
to London, to some goal in Downing Street or Whitehall, some
door-step which already had every inch of its space covered by
policemen's boots. These were among the pleasantest of the
manifestations and excited great good humour in the populace of town
and country. They were extended picnics of ten days or a fortnight.
The steady tramp of sixteen to twenty miles a day did the women
good; the food _en route_ was abundant and eaten with tremendous
appetite. The pilgrims on arrival in London were a justification in
physical fitness of Woman's claim to equal privileges with Man.

Vivie after her Easter holiday took an increasingly active part in
these manifestations of usually good-humoured insurrection. As
Vivien Warren she was not much known to the authorities or to the
populace but she soon became so owing to her striking appearance,
telling voice and gift of oratory. All the arts she had learnt as
David Williams she displayed now in pleading the woman's cause at
the Albert Hall, at Manchester, in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Countess
Feenix took her up, invited her to dinner parties where she found
herself placed next to statesmen in office, who at first morose and
nervous--expecting every moment a personal assault--gradually
thawed when they found her a good conversationalist, a clever woman
of the world, becomingly dressed. After all, she had been a third
wrangler at Cambridge, almost a guarantee that her subsequent life
could not be irregular, according to a man's standard in England of
what an unmarried woman's life should be. She deprecated the
violence of the militants in this phase.

But she was Protean. Much of her work, the lawless part of it, was
organized in the shape and dress of Mr. Michaelis. Some of her
letters to the Press were signed Edgar McKenna, Albert Birrell,
Andrew Asquith, Edgmont Harcourt, Felicia Ward, Millicent Curzon,
Judith Pease, Edith Spenser-Churchhill, Marianne Chamberlain, or
Emily Burns; and affected to be pleas for the granting of the
Suffrage emanating from the revolting sons or daughters, aunts,
sisters or wives of great statesmen, prominent for their opposition
to the Women's Cause. The W.S.P.U. had plenty of funds and it did
not cost much getting visiting cards engraved with such names and
supplied with the home address of the great personage whom it was
intended to annoy. One such card as an evidence of good faith would
be attached to the plausibly-worded letter. The _Times_ was seldom
taken in, but great success often attended these audacious
deceptions, especially in the important organs of the provincial
press. Editors and sub-editors seldom took the trouble and the time
to hunt through _Who's Who_, or a Peerage to identify the writer of
the letter claiming the Vote for Women. No real combination of names
was given, thus forgery was avoided; but the public and the
unsuspecting Editor were left with the impression that the
Premier's, Colonial Secretary's, Home Secretary's, Board of Trade
President's, or prominent anti-suffragist woman's son, daughter,
brother, sister, wife or mother-in-law did not at all agree with the
anti-feminist opinions of its father, mother, brother or husband.
If the politician were foolish enough to answer and protest, he was
generally at a disadvantage; the public thought it a good joke and
no one (in the provinces) believed his disclaimers.

Vivie generally heckled ministers on the stump and parliamentary
candidates dressed as a woman of the lower middle class. It would
have been unwise to do so in man's guise, in case there should be a
rough-and-tumble afterwards and her sex be discovered. Although in
order to avoid premature arrest she did not herself take part
in those most ingenious--and from the view of endurance,
heroic--stow-aways of women interrupters in the roofs, attics,
inaccessible organ lofts or music galleries of public halls, she
organized many of these surprises beforehand. It was Vivie to whom
the brilliant idea came of once baffling the police in the rearrest
of either Mrs. Pankhurst or Annie Kenney. Knowing when the police
would come to the building where one or other of these ladies was to
make her sensational re-appearance, she had previously secreted
there forty other women who were dressed and veiled precisely
similarly to the fugitive from justice. Thus, when the force of
constables claimed admittance, forty-one women, virtually
indistinguishable one from the other, ran out into the street, and
the bewildered minions of the law were left lifting their helmets to
scratch puzzled heads and admitting "the wimmen were a bit too much
for us, this time, they were."

In her bedroom at 88-90 she kept an equipment of theatrical
disguises; very natural-looking moustaches which could be easily
applied and which remained firmly adhering save under the
application of the right solvent; pairs of tinted spectacles; wigs
of credible appearance; different styles of suiting, different types
of women's dress. She sometimes sat in trains as a handsome,
impressive matron of fifty-five, with a Pompadour confection and a
tortoiseshell _face-à-main_, conversing with ministers of state or
permanent officials on their way to their country seats, and saying
"_Horrid_ creatures!" if any one referred to the activities of the
Suffragettes. Thus disguised she elicited considerable information
sometimes, though she might really be on her way to organize the
break-up of the statesman's public meeting, the enquiry into
discreditable circumstances which might compel his withdrawal from
public life, or merely the burning down of his shooting box.

This life had its risks and perils, but it agreed with her health.
It was exciting and took her mind off Rossiter.

Rossiter for his part experienced a slackening in the tension of his
mind during the same year 1912. He was touched by his wife's faint
suspicion of his alienated affection and by her dogged determination
to be sufficient to him as a companion and a helper; and a little
ashamed at his middle-aged--he was forty-seven--infatuation for a
woman who was herself well on in the thirties. There were times when
a rift came in the cloud of his passion for Vivie, when he looked
out dispassionately on the prospect of the rest of his life--he
could hope at most for twenty more years of mental and bodily
activity and energy. Was this all too brief period to be filled up
with a senile renewal of sexual longing! He felt ashamed of the
thoughts that had occupied so much of his mind since he had laid
David Williams on the couch of his library, to find it was Vivie
Warren whose arms were round his neck. He was not sorry this love
for a woman he could not possess had sent him into Parliament. He
was beginning to enjoy himself there. He had found himself, had lost
that craven fear of the Speaker that paralyzes most new members. He
knew when to speak and when to be silent; and when he spoke
unsuspected gifts of biting sarcasm, clever characterization,
convincing scorn of the uneducated minister type came to his aid.
His tongue played round his victims, unequipped as they were with
his vast experience of reality, vaguely discursive, on the surface
as are most lawyers, at a loss for similes and tropes as are most
men of business, or dull of wits as are most of the fine flowers of
the public schools, stultified with the classics and scripture
history. He knew that unless there was some radical change of
government he could not be a minister; but he cared little for that.
He was rich--thanks to his wife--he was recovering his influence and
his European and American reputation as a great discoverer, a deep
thinker. He enjoyed pulverizing the Ministry over their suffrage
insincerities and displaying his contempt of the politician elected
only for his money influence in borough, county, or in the
subscription lists of the Chief Whip. Though his pulses still beat a
little quicker when he held Vivie's hand in his at some reception of
Lady Feenix's or a dinner party at the Gorings--Vivie as the child
of a "fallen" woman had a prescriptive right of entrance to Diana's
circle--he had not the slightest intention of running away with her,
of nipping his career in two, just as he might be scaling the last
heights to the citadel of fame: either as a politician of the new
type, the type of high education, or as one of the giants of
inductive science. Besides in 1912, if I mistake not, Dr.
Smith-Woodward and Mr. Charles Dawson made that discovery of the
remains of an ape-like man in the gravels of mid-Sussex; and the
hounds of Anthropology went off on a new scent at full cry, Rossiter
foremost in the pack.

Mrs. Rossiter in the same year allowed herself more and more to be
tempted into anti-suffrage discussions at the houses of peers or of
strong-minded, influential ladies who were on the easiest terms with
peers and potentates. She still resented the line her husband
had taken in politics and believed it to be chiefly due to an
inexplicable interest in Vivien Warren who she began to feel was the
same person as "David Williams."

If she could only master the "Anti" arguments--they sounded so
convincing from the lips of Miss Violet Markham or Mrs. Humphry Ward
or some suave King's Counsel with the remnants of mutton-chop
whiskers--if she could wean Michael away from that disturbing
nonsense--he could assign "militancy" as the justification of his
change of mind...! All that was asked by Authority, so far as she
could interpret hints from great ladies, was neutrality, the return
of Professor Rossiter to the paths of pure science in which area no
one disputed his eminence. _Then_ he might receive that knighthood
that was long overdue; better still his next lot of discoveries in
anatomy might bring him the peerage he richly deserved and which her
wealth would support. He could then rest on his oars, cease his more
or less nasty investigations; they could take a place in the country
and move from this much too large house which lay almost outside the
limits of Society's London to a really well-appointed flat in
Westminster and have a thoroughly enjoyable old age.

Honoria in these times did not see so much of Vivie as before. Her
warrior husband spent a good deal of 1912 at home as he had a
Hounslow command. He had come to realize--some spiteful person had
told him--who Vivie's mother had been, and told Honoria in accents
of finality that the "Aunt Vivie" nonsense must be dropped and Vivie
must not come to the house. At the most, if she _must_ meet her
friend of college days--oh, he was quite willing to believe in her
personal propriety, though there were odd stories in circulation
about her dressing as a man and doing some very rum things for the
W.S.P.U.--still if she _must_ see her, it would have to be in public
places or at her friends, at Lady Feenix's, if she liked. No. He
wasn't attacking the cause of Suffrage. Women could have the vote
and welcome so far as he was concerned: they couldn't be greater
fools than the men, and they were probably less corrupt. He himself
never remembered voting in his life, so Honoria was no worse off
than her husband. But he drew the line in his children's friends at
the daughter of a....

Here Honoria to avoid hearing something she could not forgive put
her plump hand over his bristly mouth. He kissed it and somehow she
couldn't take the high tone she had at first intended. She simply
said "she would see about it" and met the difficulty by giving up
her suffrage parties for a bit and attending Lady Maud's instead;
where you met not only poor Vivie, but--had she been in London and
guaranteed reformed and _rangée_--you might have met Vivie's mother;
as well as the Duchess of Dulborough--American, and intensely
Suffrage--the charwoman from Little Francis Street, the bookseller's
wife, the "mother of the maids" from Derry and Toms; and that very
clever chemist who had mended Juliet Duff's nose when she fell on
the ice at Princes'--they would both be there. Honoria said nothing
to Vivie and Vivie said nothing to Honoria about the inhibition, but
together with her irrational jealousy of _Eoanthropos dawsoni_ and
irritation at the growing contentedness with things as they were on
the part of Rossiter, it made her a trifle more reckless in her
militancy.

And Praddy? How did he fare in these times? Praed felt himself
increasingly out of the picture. He was not far gone in the sixties,
sixty-one, perhaps at most. But out of the movement. In his prime
the people of his set--the cultivated upper middle class, with a few
recruits from the peerage--cared only about Art in some shape or
form--recondite music, the themes of which were never obvious enough
to be hummed, the androgyne poetry of the 'nineties, morbidities
from the Yellow Book, and Scarlet Sins that you disclaimed for
yourself, to avoid unpleasantness with the Criminal Investigation
Department, but freely attributed to people who were not in the
room; the drawings of Aubrey Beardsley and successors in audacity
and ugly indecency who left Beardsley a mere disciple of Raphael
Tuck; also architecture which ignored the housemaid's sink, the
box-room and the fire-escape.

The people who still came to his studio because he had the
reputation of being a wit and the husband of his parlour-maid (whom
to her indignation they called Queen Cophetua) cared not a straw
about Art in any shape or form. The women wanted the Vote--few of
them knew why--the men wanted to be aviators, motorists beating the
record in speed on French trial trips, or Apaches in their relations
with the female sex or prize-fighters--Jimmy Wilde had displaced
Oscar, to the advantage of humanity, even Praddy agreed.

To Praed however Vivie took the bitterness, the disillusions which
came over her at intervals:

"I feel, Praddy, I'm getting older and I seem to be at a loose end.
D'you know I'm on the verge of thirty-seven--and I have no definite
career? I'm rather tired of being a well-meaning adventuress."

"Then why," Praddy would reply, "don't you go and live with your
mother?"

"Ugh! I couldn't stand for long that life in Belgium or elsewhere
abroad. They seem miles behind us, with all our faults. Mother only
seems to think now of good things to eat and a course of the waters
at Spa in September to neutralize the over-eating of the other
eleven months. There is no political career for women on the
Continent."

"Then why not marry and have children? That is a career in itself.
Look at Honoria, how happy she is."

"Yes--but there is only one man I could love, and he's married
already."

"Pooh! nonsense. There are as many good fish in the sea as ever came
out of it. If you won't do as Beryl did--by the bye isn't she a
swell in these days! And _strict_ with her daughters! She won't let
'em come here, I'm told, because of some silly story some one set
abroad about me! And that humbug, Francis Brimley Storrington--by
the bye he's an A.R.A. now and scarcely has enough talent to design
a dog kennel, yet they've given him the job of the new stables at
Buckingham Palace. Well if you won't share some one else's husband,
pick out a good man for yourself. There must be plenty going--some
retired prize-fighter. They seem all the rage just now, and are
supposed to be awfully gentlemanly out of the ring."

"Don't be perverse. You know exactly how I feel. I'm wasting the
prime of my life. I see no clear course marked out before me.
Sometimes I think I would like to explore Central Africa or get up a
Woman's Expedition to the South Pole. Life has seemed so flat since
I gave up being David Williams. Then I lived in a perpetual thrill,
always on my guard. I tire every now and then of my monkey tricks,
and the praise of all these women leaves me cold. I wish I were as
simple minded as most of them are. To them the Vote seems the
beginning of the millennium. They seem to forget that after we've
_got_ the Vote we shall have another fight to be admitted as members
to the House. You may be sure the men will stand out another fifty
years over _that_ surrender. I alternate in my moods between the
reckless fury of an Anarchist and the lassitude of Lord Rosebery. To
think that I was once so elated and conceited about being a Third
Wrangler...!"

With the closing months of 1912, however, there was a greater
tenseness, a sharpening of the struggle which once more roused
Vivie to keen interest. When she returned from an autumn visit to
Villa Beau-séjour she found there had been a split between the
"Peths" and the "Panks." The Girondist section of the women
suffragists had separated from those who could see no practical
policy to win the Vote but a regime of Terrorism--mild terrorism, it
is true--somewhat that of the Curate in _The Private Secretary_ who
at last told his persecutors he should _really have to give them a
good hard knock_. The Peths drew back before the Pankish programme
(mild as this would seem, to us of Bolshevik days and of Irish
insurrection). _Votes for Women_ returned to the control of the
Pethick Lawrences, and the Pankhurst party to which Vivie belonged
were to start a new press organ, _The Suffragette_.

The Panks, it seemed, had a more acute fore-knowledge than the
Peths. The latter had felt they were forcing an open door; that the
Liberal Ministry would eventually squeeze a measure of Female
Suffrage into the long-discussed Franchise Bill; and that too much
militancy was disgusting the general public with the Woman's cause.
The former declared all along that Women were going to be done in
the eye, because all the militancy hitherto had got very little in
man's way, had only excited smiles, and shoulder-shrugs. Ministers
of the Crown in 1912 had compared the hoydenish booby-traps and
bloodless skirmishes of the Suffragettes with the grim fighting, the
murders, burnings, mob-rule of the 1830's, when MEN were agitating
for Reform; or the mutilation of cattle, the assassinations,
dynamite outrages, gun-powder plots, bombs and boycotting of the
long drawn-out Irish agitation for Home Rule. An agitation which was
now resulting in the placing on the Statute Book of a Home Rule
Bill, while another equally deadly agitation--in promise--was being
worked up by Sir Edward Carson, the Duke of This and the Marquis of
That, and a very rising politician, Mr. F.E. Smith, to defeat the
operation of Home Rule for Ireland. In short, if one might believe
the second-rate ministers who were not repudiated by their superiors
in rank, the Vote for Women could only be wrung from the reluctance
of the tyrant man, _if_ the women made life unbearable for the male
section of the community.

It was a dangerous suggestion to make, or would have proved so, had
these sneering politicians been provoking men to claim their
constitutional rights: bloodshed would almost certainly have
followed. But the leaders of the militant women ordered (and were
obeyed) that no attacks on life should be part of the Woman's
militant programme. Property might be destroyed, especially such as
did not impoverish the poor; but there were to be no railway
accidents, no sinking of ships, no violent deeds dangerous to life.
At the height and greatest bitterness of militancy no statesman's
life was in danger.

The only recklessness about life was in the militant women. They
risked and sometimes lost their lives in carrying out their
protests. They invented the Hunger Strike (the prospect of which as
an inevitable episode ahead of her, filled Vivie with tremulous
dread) to balk the Executive of its idea of turning the prisons of
England into Bastilles for locking up these clamant women who had
become better lawyers than the men who tried them. But think what
the Hunger Strike and its concomitant, Forcible Feeding, meant in
the way of pain and danger to the life of the victim. The Government
were afraid (unless you were an utterly unknown man or woman of the
lower classes) of letting you die in prison; so to force them to
release you, you had first to refuse for four days all food--the
heroic added all drink. Then to prevent your death--and being human
you, the prisoner, must have hoped they were keeping a good look-out
on your growing weakness--the prison doctor must intervene with his
forcible feeding. This was a form of torture the Inquisition would
have been sorry to have overlooked, and one no doubt that the
Bolsheviks have practised with great glee. The patient was strapped
to a chair or couch or had his--usually her--limbs held down by
warders (wardresses) and nurses. A steel or a wooden gag was then
inserted, often with such roughness as to chip or break the teeth,
and through the forced-open mouth a tube was pushed down the throat,
sometimes far enough to hurt the stomach. This produced an
apoplectic condition of choking and nausea, and as the stomach
filled up with liquid food the retching nearly killed the patient.
The windpipe became involved. Food entered the lungs--the tongue was
cut and bruised (Think what a mere pimple on the tongue means to
some of us: it keeps _me_ awake half the night)--the lips were torn.
Worse still--requiring really a pathological essay to which I am not
equal--was feeding by slender pipes through the nose. The far
simpler and painless process _per rectum_ was debarred because it
might have constituted an indecent assault.

Was ever Ministry in a greater dilemma? It was too old-fashioned,
too antiquely educated to realize the spirit of its age, the pass at
which we had arrived of conceding to Women the same rights as to
men. Women were ready to die for these rights (not to kill others in
order to attain them). Yet for fear of wounding the national
sentimentality they must not be allowed to die; they must not be
saved from suicide by any action savouring of indecency; so they
must be tortured as prisoners hardly were in the worst days of the
Inquisition or at the worst-conducted public school of the Victorian
era.

But Vivie's gradually rising wrath was to be brought by degrees to
boiling-point through the spring of 1913, and to explode at last
over an incident more tragic than any one of the five or six hundred
cases of forcible feeding.

Early in 1913, the Speaker intimated that any insertion of a Woman
Suffrage Amendment into the Manhood Franchise Bill would be
inconsistent with some unwritten code of Parliamentary procedure of
which apparently he was the sole guardian and interpreter. Ministers
who had probably prepared this _coup_ months before went about
expressing hypocritical laments at the eccentricities of our
constitution; and the Franchise Act was abandoned. A little later,
frightened at the renewal of arson in town and country, at
interferences with their week-end golf courses, at the destruction
of mails in the letter-boxes, and the slashing of Old Masters at the
National Gallery (purchased at about five times their intrinsic
value by a minister who would not have spent one penny of national
money to encourage native art), the Cabinet let it be known that a
way would be found presently to give Woman Suffrage a clear run. A
private member would be allowed to bring in a Bill for conferring
the franchise on women, and the opinion of the House would be sought
on its merits independently of party issues. The Government Whips
would be withdrawn and members of the Government be left free to
vote as they pleased.

It was a fair deduction, however, from what was said at that time
and later, that the strongest possible pressure--arguments _ad
hominem_ and in a sense _ad pecuniam_--was brought to bear on
Liberals and on Irish Nationalists to vote against the Bill. Had the
Second reading been carried, the Government would have resigned and
a Home Rule Bill for Ireland have been once more postponed.

The rejection of Mr. Dickinson's measure by a majority of
forty-seven convinced the Militants that Pharaoh had once more
hardened his heart; and the hopelessness of the Woman's cause at
that juncture inspired one woman with a resolution to give her life
as a protest in the manner most calculated to impress the male mind
of the British public.



CHAPTER XV

IMPRISONMENT


Prior to the Derby day of 1913, Vivie had heard of Emily Wilding
Davison as a Northumbrian woman, distantly related to the Rossiters
and also to the Lady Shillito she had once defended. She came from
Morpeth in Northumberland and had had a very distinguished
University career at Oxford and in London, of which latter
university she was a B.A. The theme of the electoral enfranchisement
of Women had gradually possessed her mind to the exclusion of all
other subjects; she became in fact a fanatic in the cause and a
predestined martyr to it. In 1909 she had received her first
sentence of imprisonment for making a constitutional protest, and to
escape forcible feeding had barricaded her cell. The Visiting
Committee had driven her from this position by directing the warders
to turn a hose pipe on her and knock her senseless with a douche of
cold water; for which irregularity they were afterwards fined and
mulcted in costs. Two years later, for another Suffragist offence
(setting fire to a pillar box after giving warning of her intention)
she went to prison for six months. Here the tortures of forcible
feeding so overcame her reason--it was alleged--that she flung
herself from an upper gallery, believing she would be smashed on the
pavement below and that her death under such circumstances might
call attention to the agony of forcible feeding and the reckless
disregard of consequences which now inspired educated women who were
resolved to obtain the enfranchisement of their sex. But an iron
wire grating eight feet below broke her fall and only cut her face
and hands. The accident or attempted suicide, however, procured the
shortening of her sentence.

Vivie and she often met in the early months of 1913, and on the
first day of June she confided to a few of the W.S.P.U. her
intention of making at Epsom a public protest against public
indifference to the cause of the Woman's Franchise. This protest was
to be made in the most striking manner possible at the supreme
moment of the Derby race on the 4th of June. Probably no one to whom
she mentioned the matter thought she contemplated offering up her
own life; at most they must have imagined some speech from the Grand
Stand, some address to Royalty thrown into the Royal pavilion, some
waving of a Suffrage Flag or early-morning placarding of the
bookies' stands.

Vivie however had been turning her thoughts to horse-racing as a
field of activity. She was amused and interested at the effect that
had been produced in ministerial circles by her interference with
the game of golf. If now something was done by the militants
seriously to impede the greatest of the sports, the national form of
gambling, the protected form of swindling, the main interest in life
of the working-class, of half the peerage, all the beerage, the
chief lure of the newspapers between October and July, and the
preoccupation of princes, she might awaken the male mind in a very
effectual way to the need for settling the Suffrage question.

So she determined also to see the running of the Derby, as a
preliminary to deciding on a plan of campaign. She had become
hardened to pushing and scrouging, so that the struggle to get a
seat in one of the fifty or sixty race trains leaving Waterloo or
Victoria left her comparatively calm. She was dressed as a young man
and had no clothing impediments, and as a young man she was better
able to travel down with racing rascality. In that guise she did
not attract too much attention. Rough play may have been in the mind
of the card-playing, spirit-drinking scoundrels that occupied the
other seats in the compartment, but Vivie in her man's dress created
a certain amount of suspicion and caution. "Look's like a 'tec,'"
one man whispered to another. So the card-playing was not thrust on
her as a round-about form of plunder, and the stories told were more
those derived from the spicy columns of the sporting papers, in
words of double meaning, than the outspoken, stable obscenity
characteristic of the race-course rabble.

Vivie arriving early managed to secure a fairly good seat on the
Grand Stand, to which she could have recourse when the crowd on the
race course became too repulsive or too dangerous. She wished as
much as possible to see all aspects of the premier race meeting.
Indeed, meeting a friend of Lady Feenix's, a good-natured young peer
who halted irresolute between four worlds--the philosophic, the
political, the philanthropic, and the sporting, she introduced
herself as "David Williams"--hoping no Bencher was within
hearing--said "Dare say you remember me? Lady Feenix's? Been much
abroad lately--really feel quite strange on an English race course,"
and persuaded him to take her round before the great people of the
day were all assembled. She was shown the Royal pavilion being got
ready for the King and Queen, the weighing room of the jockeys, the
paddock and temporary stables of the horses that were to race that
day. Here was a celebrated actress in a magnificent lace dress and
a superb hat, walking up and down on the sun-burnt, trodden turf, in
a devil of a temper. Her horse--for with her lovers' money she kept
a racing stable--had been scratched for the race--I really can't
tell you why, not having been able to study all the _minutiæ_ of
racing. [Talking of that, _how_ annoying it is--or was--when
one cared about things of great moment, to take up an evening
newspaper's last edition and read in large type "Official
Scratchings," with a silly algebraic formula underneath about horses
being withdrawn from some race, when you thought it was a bear fight
in the Cabinet.] Vivie gathered from her guide that to-day would be
rather a special Derby, because it did not often happen that a
King-Emperor was there to see a horse from his own racing stables
running in the classic race.

Then, thanking the pleasant soldier-peer for his information, Vivie
(David Williams) left him to his duties as equerry and member of the
Jockey-Club and entered the dense crowd on either side of the race
course. It reminded her just slightly of Frith's Derby Day. There
were the gypsies, the jugglers, the acrobats, the costers with their
provision barrows; the grooms and stable hands; the beggars and
obvious pick-pockets; the low-down harlots--the high-up ones were
already entering the seats of the Grand Stand or sitting on the
four-in-hand coaches or in the open landaulettes and Silent Knights.
But evidently the professional betting men were a new growth since
the mid-nineteenth century. They were just beginning to assemble,
wiping their mouths from the oozings of the last potation; some, the
aristocrats of their calling, like sporting peers in dress and
appearance; others like knock-about actors on the music-hall stage.
The generality were remarkably similar to ordinary city men or to
the hansom-cab drivers of twenty years ago.

In the very front of the crowd on the Grand Stand side, leaning with
her elbows on the wooden rail, she descried Emily Davison. Vivie
edged and sidled through the crowd and touched her on the shoulder.
Emily looked up with a start, surprised at seeing the friendly face
of a young man, till she recognized Vivie by her voice. "Dear
Emily," said Vivie, "you look so tired. Aren't you over-trying your
strength? I don't know what you have in hand, but why not postpone
your action till you are quite strong again?"

"I shall never be stronger than I am to-day and it can't be
postponed, cost me what it will," was the reply, while the sad eyes
looked away across the course.

"Well," said Vivie, "I wanted you to know that I was close by,
prepared to back you up if need be. And there are others of our
Union about the place. That young man over there talking to the
policeman is really A---- K---- though she is supposed to be in
prison. Mrs. Tuke is somewhere about, Mrs. Despard is on the Grand
Stand, and Blanche Smith is selling _The Suffragette_."

"Thank you," said Miss Davison, turning round for an instant, and
pressing Vivie's hand, "Good-bye. I hope what I am going to do will
be effectual."

Vivie did not like to prolong the talk in case it should attract
attention. Individual action was encouraged under the W.S.P.U., and
when a member wished to do something on her own, her comrades did
not fuss with advice. So Vivie returned to the Grand Stand.

Presently there was the stir occasioned by the arrival of the Royal
personages. Vivie noted with a little dismay that while she was
wearing a Homburg hat all the men near her wore the black and
glistening topper which has become--or had, for the tyranny of
custom has lifted a little since the War--the conventional head-gear
in which to approach both God and the King. There was a great
raising of these glistening hats, there were grave bows or smiling
acknowledgments from the pavilion. Then every one sat down and the
second event was run.

Still Emily Wilding Davison made no sign. Vivie could just descry
her, still in the front of the crowd, still gazing out over the
course, pressed by the crowd against the broad white rail.

       *       *       *       *       *

The race of the day had begun. The row of snickering, plunging,
rearing, and curvetting horses had dissolved, as in a kaleidoscope,
into a bunch, and a pear-shaped formation with two or three horses
streaming ahead as the stem of the pear. Then the stem became
separated from the pear-shaped mass by its superior speed, and again
this vertical line of horses formed up once more horizontally,
leaving the mass still farther behind. Then the horses seen from the
Grand Stand disappeared--and after a minute reappeared--three, four,
five--and the bunch of them, swerving round Tattenham Corner and
thundering down the incline towards the winning post.... The King's
horse seemed to be leading, another few seconds would have brought
it or one of its rivals past the winning post, when ... a slender
figure, a woman, darted with equal swiftness from the barrier to the
middle of the course, leapt to the neck of the King's horse, and in
an instant, the horse was down, kneeling on a crumpled woman, and
the jockey was flying through the air to descend on hands and knees
practically unhurt. The other horses rushed by, miraculously
avoiding the prostrate figures. Some horse passed the winning post,
a head in front of some other, but no one seemed to care. The race
was fouled. Vivie noted thirty seconds--approximately--of amazed,
horrified silence. Then a roar of mingled anger, horror, enquiry
went up from the crowd of many thousands. "It's the Suffragettes"
shouted some one. And up to then Vivie had not thought of connecting
this unprecedented act with the purposed protest of Emily Wilding
Davison. She sprang to her feet, and shouting to all who might have
tried to stop her "I'm a friend of the lady. I am a doctor"--she
didn't care what lie she told--she was soon authoritatively pushing
through the ring of police constables who like warrior ants had
surrounded the victims of the protest--the shivering, trembling
horse, now on its legs, the pitifully crushed, unconscious
woman--her hat hanging to the tresses of her hair by a dislodged
hat-pin, her thin face stained with blood from surface punctures.
The jockey was being carried from the course, still unconscious, but
not badly hurt.

A great surgeon happening to be at Epsom Race course on a friend's
drag, had hurried to offer his services. He was examining the
unconscious woman and striving very gently to straighten and
disentangle her crooked body. Presently there was a respectful stir
in the privileged ring, and Vivie was conscious by the raising of
hats that the King stood amongst them looking down on the woman who
had offered up her life before his eyes to enforce the Woman's
appeal. He put his enquiries and offered his suggestions in a low
voice, but Vivie withdrew, less with the fear that her right to be
there and her connection with the tragedy might be questioned, as
from some instinctive modesty. The occasion was too momentous for
the presence of a supernumerary. Emily Wilding Davison should have
her audience of her Sovereign without spectators.

Returning with a blanched face to the seething crowd, and presently
to the Grand Stand, Vivie's mood altered from awe to anger. The
"bookies" were beside themselves with fury. She noted the more
frequent of the nouns and adjectives they applied to the dying woman
for having spoilt the Derby of 1913, but although she went to the
trouble, in framing her indictment of the Turf, of writing down
these phrases, my jury of matrons opposes itself to their appearance
here, though I am all for realism and completeness of statement.
After conversing briefly and in a lowered voice with such
Suffragettes as gathered round her, so that this one could carry the
news to town and that one his to communicate with Miss Davison's
relations, Vivie--recklessly calling herself to any police
questioner, "David Williams" and eliciting "Yes, sir, I have seen
you once or twice in the courts," reached once more the Grand Stand
with its knots of shocked, puzzled, indignant, cynical, consternated
men and women. Most of them spoke in low tones; but one--a blond Jew
of middle age--was raving in uncontrolled anger, careless of what he
said or of who heard him. He was short of stature with protruding
bloodshot eyes, an undulating nose, slightly prognathous muzzle and
full lips, and a harsh red moustache which enhanced the prognathism.
His silk hat tilted back showed a great bald forehead, in which
angry, bluish veins stood out like swollen earth worms. "Those
Suffragettes!" he was shouting or rather shrieking in a nasal whine,
"if I had _my_ way, I'd lay 'em out along the course and have 'em
---- by ----. The ----'s!"

The shocked auditory around him drew away. Vivie gathered he was
Mr. ---- well, perhaps I had better not give his name,[1] even
in a disguised form. He had had a chequered career in South
America--Mexico oil, Peruvian rubber, Buenos Aires railways, and a
corner in Argentine beef--but had become exceedingly rich, a fortune
perhaps of twenty millions. He had given five times more than any
other aspirant in benefactions to charities and to the party chest
of the dominant Party, but the authorities dared not reward him with
a baronetcy because of the stories of his early life which had to be
fought out in libel cases with Baxendale Strangeways and others. But
he had won through these libel cases, and now devoted his vast
wealth to improving our breed of horses by racing at Newmarket,
Epsom, Doncaster, Gatwick, Sandown and Brighton. Racing had, in
fact, become to him what Auction Bridge was to the Society gamblers
of those days, only instead of losing and winning tens and hundreds
of pounds, his fluctuations in gains and losses were in thousands,
generally with a summing up on the right side of the annual account.
But whether on the Turf, at the billiard table, or in the stock
market he was or had become a bad loser. He lost his temper at the
same time. On this occasion Miss Davison's suicide or martyrdom
would leave him perhaps on the wrong side in making up his day's
book to the extent of fifteen hundred pounds. Viewed in the right
proportion it would be equivalent to our--you and me--having given a
florin to a newspaper boy as the train was moving, instead of a
penny. But no doubt her unfortunate impulse had spoiled the day for
him in other ways, upset schemes that were bound up with the winning
of the King's horse. Yet his outburst and the shocking language he
applied to the Suffrage movement made history: for they fixed on him
Vivie's attention when she was looking out for some one or something
on whom to avenge the loss of a comrade.

  [Footnote 1: He died in 1917. My jury of matrons has excised his
  phrases.]

She forthwith set out for London and wrote up the dossier of Mr.
----. In the secret list of buildings which were to be destroyed by
fire or bombs, with as little risk as possible to human or animal
life, she noted down the racing stables, trainers' houses and
palaces of Mr. ---- at Newmarket, Epsom, the Devil's Dyke, and the
neighbourhood of Doncaster.


Rossiter and Vivie met for the first time for a year at Emily
Davison's funeral. Rossiter had been profoundly moved at her
self-sacrifice; she was moreover a Northumbrian and a distant
kinswoman. Perhaps, also, he felt that he had of late been a little
lukewarm over the Suffrage agitation. His motor-brougham,
containing with himself the very unwilling Mrs. Rossiter, followed
in the procession of six thousand persons which escorted the coffin
across London from Victoria station to King's Cross. A halt was made
outside a church in Bloomsbury where a funeral service was read.

Mrs. Rossiter thought the whole thing profoundly improper. In the
first place the young woman had committed suicide, which of itself
was a crime and disentitled you to Christian burial; in the second
she had died in a way greatly to inconvenience persons in the
highest society; in the third she had always understood that racing
was a perfectly proper pastime for gentlemen; and in the fourth this
incident, touching Michael through his relationship with the
deceased, would bring him again in contact with that Vivie
Warren--_there_ she was and there was _he_, in close converse--and
make a knighthood from a nearly relenting Government well-nigh
impossible. Rossiter, after the service, had begged Vivie to come
back to tea with them in Park Crescent and give Mrs. Rossiter and
himself a full account of what took place at Epsom. Vivie had
declined. She had not even spoken to the angry little woman, who had
refused to attend the service and had sat fuming all through the
half hour in her electric brougham, wishing she had the courage and
determination to order the chauffeur to turn round and run her home,
leaving the Professor to follow in a taxi. But perhaps if she did
that, he would go off somewhere with that Warren woman.

Michael presently re-entered the carriage and in silence they
returned to Portland Place.

The next day his wife meeting one of her Anti-Suffrage friends said:

"Er--supposing--er--you had got to know something about these
dreadful militant women, something which might help the police, yet
didn't want to get _too_ much mixed up with it yourself, and
_certainly_ not bring your husband into it--the Professor
_thoroughly_ disapproves of militancy, even though he may have
foolish ideas about the Vote--er--what would you do?"

"Well, what is it?"

"It's part of a letter."

"Well, I should just send it to the Criminal Investigation
Department, New Scotland Yard, and tell them under what
circumstances it came into your possession. You needn't even give
your name or address. They'll soon know whether it's any use or
not." So Mrs. Rossiter took from her desk that scrap of partly burnt
paper with the typewritten words on it which she had picked out of
the grate two and a half years before, and posted it to the Criminal
Investigation Department, with the intimation that this fragment had
come into the possession of the sender some time ago, and seemed to
refer to a militant Suffragist who called herself "Vivie Warren" or
"David Williams," and perhaps it might be of some assistance to the
authorities in tracking down these dangerous women who now stuck at
nothing. She posted the letter with her own hands in the North West
district. Park Crescent, Portland Place, she always reflected, was
still in the _Western_ district, though it lay perilously near the
North West border line, beyond which Lady Jeune had once written, no
one in Society thought of living. This was a dictum that at one time
had occasioned Mrs. Rossiter considerable perturbation. It was
alarming to think that by crossing the Marylebone Road or migrating
to Cambridge Terrace you had passed out of Society.


It took the police a deuce of a time--two months--to make use
effectively of the information contained in Mrs. Rossiter's scrap of
burnt paper; though the statement of their anonymous correspondent
that Vivie Warren and David Williams were probably the same person
helped to locate Mr. Michaelis's office. It was soon ascertained
that Miss Vivien Warren, well known as a sort of Society speaker on
Suffrage, lived at the Lilacs in Victoria Road, Kensington. But when
a plain-clothes policeman called at Victoria Road he was only told
by the Suffragette caretaker (whose mother now usually lived with
her to console her for her mistress's frequent absences) that Miss
Warren was away just then, had recently been much away from home,
probably abroad where her mother lived. (Here the enquirer
registered a mental note: Miss Warren has a mother living abroad:
could it be _the_ Mrs. Warren?). Polite and respectful calls on Lady
Feenix, Lady Maud Parry, and Mrs. Armstrong--Vivie's known
associates--elicted no information, till on leaving the last-named
lady's house in Kensington Square the detective heard Colonel
Armstrong come in from the garden and call out "Ho-no-ria."
"'--ria," he said to himself, "'-ria kept the keys, and
now--' Honoria. What was her name before she married Colonel
Armstrong?--why--" He soon found out--"Fraser." "Wasn't there once a
firm, _Fraser and Warren_, which set up to be some new dodge for
establishing women in a city career?--Accountancy? Stockbroking?
Where did _Fraser and Warren_ have their office? Fifth floor of
Midland Insurance office in Chancery Lane. What was that building
now called? No. 88-90." Done.

These two sentences run over a period of--what did I say? Two
months?--in their deductions and guesses and consultation of
out-of-date telephone directories. But on one day in September,
1913, two plain-clothes policemen made their way up to the fifth
floor of 88-90 Chancery Lane and found the outer door of Mr.
Michaelis's office locked and a notice board on it saying "Absent
till Monday." Not deterred by this, they forced open the door--to
the thrilling interest of a spectacled typewriteress, who had no
business on that landing at all, but she usually made assignations
there with the lift man. And on the writing table in the outer
office they found a note addressed to Miss Annie Kenney, which said
inside: "Dear Annie. If you should chance to look in between your
many imprisonments and find me out, you will know I am away on the
Firm's business, livening up the racing establishments of the Right
Honble Sir ---- ----, Bart. Bart. No one knows anything about this
at No. 94."

(This note was purely unnecessary--a bit of swagger perhaps, lest
Miss Kenney should think Vivie never did anything dangerous, but
only planned dangerous escapades for others. Like the long letter of
Vivie to Michael Rossiter, written on the last day of December,
1910, which he had imperfectly destroyed, it was a reminder of that
all-too-true saying: "Litera scripta manet.")

If the outer door of Michaelis's office was locked how could Miss
Kenney be expected to call and find this note awaiting her? Why,
_here_ came in the "No. 94" of the scrap of paper. There was an
over-the-roofs communication between the block of 88-90 and House
No. 94. The policemen in fact found that the large casement of the
partners' room was only pulled to, so that it was easily opened from
the outside. From the parapet they passed to the fire-escapes and
through the labyrinth of chimney stacks to a similar window leading
into the top storey of 94, the office of Mr. Algernon Mainwaring,
Hygienic Corset-maker. This office at the time of their unexpected
entry was fairly full of Suffragettes planning all sorts of direful
things. So the plain-clothes policemen had a rare haul that day and
certainly had Mrs. Rossiter to thank for rising to be Inspectors and
receiving some modest Order of later days. It was about the worst
blow the W.S.P.U. had; before the outbreak of War turned suddenly
the revolting women into the stanchest patriots and the right hands
of muddling ministers. For in addition to many a rich find in No. 94
and a dozen captives caught red-handed in making mock of the
Authorities, the plain-clothes policemen made themselves thoroughly
at home in Mr. Michaelis's quarters till the following Monday. And
when in the fore-noon of that day, Mr. Michaelis entered his rooms,
puzzled and perturbed at finding the outer door ajar, he was
promptly arrested on a multiform charge of arson ... and on being
conveyed to a police station and searched he was found to be Miss
Vivien Warren.

At intervals in the summer and early autumn of 1913 the male section
of the public had been horrified and scandalized at the destruction
going on in racing establishments, particularly those of Sir George
Crofts and of a well-known South American millionaire, whose
distinguished services to British commerce and immense donations to
Hospitals and Homes would probably be rewarded by a grateful
government. If these outrages were not stopped, horse-racing and
race-horse breeding must come to a stand-still; and we leave our
readers to realize what _that_ would mean! There would be no horses
for the plough or the gig, or the artillery gun-carriage;
no--er--fox-hunting, and without fox-hunting and steeple-chasing and
point-to-point races you could have no cavalry and without cavalry
you could have no army. If we neglected blood stock we would deal
the farmer a deadly blow, we should--er--

You know the sort of argument? Reduced to its essentials it is
simply this:--That a few rich people are fond of gambling and fond
of the excitement that is concentrated in the few minutes of the
horse race. Some others, not so rich, believe that by combining
horse-racing with a certain amount of cunning and bold cheating
they can make a great deal of money. A few speculators have invested
funds in spaces of open turf, and turn these spaces into race
courses. Having no alternative, no safer method of gambling offered
them, and being as fond of gambling as other peoples of the world,
the men of the labouring classes and a few of their women, the
publicans and their frequenters, army officers, farmers, and women
of uncertain virtue stake their money on horses they have never
seen, who may not even exist, and thus keep the industry going. And
the chevaliers of this "industry," the go-betweens, the parasites of
this sport, are the twelve thousand professional book-makers and
racing touts.

Somehow the Turf has during the last hundred years, together with
its allies the Distillers and Brewers, the Licensed Victuallers and
the Press that is supported by these agencies, acquired such a hold
over the Government Departments, the Labour Party, the Conservative
Party, and Liberal politicians who are descended from county
families, that it has more interest with those who govern us than
the Church, the Nonconformist Conscience, the County Palatine of
Lancaster or any other body of corporate opinion. So that when in
September, 1913, representatives of the Turf (and no doubt of the
Trade Unions) went to the Home Secretary in reference to the burning
and bombing of racing stables, trainers' houses, Grand Stands and
the residences of racing potentates, and said "Look here! This has
GOT TO STOP," the Home Secretary and the Cabinet knew they were up
against no ordinary crisis. At the same time Sir Edward Carson, the
Marquis of Londonderry, the Duke of Abercorn, Mr. F.E. Smith and
nearly a third of the Colonels in the British Army of Ulster descent
were actively organizing armed resistance to any measure of Home
Rule; while Keltiberian Ireland was setting up the Irish Volunteers
to start a Home Rule insurrection. You can therefore imagine for
yourselves the mental irritability of members of the Liberal Cabinet
in the autumn of the sinister year 1913. I have been told that there
were days at the House of Commons during the Autumn Session of that
year when the leading ministers would just shut themselves up in
their Private Rooms and scream on end for a quarter of an hour....
Of course an exaggeration, a sorry jest.

In retrospect one feels almost sorry for them: the Great War must
have come almost as a relief. Not one of them was what you would
call a bad man. Some of them suffered over forcible feeding and the
Cat and Mouse Act as acutely as does the loving father or mother who
says to the recently spanked child, "You _know_, dear, it hurts _me_
almost as much as it hurts _you_." If one met them out at dinner
parties, or in an express train which they could not stop by pulling
the communication cord, and sympathized with their dilemma, they
would ask plaintively _what_ they could do. They could not yield to
violence and anarchy; yet they could not let women die in prison.

Of course the answer was this, but it was one they waved aside:
"Dissolve Parliament and go to the Country on the one question of
Votes for Women. If the Country returns a great majority favourable
to that concession, you must bring in a Bill for eliminating the sex
distinction in the suffrage. If on the other hand, the Country votes
against the reform, then you must leave it to the women to make a
male electorate change its mind. And meantime if men and women, to
enforce some principle, rioted and were sent to prison for it, and
then started to abstain from food and drink, why they must please
themselves and die if they wanted to."

But this was just what the Liberal Ministry of those days would not
do; at all costs they must stick to office, emoluments, patronage,
the bestowal of honours, and the control of foreign policy. They
clung to power, in fact, at all costs; even inconsistency with the
bedrock principle of Liberalism: no Taxation without Representation.


It was decided in the innermost arcana of the Home Office that an
example should be made of Vivie. They had evidently in her got hold
of something far more dangerous than a Pankhurst or a Pethick
Lawrence, a Constance Lytton or an Emily Davison. The very probable
story--though the Benchers were loth to take it up--that she had
actually in man's garb passed for the Bar and pleaded successfully
before juries, appalled some of the lawyer-ministers by its
revolutionary audacity. They might not be able to punish her on that
count or on several others of the misdemeanours imputed to her; but
they had got her, for sure, on Arson; and on the arson not of
suburban churches, which occurred sometimes at Peckham or in the
suburbs of Birmingham and made people laugh a little in the trains
coming up to town and say there were far too many churches, seemed
to them; _but_ the burning down of racing establishments. _That_ was
Bolshevism, indeed, they would have said, had they been able to
project their minds five years ahead. Being only in 1913 they called
Vivie by the enfeebled term of Anarchist, the word applied by
_Punch_ to Mr. John Burns in 1888 for wishing to address the Public
in Trafalgar Square.

So it was arranged that Vivie's trial should take place in October
at the Old Bailey and that a judge should try her who was quite
certain he had never stayed at a Warren Hotel; who would be careful
to keep great names out of court; and restrain counsel from dragging
anything in to the simple and provable charge of arson which might
give Miss Warren a chance to say something those beastly newspapers
would get hold of.

I am not going to give you the full story of Vivie's trial. I have
got so much else to say about her, before I can leave her in a quiet
backwater of middle age, that this must be a story which has gaps to
be filled up by the reader's imagination. You can, besides, read for
yourself elsewhere--for this is a thinly veiled chronicle of real
events--how she was charged, and how the magistrate refused bail
though it was offered in large amounts by Rossiter and Praed, the
latter with Mrs. Warren's purse behind him. How she was first lodged
in Brixton Prison and at length appeared in the dock at the Old
Bailey before a Court that might have been set for a Cinematograph.
There was a judge with a full-bottomed wig, a scarlet and ermine
vesture, there was a jury of prosperous shopkeepers, retired half
pay officers, a hotelkeeper or two, a journalist, an architect, and
a builder. A very celebrated King's Counsel prosecuted--the Cabinet
thus said to the Racing World "We've done _all_ we can"--and Vivie
defended herself with the aid of a clever solicitor whom Bertie
Adams had found for her.

From the very moment of her arrest, Bertie Adams had refused--even
though they took away his salary--to think of anything but Vivie's
trial and how she might issue from it triumphant. He must have lost
a stone in weight. He was ready to give evidence himself, though he
was really quite unconcerned with the offences for which Vivie was
on trial; prepared to swear to anything; to swear he arranged the
conflagrations; that Miss Warren had really been in London when
witness had seen her purchasing explosives at Newmarket (both
stories were equally untrue). Bertie Adams only asked to be allowed
to perjure himself to the tune of Five Years' penal servitude if
that would set Vivie free. Yet at a word or a look from her he
became manageable.

The Attorney General of course began something like this. "I am
very anxious to impress on you," he said, addressing the jury, "that
from the moment we begin to deal with the facts of this case, all
questions of whether a woman is entitled to the Parliamentary
franchise, whether she should have the same right of franchise as a
man are matters which in no sense are involved in the trial of this
issue. All you have to decide is whether the prisoner in the dock
committed or procured and assisted others to commit the very serious
acts of arson of which she is accused..."

Nevertheless he or the hounds he kept in leash, the lesser counsel,
sought subtly to prejudice the jury's mind against Vivie by dragging
in her parentage and the eccentricities of her own career. As
thus:--

_Counsel for the prosecution_: "We have in you the mainspring of
this rebellious movement..."

_Vivie_: "Have you?"

_Counsel_: "Are you not the daughter of the notorious Mrs. Warren?"

_Vivie_: "My mother's name certainly is Warren. For what is she
notorious?"

_Counsel_: "Well--er--for being associated abroad with--er--a
certain type of hotel synonymous with a disorderly house--"

_Vivie_: "Indeed? Have you tried them? My mother has managed the
hotels of an English Company abroad till she retired altogether from
the management some years ago. It was a Company in which Sir George
Crofts--"

_Judge_, interposing: "We need not go into that--I think the Counsel
for the prosecution is not entitled to ask such questions."

_Counsel_: "I submit, Me Lud, that it is germane to my case that the
prisoner's upbringing might have--"

_Vivie_: "I am quite willing to give you all the information I
possess as to my upbringing. My mother who has resided mainly at
Brussels for many years preferred that I should be educated in
England. I was placed at well-known boarding schools till I was old
enough to enter Newnham. I passed as a Third Wrangler at Cambridge
and then joined the firm of Fraser and Warren. As you seem so
interested in my relations, I might inform you that I have not many.
My mother's sister, Mrs. Burstall, the widow of Canon Burstall,
resides at Winchester; my grandfather, Lieutenant Warren, was killed
in the Crimea--or more likely died of neglected wounds owing to the
shamefully misconducted, man-conducted Army Medical Service of those
days. My mother in early days was better known as Miss Kate
Vavasour. She was the intimate friend of a celebrated barrister
who--"

_Judge_, intervening: "We have had enough of this discursive
evidence which really does not bear on the case at all. I must ask
the prosecuting counsel to keep to the point and not waste the time
of the court."

_Prosecuting Counsel_ (who has meantime received three or four
energetic notes from his leader, begging him to remember his
instructions and not to be an ass): "Very good M'Lud." (To Vivie)
"Do you know Mr. David Vavasour Williams, a barrister?"

_Vivie_: "I have heard of him."

_Counsel_: "Have you spoken of him as your cousin?"

_Vivie_: "I may have done. He is closely related to me."

_Counsel_: "I put it to you that _you_ are David Williams, or at any
rate that you have posed as being that person."

_Judge_, interposing with a weary air: "_Who_ is David Williams?"

_Counsel_: "Well--er--a member of the Bar--well known in the
criminal courts--Shillito case--"

_Judge_: "Really? I had not heard of him. Proceed."

_Counsel_ (to Vivie): "You heard my questions?"

_Vivie_: "I have never posed as being other than what I am, a woman
much interested in claiming the Parliamentary Franchise for Women;
and I do not see what these questions have to do with my indictment,
which is a charge of arson. You introduce all manner of irrelevant
matter--"

_Counsel_: "You decline to answer my questions?"

(Vivie turns her head away.)

_Judge_, to Counsel: "I do not quite see the bearing of your
enquiries."

_Counsel_: "Why, Me Lud, it is common talk that prisoner is the
well-known barrister, David Vavasour Williams; that in this disguise
and as a pretended man she passed the necessary examinations and was
called to the Bar, and--"

_Judge_: "But what bearing has this on the present charge, which is
one of Arson?"

_Counsel_: "I was endeavouring by my examination to show that the
prisoner has often and successfully passed as a man, and that the
evidence of witnesses who affirmed that they only saw _a young man_
at or near the scene of these incendiary fires, that a young man,
supposed to have set the stables alight, once dashed in and rescued
two horses which had been overlooked, might well have been the
prisoner who is alleged to have committed most of these crimes in
man's apparel--"

_Judge_: "I see." (To Vivie) "Are you David Vavasour Williams?"

_Vivie_: "Obviously not, my Lord. My name is Vivien Warren and my
sex is feminine."

_Judge_, to Counsel: "Well, proceed with your examination--" (But
here the Leader of the prosecution takes up the rôle and brushes his
junior on one side).


Vivie of course was convicted. The case was plain from the start, as
to her guilt in having organized and carried out the destruction of
several great Racing establishments or buildings connected with
racing. There had been no loss of life, but great damage to
property--perhaps two or three hundred thousand pounds, and a
serious interruption in the racing fixtures of the late summer and
early autumn. The jury took note that on one occasion the prisoner
in the guise of a young man had personally carried out the rescue of
two endangered horses; and added a faintly-worded recommendation to
mercy, seeing that the incentive to the crimes was political
passion.

But the judge put this on one side. In passing sentence he said: "It
is my duty, Vivien Warren, to inflict what in my opinion is a
suitable and adequate sentence for the crime of which you have been
most properly convicted. I must point out to you that whatever may
have been your motives, your deeds have been truly wicked because
they have exposed hard-working people who had done you no wrong to
the danger of being burnt, maimed or killed, or at the least to the
loss of employment. You have destroyed property of great value
belonging to persons in no way concerned with the granting or
withholding of the rights you claim for women. In addition, you have
for some time past been luring other people--young men and young
women--to the committal of crime as your assistants or associates. I
cannot regard your case as having any political justification or
standing, or as being susceptible of any mitigation by the
recommendation of the jury. The least sentence I can pass upon you
is a sentence of Three years' penal servitude."

Vivie took the blow without flinching and merely bowed to the judge.
There was the usual "sensation in Court." Women's voices were heard
saying "Shame!" "Shame!" "Three cheers for Vivie Warren," and a
slightly ironical "Three cheers for David Whatyoumay-callem
Williams." The judge uttered the usual unavailing threats of prison
for those who profaned the majesty of the Court; Honoria, Rossiter,
Praed (in tears), Bertie Adams, looking white and ill, all the noted
Suffragists who were out of prison for the time being and could
obtain admittance to the Court, crowded round Vivie before the
wardresses led her away from the dock, assuring her they would move
Heaven and Earth, first to get the sentence mitigated, and secondly
to have her removed to the First Division.

But on both points the Government proved adamant. An interview
between Rossiter and the Home Secretary nearly ended in a personal
assault. All the officials concerned refused to see Honoria, who
almost had a serious quarrel with her husband, the latter averring
that Vivien Warren had only got what she asked for. Vivien was
therefore taken to Holloway to serve her sentence as a common felon.


"Didn't she hunger-strike to force the Authorities to accord her
better prison treatment?" She did. But she was very soon, and with
extra business-like brutality, forcibly fed; and that and the
previous starvation made her so ill that she spent weeks in
hospital. Here it was very plainly hinted to her that between
hunger-striking and forcible feeding she might very soon die; and
that in her case the Government were prepared to stand the racket.
Moreover she heard by some intended channel about this time that
scores of imprisoned suffragists were hunger-striking to secure her
better treatment and were endangering if not their lives at any rate
their future health and validity. So she conveyed them an earnest
message--and was granted facilities to do so--imploring them to do
nothing more on her account; adding that she was resolved to go
through with her imprisonment; it might teach her valuable lessons.

The Governor of the prison fortunately was a humane and reasonable
man--unlike some of the Home Office or Scotland Yard officials. He
read the newspapers and reviews of the day and was aware who Vivie
Warren was. He probably made no unfair difference in her case from
any other, but so far as he could mould and bend the prison
discipline and rules it was his practice not to use a razor for
stone-chipping or a cold-chisel for shaving. He therefore put Vivie
to tasks co-ordinated with her ability and the deftness of her
hands--such as book-binding. She had of course to wear prison
dress--a thing of no importance in her eyes--and her cell was like
all the cells in that and other British prisons previous to the
newest reforms--dark, rather damp, cruelly cold in winter, and
disagreeable in smell; badly ventilated and oppressively ugly. But
it was at any rate clean. She had not the cockroaches, bugs, fleas
and lice that the earliest Suffragists of 1908 had to complain of.
Five years of outspoken protests on the part of educated,
delicate-minded women had wrought great reforms in our prisons--the
need for which till then was not apparent to the perceptions of
Visiting Magistrates.

The food was better, the wardresses were less harsh, the chaplains a
little more endurable, though still the worst feature in the prison
personnel, with their unreasoning Bibliolatry, their contemptuous
patronage, their lack of Christian pity--Christ had never spoken to
_them_, Vivie often thought--their snobbishness. The chaplain of her
imprisonment became quite chummy when he learnt that she had been a
Third Wrangler at Cambridge, knew Lady Feenix, and had lived in
Kensington prior to committing the offences for which she was
imprisoned. However this helped to alleviate her dreary seclusion
from the world as he occasionally dropped fragments of news as to
what was going on outside, and he got her books through the prison
library that were not evangelical pap.

One day when she had been in prison two months she had a great
surprise--a visit from her mother. Strictly speaking this was only
to last fifteen minutes, but the wardress who had conceived a liking
for her intimated that she wouldn't look too closely at her watch.
Honoria came too--with Mrs. Warren--but after kissing her friend and
leaving some beautiful flowers (which the wardress took away at once
with pretended sternness and brought back in a vase after the
visitors had left) Honoria with glistening eyes and a smile that was
all tremulous sweetness, intimated that Mrs. Warren had so much to
say that she, Honoria, was not going to stay more than that _one_
minute.

Mrs. Warren had indeed so much to impart in the precious half hour
that it was one long gabbled monologue.

"When I heard you'd got into trouble, my darling, I _was_ put about.
Some'ow I'd never thought of your being pinched and acshally sent to
prison. It was in the Belgian papers, and a German friend of
mine--Oh! quite proper I assure you! He's a Secretary of their
legation at Brussels and ages ago he used to be one of my clients
when the Hotel had a different name. Well, he was full of it.
'Madam,' 'e said, 'your English women are splendid. They're going to
bring about a revolt, you'll see, and that, an' your Ulster movement
'll give you a lot of trouble next year.'

"Well: I wrote at once to Praddy, givin' him an order on my London
agents, 'case he should want cash for your defence. I offered to
come over meself, but he replied that for the present I'd better
keep away. Soon as I heard you was sent to prison I come over and
went straight to Praddy. My! He _was_ good. He made me put up with
him, knowin' I wanted to live quiet and keep away from the old set.
'There's my parlour-maid,' 'e says, 'sort of housekeeper to
me--good sort too, but wants a bit of yumourin.' You'll fix it up
with her,' he says. And I jolly soon did. I give her to begin with
a good tip, an' I said: 'Look 'ere, my gal--she's forty-five I
should think--Every one's in trouble _some_ time or other in their
lives, and _I'm_ in trouble now, if you like. And the day's come,' I
said, 'when all women ought to stick by one another.' 'Pears she's
always had the highest opinion of you; very different, you was, from
_some_ of 'er master's friends. I says 'Right-o; then _now_ we know
where we are.'

"Praddy soon got into touch with the authorities, but for some
reason they wouldn't pass on a letter or let me come and see you,
till to-day. But here I am, and here I'm goin' to stay--with
Praddy--till they lets you out. I'm told that if you be'ave yourself
they'll let me send you a passel of food, once a week. Think of
that! My! won't I find some goodies, and paté de foie gras. I'll
come here once a month, as often as they'll let me, till I gets you
out. 'N after that, we'll leave this 'orrid, 'yprocritical old
country and live 'appily at my Villa, or travel a bit. Fortunately
I've plenty of money. Bein' over here I've bin rearranging my
investments a bit. Fact is, I 'ad a bit of a scare this autumn. They
say in Belgium, War is comin'. Talkin' to this same German--He's
always pumpin' me about the Suffragettes so I occasionally put a
question or so to 'im, 'e knowing 'what's, what' in the money
market--'e says to me just before I come over, 'What's your English
proverb, Madame Varennes, about 'avin' all your eggs in one basket?
Is all your money in English and Belgian securities?' I says
'Chiefly Belgian and German and Austrian, and some I've giv' to me
daughter to do as she likes with.' 'Well' 'e says, 'friend speakin'
to friend, you've giv' me several good tips this autumn,' he says.
'Now I'll give you one in return. Sell out your Austrian
investments--there's goin' to be a big war in the Balkans next year
and as like as not _we_ shall be here in Belgium. Sell out most of
yer Belgian stock and put all your money into German funds. They'll
be safe there, come what may.' I thanked 'im; but I haven't quite
done what he suggested. I'm takin' all my money out of Austrian
things and all but Ten thousand out of Belgian funds. I'm leavin' my
German stock as it was, but I'm puttin' Forty thousand pounds--I've
got Sixty thousand altogether--all yours some day--into Canadian
Pacifics and Royal Mail--people 'll always want steamships--and New
Zealand Five per cents. I don't like the look of things in old
England nor yet on the Continent. Now me time's up. Keep up your
heart, old girl; it'll soon be over, specially if you don't play the
fool and rile the prison people or start that silly hunger strike
and ruin your digestion. G--good-bye; and G-God b-bless you, my
darlin'" added Mrs. Warren relapsing into tears and the conventional
prayer, of common humanity, which always hopes there _may_ be a
pitiful Deity, somewhere in Cosmos.

Going out into the corridor, she attempted to press a sovereign into
the wardress's hard palm. The latter indignantly repudiated the gift
and said if Mrs. Warren tried on such a thing again, her visits
would be stopped. But her indignation was very brief. She was
carrying Honoria's flowers at the time, and as she put them on the
slab in Vivie's cell, she remarked that say what you liked, there
was nothing to come up to a mother, give her a mother rather than a
man any day.

On other occasions Bertie Adams came with Mrs. Warren; even
Professor Rossiter, who also went to see Vivie's mother at Praed's,
and conceived a whimsical liking for the unrepentant, outspoken old
lady.

Vivie's health gradually recovered from the effects of the forcible
feeding; the prison fare, supplemented by the weekly parcels, suited
her digestion; the peace of the prison life and the regular work at
interesting trades soothed her nerves. She enjoyed the respite from
the worries of her complicated toilettes, the perplexity of what to
wear and how to wear it; in short, she was finding a spell of prison
life quite bearable, except for the cold and the attentions of the
chaplain. She gathered from the fortnightly letter which her
industry and good conduct allowed her to receive, and to answer,
that unwearied efforts were being made by her friends outside to
shorten her sentence. Mrs. Warren through Bertie Adams had found out
the cases where jockeys and stable lads had lost their effects in
the fires or explosions which had followed Vivie's visits to their
employers' premises, and had made good their losses. As to their
employers, they had all been heavily insured, and recovered the
value of their buildings; and as to the insurance companies _they_
had all been so enriched by Mr. Lloyd George's legislation that the
one-or-two hundred thousand pounds they had lost, through Vivie's
revenge for the seemingly-fruitless death of Emily Wilding Davison,
was a bagatelle not worth bothering about. But all attempts to get
the Home Office to reconsider Miss Warren's case or to shorten her
imprisonment (except by the abridgment that could be earned in the
prison itself) were unavailing. So long as the Cabinet held Vivie
under lock and key, the Suffrage movement--they foolishly
believed--was hamstrung.

So the months went by, and Vivie almost lost count of time and
almost became content to wait. Till War was declared on August 4th,
1914. A few days afterwards followed the amnesty to Suffragist
prisoners. From this the Home Office strove at first to exclude
Vivien Warren on the plea that her crime was an ordinary crime and
admitted of no political justification; but at this the wrath of
Rossiter and the indignation of the W.S.P.U. became so alarming that
the agitated Secretary of State--not at all sure how we were going
to come out of the War--gave way, and an order was signed for
Vivie's release on the 11th of August; on the understanding that she
would immediately proceed abroad; an understanding to which she
would not subscribe but which in her slowly-formed hatred of the
British Government she resolved to carry out.

Mrs. Warren, assured by Praed and Rossiter that Vivie's release was
a mere matter of a few days, had left for Brussels on the 5th of
August. If--as was then hoped--the French and Belgian armies would
suffice to keep the Germans at bay on the frontier of Belgium, she
would prefer to resume her life there in the Villa de Beau-séjour.
If however Belgium was going to be invaded it was better she should
secure her property as far as possible, transfer her funds, and make
her way somehow to a safe part of France. Vivie would join her as
soon as she could leave the prison.



CHAPTER XVI

BRUSSELS AND THE WAR: 1914


The Lilacs in Victoria Road had been disposed of--through
Honoria--as soon as possible, after the sentence of Three years'
imprisonment had been pronounced on Vivie; and the faithful
Suffragette maid had passed into Honoria's employ at Petworth, a
fact that was not fully understood by Colonel Armstrong until he had
become General Armstrong and perfectly indifferent to the Suffrage
agitation which had by that time attained its end. So when Vivie had
come out of prison and had promised to write to all the wardresses
and to meet them some day on non-professional ground; had found
Rossiter waiting for her in his motor and Honoria in hers; had
thanked them both for their never-to-be-forgotten kindness, and had
insisted on walking away in her rather creased and rumpled clothes
of the previous year with Bertie Adams; she sought the hospitality
of Praddy at Hans Place. The parlour-maid received her sumptuously,
and Praddy's eyes watered with senile tears.

But Vivie would have no melancholy. "Oh Praddy! If you only knew.
It's worth going to prison to know the joy of coming out of it! I'm
so happy at thinking this is my last day in England for ever so
long. When the War is over, I think I shall settle in Switzerland
with mother--or perhaps all three of us--you with us, I mean--in
Italy. We'll only come back here when the Women have got the Vote.
Now to-night you shall take me to the theatre--or rather I'll take
_you_. I've thought it all out beforehand, and Bertie Adams has
secured the seats. It's _The Chocolate Soldier_ at the Adelphi, the
only war piece they had ready; there are two stalls for us and
Bertie and his wife are going to the Dress Circle. My Cook's ticket
is taken for Brussels and I leave to-morrow by the Ostende route."

"To-morrow" was the 12th of August, and Dora was not yet in being to
interpose every possible obstacle in the way of the civilian
traveller. Down to the Battle of the Marne in September, 1914, very
little difficulty was made about crossing the Channel, especially
off the main Dover-Calais route.

So in the radiant noon of that August day Vivie looked her last on
the brown-white promontories, cliffs and grey castle of Dover,
scarcely troubling about any anticipations one way or the other, and
certainly having no prevision she would not recross the Channel for
four years and four months, and not see Dover again for five or six
years.

British war vessels were off the port and inside it. But there was
not much excitement or crowding on the Ostende steamer or any of
those sensational precautions against being torpedoed or mined,
which soon afterwards oppressed the spirits of cross-Channel
passengers. Vessels arriving from Belgium were full of passengers of
the superior refugee class, American and British tourists, or
wealthy people who though they preferred living abroad had begun to
think that the Continent just now was not very healthy and England
the securest refuge for those who wished to be comfortable.

Vivie being a good sailor and economical by nature, never thought of
securing a cabin for the four or five hours' sea-journey. She sat on
the upper deck with her scanty luggage round her. A nice-looking
young man who had a cabin the door of which he locked, was walking
up and down on the level deck and scrutinizing her discreetly. And
when at last they worked their way backwards into Ostende--the
harbour was full of vessels, chiefly mine-dredgers and torpedo
boats--she noticed the obsequiousness of the steamer people and how
he left the ship before any one else.

She followed soon afterwards, having little encumbrances in the way
of luggage; but she observed that he just showed a glimpse of some
paper and was allowed to walk straight through the Douane with
unexamined luggage, and so, on to the Brussels train.

But she herself had little difficulty. She put her hand luggage--she
had no other--into a first-class compartment, and having an hour and
a half to wait walked out to look at Ostende.

Summer tourists were still there; the Casino was full of people, the
shops were doing an active trade; the restaurants were crowded with
English, Americans, Belgians taking tea, chocolate, or liqueurs at
little tables and creating a babel of talk. Newspapers were being
sold everywhere by ragamuffin boys who shouted their head-lines in
French, Flemish, and quite understandable English. A fort or two at
Liége had fallen, but it was of no consequence. General Léman could
hold out indefinitely, and the mere fact that German soldiers had
entered the town of Liége counted for nothing. Belgium had virtually
won the war by holding up the immense German army. France was
overrunning Alsace, Russia was invading East Prussia and also
sending uncountable thousands of soldiers, via Archangel, to
England, whence they were being despatched to Calais for the relief
of Belgium.

"It looks," thought Vivie, after glancing at the _Indépendance
Belge_, "As though Belgium were going to be extremely interesting
during the next few weeks; I may be privileged to witness--from a
safe distance--another Waterloo."

Then she returned to the train which in her absence had been so
crowded with soldiers and civilian passengers that she had great
difficulty in finding her place and seating herself. The young man
whom she had seen pacing the deck of the steamer approached her and
said: "There is more room in my compartment; in fact I have
selfishly got one all to myself. Won't you share it?"

She thanked him and moved in there with her suit case and rugs.
When the train had started and she had parried one or two polite
enquiries as to place and ventilation, she said: "I think I ought to
tell you who I am, in case you would not like to be seen speaking to
me--I imagine you are in diplomacy, as I noticed you went through
with a Red passport.--I am Vivien Warren, just out of prison, and an
outlaw, more or less."

"'The outlaws of to-day are the in-laws of to-morrow,' as the
English barrister said when he married the Boer general's daughter.
I have thought I recognized you. I have heard you speak at Lady
Maud's and also at Lady Feenix's Suffrage parties. My name is Hawk.
I suppose you've been in prison for some Suffrage offence? So has my
aunt, for the matter of that."

_Vivie_: "Yes, but in her case they only sentenced her to the First
Division; whereas _I_ have been doing nine months' hard."

_Hawk_: "What was your crime?"

_Vivie_: "I admit nothing, it is always wisest. But I was accused of
burning down Mr. ----'s racing stables--and other things..."

_Hawk_: "_That_ beast. Well, I suppose it was very wrong. Can't
quite make up my mind about militancy, one way or the other. But
here we are up against the biggest war in history, and such
peccadilloes as yours sink into insignificance. By the bye, my aunt
was amnestied and so I suppose were you?"

_Vivie_: "Yes, but not so handsomely. I was requested to go away
from England for a time, so here I am, about to join my mother in
Brussels--or in a little country place near Brussels."

_Hawk_: "Well, I've been Secretary of Legation there. I'm just going
back to--to--well I'm just going back."

At Bruges they were told that the train would not leave for Ghent
and Brussels for another two hours--some mobilization delay; so Hawk
proposed they should go and see the Memlings and then have some
dinner.


"Don't you think they're perfectly wonderful?"--_àpropos_ of the
pictures in the Hospital of St. Jean.

_Vivie_: "It depends on what you mean by 'wonderful.' If you admire
the fidelity of the reproduction in colour and texture of the
Flemish costumes of the fifteenth century, I agree with you. It is
also interesting to see the revelations of their domestic
architecture and furniture of that time, and the types of domestic
dog, cow and horse. But if you admire them as being true pictures of
life in Palestine in the time of Christ, or in the Rhineland of the
fifth century, then I think they--like most Old Masters--are
perfectly rotten. And have you ever remarked another thing about all
paintings prior to the seventeenth century: how _plain_, how _ugly_
all the people are? You never see a single good-looking man or
woman. Do let's go and have that dinner you spoke of. I've got a
prison appetite."


At Ghent another delay and a few uneasy rumours. The Court was said
to be removing from Brussels and establishing itself at Antwerp. The
train at last drew into the main station at Brussels half an hour
after midnight. Vivie's mother was nowhere to be seen. She had
evidently gone back to the Villa Beau-séjour while she could. It was
too late for any tram in the direction of Tervueren. There were no
taxis owing to the drivers being called up. Leaving most of her
luggage at the cloak-room--it took her about three-quarters of an
hour even to approach the receiving counter--Vivie walked across to
the _Palace Hotel_ and asked the night porter to get her a room. But
every room was occupied, they said--Americans, British, wealthy war
refugees from southern Belgium, military officers of the Allies. The
only concession made to her--for the porter could hold out little
hope of any neighbouring hotel having an empty room--was to allow
her to sit and sleep in one of the comfortable basket chairs in the
long atrium. At six o'clock a compassionate waiter who knew the name
of Mrs. Warren gave her daughter some coffee and milk and a
_brioche_. At seven she managed to get her luggage taken to one of
the trams at the corner of the Boulevard du Jardin Botanique. The
train service to Tervueren was suspended--and at the Porte de Namur
she would be transferred to the No. 45 tram which would take her out
to Tervueren.

Even at an early hour Brussels seemed crowded and as the tram passed
along the handsome boulevards the shops were being opened and
tourists were on their way to Waterloo in brakes. Every one seemed
to think in mid-August, 1914, that Germany was destined to receive
her _coup-de-grâce_ on the field of Waterloo. It would be so
appropriate. And no one--at any rate of those who spoke their
thoughts aloud--seemed to consider that Brussels was menaced.

Leaving her luggage at the tram terminus, Vivie sped on foot through
forest roads, where the dew still glistened, to the Villa
Beau-séjour. Mrs. Warren was not yet dressed, but was rapturous in
her greeting. Her chauffeur had been called up, so the auto could
not go out, but a farm cart would be sent for the luggage.

"I believe, mother, I'm going to enjoy myself enormously," said
Vivie as she sat in the verandah in the morning sunshine, making a
delicious _petit déjeuner_ out of fresh rolls, the butter of the
farm, a few slices of sausage, and a big cup of frothing chocolate
topped with whipped cream. The scene that spread before her was
idyllic, from a bucolic point of view. The beech woods of Tervueren
shut out any horizon of town activity; black and white cows were
being driven out to pasture, a flock of geese with necks raised
vertically waggled sedately along their own chosen path, a little
disturbed and querulous over the arrival of a stranger; turkey hens
and their half-grown poults and a swelling, strutting turkey cock, a
peacock that had already lost nearly all his tail and therefore
declined combat with the turkey and was, moreover, an isolated
bachelor; guinea-fowls scratching and running about alternately; and
plump cocks and hens of mixed breed covered most of the ground in
the adjacent farm yard and the turf of an apple orchard, where the
fruit was already reddening under the August sun. Pigeons circled
against the sky with the distinct musical notes struck out by their
wings, or cooed and cooed round the dove cots. The dairy women of
the farm laughed and sang and called out to one another in Flemish
and Wallon rough chaff about their men-folk who were called to the
Colours. There was nothing suggestive here of any coming tragedy.

This was the morning of the 13th of August. For three more days
Vivie lived deliriously, isolated from the world. She took new books
to the shade of the forest, and a rug on which she could repose, and
read there with avidity, read also all the newspapers her mother had
brought over from England, tried to master the events which had so
rapidly and irresistibly plunged Europe into War. Were the Germans
to blame, she asked herself? Of course they were, technically, in
invading Belgium and in forcing this war on France. But were they
not being surrounded by a hostile Alliance? Was not this hostility
on the part of Servia towards Austria stimulated by Russia in order
to forestal the Central Powers by a Russian occupation of
Constantinople? Why should the Russian Empire be allowed to stretch
for nine millions of square miles over half Asia, much of Persia,
and now claim to control the Balkan Peninsula and Asia Minor? If
England might claim a large section of Persia as her sphere of
influence, and Egypt likewise and a fourth part of Africa, much of
Arabia, and Cyprus in the Mediterranean, why might not Germany and
Austria expect to have their little spheres of influence in the
Balkans, in Asia Minor, in Mesopotamia? We had helped France to
Morocco and Italy to Tripoli; why should we bother about Servia? It
might be unkind, but then were we not unkind towards her father's
country, Ireland? Were we very tender towards national independence
in Egypt, in Persia?

Yet this brutal invasion of France, this unprovoked attack on Liège
were ugly things. France had shown no disposition to egg Servia on
against Austria, and Sir Edward Grey in the last days of June--she
now learnt for the first time, for she had seen no newspapers in
prison, where it is part of the dehumanizing policy of the Home
Office to prevent their entry, or the dissemination of any
information about current events--Sir Edward Grey had clearly shown
Great Britain did not approve of Servian intrigues in Bosnia. Well:
let the best man win. Germany was just as likely to give the Vote to
her women as was Britain. The Germans were first in Music and in
Science. She for her part didn't wish to become a German subject,
but once the War was over she would willingly naturalize herself
Belgian or Swiss.

And the War must soon be over. Europe as a whole could not allow
this devastation of resources. America would intervene. Already the
Germans realized their gigantic blunder in starting the attack.
Their men were said to be--she read--much less brave than people had
expected. The mighty German Armies had been held up for ten days by
a puny Belgian force and the forts of Liège and Namur. There would
presently be an armistice and Germany would have to make peace with
perhaps the cession to France of Metz as a _solatium_, while Germany
was given a little bit more of Africa, and Austria got nothing....

Meantime the Villa Beau-séjour seemed after Holloway Prison a
paradise upon earth. Why quarrel with her fate? Why not drop
politics and take up philosophy? She felt herself capable of writing
a Universal History which would be far truer if more cynical than
any previous attempt to show civilized man the route he had followed
and the martyrdom he had undergone.

On the 17th of August she took the tram into Brussels. It seemed
however as if it would never get there, and when she reached the
Porte de Namur she was too impatient to wait for the connection. She
could not find any gendarme, but at a superior-looking flower-shop
she obtained the address of the British Legation.

She asked at the lodge for Mr. Hawk; but there was only a Belgian
coachman in charge, and he told her the Minister and his staff had
followed the Court to Antwerp. Mr. Hawk had only left that morning.
"What a nuisance," said Vivie to herself. "I might have found out
from him whether there is any truth in the rumours that are flying
about Tervueren."

These rumours were to the effect that the Germans had captured all
the forts of Liège and their brave defender, General Léman; that
they were in Namur and were advancing on Louvain. "I wonder what we
had better do?" pondered Vivie.

In her bewilderment she took the bold step of calling at the Hotel
de Ville, gave her name and nationality, and asked the advice of
the municipal employé who saw her as to what course she and her
mother had better pursue: leave Tervueren and seek a lodging in
Brussels; or retreat as far as Ghent or Bruges or even Holland? The
clerk reassured her. The Germans had certainly occupied the
south-east of Belgium, but dared not push as far to the west and
north as Brussels. They risked otherwise being nipped between the
Belgian army of Antwerp and the British force marching on Mons....
He directed her attention to the last _communiqué_ of the Ministry
of War: "La situation n'a jamais été meilleure. Bruxelles, à l'abri
d'un coup de main, est défendue par vingt mille gardes civiques
armés d'un excellent fusil," etc.

Vivie returned therefore a trifle reassured. At the same time she
and her mother spent some hours in packing up and posting valuable
securities to London, via Ostende, in packing for deposit in the
strong rooms of a Brussels bank Mrs. Warren's jewellery and plate.
The tram service from Tervueren had ceased to run. So they induced a
neighbour to drive them into Brussels in a chaise: a slow and
wearisome journey under a broiling sun. Arrived in Brussels they
found the town in consternation. Placarded on the walls was a notice
signed by the Burgomaster--the celebrated Adolphe Max--informing the
Bruxellois that in spite of the resistances of the Belgian army it
was to be feared the enemy might soon be in occupation of Brussels.
In such an event he adjured the citizens to avoid all panic, to give
no legitimate cause of offence to the Germans, to renounce any idea
of resorting to arms! The Germans on their part were bound
by the laws of war to respect private property, the lives of
non-combatants, the honour of women, and the exercise of religion.

Vivie and her mother found the banks closed and likewise the railway
station. They now had but one thought: to get back as quickly as
possible to Villa Beau-séjour, and fortunately for their dry-mouthed
impatience their farmer friend was of the same mind. Along the
Tervueren road they met numbers of peasant refugees in carts and on
foot, driving cattle, geese or pigs towards the capital; urging on
the tugging dogs with small carts and barrows loaded with personal
effects, trade-goods, farm produce, or crying children. All of them
had a distraught, haggard appearance and were constantly looking
behind them. From the east, indeed, came the distant sounds of
explosions and intermittent rifle firing. Mrs. Warren was blanched
with fear, her cheeks a dull peach colour. She questioned the people
in French and Flemish, but they only answered vaguely in raucous
voices: "Les Allemands!" "De Duitscher."

One old woman, however, had flung herself down by the roadside,
while her patient dog lay between the shafts of the little cart till
she should be pleased to go on. She was more communicative and told
Mrs. Warren a tale too horrible to be believed, about husband, son,
son-in-law all killed, daughter violated and killed too, cottage in
flames, livestock driven off. Recovering from her exhaustion she
rose and shook herself. "I've no business to be here. I should be
with _them_. I was just packing this cart for the market when it
happened. Why did I go away? Oh for shame! I'll go back--to
_them_..." And forthwith she turned the dog round and trudged the
same way they were going.

At last they came opposite the courtyard of the Villa and saw the
lawn and gravel sweep full of helmeted soldiers in green-grey
uniform, their bodies hung with equipment--bags, great-coats,
rolled-up blankets, trench spades, cartridge bandoliers. Vivie
jumped down quickly, said to her mother in a low firm voice: "Leave
everything to me. Say as little as possible." Then to the farmer:
"Nous vous remercions infiniment. Vous aurez mille choses à faire
chez vous, je n'en doute. Nous réglerons notre compte tout-à
l'heure.... Pour le moment, adieu." She clutched the handbags of
valuables, slung them somehow on her left arm, while with her other
she piloted the nearly swooning Mrs. Warren into the court.

They were at once stopped by a non-commissioned officer who asked
them in abrupt, scarcely understandable German what they wanted.
Vivie guessing his meaning said in English--she scarcely knew any
German: "This is our house. We have been absent in Brussels. We want
to see the officer in command." The soldier knew no English, but
likewise guessed at their meaning. He ordered them to wait where
they were. Presently he came out of the Villa and said the Herr
Oberst would see them. Vivie led her mother into the gay little
hall--how pleasant and cool it had looked in the early morning! It
was now full of surly-looking soldiers. Without hesitating she took
a chair from one soldier and placed her mother in it. "You rest
there a moment, dearest, while I go in and see the officer in
command." The corporal she had first spoken with beckoned her into
the pretty sitting-room at the back where they had had their early
breakfast that morning.

Here she saw seated at a table consulting plans of Brussels and
other papers a tall, handsome man of early middle age, who might
indeed have passed for a young man, had he not looked very tired and
care-worn and exhibited a bald patch at the back of his head,
rendered the more apparent because the brown-gold curls round it
were dank with perspiration. He rose to his feet, clicked his heels
together and saluted. "An English young lady, I am told, rather ...
a ... surprise ... on ... the ... outskirts ... of Brussels..." (His
English was excellent, if rather staccato and spaced.) "It ... is
... not ... usual ... for ... Englishwomen ... to ... be owners ...
of chateaux ... in Belgium. But I ... hear ... it ... is ... your
mother ... who is the owner ... from long time, and you are her
daughter newly arrived from England? Nicht wahr? Sie verstehen nicht
Deutsch, gnädiges Fraulein?"

"No," said Vivie, "I don't speak much German, and fortunately you
speak such perfect English that it is not necessary."

"I have stayed some time in England," was the reply; "I was once
military attaché in London. Both your voice and your face seem--what
should one say? Familiar to me. Are you of London?"

"Yes, I suppose I may say I am a Londoner, though I believe I was
born in Brussels. But I don't want to beat about the bush: there is
so much to be said and explained, and all this time I am very
anxious about my mother. She is in the hall outside--feels a little
faint I think with shock--might she--might I?"--

"But my dear Miss--?"

"Miss Warren--"

"My dear Miss Warren, of course. We are enemies--pour le moment--but
we Germans are not monsters. ("What about those peasants' stories?"
said Vivie to herself.) Your lady mother must come in here and take
that fauteuil. Then we can talk better at our ease."

Vivie got up and brought her mother in.

"Now you shall tell me everything--is it not so? Better to be quite
frank. À la guerre comme à la guerre. First, you are English?"

"Yes. My mother is Mrs. Warren, I am her daughter, Vivien Warren. My
mother has lived many years in Belgium, though also in other places,
in Germany, Austria and France. Of late, however, she has lived
entirely here. This place belongs to her."

"And you?"

"I? I have just been released from prison in London, Holloway
Prison..."

"My dear young lady! You are surely joking--what do you say? You
pull my leg? But no; I see! You have been Suffragette. Aha! _I_
understand you are _the_ Miss Warren, the Miss Warren who make the
English Government afraid, nicht wahr? You set fire to Houses of
Parliament..."

_Vivie_ (interrupting): "No, no! Only to some racing stables..."

_Oberst_: "I understand. But you are rebel?"

_Vivie_: "I hate the present British Government--the most
hypocritical, the most..."

_Oberst_: "But we are in agreement, you and I! This is splendid. But
now we must be praktisch. We are at war, though we hope here for a
peaceful occupation of Belgium. You will see how the Flämisch--Ah,
you say the Fleming?--the Flemish part of Belgium will receive us
with such pleasure. It is only with the Wälsch, the Wallon part we
disagree.... But there is so much for me to do--we must talk of all
these things some other time. Let us begin our business. I must
first introduce myself. I am Oberst Gottlieb von Giesselin of the
Saxon Army. (He rose, clicked heels, bowed, and sat down.) I see you
have three heavy bags you look at often. What is it?"

_Vivie_ (taking courage): "It is my mother's jewellery and some
plate. She fears--"

_Von G._: "I understand! We have a dr-r-eadful reputation, we poor
Germans! The French stuff you up with lies. But we are better than
you think. You shall take them in two--three days to Brussels when
things are quiet, and put them in some bank. Here I fear I must
stay. I must intrude myself on your hospitality. But better for you
perhaps if I stay here at present. I will put a few of my men in
your--your--buildings. Most of them shall go with their officers to
Tervueren for billet." (Turning to Mrs. Warren.) "Madam, you must
cheer up. I foresee your daughter and I will be great friends. Let
us now look through the rooms and see what disposition we can make.
I think I will have to take this room for my writing, for my work. I
see you have telephone here. _Gut_!"

Leaving Mrs. Warren still seated, but a little less stertorous in
breathing, a little reassured, Vivie and Oberst von Giesselin then
went over the Villa, apportioning the rooms. The Colonel and his
orderly would be lodged in two of the bedrooms. Vivie and her mother
would share Mrs. Warren's large bedroom and retain the salon for
their exclusive occupation. They would use the dining-room in common
with their guest.

Vivie looking out of the windows occasionally, as they passed from
room to room, saw the remainder of the soldiery strolling off to be
lodged at their nearest neighbour's, the farmer who had driven them
in to Brussels that morning. There were perhaps thirty, accompanying
a young lieutenant. How would he find room for them, poor man? They
were more fortunate in being asked only to lodge six or seven in
addition to the Colonel's orderly and soldier-clerk. Before sunset,
the Villa Beau-séjour was clear of soldiers, except the few that had
gone to the barn and the outhouses. The morning room had been fitted
up with a typewriter at which the military clerk sat tapping. The
Colonel's personal luggage had been placed in his bedroom. A soldier
was even sweeping up all traces of the invasion of armed men and
making everything tidy. It all seemed like a horrid dream that was
going to end up happily after all. Presently Vivie would wake up
completely and there would even be no Oberst, no orderly; only the
peaceful life of the farm that was going on yesterday. Here a sound
of angry voices interrupted her musings. The cows returning by
themselves from the pasture were being intercepted by soldiers who
were trying to secure them. Vivie in her indignation ran out and
ordered the soldiers off, in English. To her surprise they obeyed
silently, but as they sauntered away to their quarters she was
saddened at seeing them carrying the bodies of most of the turkeys
and fowls and even the corpse of the poor tailless peacock. They had
waited for sundown to rob the hen-roosts.

Very much disillusioned she ran to the morning room and burst in on
the Colonel's dictation to his clerk. "Excuse me, but if you don't
keep your soldiers in better order you will have very little to eat
whilst you are here. They are killing and carrying off all our
poultry."

The Colonel flushed a little at the peremptory way in which she
spoke, but without replying went out and shouted a lot of orders in
German. His orderly summoned soldiers from the barn and together
they drove the cows into the cow-sheds. All the Flemish servants
having disappeared in a panic, the Germans had to milk the cows that
evening; and Vivie, assisted by the orderly, cooked the evening
meal in the kitchen. He was, like his Colonel, a Saxon, a
pleasant-featured, domesticated man, who explained civilly in the
Thuringian dialect--though to Vivie there could be no discrimination
between varieties of High German--that the Sachsen folk were "Eines
gütes leute" and that all would go smoothly in time.

Nevertheless the next morning when she could take stock she found
nearly all the poultry except the pigeons had disappeared; and most
of the apples, ripe and unripe, had vanished from the orchard trees.
The female servants of the farm, however, came back; and finding no
violence was offered took up their work again. Two days afterwards,
von Giesselin sent Vivie into Brussels in his motor, with his
orderly to escort her, so that she might deposit her valuables at a
bank. She found Brussels, suburbs and city alike, swarming with
grey-uniformed soldiers, most of whom looked tired and despondent.
Those who were on the march, thinking Vivie must be the wife of some
German officer of high rank, struck up a dismal chant from dry
throats with a refrain of "Gloria, Viktoria, Hoch! Deutschland,
Hoch!" At the bank the Belgian officials received her with
deference. Apart from being the daughter of the well-to-do Mrs.
Warren, she was English, and seemed to impose respect even on the
Germans. They took over her valuables, made out a receipt, and
cashed a fairly large cheque in ready money. Vivie then ventured to
ask the bank clerk who had seen to her business if he had any news.
Looking cautiously round, he said the rumours going through the town
were that the Queen of Holland, enraged that her Prince Consort
should have facilitated the crossing of Limburg by German armies,
had shot him dead with a revolver; that the Crown Prince of Germany,
despairing of a successful end of the War, had committed suicide at
his father's feet; that the American Consul General in Brussels--to
whom, by the bye, Vivie ought to report herself and her mother, in
order to come under his protection--had notified General Sixt von
Arnim, commanding the army in Brussels, that, _unless he vacated the
Belgian capital immediately_, England would bombard Hamburg and the
United States would declare war on the Kaiser. Alluring stories like
these flitted through despairing Brussels during the first two
months of German occupation, though Vivie, in her solitude at
Tervueren, seldom heard them.

After her business at the bank she walked about the town. No one
took any notice of her or annoyed her in any way. The restaurants
seemed crowded with Belgians as well as Germans, and the Belgians
did not seem to have lost their appetites. The Palace Hotel had
become a German officers' club. On all the public buildings the
German Imperial flag hung alongside the Belgian. Only a few of the
trams were running. Yet you could still buy, without much difficulty
at the kiosques, Belgian and even French and British newspapers.
From these she gathered that the German forces were in imminent
peril between the Belgian Antwerp army on the north and the British
army advancing from the south; and that in the plains of Alsace the
French had given the first public exhibition of the new "Turpin"
explosive. The results had been _foudroyant_ ... and simple.
Complete regiments of German soldiers had been destroyed in _one
minute_. It seemed curious, she thought, that with such an arm as
this the French command did not at once come irresistibly to the
rescue of Brussels....

However, it was four o'clock, and there was her friend the enemy's
automobile drawn up outside the bank, awaiting her. She got in, and
the soldier chauffeur whirled her away to the Villa Beau-séjour,
beyond Tervueren.

On her return she found her mother prostrate with bad news. Their
nearest neighbour, Farmer Oudekens who had driven them into Brussels
the preceding day had been executed in his own orchard only an hour
ago. It seemed that the lieutenant in charge of the soldiers
billeted there had disappeared in the night, leaving his uniform and
watch and chain behind him. The farmer's story was that in the night
the lieutenant had appeared in his room with a revolver and had
threatened to shoot him unless he produced a suit of civilian
clothes. Thus coerced he had given him his eldest son's Sunday
clothes left behind when the said son went off to join the Belgian
army. The lieutenant, grateful for the assistance, had given him as
a present his watch and chain.

On the other hand the German non-commissioned officers insisted
their lieutenant had been made away with in the night. The farmer's
allegation that he had deserted (as in fact he had) only enhanced
his crime. The finding of the court after a very summary trial was
"guilty," and despite the frantic appeals of the wife, reinforced
later on by Mrs. Warren, the farmer had been taken out and shot.

The evening meal consequently was one of strained relations. Colonel
von Giesselin came to supper punctually and was very spruce in
appearance. But he was gravely polite and uncommunicative. And after
dessert the two ladies asked permission to retire. They lay long
awake afterwards, debating in whispers what terror might be in store
for them. Mrs. Warren cried a good deal and lamented futilely her
indolent languor of a few days previously. _Why_ had she not, while
there was yet time, cleared out of Brussels, gone to Holland, and
thence regained England with Vivie, and from England the south of
France? Vivie, more stoical, pointed out it was no use crying over
lost opportunities. Here they were, and they must sharpen their wits
to get away at the first opportunity. Perhaps the American Consul
might help them?

The next morning, however, their guest, who had insensibly turned
host, told Vivie the tram service to Brussels, like the train
service, was suspended indefinitely, and that he feared they must
resign themselves to staying where they were. Under his protection
they had nothing to fear. He was sorry the soldiers had helped
themselves so freely to the livestock; but everything had now
settled down. Henceforth they would be sure of something to eat, as
he himself had got to be fed. And all he asked of them was their
agreeable society.

Two months went by of this strange life. Two months, in which Vivie
only saw German newspapers--which she read with the aid of von
Giesselin. Their contents filled her with despair. They made very
little of the Marne rebuff, much of the capture of Antwerp and
Ostende, and the occupation of all Belgium (as they put it). Vivie
noted that the German Emperor's heart had bled for the punishment
inflicted on Louvain. (She wondered how that strange personality,
her father, had fared in the destruction of monastic buildings.) But
she had then no true idea of what had taken place, and the
far-reaching harm this crime had done to the German reputation. She
noted that the German Press expressed disappointment that the cause
of Germany, the crusade against Albion, had received no support from
the Irish Nationalists, or from the "revolting" women, the
Suffragettes, who had been so cruelly maltreated by the
administration of Asquith and Sir Grey.

This point was discussed by the Colonel, but Vivie found herself
speaking as a patriot. How _could_ the Germans expect British women
to turn against their own country in its hour of danger?

"Then you would not," said von Giesselin, "consent to write some
letters to your friends, if I said I could have them sent safely to
their destination?--only letters," he added hastily, seeing her
nostrils quiver and a look come into her eyes--"to ask your Suffrage
friends to bring pressure to bear on their Government to bring this
d-r-r-eadful War to a just peace. That is all we ask." But Vivie
said "with all her own private grudge against the present ministry
she felt _au fond_ she was _British_; she must range herself in time
of war with her own people."

Mrs. Warren went much farther. She was not very voluble nowadays.
The German occupation of her villa had given her a mental and
physical shock from which she never recovered. She often sat quite
silent and rather huddled at meal times and looked the old woman
now. In such a conversation as this she roused herself and her voice
took an aggressive tone. "My daughter write to her friends to ask
them to obstruct the government at such a time as this? _Never!_ I'd
disown her if she did, I'd repudiate her! She may have had her own
turn-up with 'em. I was quite with her there. But that, so to
speak, was only a domestic quarrel. We're British all through, and
don't you forget it--sir--(she added deprecatingly): British _all
through_ and we're goin' to beat Germany yet, _you'll_ see. The
British navy never _has_ been licked nor won't be, this time."

Colonel von Giesselin did not insist. He seemed depressed himself at
times, and far from elated at the victories announced in his own
newspapers. He would in the dreary autumn evenings show them the
photographs of his wife--a sweet-looking woman--and his two
solid-looking, handsome children, and talk with rapture of his home
life. Why, indeed, was there this War! His heart like his Emperor's
bled for these unhappy Belgians. But it was all due to the
Macchiavellian policy of "Sir Grey and Asquiss." If Germany had not
felt herself surrounded and barred from all future expansion of
trade and influence she would not have felt forced to attack France
and invade Belgium. Why, see! All the time they were talking,
barbarous Russia, egged on by England, was ravaging East Prussia!

Then, in other moods, he would lament the war and the policy of
Prussia. How he had loved England in the days when he was military
attaché there. He had once wanted to marry an Englishwoman, a Miss
Fraser, a so handsome daughter of a Court Physician.

"Why, that must have been Honoria, my former partner," said Vivie,
finding an intense joy in this link of memory. And she told much of
her history to the sentimental Colonel, who was conceiving for her a
sincere friendship and camaraderie. They opened up other veins of
memory, talked of Lady Feenix, of the musical parties at the Parrys,
of Emily Daymond's playing, of this, that and the other hostess, of
such-and-such an actress or singer.

The Colonel of course was often absent all day on military duties.
He advised Vivie strongly on such occasions not to go far from Mrs.
Warren's little domain. "I am obliged to remind you, dear young
lady, that you and your mother are my prisoners in a sense. Many bad
things are going on--things we cannot help in war--outside this
quiet place..."

In November, however, there was a change of scene, which in many
ways came to Vivie and her mother with a sense of great relief.
Colonel von Giesselin told them one morning he had been appointed
Secretary to the German Governor of Brussels, and must reside in the
town not far from the Rue de la Loi. He proposed that the ladies
should move into Brussels likewise; in fact he delicately insisted
on it. Their pleasant relations could thus continue--perhaps--who
knows?--to the end of this War, "to that peace which will make us
friends once more?" It would in any case be most unsafe if, without
his protection, they continued to reside at this secluded farm, on
the edge of the great woods. In fact it could not be thought of, and
another officer was coming here in his place with a considerable
suite. Eventually compensation would be paid to Mrs. Warren for any
damage done to her property.

The two women readily agreed. In the curtailment of their movements
and the absence of normal means of communication their life at Villa
Beau-séjour was belying its name. Their supply of money was coming
to an end; attempts must be made to regularize that position by
drawing on Mrs. Warren's German investments and the capital she
still had in Belgian stock--if that were negotiable at all.

Where should they go? Mrs. Warren still had some lien on the Hotel
Édouard-Sept (the name, out of deference to the Germans, had been
changed to Hotel Impérial). With the influence of the Government
Secretary behind her she might turn out some of its occupants and
regain the use of the old "appartement." This would accommodate
Vivie too. And there was no reason why their friend should not place
his own lodging and office at the same hotel, which was situated
conveniently on the Rue Royale not far from the Governor's residence
in the Rue de la Loi.

So this plan was carried out. And in December, 1914, Mrs. Warren had
some brief flicker of happiness once more, and even Vivie felt the
nightmare had lifted a little. It was life again. Residence at the
Villa Beau-séjour had almost seemed an entombment of the living.
Here, in the heart of Brussels, at any rate, you got some news every
day, even if much of it was false. The food supply was more certain,
there were 700,000 people all about you. True, the streets were very
badly lit at night and fuel was scarce and dear. But you were in
contact with people.

In January, Vivie tried to get into touch with the American
Legation, not only to send news of their condition to England but to
ascertain whether permission might not be obtained for them to leave
Belgium for Holland. But this last plea was said by the American
representative to be unsustainable. For various reasons, the German
Government would not permit it, and he was afraid neither Vivie nor
her mother would get enough backing from the British authorities to
strengthen the American demand. She must stop on in Brussels till
the War came to an end.

"But how are we to live?" asked Vivie, with a catch in her throat.
"Our supply of Belgian money is coming to an end. My mother has
considerable funds invested in England. These she can't touch. She
has other sums in German securities, but soon after the War they
stopped sending her the interest on the plea that she was an
'enemy.' As to the money we have in Belgium, the bank in Brussels
can tell me nothing. What are we to do?" The rather cold-mannered
American diplomatist--it was one of the Secretaries of Legation and
he knew all about Mrs. Warren's past, and regarded Vivie as an
outlaw--said he would try to communicate with her friends in England
and see if through the American Relief organization, funds could be
transmitted for their maintenance. She gave him the addresses of
Rossiter, Praed, and her mother's London bankers.

Vivie now tried to settle down to a life of usefulness. To increase
their resources she gave lessons in English to Belgians and even to
German officers. She offered herself to various groups of Belgian
ladies who had taken up such charities as the Germans permitted. She
also asked to be taken on as a Red Cross helper. But in all these
directions she had many snubs to meet and little encouragement.
Scandal had been busy with her name--the unhappy reputation of her
mother, the peculiar circumstances under which she had left England,
the two or three months shut up at Tervueren with Colonel von
Giesselin, and the very protection he now accorded her and her
mother at the Hotel Impérial. She felt herself looked upon almost as
a pariah, except among the poor of Brussels in the Quartier des
Marolles. Here she was only regarded as a kind Englishwoman,
unwearied in her efforts to alleviate suffering, mental and bodily.


And meantime, silence, a wall of silence as regarded
England--England which she was beginning to look upon as the
paradise from which she had been chased. Not a word had come through
from Rossiter, from Honoria, Bertie Adams, or any of her Suffrage
friends. I can supply briefly what she did not know.

Rossiter at the very outbreak of War had offered his services as one
deeply versed in anatomy and in physiology to the Army Medical
Service, and especially to a great person at the War Office; but had
been told quite cavalierly that they had no need of him. As he
persisted, he had been asked--in the hope that it might get rid of
him--to go over to the United States in company with a writer of
comic stories, a retired actor and a music-hall singer, and lecture
on the causes of the War in the hope of bringing America in. This he
had declined to do, and being rich and happening to know personally
General Armstrong (Honoria's husband) he had been allowed to
accompany him to the vicinity of the front and there put his
theories of grafting flesh and bone to the test; with the ultimate
results that his work became of enormous beneficial importance and
he was given rank in the R.A.M.C. Honoria, racked with anxiety about
her dear "Army," and very sad as to Vivie's disappearance, slaved at
War work as much as her children's demands on her permitted; or even
put her children on one side to help the sick and wounded. Vivie's
Suffrage friends forgot she had ever existed and turned their
attention to propaganda, to recruiting for the Voluntary Army which
our ministers still hoped might suffice to win the War, to the
making of munitions, or aeroplane parts, to land work and to any
other work which might help their country in its need.

And Bertie Adams?

When he realized that his beloved and revered Miss Warren was shut
off from escape in Belgium, could not be heard of, could not be got
at and rescued, he went nearly off his nut.... He reviewed during a
succession of sleepless nights what course he might best pursue. His
age was about thirty-two. He might of course enlist in the army. But
though very patriotic, his allegiance lay first at the feet of Vivie
Warren. If he entered the army, he might be sent anywhere but to the
Belgian frontier; and even if he got near Belgium he could not dart
off to rescue Vivie without becoming a deserter. So he came speedily
to the conclusion that the most promising career he could adopt,
having regard to his position in life and lack of resources, was to
volunteer for foreign service under the Y.M.C.A., and express the
strongest possible wish to be employed as near Belgium as was
practicable. So that by the end of September, 1914, Bertie was
serving out cocoa and biscuits, writing paper and cigarettes, hot
coffee and sausages and cups of bovril to exhausted or resting
soldiers in the huts of the Y.M.C.A., near Ypres. Alternating with
these services, he was, like other Y.M.C.A. men in the same district
and at the same time, acting as stretcher bearer to bring in the
wounded, as amateur chaplain with the dying, as amateur surgeon with
the wounded, as secretary to some distraught officer in high command
whose clerks had all been killed; and in any other capacity if
called upon. But always with the stedfast hope and purpose that he
might somehow reach and rescue Vivie Warren.



CHAPTER XVII

THE GERMANS IN BRUSSELS: 1915-1916


In the early spring of 1915, Vivie, anxious not to see her mother in
utter penury, and despairing of any effective assistance from the
Americans (very much prejudiced against her for the reasons already
mentioned), took her mother's German and Belgian securities of a
face value amounting to about £18,000 and sold them at her Belgian
bank for a hundred thousand francs (£4,000) in Belgian or German
bank notes. She consulted no one, except her mother. Who was there
to consult? She did not like to confide too much to Colonel von
Giesselin, a little too prone in any case to "protect" them. But as
she argued with Mrs. Warren, what else were they to do in their
cruel situation? If the Allies were eventually victorious, Mrs.
Warren could return to England. There at least she had in safe
investments £40,000, ample for the remainder of their lives. If
Germany lost the War, the German securities nominally worth two
hundred thousand marks might become simply waste paper; even now
they were only computed by the bank at a purchase value of about one
fifth what they had stood at before the War. If Germany were
victorious or agreed to a compromise peace, her mother's shares in
Belgian companies might be unsaleable. Better to secure now a lump
sum of four thousand pounds in bank notes that would be legal
currency, at any rate as long as the German occupation lasted. And
as one never knew what might happen, it was safer still to have all
this money (equivalent to a hundred thousand francs), in their own
keeping. They could live even in war time, on such a sum as this
for four, perhaps five years, as they would be very economical and
Vivie would try to earn all she could by teaching. It was useless to
hope they would be able to return to Villa Beau-séjour so long as
the German occupation lasted, or during that time receive a penny in
compensation for the sequestration of the property.

The notes for the hundred thousand francs therefore were carefully
concealed in Mrs. Warren's bedroom at the Hotel Impérial and Vivie
for a few months afterwards felt slightly easier in her mind as to
the immediate future; for, as a further resource, there were also
the jewels and plate at the bank.

They dared hope for nothing from Villa Beau-séjour. Von Giesselin,
after more entreaty than Vivie cared to make, had allowed them with
a special pass and his orderly as escort to go in a military motor
to the Villa in the month of April in order that they might bring
away the rest of their clothes and personal effects of an easily
transportable nature. But the visit was a heart-breaking
disappointment. Their reception was surly; the place was little else
than a barrack of disorderly soldiers and insolent officers. Any
search for clothes or books was a mockery. Nothing was to be found
in the chests of drawers that belonged to them; only stale food and
unnameable horrors or military equipment articles. The garden was
trampled out of recognition. There had been a beautiful vine in the
greenhouse. It was still there, but the first foliage of spring hung
withered and russet coloured. The soldiers, grinning when Vivie
noticed this, pointed to the base of the far spreading branches. It
had been sawn through, and much of the glass of the greenhouse
deliberately smashed.

On their way back, Mrs. Warren, who was constantly in tears,
descried waiting by the side of the road the widow of their
farmer-neighbour, Madame Oudekens. She asked the orderly that they
might stop and greet her. She approached. Mrs. Warren got out of the
car so that she might more privately talk to her in Flemish. Since
her husband's execution, the woman said, she had had to become the
mistress of the sergeant-major who resided with her as the only
means, seemingly, of saving her one remaining young son from exile
in Germany and her daughters from unbearably brutal treatment;
though she added, "As to their virtue, _that_ has long since
vanished; all I ask is that they be not half-killed whenever the
soldiers get drunk. Oh Madame! If you could only say a word to that
Colonel with whom you are living?"

Mrs. Warren dared not translate this last sentence to Vivie, for
fear her daughter forced her at all costs to leave the Hotel
Impérial. Where, if she did, were they to go?

The winter of 1914 had witnessed an appalling degree of
frightfulness in eastern Belgium, the Wallon or French-speaking part
of the country more especially. The Germans seemed to bear a special
grudge against this region, regarding it as doggedly opposed to
absorption into a Greater Germany; whereas they hoped the Flemish
half of the country would receive them as fellow Teutons and even as
deliverers from their former French oppressors. Thousands of old men
and youths, of women and children in the provinces south of the
Meuse had been shot in cold blood; village after village had been
burnt. Scenes of nearly equal horror had taken place between
Brussels and Antwerp, especially around Malines. Von Bissing's
arrival as Governor General was soon signalized by those dreaded Red
Placards on the walls of Brussels, announcing the verdicts of
courts-martial, the condemnation to death of men and women who had
contravened some military regulation.

Yet in spite of this, life went on in Brussels once more--by von
Bissing's stern command--as though the country were not under the
heel of the invader. The theatres opened their doors; the cinemas
had continuous performances; there was Grand Opera; there were
exhibitions of toys, or pictures, and charitable bazaars. Ten days
after the fall of Antwerp _char-à-bancs_ packed with Belgians drove
out of Brussels to visit the scenes of the battles and those
shattered forts, so fatuously deemed impregnable, so feeble in their
resistance to German artillery.

Vivie, even had she wished to do so, could not have joined the
sight-seers. As the subjects of an enemy power she and her mother
had had early in January to register themselves at the Kommandantur
and were there warned that without a special passport they might not
pass beyond the limits of Brussels and its suburbs. Except in the
matter of the farewell visit to the farm at Tervueren, Vivie was
reluctant to ask for any such favour from von Giesselin, though she
was curious to see the condition of Louvain and to ascertain whether
her father still inhabited the monastic house of his order--she had
an idea that he was away in Germany in connection with his schemes
for raising the Irish against the British Government. Von Giesselin
however was becoming sentimentally inclined towards her and she saw
no more of him than was necessary to maintain polite relations. Frau
von Giesselin, for various reasons of health or children, could not
join him at Brussels as so many German wives had done with other of
the high functionaries (to the great embitterment of Brussels
society); and there were times when von Giesselin's protestations of
his loneliness alarmed her.

The King of Saxony had paid a visit to Brussels in the late autumn
of 1914 and had invited this Colonel of his Army to a fastuous
banquet given at the Palace Hotel. The King--whom the still defiant
Brussels Press, especially that unkillable _La Libre Belgique_,
reminded ironically of his domestic infelicity, by enquiring
whether he had brought Signor Toselli to conduct his orchestra--was
gratified that a subject of his should be performing the important
duties of Secretary to the Brussels Government, and his notice of
von Giesselin gave the latter considerable prestige, for a time; an
influence which he certainly exercised as far as he was able in
softening the edicts and the intolerable desire to annoy and
exasperate on the part of the Prussian Governors of province and
kingdom. He even interceded at times for unfortunate British or
French subjects, stranded in Brussels, and sometimes asked Vivie
about fellow-countrymen who sought this intervention.

This caused her complicated annoyances. Seeing there was some hope
in interesting her in their cases, these English governesses,
tutors, clerks, tailors' assistants and cutters, music-hall singers,
grooms appealed to Vivie to support their petitions. They paid her
or her mother a kind of base court, on the tacit assumption that
she--Vivie--had placed Colonel von Giesselin under special
obligations. If in rare instances, out of sheer pity, she took up a
case and von Giesselin granted the petition or had it done in a
higher quarter, his action was clearly a personal favour to her; and
the very petitioners went away, with the ingratitude common in such
cases, and spread the news of Vivie's privileged position at the
Hotel Impérial. It was not surprising therefore that in the small
circles of influential British or American people in Brussels she
was viewed with suspicion or contempt. She supported this odious
position at the Hotel Impérial as long as possible, in the hope that
Colonel von Giesselin when he had realized the impossibility of
using herself or her mother in any kind of intrigue against the
British Government would do what the American Consul General
professed himself unable or unwilling to do: obtain for them
passports to proceed to Holland.

Von Giesselin, from December, 1914, took up among other duties that
of Press Censor and officer in charge of Publicity. After the
occupation of Brussels and the fall of Antwerp, the "patriotic"
Belgian Press had withdrawn itself to France and England or had
stopped publication. Its newspapers had been invited to continue
their functions as organs of news-distribution and public opinion,
but of course under the German Censorate and martial law. As one
editor said to a polite German official: "If I were to continue the
publication of my paper under such conditions, my staff and I would
all be shot in a week."

But the large towns of Belgium could not be left without a Press.
Public Opinion must be guided, and might very well be guided in a
direction favourable to German policy. The German Government had
already introduced the German hour into Belgian time, the German
coinage, the German police system, and German music; but it had no
intention, seemingly, of forcing the German speech on the old
dominions of the House of Burgundy. On the contrary, in their tenure
of Belgium or of North-east France, the Germans seemed desirous of
showing how well they wrote the French language, how ready they were
under a German regime to give it a new literature. Whether or not
they enlisted a few recreants, or made use of Alsatians or
Lorrainers to help them, it is never-the-less remarkable how free as
a rule their written and printed French was from mistakes or German
idioms; though their spoken French always remained Alsatian. It
suffered from that extraordinary misplacement and exchange in the
upper and lower consonants which has distinguished the German
people--that nation of great philologists--since the death of the
Roman Empire. German officers still said "Barton, die fous brie,"
instead of "Pardon, je vous prie" (if they were polite), but they
were quite able to contribute _articles de fond_ to a pretended
national Belgian press. Besides there was a sufficiency of Belgian
"Sans-Patries" ready to come to their assistance: Belgian nationals
of German-Jewish or Dutch-Jewish descent, who in the present
generation had become Catholic Christians as it ranged them with the
best people. They were worthy and wealthy Belgian citizens, but
presumably would not have deeply regretted a change in the political
destinies of Belgium, provided international finance was not
adversely affected. There were also a few Belgian Socialists--a few,
but enough--who took posts under the German provisional government,
on the plea that until you could be purely socialistic it did not
matter under what flag you drew your salary.

Von Giesselin was most benevolently intentioned, in reality a
kind-hearted man, a sentimentalist. Not quite prepared to go to the
stake himself in place of any other victim of Prussian cruelty, but
ready to make some effort to soften hardships and reduce sentences.
(There were others like him--Saxon, Thuringian, Hanoverian,
Württembergisch--or the German occupation of Belgium might have
ended in a vast Sicilian Vespers, a boiling-over of a maddened
people reckless at last of whether they died or not, so long as they
slew their oppressors.) He hoped through the pieces played at the
theatres and through his censored, subsidized press to bring the
Belgians round to a reasonable frame of mind, to a toleration of
existence under the German Empire. But his efforts brought down on
him the unsparing ridicule of the Parisian-minded Bruxellois. They
were prompt to detect his attempts to modify the text of French
operettas so that these, while delighting the lovers of light music,
need not at the same time excite a military spirit or convey the
least allusion of an impertinent or contemptuous kind towards the
Central Powers. Thus the couplets

          "Dans le service de l'Autriche
           Le militaire n'est pas riche"

were changed to

          "Dans le service de la Suisse
           Le militaire n'est pas riche."

These passionate lines of a political exile:

          "A l'étranger un pacte impie
           Vendait mon sang, liait ma foi,
           Mais à present, o ma patrie
           Je pourrai done mourir pour toi!"

were rendered harmless as

          "A l'étranger, en réverie
           Chaque jour je pleurais sur toi
           Mais à present, o ma patrie
           Je penserai sans cesse à toi!"

The pleasure he took in recasting this doggerel--calling in Vivie to
help him as presumably a good scholar in French--got on her nerves,
and she was hard put to it to keep her temper.

Sometimes he proposed that she should take a hand, even become a
salaried subordinate; compose articles for his subsidized paper,
"_L'Ami de l'Ordre_" (nicknamed "L'Ami de L'Ordure" by the
Belgians), "_La Belgique_," "_Le Bruxellois_," "_Vers la Paix_."
He would allow her a very free hand, so long as she did not attack
the Germans or their allies or put in any false news about military
or naval successes of the foes of Central Europe. She might, for
instance, dilate on the cruel manner in which the Woman Suffragists
had been persecuted in England; give a description of forcible
feeding or of police ferocity on Black Friday.

Vivie declined any such propositions. "I have told you already, and
often," she said, "I am deeply grateful for all you have done for
my mother and me. We might have been in a far more uncomfortable
position but for your kindness. But I cannot in any way associate
myself with the German policy here. I cannot pretend for a moment to
condone what you do in this country. If I were a Belgian woman I
should probably have been shot long ago for assassinating some
Prussian official--I can hardly see von Bissing pass in his
automobile, as it is, without wishing I had a bomb. But there it is.
It is no business of mine. As I can't get away, as you won't let us
go out of the country--Switzerland, Holland--and as I don't want to
go mad by brooding, find something for me to do that will occupy my
thoughts: and yet not implicate me with the Germans. Can't I go and
help every day in your hospitals? If you'll continue your kindness
to mother--and believe me"--she broke off--"I _do_ appreciate what
you have done for us. I shall _never_ forget I have met _one true
German gentleman_--if you'll continue to be as kind as before, you
will simply give instructions that mother is in no way disturbed or
annoyed. There are Germans staying here who are odious beyond
belief. If they meet my mother outside her room they ask her
insulting questions--whether she can give them the addresses
of--of--light women ... you know the sort of thing. I have always
been outspoken with you. All I ask is that mother shall be allowed
to stay in her own room while I am out, and have her meals served
there. But the hotel people are beginning to make a fuss about the
trouble, the lack of waiters. A word from you--And then if my mind
was at ease about her I could go out and do some good with the poor
people. They are getting very restive in the Marolles quarter--the
shocking bad bread, the lack of fuel--Most of all I should like to
help in the hospitals. My own countrywomen will not have me in
theirs. They suspect me of being a spy in German pay. Besides, your
von Bissing has ordered now that all Belgian, British, and French
wounded shall be taken to the German Red Cross. Well: if you want
to be kind, give me an introduction there. Surely it would be bare
humanity on your part to let an Englishwoman be with some of those
poor lads who are sorely wounded, dying perhaps"--she broke
down--"The other day I followed two of the motor ambulances along
the Boulevard d'Anspach. Blood dripped from them as they passed, and
I could hear some English boy trying to sing 'Tipperary--'"

"My _tear_ Miss Warren--I will try to do all that you want--You will
not do _anything I_ want, but never mind. I will show you that
Germans can be generous. I will speak about your mother. I am sorry
that there are bad-mannered Germans in the hotel. There are
some--what-you-call 'bounders'--among us, as there are with you. It
is to be regretted. As to our Red Cross hospitals, I know of a
person who can make things easy for you. I will write a letter to my
cousin--like me she is a Saxon and comes from Leipzig--Minna von
Stachelberg. She is but a few months widow, widow of a Saxon
officer, Graf von Stachelberg who was killed at Namur. Oh! it was
very sad; they were but six months married. Afterwards she came here
to work in our Red Cross--I think now she is in charge of a ward..."

So Vivie found a few months' reprieve from acute sorrow and bitter
humiliation. Gräfin von Stachelberg was as kind in her way as her
cousin the Colonel, but much less sentimental. In fact she was of
that type of New German woman, taken all too little into account by
our Press at the time of the War. There were many like her of the
upper middle class, the professorial class, the lesser nobility to
be found not only in Leipzig but in Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfort,
Halle, Bonn, München, Hannover, Bremen, Jena, Stuttgart,
Cologne--nice to look at, extremely modern in education and good
manners, tasteful in dress, speaking English marvellously well,
highly accomplished in music or with some other art, advocates of
the enfranchisement of women. The War came just too soon. Had Heaven
struck down that epilept Emperor and a few of his ministers, had
time been given for the New German Woman to assert herself in
politics, there would have been no invasion of Belgium, no
maltreatment of Servia. Germany would have ranged herself with the
Western powers and Western culture.

Minna von Stachelberg read her cousin's note and received the worn
and anxious-looking Vivie like a sister ... like a comrade, she
said, in the War for the Vote ... "which we will resume, my dear, as
soon as this dreadful Man's war is over, only we won't fight with
the same weapons."

But though kind, she was not gushing and she soon told Vivie that in
nursing she was a novice and had much to learn. She introduced her
to the German and Belgian surgeons, and then put her to a series of
entirely menial tasks from which she was to work her way up by
degrees. But if any English soldier were there and wanted sympathy,
she should be called in to his ward ... From that interview Vivie
returned almost happy.

In the hot summer months she would sometimes be allowed to accompany
Red Cross surgeons and nurses to the station, when convoys of
wounded were expected, if there was likelihood that British soldiers
would be amongst them. These would cheer up at the sound of her
pleasant voice speaking their tongue. Yet she would witness on such
occasions incongruous incidents of German brutality. Once there came
out of the train an English and a French soldier, great friends
evidently. They were only slightly wounded and the English soldier
stretched his limbs cautiously to relieve himself of cramp. At that
moment a German soldier on leave came up and spat in his face. The
Frenchman felled the German with a resounding box on the ear.
Alarums! Excursions! A German officer rushed up to enquire while the
Frenchman was struggling with two colossal German military policemen
and the Englishman was striving to free him. Vivie explained to the
officer what had occurred. He bowed and saluted: seized the
soldier-spitter by the collar and kicked him so frightfully that
Vivie had to implore him to cease.

Moreover the Red Placards of von Bissing were of increasing
frequency. As a rule Vivie only heard what other people said of
them, and that wasn't very much, for German spies were everywhere,
inviting you to follow them to the dreaded Kommandantur in the Rue
de la Loi--a scene of as much in the way of horror and mental
anguish as the Conciergerie of Paris in the days of the Red Terror.
But some cheek-blanching rumour she had heard on a certain Monday in
October caused her to look next day on her way home at a fresh Red
Placard which had been posted up in a public place. The daylight had
almost faded, but there was a gas lamp which made the notice
legible. It ran:

                        CONDAMNATIONS

     Par jugement du 9 Octobre, 1915, le tribunal de campagne a
     prononcé les condamnations suivantes pour trahison commise
     pendant l'état de guerre (pour avoir fait passer des recrues
     à l'ennemi):

     1° Philippe BAUCQ, architecte à Bruxelles;

     2° Louise THULIEZ, professeur à Lille;

     3° Edith CAVELL, directrice d'un institut médical à
     Bruxelles;

     4° Louis SEVERIN, pharmacien à Bruxelles;

     5° Comtesse JEANNE DE BELLEVILLE, à Montignies.

                       À LA PEINE DE MORT

       *       *       *       *       *

Vivie then went on to read with eyes that could hardly take in the
words a list of other names of men and women condemned to long terms
of hard labour for the same offence--assisting young Belgians to
leave the Belgium that was under German occupation. And further,
the information that of the five condemned to death, _Philip Bauck_
and _Edith Cavell_ had already been _executed_.

       *       *       *       *       *

The monsters! Oh that von Bissing. How gladly she would die if she
might first have the pleasure of killing him! That pompous old man
of seventy-one with the blotched face, who had issued orders that
wherever he passed in his magnificent motor he was to be saluted
with Eastern servility, who boasted of his "tender heart," so that
he issued placards about this time punishing severely all who split
the tongues of finches to make them sing better. Edith Cavell--she
did not pause to consider the fate of patriotic Belgian women--but
Edith Cavell, directress of a nursing home in Brussels, known far
and wide for her goodness of heart. She had held aloof from Vivie,
but was that to be wondered at when there was so much to make her
suspect--living, seemingly, under the protection of a German
official? But the very German nurses and doctors at the Red Cross
hospital had spoken of her having given free treatment in her Home
to Germans who needed immediate operations, and for whom there was
no room in the military hospitals--And for such a trivial offence as
_that_--and to kill her before there could be any appeal for
reconsideration or clemency. Oh _what_ a nation! She would tend
their sick and wounded no more.

She hurried on up the ascent of the Boulevard of the Botanic Garden
on her way to the Rue Royale. She burst into von Giesselin's office.
He was not there. A clerk looking at her rather closely said that
the Herr Oberst was packing, was going away. Vivie scarcely took in
the meaning of his German phrases. She waited there, her eyes
ablaze, feeling she must tell her former friend and protector what
she thought of his people before she renounced any further
relations with him.

Presently he entered, his usually rather florid face pale with
intense sorrow or worry, his manner preoccupied. She burst out:
"_Have_ you seen the Red Placard they have just put up?"

"What about?" he said wearily.

"The assassination by your Government of Edith Cavell, a crime for
which England--yes, and America--will _never_ forgive you.... From
this moment I--"

"But have you not heard what has happened to _me_? I am _dismissed_
from my post as Secretary, I am ordered to rejoin my regiment in
Lorraine--It is very sad about your Miss Cavell. I knew nothing of
it till this morning when I received my own dismissal--And _oh_ my
dear Miss, I fear we shall never meet again."

"Why are they sending you away?" asked Vivie drily, compelled to
interest herself in his affairs since they so closely affected her
own and her mother's.

"Because of this," said von Giesselin, nearly in tears, pulling from
a small portfolio a press cutting. "Do you remember a fortnight ago
I told you some one, some Belgian had written a beautiful poem and
sent it to me for one of our newspapers? I showed it to you at the
time and you said--you said 'it was well enough, but it did not seem
to have much point.'" Vivie did remember having glanced very
perfunctorily at some effusion in typewriting which had seemed
unobjectionable piffle. She hadn't cared two straws whether he
accepted it or not, only did not want to be too markedly
indifferent. Now she took it up and still read it through
uncomprehendingly, her thoughts absent with the fate of Miss Cavell.
"Well! what is all the fuss about? I still see nothing in it. It is
just simply the ordinary sentimental flip-flap that a French
versifier can turn out by the yard."

"It is _far_ worse than that! It is a horrible--what the French
call 'acrostiche,' a deadly insult to our people. And I never saw
it, the Editor never saw it, and you, even, never guessed its real
meaning![1] The original, as you say, was in typewriting, and at the
bottom was the name and address of a very well-known homme de
lettres: and the words: 'Offert à la rédaction de l'Ami de L'Ordre.'
He say now, _never never_ did he send it. It was a forgery. When we
came to understand what it meant all the blame fall on me. I am sent
back to the Army--I shall be killed before Verdun, so good-bye dear
Miss--We have been good friends. Oh this War: this d-r-r-eadful
War--It has spoilt everything. Now we can never be friends with
England again."

  [Footnote 1: I have obtained a copy and give it here as it had an
  almost historical importance in the events of the German occupation.
  But the reader must interpret its meaning for himself.

        LA GUERRE

        Ma soeur, vous souvient-il qu'aux jours de notre enfance,
        En lisant les hauts fails de l'histoire de France,
        Remplis d'admiration pour nos frères Gaulois,
        Des généraux fameux nous vantions les exploits?

        En nos âmes d'enfants, les seuls noms des victoires
        Prenaient un sens mystique evocateur de gloires;
        On ne rêvait qu'assauts et combats; a nos yeux
        Un général vainqueur etait l'égal des dieux.

        Rien ne semblait ternir l'éclat de ces conquétes.
        Les batailles prenaient des allures de fêtes
        Et nous ne songions pas qu'aux hurrahs triomphants
        Se mêlaient les sanglots des mères, des enfants.

        Ah! nous la connaissons, hélas, l'horrible guerre:
        Le fléau qui punit les crimes de la terre,
        Le mot qui fait trembler les mères à genoux
        Et qui seme le deuil et la mort parmi nous!

        Mais ou sqnt les lauriers que réserve l'Histoire
        A celui qui demain forcera la Victoire?
        Nul ne les cueillira: les lauriers sont flétris
        Seul un cypres s'élève aux torubes de nos fils.]



He gave way to much emotion. Vivie, though still dazed with the
reverberating horror of Edith Cavell's execution, tried to regain
her mind balance and thank him for the kindness he had shown them.
But it was now necessary to see her mother who might also be
undergoing a shock. As she walked up to their bedroom she reflected
that the departure of von Giesselin would have to be followed by
their own exile to some other lodging. They would share in his
disgrace.

The next morning in fact the Belgian manager of the hotel with many
regrets gave them a month's warning. The hotel would be required for
some undefined need of the German Government and he had been told no
one could be lodged there who was not furnished with a permit from
the Kommandantur.

For three weeks Vivie sought in vain for rooms. Every suitable place
was either full or else for reasons not given they were refused. She
was reduced to eating humble pie, to writing once more to Gräfin von
Stachelberg and imparting the dilemma in which they were placed. Did
this kind lady know where a lodging could be obtained? She herself
could put up with any discomfort, but her mother was ill. If she
could help them, Vivie would humbly beg her pardon for her angry
letter of three weeks ago and resume her hospital work. Minna von
Stachelberg made haste to reply that there were some things better
not discussed in writing: if Vivie could come and see her at six one
evening, when she had a slight remission from work--

Vivie went. Out of hearing, Gräfin von Stachelberg--who, however, to
facilitate intercourse, begged Vivie to call her "Minna,"--"We may
all be dead, my dear, before long of blood-poisoning, bombs from
your aeroplanes, a rising against us in the Marolles quarter--" said
very plainly what she thought of Edith Cavell's execution. "It makes
me think of Talleyrand--was it not?--who said 'It is a blunder;
worse than a crime' ... these terrible old generals, they know
nothing of the world outside Germany." As to her cousin, Gottlieb
von Giesselin--"Really dear, if in this time of horrors one _dare_
laugh at anything, I feel--oh it is too funny, but also, too
'schokking,' as we suppose all English women say. Yet of course I am
sad about him, because he is a good, kind man, and I know his wife
will be very very unhappy when she hears--And it means he will die,
for certain. He must risk his life to--to--regain his position, and
he will be shot before Verdun in one of those dreadful assaults."
Then she told Vivie where she might find rooms, where at any rate
she could use her name as a reference. Also: "Stay away at present
and look after your mother. When she is quite comfortably settled,
come back and work with me--here--it is at any rate the only way in
which you can see and help your countrymen."

One day in November when their notice at the hotel was nearly
expired, Vivie proposed an expedition to her mother. They would walk
slowly--because Mrs. Warren now got easily out of breath--up to the
Jardin Bontanique; Vivie would leave her there in the Palm House. It
was warm; it was little frequented; there were seats and the
Belgians in charge knew Mrs. Warren of old time. Vivie would then go
on along the inner Boulevards by tram and look at some rooms
recommended by Minna von Stachelberg in the Quartier St. Gilles.

Mrs. Warren did as she was told. Vivie left her seated in one of the
long series of glass houses overlooking Brussels from a terrace,
wherein are assembled many glories of the tropics: palms, dracaenas,
yuccas, aloes, tree-ferns, cycads, screw-pines, and bananas:
promising to be back in an hour's time.

Somehow as she sat there it seemed to Mrs. Warren it was going for
her to be the last hour of fully conscious life--fully conscious and
yet a curious mingling in it of the past and present. She had sat
here in the middle of the 'seventies with Vivie's father, the young
Irish seminarist, her lover for six months. He had a vague interest
in botany, and during his convalescence after his typhoid fever,
when she was still his nurse, not yet his mistress, she used to
bring him here to rest and to enjoy the aspect of these ferns and
palms. What a strange variety of men she had known. Some she had
loved, more or less; some she had exploited frankly. Some--like
George Crofts and Baxendale Strangeways--she had feared, though in
her manner she had tried to conceal her dread of their violence.
Well! she had taken a lot of money off the rich, but she had never
plundered the poor. Her greatest conquest--and that when she was a
woman of forty--was the monarch of this very country which now lay
crushed under the Kaiser's heel. For a few months he had taken a
whimsical liking to her handsome face, well-preserved figure, and
amusing cockney talk. But he had employed her rather as the mistress
of his menus plaisirs, as his recruiting agent. He had rewarded her
handsomely. Now it was all in the dust: her beautiful Villa
Beau-séjour a befouled barrack for German soldiers. She herself a
homeless woman, repudiated by the respectable British and Americans
more or less interned in this unhappy city.

Not much more than a year ago she had been one of the most respected
persons in Brussels, with a large income derived from safe
investments. Now all she had for certain was something over three
thousand pounds in bank notes that might turn out next month to be
worthless paper. And was she certain even of them? Had Vivie before
they left the hotel remembered to put some, at least, of this
precious sum on her person? Suppose, whilst they were out, looking
for a fresh dwelling place, the hotel servants or the police raided
her bedroom and found the little hoard of notes? This imagined
danger made her want to cry. They were so friendless now, she in
particular felt so completely deserted. Had she deserved this
punishment by Fate? Was there after all a God who minded much about
the sex foolishnesses and punished you for irregularities--for
having lovers in your youth, for selling your virtue and inducing
other women to sell theirs? Was she going to die soon and was there
a hereafter?' She burst out crying in an abandonment of grief.

An elderly gardener who had been snipping and sweeping in the next
house came up and vaguely recognized her as a well-known
Bruxelloise, a good-natured lady, a foreigner who, strange to say,
spoke Flemish. "Ach," he said, looking out where he thought lay the
source of her tears, at the dim view of beautiful Brussels through
the steamy glass, "Onze arme, oude Brüssel." Mrs. Warren wept
unrestrainedly. "Madame is ill?" he enquired. Mrs. Warren
nodded--she felt indeed very ill and giddy. He left her and returned
shortly with a small glass of Schnapps. "If Madame is faint--?" She
sipped the cordial and presently felt better. Then they talked of
old times. Madame had kept the Hotel Leopold II in the Rue
Royale? Ah, _now_ he placed her. A _superb_ establishment, always
well-spoken of. Her self-respect returned a little. "Yes," she said,
"never a complaint! I looked after those girls like a mother, indeed
I did. Many a one married well from there." The gardener
corroborated her statement, and added that her _clientèle_ had been
of the most chic. He had a private florist's business of his own and
he had been privileged often to send bouquets to the pensionnaires
of Madame. But Madame was not alone surely in these sad times. Had
he not seen her come here with a handsome English lady who was said
to have been--to have been--fortunately--_au mieux_ with one of the
German officials?

"_That_ was my daughter," Mrs. Warren informed him with pride....
"She is a lady who has taken a high degree at an English University.
She has been an important person in the English feminist movement.
When this dreadful war is over, I and my daughter will--"

At this juncture Vivie entered. "_Mother_, I hope you haven't
missed me, haven't been unwell?" she said, looking rather
questioningly at the little glass of Schnapps, only half of which
had been drunk.

"Well yes, dear, I have. _Terrible_ low spirits and all swimmy-like.
Thought I was going to faint. But this man here has been so kind
"--her tears flowed afresh--"We've bin talking of old times; he used
to know me before--"

_Vivie_: "Quite so. But I think, dear, we had better be going back.
I want to talk to you about the new rooms I've seen. Are you equal
to walking? If not perhaps this kind man would try to get us a
cab...?"

But Mrs. Warren said it was no distance, only round the corner, and
she could well walk. When they got back she would go and lie down.
Vivie, reading her mother's thoughts, pressed a five-franc note into
the gardener's not reluctant palm, and they regained the Rue Royale.

But just as they were passing through the revolving door of the
Hotel Impérial, a German who had been installed as manager came up
with two soldiers and said explosively: "Heraus! Foutez-nous le
camp! Aout you go! Don't show your face here again!"

"But," said Vivie, "our notice doesn't expire till the end of this
week...!"

"Das macht nichts. The rooms are wanted and I won't have you on the
premises. Off you go, or these soldiers shall take you both round to
the Kommandantur."

"But our luggage? _Surely_ you will let me go up to our room and
pack it--and take it away? We..."

"Your luggage has been packed and is in the corridor. If you send
round for it, it shall be delivered to your messenger. But you are
not to stop on the premises another minute. You understand?" he
almost shrieked.

"But--"

For answer, the soldiers took them by the shoulders and whirled
them through the revolving door on to the pavement, where a crowd
began to collect, as it does in peace or war if you cough twice or
sneeze three times in Brussels. "Englische Hure! Englische
Küpplerin," shouted the soldiers as they retreated and locked the
revolving door. Mrs. Warren turned purple and swayed. Vivie caught
her round the waist with her strong arm.... Thus was Mrs. Warren
ejected from the once homely inn which she had converted by her
energy, management and capital into the second most magnificent
hostelry of Brussels; thus was Vivie expelled from the place of her
birth....

Hearing the shouting and seeing the crowd a Belgian gendarme came
up. To him Vivie said, "Si vous êtes Chrétien et pas Allemand--"
"Prenez garde, Madame," he said warningly--"Vous m'aiderez à porter
ma mère à quelqu' endroit ou elle peut se remettre..."

He assisted her to carry the inert old woman across the street and a
short distance along the opposite pavement. Here, there was a
pleasant, modest-looking tea-shop with the name of Walcker over the
front, and embedded in the plate glass were the words "Tea Rooms."
These of course dated from long before the war, when the best
Chinese tea was only four francs the demi-kilo and the fashion for
afternoon tea had become established in Brussels. Vivie and her
mother had often entered Walcker's shop in happier days for a cup of
tea and delicious forms of home-made pastry. Besides the cakes,
which in pre-war times were of an excellence rarely equalled, they
had been drawn to the pleasant-looking serving woman. She was so
English in appearance, though she only spoke French and Flemish.
Behind the shop was a cosy little room where the more intimate
clients were served with tea; a room with a look-out into a little
square of garden. Thither Mrs. Warren was carried or supported. She
regained consciousness slightly as she was placed on a chair,
opened her eyes, and said "Thank you, my dears." Then her head fell
over to one side and she was dead--seemingly....

The _agent de police_ went away to fetch a doctor and to disperse
the crowd of _ketjes_[1] and loafers which had transferred itself
from the hotel to the tea-shop. The shop woman, who was one of those
angels of kindness that turn up unexpectedly in the paths of unhappy
people, called in a stout serving wench from the kitchen, and the
three of them carried Mrs. Warren out of the inner tea-room into the
back premises and a spare bedroom. Here she was laid on the bed,
partially undressed and all available and likely restoratives
applied.

  [Footnote 1: Street urchins of Brussels. How they harassed the
  Germans and maddened them by mimicking their military manoeuvres!]

The doctor when he came pronounced her dead, thought it was probably
an effusion of blood on the brain but couldn't be certain till he
had made an autopsy.

"What _am_ I to do?" said Vivie thinking aloud....

"Why, stay here till all the formalities are over and you can find
rooms elsewhere," said Mme. Trouessart, the owner-servant of the
tea-shop. "I have another spare room. For the moment my locataires
are gone. I know you both very well by sight, you were clients of
ours in the happy days before the War. Madame votre mère was, I
think, the gérante of the Hotel Édouard-Sept when I first came to
manage here. Since then, you have often drunk my tea. Je me nomme
'Trouessart' c'est le nom de mon mari qui est ... qui est--Vous
pouvez diviner où il est, où est à present tout Belge loyal qui peut
servir. Le nom Walcker? C'était le nom de nom père, et de plus est,
c'était un nom Anglais transformé un peu en Flamand. Mon
arrière-grand-père etait soldat Anglais. Il se battait à Waterloo.
For me, I spik no English--or ver' leetle."

She went on to explain, whilst the doctors occupied themselves with
their gruesome task, and Vivie was being persuaded to take some
nourishment, that her great grandfather had been a soldier servant
who had married a Belgian woman and settled down on the site of this
very shop a hundred years ago. He and his wife had even then
made a specialty of tea for English tourists. She, his great
grand-daughter, had after her marriage to Monsieur Trouessart
carried on the business under the old name--Walker, made to look
Flemish as Walcker.

Vivie when left alone suddenly thought of the money question. She
remembered then that before going out to look for rooms she had
transferred half the notes from their hiding-place to an inner
pocket. They were still there. But what about her luggage and her
mother's, and the remainder of the money? In her distress she wrote
to Gräfin von Stachelberg. Minna came over from her hospital at half
past six in the evening. By that time the doctor had given the
necessary certificate of the cause of death, and an undertaker had
come on the scene to make his preparations.

Minna went over to the Hotel Impérial with Vivie. Appearing in her
Red Cross uniform, she was admitted, announced herself as the Gräfin
von Stachelberg, and demanded to know what justification the manager
could offer for his extraordinary brutality towards these English
ladies, the result of which had been the death of the elder lady.
The manager replied that inasmuch as the All Highest himself was to
arrive that very evening to take up his abode at the Hotel Impérial,
the hotel premises had been requisitioned, etc., etc. He still
refused absolutely to allow Vivie to proceed to her room and look
for her money. She might perhaps be allowed to do so when the
Emperor was gone. As to her luggage he would have it sent over to
the tea-shop. (The money, it might be noted, she never recovered.
There were many things also missing from her mother's trunks and no
satisfaction was ever obtained.)

So there was Vivie, one dismal, rainy November evening in 1915;
homeless, her mother lying dead in a room of this tea-shop, and in
her own pocket only a matter of thirty thousand francs to provide
for her till the War was over. A thousand pounds in fluctuating
value was all that was left of a nominal twenty thousand of the year
before.

But the financial aspect of the case for the time being did not
concern her. The death of her mother had been a stunning shock, and
when she crossed over to the hotel--what irony, by the bye, to think
she had been born there thirty-nine years ago, in the old inn that
had preceded the twice rebuilt hotel!--when she crossed the street
with Minna, it had been with blazing, tearless eyes and the desire
to take the hotel manager and his minions by the coat collar, fling
_them_ into the street, and assert her right to go up to her room.
But now her violence was spent and she was a broken, weeping woman
as she sat all night by the bedside of her dead mother, holding the
cold hand, imprinting kisses on the dead face which was now that of
a saintly person with nothing of the reprobate in its lineaments.

       *       *       *       *       *

The burial for various reasons had to take place in the Cemetery of
St. Josse-ten-Noode, near the shuddery National Shooting Range where
Edith Cavell and numerous Belgian patriots had recently been
executed. Minna von Stachelberg left her hospital, with some one
else in charge, and insisted on accompanying Vivie to the interment.
This might have been purely "laïc"; not on account of any harsh
dislike to the religious ceremony on Vivie's part; only due to the
fact that she knew no priest or pastor. But there appeared at the
grave-side to make a very suitable and touching discourse and to
utter one or two heartfelt prayers, a Belgian Baptist minister, a
relation of Mme. Trouessart.

Waterloo left many curious things behind it. Not only a tea-shop or
two; but a Nonconformist nucleus, that intermarried, as Sergeant
Walker or Walcker had done, with Belgian women and left descendants
who in the third generation--and by inherent vigour, thrift,
matrimony and conversion--had built up quite a numerous
congregation, which even grew large enough and rich enough to
maintain a mission of its own in Congoland. Kind Mme. Trouessart
(née Walcker), distressed and unusually moved at the sad
circumstances of Mrs. Warren's death, had called in her uncle the
Baptist pastor (who also in some unexplained way seemed to hold a
brief for the Salvation Army). He prayed silently by the death-bed
which, under the circumstances, was more tactful than open
intercession. He helped greatly over all the formalities of the
funeral, and he took upon himself the arrangement of the ceremony,
so that everything was done decorously, and certainly to the
satisfaction of the Belgians, who attended. Such people would be
large-minded in religion--you might be Protestant, if you were not
Catholic, or you might be Jewish; but a funeral without some outward
sign of faith and hope would have puzzled and distressed them.

To Vivie's great surprise, there was a considerable attendance at
the ceremony. She had expected no more than the company of Minna--an
unprofessing but real Christian, if ever there were one, and the
equally Christian if equally hedonist Mme. Trouessart. But there
came in addition quite a number of shopkeepers from the Rue Royale,
the Rues de Schaerbeek, du Marais, de Lione, and de l'Association,
with whom Mrs. Warren had dealt in years gone by. "C'etait une dame
_très_ convenable," said one purveyor, and the others agreed. "Elle
me paya écus sonnants," said another, "et toujours sans
marchander." There was even present a more distinguished
acquaintance of the past: a long-retired Commissaire de Police of
the Quartier in which Mrs. Warren's hotel was situated.

He appeared in the tightly-buttoned frock-coat of civil life, with a
minute disc of some civic decoration in his button hole, and an
incredibly tall chimney-pot hat. He came to render his _respectueux
hommages_ to the maîtresse-femme who had conducted her business
within the four corners of the law, "sans avoir maille à partir avec
la police des moeurs."

Mrs. Warren at least died with the reputation of one who promptly
paid her bills; and the whole _assistance_, as it walked slowly back
to Brussels, recalled many a deed of kindness and jovial charity on
the part of the dead Englishwoman.

        *       *       *       *       *

Vivie, on sizing up her affairs, got Monsieur Walcker, the Baptist
pasteur, to convey a letter to the American Consulate General.
Walcker was used to such missions as these, of which the German
Government was more or less cognizant. The Germans, among their many
contradictory features, had a great respect for religion, a great
tolerance as to its forms. They not only appreciated the difference
between Jews and Christians, Catholics and Lutherans, but between
the Church of England and the various Free Churches of Britain and
America. The many people whom they sentenced to death must all have
their appropriate religious consolation before facing the firing
party. Catholics, Lutherans and Calvinists were all provided for;
there was a Church of England chaplain for the avowed Anglicans; but
what was to be done for the Free Churches and Nonconformist sects of
the Anglo-Saxons? They were not represented by any captive pastor;
so in default this much respected Monsieur Walcker, the Belgian
Baptist, was called in to minister to the Nonconformist mind in its
last agony. He therefore held a quasi-official position and was
often entrusted with missions which would have been dealt with
punitorily on the part of any one else. Consequently he was able to
deliver Vivie's communication to the American Consul-General with
some probability of its being sent on. It contained no further
appeal to American intervention than this: that the Consul-General
would try to convey to England the news of her mother's death to
such-and-such solicitors, and to Lewis Maitland Praed A.R.A. in Hans
Place.

She went to the Brussels bank a fortnight after her mother's death
whilst still availing herself of the hospitality of Madame
Trouessart: to withdraw the jewellery and plate which she had
deposited there on her mother's account. But there she found herself
confronted with the red tape of the Latin which is more formidable,
even, than that of the land of Dora at the present day. These
deposited articles were held on the order of Mrs. Warren; they could
not be given up till her will was proved and letters of
administration had been granted. So _that_ small resource in funds
was withheld, at any rate till some time after peace had been
declared. However she had a thousand pounds (in notes) between her
and penury, and the friendship of Minna von Stachelberg. She would
resume her evening lessons in English--Madame Trouessart had found
her several pupils--and she would lodge--as they kindly invited her
to do--with the Baptist pastor and his wife in the Rue Haute. And
she would help Minna at the hospital, and hope to be rewarded with
the opportunity of bringing comfort and consolation to the wounded
British prisoners.

Thus, with no unbearable misery, she passed the year 1916. There
were short commons in the way of food, and the cold was sometimes
cruel. But Madame Walcker was a wonderful cook and could make soup
from a sausage skewer, and heaped _édredons_ on Vivie's bed. Vivie
sighed a little over the Blue Placards which announced endless
German victories by land and sea; and she gasped over the dreadful
Red Placards with their lists of victims sentenced to death by the
military courts. She ground her teeth over the announcement of
Gabrielle Petit's condemnation, and behind the shut door of Minna's
small sitting-room--and she only shut the door not to compromise
Minna--she raved over the judicial murder of this Belgian heroine,
who was shot, as was Edith Cavell, for nothing more than assisting
young Belgians to escape from German-occupied Belgium.

She witnessed the air-raids of the Allies, when only comforting
papers were dropped on Brussels city, but bombs on the German
aerodromes outside; and she also saw the Germans turn their guns
from the aeroplanes--which soared high out of their reach or skimmed
below range--on to thickly-inhabited streets of the poorer quarters,
to teach them to cheer the air-craft of the Allies!

She beheld--or she was told of--many acts of rapine, considered
cruelty and unreasoning ferocity on the part of German officials or
soldiers; yet saw or heard of acts and episodes of unlooked-for
kindness, forbearance and sympathy from the same hated people. Von
Giesselin, after all, was a not uncommon type; and as to Minna von
Stachelberg, she was a saint of the New Religion, the Service of
Man.



CHAPTER XVIII

THE BOMB IN PORTLAND PLACE


Mrs. Rossiter said to herself in 1915 that she had scarcely known a
happy day, or even hour, since the War began. In the first place
Michael had again shown violence of temper with ministers of state
over the release from prison of "that" Miss Warren--"a convict doing
a sentence of hard labour." And then, when he had got her released,
and gone himself with their beautiful new motor--whatever _could_
the chauffeur have thought?--to meet her at the prison gates,
_there_ he was, afterwards, worrying himself over the War: not
content as she was, as most of her friends were, as the newspapers
were, to leave it all to Lord Kitchener and Mr. Asquith, Sir Edward
Grey, and even Mr. Lloyd George--though the latter had made some
rather foolish and exaggerated speeches about Alcohol. Michael, if
he went on like this, would _never_ get his knighthood!

Then when Michael had at last, thanks to General Armstrong, found
his right place and was accomplishing marvels--the papers said--as a
"mender of the maimed"--here was she left alone in Portland Place
with hardly any one to speak to, and all her acquaintances--she now
realized they were scarcely her friends--too much occupied with war
work to spend an afternoon in discussing nothing very important over
a sumptuous tea, still served by a butler and footman.

Presently, too, the butler left to join the Professor in France and
the footman enlisted, and the tea had to be served by a _distraite_
parlour-maid, with her eye on a munitions factory--so that she
might be "in it"--and her heart in the keeping of the footman, who,
since he had gone into khaki, was irresistible.

Mrs. Rossiter of course said, in 1914, that she would take up war
work. She subscribed most handsomely to the Soldiers' and Sailors'
Families' Association, to the Red Cross, to the Prince of Wales's
Fund (one of the unsolved war-time mysteries ... what's become of
it?), to the Cigarette Fund, the 1914 Christmas Plum Pudding Fund,
the Blue Cross, the Purple Cross, the Green Cross funds; to the
outstandingly good work at St. Dunstan's and at Petersham--(I am
glad she gave a Hundred pounds each to _them_); and to the
French, Belgian, Russian, Italian, Serbian, Portuguese and Japanese
Flag Days and to Our Own Day; besides enriching a number of
semi-fraudulent war charities which had alluring titles.

But if, from paying handsomely to all these praise-worthy endeavours
to mitigate the horrors of war, she proceeded to render personal
service, she became the despair of the paid organizers and
business-like workers. She couldn't add and she couldn't subtract or
divide with any certainty of a correct result; she couldn't spell
the more difficult words or remember the right letters to put after
distinguished persons' names when she addressed envelopes in her
large, childish handwriting; she couldn't be trusted to make
enquiries or to detect fraudulent appeals. She lost receipts and
never grasped the importance of vouchers; she forgot to fill up
counterfoils, or if reminded filled them up "from memory" so that
they didn't tally; she signed her name, if there was any choice of
blank spaces, in quite the wrong place.

So, invariably, tactful secretaries or assistant secretaries were
told off to explain to her--ever so nicely--that "she was no
business woman" (this, to the daughter of wholesale manufacturers,
sounded rather flattering), and that though she was invaluable as a
"name," as a patroness, or one of eighteen Vice Presidents, she was
of no use whatever as a worker.

She had no country house to place at the disposal of the Government
as a convalescent home. Michael after a few experiments forbade her
offering any hospitality at No. 1 Park Crescent to invalid officers.
Such as were entrusted to her in the spring of 1915 soon found that
she was--as they phrased it--"a pompous little, middle-class fool,"
wielding no authority. They larked in the laboratory with Red Cross
nurses, broke specimens, and did very unkind and noisy things ...
besides smoking in both the large _and_ the small dining-rooms. So,
after the summer of 1915, she lived very much alone, except that she
had the Adams children from Marylebone to spend the day with her
occasionally.

Poor Mrs. Adams, though a valiant worker, was very downcast and
unhappy. She confided to Mrs. Rossiter that although she dearly
loved her Bert--"and a better husband I defy you to find"--he never
seemed all hers. "Always so wrapped up in that Miss Warren or 'er
cousin the barrister." And no sooner had war broken out than off he
was to France, as a kind of missionary, she believed--the Young
Men's Christian Something or other; "though before the War he didn't
seem particular stuck on religion, and it was all she could do to
get him sometimes to church on a Sunday morning. Oh yes: she got 'er
money all right; and she couldn't say too much of Mr. and Mrs.
Rossiter's kindness. There was Bert, not doin' a stroke of work for
the Professor, and yet his pay going on all the same. Indeed she was
putting money by, because Bert was kep' out there, and all found."

However his two pretty children were some consolation to Mrs.
Rossiter, whom they considered as a very grand lady and one that was
lavishly kind.

Mrs. Rossiter tried sometimes in 1915 having working parties in her
house or in the studio; and if she could attract workers gave them
such elaborate lunches and plethoric teas that very little work was
done, especially as she herself loved a long, aimless gossip about
the Royal Family or whether Lord Kitchener had ever _really_ been in
love. Or she tried, since she was a poor worker herself--her only
jersey and muffler were really finished by her maid--reading aloud
to the knitters or stitchers, preferably from the works of Miss
Charlotte Yonge or some similar novelist of a later date. But that
was found to be too disturbing to their sense of the ludicrous. For
she read very stiltedly, with a strange exotic accent for the love
passages or the death scenes. As Lady Victoria Freebooter said, she
would have been _priceless_ at a music-hall matinée which was
raising funds for war charities, if only she could have been induced
to read passages from Miss Yonge in _that_ voice for a quarter of an
hour. Even the Queen would have had to laugh.

But as that could not be brought off, it was decided that working
parties at her house led to too much giddiness from suppressed
giggles or torpor from too much food. So she relapsed once more into
loneliness. Unfortunately air-raids were now becoming events of
occasional fright and anxiety in London, and this deterred Cousin
Sophie from Darlington, Cousin Matty from Leeds, Joseph's wife from
Northallerton or old, married schoolfellows from other northern or
midland towns coming to partake of her fastuous hospitality. Also,
they all seemed to be busy, either over their absent husbands'
business, or their sons', or because they were plunged in war work
themselves. "And really, in these times, I couldn't stand Linda for
more than five minutes," one of them said.

As to the air-raids, she was not greatly alarmed at them. Of course
it was very uncomfortable having London so dark at night, but then
she only went out in the afternoon, and never in the evening. And
the Germans seemed to be content and discriminating enough not to
bomb what she called "the resi_den_tial" parts of London. The
nearest to Portland Place of their attentions was Hampstead or
Bloomsbury. "We are protected, my dear, by the open spaces of
Regent's Park. They wouldn't like to waste their bombs on poor me!"

However her maid didn't altogether like the off chance of the
Germans or our air-craft guns making a mistake and trespassing on
the residential parts of London, so she persuaded her mistress to
spend part of the winter of 1915-16 at Bournemouth. Here she was not
happy and far lonelier even than in London. She did not like to send
all that way for the Adams children, she had a parlour suite all to
herself at the hotel, and was timid about making acquaintances
outside, since everybody now-a-days wanted you to subscribe to
something, and it was so disagreeable having to say "no." She was
not a great walker so she could not enjoy the Talbot woods; the sea
made her feel sad, remembering that Michael was the other side and
the submarines increasingly active: in short, air-raids or no
air-raids, she returned home in March, and her maid, who had been
with her ten years, gave her warning.

But then she had an inspiration! She engaged Mrs. Albert Adams to
take her place, and although the parlour-maid at this took offence
and cut the painter of domestic service, went off to the munitions
till Sergeant Frederick Summers should get leave to come home and
marry her; and they were obliged to engage another parlour-maid in
her place at double the wages: Mrs. Rossiter had done a very wise
thing. "Bert" had been home for three weeks in the preceding
February, and the recently bereaved Mrs. Adams had united her tears
with Mrs. Rossiter's on the misery of the War which separated
attached husbands and wives. It now alleviated the sorrows of both
that they should be together as mistress and maid. The cook--a most
important factor--had always liked Bertie and adored his "sweet,
pretty little children." "If you'll let 'em sleep in the spare room
on the fourth floor, next their mother, and play in the day-time in
the servants' 'all, they'll be no manner of difficulty _nor_ bother
to me and the maids. We shall love to 'ave 'em, the darlin's. And
they'll serve to cheer you up a bit ma'am till the Professor comes
back."

Mrs. Adams was a very capable person who hated dust and grime. The
big house wanted some such intervention, as since the butler's
departure it had become rather slovenly, save in the portions
occupied by Mrs. Rossiter. Charwomen were got in, and spring
cleanings on a gigantic scale took place, so that when Rossiter did
return he thought it had never looked so nice, or his Linda been so
cheery and companionable.

But before this happy confirmation of her wisdom in engaging Nance
Adams as maid and factotum, Mrs. Rossiter had several waves of doubt
and distress to breast. There was the Suffrage question. Once
converted by Mrs. Humphry Ward, Miss Violet Markham, Sir Almroth
Wright--whose _prénom_ she could not pronounce--the late Lord
Cromer, and the impressive Lord Curzon, to the perils of the Woman's
Vote, Mrs. Rossiter was hard to move from her uncompromising
opposition to the enfranchisement of her sex. Some adroit champion
of the Wrong had employed the argument that _once_ Women got the
vote, _the Divorce Laws would be greatly enlarged_. This would be
part of the scheme of the wild women to get themselves all married;
that and _the legalisation of Polygamy_ which would follow the Vote
_as surely as the night the day_. Linda had an undefined terror that
her Michael might take advantage of such licentiousness to depose
her, like the Empress Josephine was put aside in favour of a
child-producing rival; or if polygamy came into force, that Miss
Warren might lawfully share the Professor's affections.

She was therefore greatly perturbed in the course of 1916 at the
sudden throwing up of the sponge by the Anti-suffragists. However,
there it was. The long struggle drew to a victorious close. Example
as well as precept pointed to what women could do and were worth;
sound arguments followed the inconveniences of militancy, and the
men were convinced. Or rather, the men in the mass and the fighting,
working men had for some time been convinced, but the great
statesmen who had so obstinately opposed the measures were now
weakening at the knees before the results of their own mismanagement
in the conduct of the War.

A further perplexity and anxiety for Mrs. Rossiter arose over the
German spy mania. She had been to one of Lady Towcester's afternoon
parties "to keep up our spirits." Lady Towcester collected for at
least six different charities and funds, and Mrs. Rossiter was a
generous subscriber to all six. Touching the wood of the central
tea-table, she had remarked to Lady Victoria and Lady Helen
Freebooter how fortunate they (who lived within the prescribed area
defined by Lady Jeune) had been in so far escaping air-raids.

"But don't you know why?" said Lady Victoria.

Mrs. Rossiter didn't.

"Because in Manchester Square, in Cavendish--Grosvenor--Hanover
Squares, in Portland Place--a few doors off your own house--in
Harley Street and Wigmore Street: there are special friends of the
Kaiser living. They _may_ call themselves by English names, they may
even be ex-cabinet-ministers; but they are working for the Kaiser,
all the same. And _he_ wouldn't be such a fool as to have them
bombed, would he?"

"Especially as it is well known that there _is a wireless
installation_ on a house in Portland Place which communicates with
a similar installation in the Harz Mountains," added Lady Helen.

This was a half-reassuring, half-terrifying statement. It was
comfortable to know that you lived under the Kaiser's wing--Mrs.
Rossiter hoped the aim of the aeronauts was accurate, and their
knowledge of London topography good. At the same time it was
alarming to feel that you might be involved in that final blow up of
the villains which must bring such scoundreldom to a close. But if
Lady Vera and Lady Helen knew all this for a fact, why not tell the
Police? "What would be the good? They'd deny everything and we
should only be sued for libel."

However to form some conception of how English home life was
undermined with plots, she was advised to go and see Mr. Dennis
Eadie in _The Man That Stayed at Home_. She did, taking Mrs. Adams
with her to the Dress Circle for a matinée. Both were very much
impressed, and on their return expected the fireplaces to open all
of a piece and reveal German spies with masked faces and pistols,
standing in the chimney.

At last these and other nightmares were dispelled by the arrival of
Rossiter on leave of absence in the autumn of 1916. He had the rank
of Colonel in the R.A.M.C., and wore the khaki uniform--Mrs.
Rossiter proudly thought--of a General. He had shaved off his beard
and trimmed his moustache and looked particularly soldierly. The
butler who came with him though not precisely a soldier but a sort
of N.C.O. in a medical corps, also looked quite martial, and had so
much to say for himself that Mrs. Rossiter felt he could never
become a butler again. But he did all the same, and a most efficient
one though a little breezy in manner.

Linda now entered on an aftermath of matrimonial happiness. Rossiter
was to take quite a long leave so that he could pursue the most
important researches in curative surgery--bone grafting and the
like; not only in his own laboratory but at the College of Surgeons
and the Zoological Gardens Prosectorium. With only occasional
week-ends at home he had been away from London since September,
1914; had known great hardships, the life of the trenches and the
bomb-proof shelter, stewed tea and bad tinned milk, rum and water,
bully beef, plum and apple jam, good bread, it is true, but shocking
margarine for butter. He had slept for weeks together on an old sofa
more or less dressed, kept warm by his great-coat and two Army
blankets of woven porcupine quills (seemingly) the ends of which
tickled his nose and scratched his face. He had been very cold and
sweatingly hot, furiously hungry with no meal to satisfy his healthy
appetite, madly thirsty and no long drink attainable; unable to
sleep for three nights at a time owing to the noise of the
bombardment; surfeited with horrible smells; sickened with butchery;
shocked at his own failures to retrieve life, yet encouraged by an
isolated victory, here and there, over death and disablement. So the
never-before-appreciated comfort of his Park Crescent home filled
him with intense gratitude to Linda.

Had he known, he owed some of his acknowledgment to Mrs. Adams; who
had worked both hard and tactfully in her undefined position of
lady's-maid-housekeeper-companion. But naturally he didn't know,
though he praised his wife warmly for her charity of soul in taking
pity on the poor little woman and her two children. He could only
give the slightest news about Bertie, but said he was a sort of
jack-of-all-trades for the Y.M.C.A. As to Vivie--"that Miss
Warren"--he answered his wife's questions neither with the glowering
taciturnity nor suspicious loquacity of former times. "Miss Warren?
Vivie? I fancy she's still at Brussels, but there is no chance of
finding out. There is a story that her mother is dead. P'raps now
they'll let her come away. She must be jolly well sick of Brussels
by now. When I last heard of Adams he was still hoping to get into
touch with her. I hope he won't take any risks. She's a clever woman
and I dare say can take care of herself. I hope we shall all meet
again when the War is over."

He seemed very pleased to hear of the new Conciliation Bill, the
general agreement all round on the Suffrage question and the
enlargement of the electorate. He had always told Linda it was bound
to come. "And after it has come, dearie, you mark my words: things
will go on pretty much as before." But his real, intense, absorbing
interest lay in the new experiments he was about to make in bone
grafting and cartilage replacing, and the functions of the pituitary
body and the interstitial glands. To carry these out adequately the
Zoological Society had accumulated troops of monkeys and baboons. At
a certain depôt in Camden Town dogs were kept for his purposes. And
the vaults and upper floors of the Royal College of Surgeons were at
Rossiter's disposal, with Professor Keith to co-operate. Never had
his house in Portland Place--to be accurate the Park Crescent end
thereof--seemed so conveniently situated, or its studio-laboratory
so well designed. "Air-raids? Pooh! Just about one chance in a
million we should be struck. Besides: can't think of that, when so
much is at stake. That's a fine phrase, 'Menders of the Maimed.'
Just what we want to be! No more artificial limbs if we can help you
to grow your own new legs and arms--perhaps. At any rate, mend up
those that are a hopeless mash. Grand work! Only bright thing in the
War. Now dear, are you ready with that lymph?"

And she was. Never had Linda been so happy. She overcame her disgust
at the sight of blood, at monkeys, dogs, and humans under
anæsthetics, at yellow fat, gleaming sinew, and blood-stained bone.
She was careful as a washer-up. The services of Mrs. Adams were
enlisted, and she was more deft even than her mistress; and the
butler, who was by this time a regular hospital dresser, greatly
admired her pretty arms when they were bared to the elbow, and her
flushed cheeks when she took a humble part in some tantalizing
adjustment.

"I'm some use to you after all," Linda would say when they retired
from the studio for a rest and she made the tea. "Some _use_? I
should think so!" said Rossiter (whether truly or not). And he
reproached himself that twenty years ago he had not trained and
developed her to help him in his work, to be a real companion in his
studies.

He was really fond of her through the winter of 1916. And so jovial
and lover-like, so boyish in his fun, so like the typical Tommy home
from the trenches. When he was overjoyed at the success of some
uncovered and peeped-at experiment, he would sing, "When _I_ get me
civvies on again, an' it's Home Sweet Home once more"; and ask for
the ideal cottage "with rowses round the door--And a nice warm
bottle in me nice warm bed, An' a nice soft pillow for me nice soft
'ead..." Mrs. Rossiter began to think there was a good side to the
War, after all. It made some men more conscious of their home
comforts and less exigent for intellectuality in their home
companions.

They went out very little into Society. Rossiter held that war-time
parties were scandalous. He poohpoohed the idea that immodest
dancing with frisky matrons or abandoned spinsters was necessary
to restore the shell-shocked nerves of temporary captains,
locally-ranked majors, or the recently-joined subaltern. He was far
too busy for twaddly tea-fights and carping at hard-worked generals
who were doing their best and a good best too. He and Linda did dine
occasionally with Honoria, but the latter felt she could not let
herself go about Vivie in the presence of Mrs. Rossiter and seemed
a little cold in manner.

Ordinarily, after working hard all day while the daylight lasted
they much preferred an evening of complete solitude. Rossiter's new
robustness of taste included love of a gramophone. Money being no
consideration with them, they acquired a tip-top one with
superlative records; not so much the baaing, bellowing and shrieking
of fashionable singers, but orchestral performances, heart-melting
duets between violin and piano (_what_ human voice ever came up to a
good violin or violoncello?), racy comic songs, inspiriting two
steps, xylophone symphonies, and dreamy, sensuous waltzes. This
gramophone Linda learnt to work; and while Michael read voraciously
the works of Hunter, Hugh Owen Thomas, Stromeyer, Duchenne, Goodsir,
Wolff, and Redfern on bones, muscles, ligaments, tendons, cartilage,
periosteum and osteogenesis--or, more often, Keith's compact and
lucid analysis of their experiments and conclusions--Linda let loose
in the scented air of a log fire these varied melodies which attuned
the mind to extraordinary perceptibility.

The little Adamses were allowed to steal in and listen, on condition
they never uttered a word to break the spell of Colonel Rossiter's
thoughts.

I think also Rossiter felt his wife had been unjustly snubbed by the
great ladies and the off-hand, harum-scarum young war-workers; so he
flatly declined to have any of them messing around his studio or
initiated into his research work. It was intimated that the Rossiter
Thursday afternoons of long ago would not be resumed until after the
peace. Linda therefore derived much consolation and satisfaction for
past injuries to her pride when Lady Vera--or Victoria--Freebooter
called one day just before Christmas and said "Oh--er--mother's let
our house till February and thinks we'd better--I mean the Marrybone
Guild of war-workers--meet at _your_ house instead"; and she,
Linda, had the opportunity of replying: "Oh, I'm sorry, _but_ It's
QUITE impossible. The Professor--I mean, Colonel Rossiter--and I are
so _very_ busy ... we are seeing _no_ one just now. Indeed we've
enlisted all the servants to help the Colonel in his work, so I
can't even offer you a cup of tea.... I must _rush_ back at once....
You'll excuse me?"

"That Rossiter woman is quite off her head with grandeur," said Lady
Vera to Lady Helen. "I expect Uncle Algy has let out that her
husband is in the New Year's honours."

And so he was. But Uncle Algy, though he might have babbled to his
nieces, had not written a word to the Rossiters. So they just
enjoyed Christmas--too much, they thought, more than any Christmas
before--in the simple satisfaction of being Colonel and Mrs.
Rossiter, all in all to each other, but rendered additionally happy
by making those about them happy. The little Adamses staggered under
their presents and had a Christmas Tree to which they were allowed
to ask their two grannies--Mrs. Laidly from Fig Tree Court and Mrs.
Adams from the Kilburn Laundry--and numerous little friends from
Marylebone, who had been washed and curled and crimped and adjured
not to disgrace their parents, _or_ father--in the trenches--would
be told "as sure as I stand here."

(The little Adamses were also warned that if they _ever_ again were
heard calling Mrs. Rossiter "Gran'ma," they'd--but the threat was
too awful to be uttered, especially as their mother at this time was
always on the verge of tears, either at getting no news of Bert or
at the unforgettable kindness of Bert's employer.)

Mrs. Rossiter, quite unaware that she was soon to be a Dame, gave
Christmas entertainments at St. Dunstan's, at the Marylebone
Workhouse, and to all the wounded soldiers in the parish. And on
December 31, 1916, Michael received a note from the Prime Minister
to say that His Majesty, in recognition of his exceptional services
in curative surgery at the front, had been pleased to bestow on him
a Knight Commandership of the Bath. "So that, Linda, you can call
yourself Lady Rossiter, and you will have to get some new cards
printed for both of us."

Linda didn't feel quite that ecstasy over her title that she had
expected in her day-dreams. She was getting a little frightened at
her happiness. Generations of Puritan forefathers and mothers had
left some influence of Calvinism on her mentality. She was brought
up to believe in a jealous God, whose Providence when you felt too
happy on earth just landed you in some unexpected disaster to fit
you for the Kingdom of Heaven--a Kingdom which all healthy human
beings shrink from entering with the terror of the unknown and a
certain homeliness of disposition which is humbly content with this
cosy planet and a corporeal existence.

However it was very nice to leave cards of calling on Lady
Towcester--even though she was out of town on account of
air-raids--and on others, inscribed: "Lady Rossiter, Colonel Sir
Michael Rossiter, Sir Michael and Lady Rossiter;" and to see printed
foolscap envelopes for Michael arrive from the War Office and lie on
the hall table, addressed: Colonel Sir Michael Rossiter K.C.B. etc.,
etc., etc., etc.

And later on, in January or February, for some very good reason, Sir
Michael and Lady Rossiter were received in audience by the King and
Queen at Buckingham Palace. The King had already watched Sir Michael
at work in his laboratory just behind the French front; so they two,
as Linda timidly glanced at them, had no lack of subjects for
conversation. But the Queen! Linda had thought she could _never_
have talked to a Queen without swooning, and indeed had arrived
primed with much sal volatile. Yet there, as in some realistic
dream, she was led on to talk about her war charities and Sir
Michael's experiments without trembling, and found herself able to
listen with intelligence to the Queen's practical suggestions about
war work and the application of relief funds in crowded districts.
"_We actually compared notes!_" said a flushed and triumphant Linda
to her Michael, as they drove away through the blue twilight of St.
James's Park.

And so far from being puffed up by this, people said they had always
thought Lady Rossiter was kind, but they really before had never
imagined there was so much in her. She was even allowed to preside
as Vice President, in the absence of Lady Towcester; and got through
it quite creditably--kind hearts being more than coronets--and made
a little speech to which cook and Nance Adams called out "Hear,
_Hear_!" and roused quite a hearty response.


Of course it was an awful wrench when Michael had to return to
France. But he would be back in the autumn, and meantime she must
remember she was a soldier's wife. So the summer was got through
with cheerfulness, especially as she was now treated with much more
regard in the different committees whereof she was Vice President.
On these committees she met Honoria Armstrong, and the longing to
renew the old friendship and talk about Michael's superlative
qualities to one who had long known them, took her over to
Kensington Square, impulsively. Honoria perceived the need
instinctively. The coldness engendered by Linda's silly
Anti-suffragism disappeared. They both talked by the hour together
of their respective husbands and their outstanding virtues and
charming weaknesses. The Armstrong children took to calling her Aunt
Linda--Michael and Petworth, after all, were brothers-in-arms and
friends from youth. Lady Rossiter was delighted, and lavished
presents on them, till Honoria reminded her it was war-time and
extravagance in all things was reprehensible, even in British-made
toys.

They discussed the Vote, soon to be theirs, and how it should be
exercised. From that--by some instinct--Honoria passed on to a talk
about Vivien Warren ... a selective talk. She said nothing about
David Williams, but enlarged on Vivie's absolute "straightness,"
especially towards other women; her business capacities, her
restoration of her mother to the ranks of the respectable; till at
last it seemed as though the burning down of racing stables was a
meritorious act ... "ridding England of an evil that good might
come." And there was poor Vivie, locked up in Brussels, if indeed
she were still living.

Linda felt shocked at her own treachery to the Woman's Cause in
having betrayed that poor, well-meaning Miss Warren to the police.
Never could she confess this to Lady Armstrong (Sir Petworth had
just been knighted for a great success in battle), tell her about
the fragment of letter she had forwarded anonymously to Scotland
Yard. Perhaps she might some day tell Michael, when he returned. In
any case she would say at the next opportunity that as soon as Miss
Warren reappeared in England, he might ask her to the house as often
as he liked--even to stay with them if she were in want of a home.

She said as much to Michael when he came back in September, 1917, to
make some further investigations into bone grafting. He seemed
genuinely pleased at her broad-mindedness, and said it would indeed
be delightful when the War was over--and it _surely_ must be over
soon--now Mr. Lloyd George and Clemenceau and President Wilson had
taken it in hand--it would indeed be delightful to form a circle of
close friends who had all been interested in the Woman's Movement.
As to Vivie ... if she were not dead ... he should advise her to go
in for Parliament.

He had had no news of her since ever so long; what was worse, he
had now very great misgivings about Bertie Adams. During the autumn
of 1916 he had disappeared in the direction of La Bassée. There were
stories of his having joined some American Relief Expedition at
Lille--a most dangerous thing to do; insensate, if it were not a mad
attempt to get through to Brussels in disguise to rescue Miss
Warren. No one in the Y.M.C.A. believed for a moment that he had
done anything dishonourable. Most likely he had been killed--as so
many Y.M.C.A. people were just then, assisting to bring in the
wounded or going up to the trenches with supplies. Mrs. Adams had
better be prepared, cautiously, for a bereavement. Rossiter himself
was very sad about it. He had missed Bertie's services much these
last three years. He had never known a better worker--turn his hand
to anything--Such a good indexer, for example.

Linda wondered whether _she_ could do any indexing? Three years ago
Michael would have replied: "_You?_ Nonsense, my dear. You'd only
make a muddle of it. Much better stick to your housekeeping" (which
as a matter of fact was done in those days by cook, butler and
parlour-maid). But now he said, thoughtfully:

"Well--I don't know--perhaps you might. There's no reason you
shouldn't try."

And Linda began trying.

But she also worked regularly in the laboratory now, calling it at
his suggestion the lab, and stumbling no more over the word. She
wore a neat overall with tight sleeves and her hair plainly dressed
under a little white, pleated cap. She never now caught anything
with her sleeve and switched it off the table; she never let
anything drop, and was a most judicious duster and wiper-up.

Rossiter in this autumn of 1917 was extremely interested in certain
crucial experiments he was making with spiculum in sponge-cells;
with scleroblasts, "mason-cells," osteoblasts, and "consciousness"
in bone-cells. Most of the glass jars in which these experiments
were going on (those of the sponges in sea-water) required daylight
for their progress. There was no place for their storage more
suitable than that portion of his studio-laboratory which was above
ground; and the situation of his house in regard to air attacks,
bombs, shrapnel seemed to him far more favourable than the upper
rooms at the College of Surgeons. That great building was often
endangered because of its proximity to the Strand and Fleet Street;
and the Strand and Fleet Street, being regarded by the Germans as
arteries of Empire, were frequently attacked by German air-craft.

But in Rossiter's studio there was an under-ground annex as
continuation of the house cellars; and the household was instructed
that if, in Rossiter's absence, official warnings of an air-raid
were given, certain jars were to be lifted carefully off the shelves
and brought either into the library or taken down below in case,
through shrapnel or through the vibration of neighbouring
explosions, the glass of the studio roof was broken.

One day in October, 1917, the German air fleet made a determined
attack on London. It was intended this time to belie the stories of
the heart of the Western district being exempted from punishment
because Lady So-and-so lived there and had lent her house in East
Anglia to the Empress and her children in 1912, or because Sir
Somebody-else was really an arch spy of the Germans and had to go on
residing in London. So the aeroplanes this time began distributing
their explosives very carefully over the residential area between
Regent's Park and Pall Mall, the Tottenham Court Road and
Selfridge's.

Lady Rossiter in her overall was disturbed at her indexing by the
clamour of an approaching daylight raid; by the maroons, the
clanging of bells, the hooters, the gunfire; and finally by the not
very distant sounds of exploding bombs. She called and rang for the
servants, and then rushed from the library into the studio to
commence removing the more important of the jars to a place of
greater safety. She had seized two of them, one under each arm, and
was making for the library door, when there came the most awful
crash she had ever heard, and resounding bangs which seemed to echo
indefinitely in her ears....

Rossiter was working in the Prosectorium at the Zoo when the
daylight air-raid began. It seemed to be coming across the middle of
London; so, hastily doffing his overall, he left the Gardens and
walked rapidly towards Portland Place. He had hardly got past the
fountain presented by Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy in wasted
benevolence, than he heard the deafening report of the bomb which
had wrecked his studio, reduced it to a tangle of iron girders and
stanchions, strewn its floor with brick rubble and thick dust, and
left his wife a human wreck, lying unconscious with a broken spine,
surrounded by splinters of glass, broken jars, porcelain trays, and
nasty-looking fragments of sponge and vertebrate anatomy. With an
almost paralyzing premonition of disaster he ran as quickly as
possible towards Park Crescent. The Marylebone Road was strewn with
glass, and a policeman--every one else had taken shelter--was
ringing and knocking at his front door to ascertain the damage and
possible loss of life. Michael let both of them in with his
latch-key. In the hall the butler was lying prone, stunned by a
small statue which had been flung at him by the capricious violence
of the explosion. All the mirrors were shivered and most of the
pictures were down. At the entrance to the library cook was
standing, all of a tremble. The two little Adamses rushed up to him:
"Oh Sir Michael! Mummie is dead and Gran'ma is awfully hurted."

But Mummie--Mrs. Adams--was not dead; neither was the expensive
parlour-maid. Both had fainted or been stunned by the explosion on
their way to help their mistress. Both lay inanimate on the library
floor. The library glass door was shivered to dangerous jagged
splinters, but the iron framework--"Curse it"--remained a tangled,
maddening obstacle to his further progress. He could see through the
splinters of thick glass something that looked like Linda, lying on
her back--and--something that looked like blood. The policeman who
followed him was strong and adroit. Together they detached the glass
splinters and wrenched open the framework, with space enough, at any
rate, to pass through without the rending of clothes into the
studio.

Linda Rossiter was regaining consciousness for just a few more
minutes of sentient life. She was aware there had been a dreadful
accident to some one; perhaps to herself. But she fully believed she
had first of all saved the precious jars. No doubt they had put her
to bed, and as there was something warm (her blood, poor thing)
round her body, they must have packed her with hot water bottles.
Some idea of Michael's no doubt. How _kind_ he was!

She would soon get right, with him to look after her. She opened
her eyes to meet his, as he bent over her, and said with the ghost
of an arch smile: "I--have been--of some use--to you, haven't--I?
... (then the voice faltered and trailed away) ... I ...
saved--your--specimens--"



CHAPTER XIX

BERTIE ADAMS


One day, early in April, 1917, Vivie was standing in a corridor of
the Hôpital de St. Pierre talking to Minna von Stachelberg. She had
just come from the railway station, where in common with the few
British and Americans who remained in Brussels she had been to take
a respectful and grateful farewell of the American Minister and his
wife, who were leaving Belgium for Holland, prior to the American
declaration of war. American diplomacy had done little for her or
her mother, but it had been the shield, the salvation, the only hope
of Belgium. Moreover, the break-off of diplomatic relations
initiated the certain hope of a happier future. American
intervention in the war _must_ lead to Peace and Freedom. Germany
_must_ now be beaten and Belgium set free.

So she had contributed her mite to the fund which purchased spring
flowers--hothouse-grown, for this April was a villainous
prolongation of winter--with which to strew the approach to the
station and fill the reserve compartment of the train.

As Vivie was nearing the end of her description--and Minna was
hoping it _was_ the end, as she wanted to get back to her
patients--two German policemen marched up to Vivie, clicked their
heels, saluted, and said in German, "Mademoiselle Varennes, nicht
wahr? Be good enough to accompany us to the Kommandantur."

At this dread summons, Vivie turned pale, and Minna dismayed began
to ask questions. The Polizei answered that they had none to
give.... Might she accompany her friend? She might not. Then
followed a ride in a military motor, with the two silent policemen.

They arrived outside the Kommandantur.... More clanking, clicking,
and gruff conversation in German. She got out, in response to a
tight pressure on her arm, a grip in fact, and accompanied her grim
guide through halls and corridors, and at last entered a severely
furnished office, a kind of magistrate's court, and was confronted
with--Bertie Adams! A whiskered, bearded, moustached, shabbily
dressed (in a quasi-military uniform) Bertie Adams: lean, and
hollow-eyed, but with the love-light in his eyes. He turned on her
such a look of dog-like fealty, of happy recognition that although,
by instinct and for his safety, she was about to deny all knowledge
of him, she could not force her eyes or tongue to tell the lie.

"Oh miss, oh my dear Miss Warren! _How_ I have hungered and thirsted
for a sight of you all these months and years! To see you once more
is worth all and more I've gone through to get here. They may shoot
me now, if they've got the heart--Not that I've done anything to
deserve it--I've simply had one object in view: To come here and
help you."

He looked around as if instinctively to claim the sympathy of the
policemen. To say he met with none would be to make them out more
inhuman than they were. But as all this speech was in English they
understood but little of what he had said. They guessed he loved the
woman to whom he spake, but he may have been pleading with her not
to give him away, to palliate his acts of espionage.

Vivie replied:

"_Dear_ Bertie! You can't be gladder to see me than I am you. I
greet you with all my heart. But you must be aware that in coming
here like this you--" her words stuck in her throat--she knew not
what to say lest she might incriminate him farther--

A police officer broke in on her embarrassment and said in German:
"Es ist genug--You recognize him, Madame? He was arrested this
morning at the Hotel Impérial, enquiring for you. Meantime, you also
are under arrest. Please follow that officer."

"May I communicate with my friends?" said Vivie, with a dry tongue
in a dry mouth.

"Who are your friends?"

"Gräfin von Stachelberg, at the Hôpital de St. Pierre; le Pasteur
Walcker, Rue Haute, 33--"

"I will let them know that you are arrested on a charge of high
treason--in league with an English spy," he hissed.

Then Vivie was pushed out of the room and Bertie was seized by two
policemen--


They did not meet again for three days. It was a Saturday, and a
police agent came into the improvised cell where Vivie was
confined--who had never taken off her clothes since her arrest and
had passed three days of such mental distress as she had never
known, unable to sleep on the bug-infested pallet, unable to eat a
morsel of the filthy food--and invited her to follow him. "By the
grace of the military governor of the prison of Saint-Gilles"--he
said this in French as she understood German imperfectly--"you are
permitted to proceed there to take farewell of your English friend,
the prisoner A-dams, who has been condemned to death."


Bertie had been tried by court-martial in the Senate, on the Friday.
He followed all the proceedings in a dazed condition. Everything was
carried on in German, but the parts that most concerned him were
grotesquely translated by a ferocious-looking interpreter, who
likewise turned Bertie's stupid, involved, self-condemnatory answers
into German--no doubt very incorrectly. Bertie however protested,
over and over again, that Miss Warren knew _nothing_ of his
projects, and that his only object in posing as an American and
travelling with false passports was to rescue Miss Warren from
Brussels and enable her to pass into Holland, "or get out of the
country _some_ 'ow." As to the Emperor, and taking his life--"why
lor' bless you, _I_ don't want to take _any one's_ life. I 'ate war,
more than ever after all I've seen of it. Upon my honour, gentlemen,
all I want is Miss Warren." Here one member of the court made a
facetious remark in German to a colleague who sniggered, while, with
his insolent light blue eyes, he surveyed Bertie's honest, earnest
face, thin and hollowed with privations and fatigue....

He was perfunctorily defended by a languid Belgian barrister, tired
of the invidious rôle of mechanical pleading for the lives of
prisoners, especially where, as in this case, they were foredoomed,
and eloquence was waste of breath, and even got you disliked by the
impatient ogres, thirsty for the blood of an English man or
woman.... "Du reste," he said to a colleague, "agissait-il d'un
Belge, mon cher, tu sais que l'on se sentirait forcé à risquer le
déplaisir de ces ogres: tandis que, pour un pauvre bougre
d'Anglais...? Et qu'ont-ils fait pour nous, les Anglais? Nous avons
tâché de leur boucher le trou à Liège--et--il--nous--ont--abandonné.
Enfin--allons boire un coup--"


Verdict: as translated by the ferocious interpreter:--

"Ze Court faind you Geeltee. You are condemned to Dess, and you will
be shot on Monday."

In the prison of Saint-Gilles--as I believe elsewhere in
Belgium--though there might be a military governor in control who
was a German, the general direction remained in the hands of the
Belgian staff which was there when the German occupation began.
These Belgian directors and their subordinates were as kind and
humane to the prisoners under their charge as the Germans were the
reverse. Everything was done at Saint-Gilles to alleviate the mental
agony of the condemned-to-death. The German courts tried to prolong
and enhance the agony as much as possible, by sentencing the
prisoners three days, six days, a week before the time of execution
(though for fear of a reprieve this sentence was not immediately
published) and letting them know that they had just so many days or
hours to live: consequently most of them wasted away in prison with
mind-agony, inability to sleep or eat; and even opiates or
soporifics administered surreptitiously by the Belgian prison
doctors were but slight alleviations.

Bertie when first placed in his cell at Saint-Gilles asked for pen,
ink, and paper. They were supplied to him. He was allowed to keep on
the electric light all night, and he distracted his mind--with some
dreadful intervals of horror at his fate--by trying to set forth on
paper for Vivie to read an explanation and an account of his
adventures. He intended to wind up with an appeal for his wife and
children.

Vivie never quite knew how Bertie had managed to cross the War zone
from France into Belgium, and reach Brussels without being arrested.
When they met in prison they had so little time to discuss such
details, in face of the one awful fact that he was there, and was in
all probability going to die in two days. But from this incomplete,
tear-stained scribble that he left behind and from the answers he
gave to her few questions, she gathered that the story of his quest
was something like this:--

He had planned an attempt to reach her in Brussels or wherever she
might be, from the autumn of 1914 onwards. The most practicable way
of doing so seemed to be to pass as an American engaged in Belgian
relief work, in the distribution of food. Direct attempts to be
enrolled for such work proved fruitless, only caused suspicion; so
he lay low. In course of time he made the acquaintance of one of
those American agents of Mr. Hoover--a tousle-haired, hatless,
happy-go-lucky, lawless individual, who made mock of laws, rules,
precedents, and regulations. He concealed under a dry, taciturn,
unemotional manner an intense hatred of the Germans. But he was
either himself of enormous wealth or he had access to unlimited
national funds. He spent money like water to carry out his relief
work and was lavishly generous to German soldiers or civilians if
thereby he might save time and set aside impediments. He took a
strong liking to Bertie, though he showed it little outwardly. The
latter probably in his naïveté and directness unveiled his full
purpose to this gum-chewing, grey-eyed American. When the news of
Mrs. Warren's death had reached Bertie through a circuitous
course--Praed-Honoria-Rossiter--he had modified his scheme and at
the same time had become still more ardent about carrying it into
execution. In fact he felt that Mrs. Warren's death was opportune,
as with her still living and impossible to include in a flight,
Vivie would probably have refused to come away.

Therefore in the summer of 1916, he asked his American friend to
obtain two American passports, one for himself and one for "his
wife, Mrs. Violet Adams." Mr. Praed had sent him a credit for Five
hundred pounds in case he could get it conveyed to Vivie. Bertie
turned the credit into American bank notes. This money would help
him to reach Brussels and once there, if Vivie would consent to pass
as his wife, he might convey her out of Belgium into Holland, as two
Americans working under the Relief Committee.

It had been excessively difficult and dangerous crossing the War
zone and getting into occupied Belgium. There was some hint in his
talk of an Alsatian spy who helped him at this stage, one of those
"sanspatries" who spied impartially for both sides and sold any one
they could sell (Fortunately after the Armistice most of these
Judases were caught and shot). The spy had probably at first
blackmailed him when he was in Belgium--which is why of the Five
hundred pounds in dollar notes there only remained about a third in
his possession when he reached Brussels--and then denounced him to
the authorities, for a reward.

But his main misfortune lay in the long delay before he reached
Brussels. During that time, the entire American diplomatic and
consular staff was leaving Belgium; and the Emperor was arriving
more or less secretly in Brussels (it was said in the hope that a
personal talk with Brand Whitlock might stave off the American
declaration of war).

Bertie on his arrival dared not to go to the American legation for
fear of being found out and disavowed. So he had asked his way in
very "English" French, and wearing the semi-military uniform of an
American Relief officer--to the Hotel "Edward-Sett," where he
supposed Vivie would be or could be heard of. When he reached the
Hotel Impérial and asked for "Miss Warren," he had been at once
arrested. Indeed probably his steps had been followed all the way
from the railway station to the door of the hotel by a plain-clothes
German policeman. The Germans were convinced just then that many
Englishmen and some American cranks were out to assassinate the
Kaiser. They took Bertie's appearance at the door of the Hotel
Impérial as a proof of his intention. They considered him to have
been caught red-handed, especially as he had a revolver concealed on
his person and was obviously travelling with false passports.

"Ah, Bertie," said Vivie, when they first met in his cell at
Saint-Gilles prison. "If _only_ I had not led you into this! I am
mad with myself..."

"Are you, miss? But 'oo could 'a foreseen this war would come along!
We thought all we 'ad to fight was the Police and the 'Ome Office to
get the Vote. And _then_, you'd 'a bin able to come out into the
open and practise as a barrister--and me, again, as your clerk. It
was our damned Government that made you go abroad and get locked up
'ere. And once I realized you couldn't get away, thinks I to meself,
_I'll_ find a way..."

It was here that Vivie began questioning him as to how he had
reached Brussels from the War zone; and as, towards the end of his
story--some of which he said she would find he had written down in
case they wouldn't let him see her--the reference to the Emperor
came in, she sprang up and tried the door of the cell. It was
fastened without, but a face covered the small, square opening
through which prisoners were watched; and a rough voice asked her
what she wanted. It was the German police agent or spy, who, perched
on a stool outside, next this small window, was there to listen to
all they said. As they naturally spoke in English and the rough
creature only knew "God-dam," and a few unrepeatable words, he was
not much the wiser for his vigil.

"I want--I _must_ see the Director," said Vivie.

Presently the Director came.

"Oh, sir," said Vivie, "give me paper and an envelope, I _implore_
you. There is pen and ink here and I will write a letter to the
Emperor, a petition. I will tell him briefly the true story of this
poor young man; and _then_, if you will only forward it he may grant
a reprieve."

The Director said he would do his best. After all, you never knew;
and the Kaiser, though he said he hated them always, had a greater
regard for the English than for any other nation. As he glanced
from Vivie and her face of agonized appeal to the steadfast gaze
which Bertie fixed on her, as on some fairy godmother, his own eyes
filled with tears--as indeed they did many, many times over the
tragic scenes of the German Terror.

Another request. Could Vivie see or communicate with Gräfin von
Stachelberg?--with Pasteur Walcker?

Here the police agent intervened--"Nothing of the kind! You're not
going to hold a salon here. Far too many concessions already. Much
more fuss and trouble, and I shall take you back to the Kommandantur
and report. Write your letter to the All Highest, who may deign to
receive it. As to Pastor Walcker, he shall come to-morrow, Sunday,
to prepare the Englishman for his death, on Monday--"

Vivie wrote her letter--probably in very incoherent language. It was
handed to the German police agent. He smiled sardonically as he took
it in his horny hand with its dirty broken nails. The Governor
General disliked these appeals to the All Highest. Indeed, in most
cases executions that were intended to take place were only
announced at the same time as the condemnation, to obviate the worry
of these appeals. Besides, he knew the Emperor had left that morning
for Charleville, after having bestowed several decorations on the
police officials who told him they had just frustrated an English
plot for his assassination.


Vivie and Bertie were at length alone, for the police agent was
bored, couldn't understand their talk, and gave himself an afternoon
off. In this prison of Saint-Gilles, the cells were in many ways
superior to those of English prisons. They were well lit through a
long window, not so high up but that by standing on a chair you
could look out on the prison garden. Through this window the rays of
the sun could penetrate into and light up the cell. There was no
unpleasant smell--one of the horrors of Holloway. The floor was a
polished parquet. The bed was comfortable. There was a table, even a
book-shelf. The toilet arrangements were in no way repulsive or
obvious.

Vivie insisted on Bertie lying down on the bed; she would sit on the
chair by his side. He must be so exhausted....

"And what about _you_, miss? I'll lay you ain't slept these last
three nights. _What_ a mess I've made of the 'ole thing!"

"Bertie! _Why_ did you do this? _Why_ did you risk your life to come
here; _oh why, oh why_?" wailed Vivie.

"Because I loved you, because I've always loved you, better'n any
one else on earth--since I was a boy of fourteen and you spoke so
kind to me and encouraged me to get on and improve myself; and giv'
me books, and encouraged me about me cricket. I suppose I'm going to
die, so I ain't got any shame about tellin' you all this. Though if
I thought I was goin' to live, I'd cut my tongue out sooner'n offend
you--Oh,"--he gave a kind of groan--"When the news come about Mrs.
Warren bein' dead an' you p'raps without money and at the mercy of
these Germans ... well!--all I wonder at is I didn't steal an
airyplane, and come in that. I tell you I had to exercise great
self-control to stay week after week fiddling with the food
distribution and pretendin' to be an American....

"Well! There it is! We must all die sooner or later. It's a wonder I
ain't dead already. I've bin in some tight places since I come out
for the Y.M.C.A....

"And talkin' about the Y.M.C.A., miss, I do _beg_ of you, if you get
out of this--an' I'm sure you will--they'll never kill _you_," said
Bertie adoringly, looking up at the grave, beautiful face that bent
over him--"I do _beg_ of you to make matters right with the
Y.M.C.A. I ain't taken away one penny of their money--I served 'em
faithfully up to the last day before I saw my chance of hooking it
across the lines--They must think me dead--and so must poor Nance,
my wife. For I haven't dared to write to any one since I've bin in
Belgium. But I did send her a line 'fore I started, sayin', 'Don't
be surprised if you get no letter from me for some time. I'll turn
up all right, you bet your boots--'

"That may 'ave kept 'er 'opin'. An' soon you'll be able to let 'er
know. Who can say? _I_ dunno! But Peace, you'd think, must come
soon--Seems like our poor old world is comin' to an end, don't it?
_What_ times we've 'ad--if you don't mind me puttin' it like that! I
remember when I had to be awful careful always to say 'Sir' to you,
and 'Mr. David' or 'Mr. Williams'"--and a roguish look, a gleam of
merriment came into Bertie's eyes, and he laughed a laugh that was
half sob. "If you was to write your life, no one 'ud believe it,
miss. It licks any novel I ever read--and I've read a tidy few,
looking after the Y.M.C.A. libraries....

"My! But you was wonderful as a pleader in the courts! I used
sometimes to reg'lar cry when I heard you takin' up the case of some
poor girl as 'ad bin deserted by 'er feller, and killed 'er baby.
'Tricks of the trade,' says some other barrister's clerk, sneerin'
because you wasn't 'is boss. An' then I'd punch 'is 'ead.... An' I
don't reckon myself a soft-'earted feller as a rule.... Reklect that
Shillito Case--?"

"_Don't_, Bertie! _Don't_ say such things in praise of me. I'm not
_worth_ such love. I'm just an arrogant, vain, quarrelsome woman....
Look how many people I've deceived, what little good I've really
done in the world--"

"Rub--bish! You done good wherever you went ... to my pore
mother--wonder, by the bye, what _she_ thinks and 'ow _she's_
gettin' on? Sons are awful ungrateful and forgettin'. What with
you--and Nance--and the little 'uns, I ain't scarcely give a thought
to poor mother. But you'll let her know, won't you, miss?...

"Think 'ow good you was to your old father down in Wales, 'im as you
called your father--an' 'oo's to say 'e wasn't? You never know....
Miss Warren! what a pity it is you never married. There's lots was
sweet on you, I'll bet. Yet I remember I used to 'ate the idea of
your doin' so, and was glad you dressed up as a man, an' took 'em
all in.... I may tell you all, miss, now I'm goin' to die, day after
to-morrow. My poor Nance! She see there was some one that always
occupied my mind, and she used to get jealous-like, at times. But
never did I let on it was you. Why I wouldn't even 'av said it to
myself--I respected you more than--than--"

And Bertie, at a loss for a parallel, ceased speaking for a time,
and gulped down the sobs that were mastering him.

Then, after this pause--"I haven't a word to say against Nance. No
one could 'a bin a better wife. I know, miss, if you get away from
here you'll look after her and my kids? I ain't bin much of a father
to 'em lately. P'raps this is a punishment for neglecting my home
duties--As they used to say to you when you was Suffragin'." He gave
a bitter laugh--"Two such _nice_ kids.... I ain't seen 'em since
last February twelve-month ... more'n a year ago ... I got a bit of
leave then.... There's little Vivie--the one we called after you....
She's growin' up so pretty ... and Bert! 'E'll be a bigger and a
better man than me, some day. 'E's started in life with better
chances. I 'ope 'e'll be a cricketer. There's no game comes up to
cricket, in my opinion..."

At this juncture, the Belgian Directeur of the jail opened the door
and asked Vivie to follow him, telling Bertie she would return in
the afternoon. At the same time, a warder escorting two good conduct
prisoners who did the food distribution proceeded to place quite an
appetizing meal in Bertie's cell. "Dear miss," said the Directeur in
French, "You are so wise, I know, you will do what I wish...?"

(Vivie bowed.)

"I shall not send you back to the Kommandantur. I will take that on
myself. But I must regard you while here as my prisoner"--he smiled
sadly--"Come with me. I will give you a nice cell where you shall
eat and sleep, and--yes--and my wife shall come and see you..."


In the evening of that day, Vivie was led back to Bertie's cell.
There she found kind Pasteur Walcker. In some way he had heard of
Bertie's condemnation--perhaps seen it posted up on a Red
Placard--and in his quiet assumption that whatever he did was right,
had not waited for an official summons but had presented himself at
the prison of Saint-Gilles and asked to see the Directeur. He
constituted himself Bertie's spiritual director from that time
onwards.... He spoke very little English but he was there more to
sympathize than to preach--

"Ce n'est pas, chère Mamselle que je suis venu le troubler sur les
questions de réligion. J'ai voulu le rassurer--et vous aussi--que
j'ai déjà mis en train tous les precédés possibles, et que je
connais, pour obtenir sa grace.... But," he went on, "I have spoken
to the prison doctor and begged him meantime to give the poor young
man an injection or a dose of something to make him sleep a little
while..."

Then he withdrew.

The daylight turned pink and faded to grey whilst Vivie sat by the
bed holding the left hand of the sleeping man. Exhausted with
emotion, she dropped off to sleep herself, slid off the chair on to
the parquet, laid her head on the angle of his pillow and slept
likewise....

The electric light suddenly shone out from a globe in the angle of
the wall which served two cells. She awoke; Bertie awoke. He was
still happy in some opiate dream and his eyes in his haggard face
looked at her with a sleepy, happy affection. Loth to awaken him to
reality she kissed him on the cheek and withdrew from the cell--for
the Directeur, out of delicacy, had withdrawn and left the door
ajar. She rejoined him in the corridor and he led her to her own
quarters for the night; where, worn out with sorrow and fatigue, she
undressed and slept dreamlessly.

But the hour of the awakening on that wintry Sunday morning! It was
snowing intermittently and the sky, seen from the high window, was
lead-coloured. Owing to the scarcity of fuel, the cell was unwarmed.
She dressed hurriedly, feeling still untidy and dishevelled when she
had finished. Her breakfast, and with it a little packet of white
powder from the prison doctor, to be taken with the breakfast. She
swallowed it. If it were poison sent by the German Government, what
matter? But it was in reality some drug which took the edge off
sorrow.

Bertie had evidently been given a similar dose. They spent the
morning and the afternoon of that Sunday together, almost happily.
With intervals of dreamy silence, they talked of old times. Neither
would have been surprised had the cell walls dissolved as in a
transformation scene and they had been able to step out into the
Fountain Court of the Temple or into the cheerful traffic of
Chancery Lane.

When however she returned to his cell after her evening meal, his
mood had changed; the effect of the drug had passed. He had moods of
despair and wild crying. No response had come, no answer to Vivie's
appeal, no result from Monsieur Walcker's activities. Bertie
reproached himself for cowardice ... then the doctor came in. "An
injection in the arm? So! He will sleep now till morning. Espérons
toujours! Et vous, ma pauvre Mademoiselle. Vous êtes excédée.
Permettez que je vous fasse la meme piqure?"

But she thanked him and said she wanted all her wits about her,
though she promised "se maîtriser"--to keep calm.

What a night! Her ears had a sense of hearing that was
preternaturally acute. The most distant step in the corridors was
audible. Was it a reprieve? One such sound multiplied itself into
the footsteps of two men walking, coming ever nearer--nearer--nearer
till they stopped outside her cell door. With a clank it was opened.
She sprang up. Fortunately she had not undressed. "You've brought a
reprieve?" she gasped. But the Directeur and Monsieur Walcker only
stood with downcast faces. "It will soon be morning," the Directeur
said. "There is no hope of a reprieve. He is to be executed at seven
at the Tir National. All we have secured for you is permission to
accompany him to the end. But if you think _that_ too painful, too
great a strain, I would suggest that you--"

"Nothing could overstrain me," said Vivie, "or rather I don't care
if anything kills me. I will go with him and stay with him, till the
very last moment, stay with him till he is buried if you permit!"

She made some hasty toilette, more because she wanted to look a fit
companion for him, and not a wretched derelict. They summoned her,
proffering a cup of acorn coffee, which she waved aside. The bitter
cold air of the snowy April morning braced her. She entered the
shuttered, armoured prison taxi in which Bertie and a soldier were
placed already. Bertie had his arms tied, but not too painfully. He
was shivering with the cold, but as he said, "_Not_ afraid, miss.
It'll come out allright, some'ow. That Mr. Walcker, 'e done me a lot
of good. At any rate I'll show how an Englishman can die. 'Sides 'e
says reprieves sometimes comes at the last moment. They takes a
pleasure in tantalizin' you. And the doctor put somethin' in me cup
of coffee, sort of keeps me spirits up."

But for Vivie, that drive was an unforgettable agony. They went
through suburbs where the roads had been unrepaired or torn up by
shrapnel. The snow lay in places so thickly that it nearly stopped
the motor. Still, it came to an end at last. The door on one side
was wrenched open; she was pulled out rather unceremoniously; then,
the pinioned Bertie, who was handed over to a guard; and the soldier
escort after him, who took his place promptly by his side. Vivie had
just time to note the ugly red-brick exterior of the main
building of the Tir National. It reminded her vaguely of some
hastily-constructed Exhibition at Earl's Court or Olympia. Then she
was pushed inside a swinging door, into a freezing corridor; where
the Prison Directeur and Monsieur Walcker were standing--irresolute,
weeping....

"Where is Bertie?" she asked.

"He is being prepared for the shooting party," they answered. "It
will soon be over ... dear dear lady ... try to be calm--"

"I will be as calm as you like," she said, "I will behave with the
utmost correctitude or whatever you call it, if you--if they--the
soldiers--the officer--will let me see him--as you promised--up to
the last, the very last. But by God--if there _is_ a God--if you or
they prevent me, I'll--"

Inexplicably, sheer mind-force prevailed, without the need for
formulating the threat the poor grief-maddened woman might have
uttered--she moved unresisted to a swing door which opened on to a
kind of verandah. Here was drawn up the firing party, and in front
of them, fifteen feet away on snow-sodden, trampled grass, stood
Bertie. He caught sight of Vivie passing in, behind the firing
party, and standing beyond them at the verandah rail. He
straightened himself; ducked his head aside from the handkerchief
with which they were going to bandage his eyes, and shouted "Take
away your blasted handkerchief! _I_ ain't afraid o' the guns. If
you'll let me look at HER, I'll stand as quiet as quiet."

The officer in command of the firing party shrugged his shoulders.
The soldier escort desisted from his attempts to blindfold the
Englishman and stood aside, out of range. Bertie fixed his glowing
eyes on the woman he had loved from his youth up, the rifles rang
out with a reverberating bellow, and he fell out of her sight,
screened by the soldiers, a crumpled body over which they threw a
sheet.

What happened then to Vivie? I suppose you expect the time-worn
trick of the weary novelist, anxious to put his pen down and go to
his tea: "Then she seemed swallowed up in a cloud of blackness and
knew no more"--till it was convenient to the narrator to begin a
fresh chapter. But with me it must be the relentless truth and
nothing but the truth, in all its aspects. Vivie was deafened,
nearly stunned by the frightful noise of the volley in a confined
space. Next, she was being unceremoniously pushed out of the
verandah, into the corridor, and so out into the snow-covered space
in front of the brick building; whilst the officer was examining the
dead body of the fallen man, ready to give the _coup-de-grâce_, if
he were not dead. But he was. Vivie was next conscious that she had
the most dreadful, blinding headache she had ever known, and with it
felt an irresistible nausea. The prison Directeur was taking her
hand and saying: "Mademoiselle: it is my duty to inform you that you
are no longer under arrest. You are free to return to your lodging."
Minna von Stachelberg had come from somewhere and was taking her
right arm, to lead her Brussels-ward; and Pasteur Walcker was
ranging himself alongside to be her escort. Unable to reply to any
of them, she strode forward by herself to where under the snow lay
an ill-kept grass plot, and there was violently sick. The
anæsthetics and soporifics of the last two days were having their
usual aftermath. After that came on a shuddering faintness and a
rigor of shivers, under which her teeth clacked. Some doctor came
forward with a little brandy. She put the glass to her lips, then
pushed it aside, took Pasteur Walcker's proffered arm, and walked
towards the tram terminus.

Then they were in the tram, going towards the heart of Brussels. How
commonplace! Fat frowsy market women got in--or got out--with their
baskets; clerks entered with portfolios--don't they call them
"serviettes"?--under their arms; German policemen, Belgian
gendarmes, German soldiers, a priest with his breviary came and went
as though this Monday morning were like any other. Vivie walked
quite firmly and staidly from the tram halt to the Walckers' house
in the Rue Haute. There she was met by Madame Walcker, who at a sign
from her husband took her upstairs, silently undressed her and put
her to bed with a hot water bottle and a cup of some hot drink which
tasted a little of coffee.

After that Vivie passed three days of great sickness and nausea, a
furred tongue, and positively no appetite. Finally she arose a week
after the execution and looked at herself in the mirror. She was
terribly haggard, she looked at least fifty-five--"They must have
taken me for his mother or his aunt; never for his sweetheart," she
commented bitterly to herself. And her brown-gold hair was now
distinctly a cinder grey.

The next day she went back to work at the hospital.

To Minna, she said: "I can _never, never, never_ forget your
kindness and sympathy. 'Sister' seems an insufficient name to call
you by. Whatever happens, unless you cast me off, we shall be
friends.... I dare say I even owe my life to you, if it is worth
anything. But it is. I want to live--now--I want to live to be
revenged. I want to live to help Bertie's"--her voice still shook
over the name--"Bertie's wife and children. I expect but for you I
should have been tried already in the Senate for complicity with ...
Bertie ... and found guilty and shot..."

_Minna_: "I won't go so far as to say you are right. But I certainly
_was_ alarmed about you, when you were arrested. Of course I knew
nothing--_nothing_--about that poor young man till just before his
execution when Pastor Walcker came to me. Even then I could do
nothing, and I understood so badly what had happened. But about you:
I said to myself, if I do not do _something_, you can perhaps be
sentenced to imprisonment ... and I _did_ bestir myself, you can
bet!" (Minna liked to show she knew a slangy phrase or two.) "So I
telegraphed to the Emperor, I besieged von Bissing at the Ministère
des Sciences et des Arts; wrote to him, telegraphed to him,
telephoned to him, sat in his anterooms, neglected my hospital work
entirely from Friday to Monday--

"I expect as a matter of fact they found nothing in that poor
young's man's papers to implicate you. They just wanted--the
brutes--to give you a good fright ... and I dare say ... such is the
military mind--even wished you to see him shot.

"By the bye, I suppose you have heard that von Bissing is very ill?
Dying, perhaps--"

_Vivie_: "I _hope_ so. I am _so_ glad. I hope it's a painful
illness and that he'll die and find there really _is_ a Hell, and an
uncommonly hot one!"


It must not be supposed from the frequent quotations from Countess
von Stachelberg's condemnations of German cruelties that she was an
unpatriotic woman, repudiating, apostatizing from her own country.
On the contrary: she held--mistakenly or not--that Germany had been
the victim of secret diplomacy, had been encircled by a ring fence
of enemies, refused the economic guarantees she required, and the
colonial expansion she desired. Minna disliked the Slavs, did not
believe in them, save as musicians, singers, painters, dancers,
and actors. She believed Germany had a great civilizing,
culture-spreading mission in South-east Europe; and that the germs
of this war lay in the policy of Chamberlain, the protectionism of
the United States, the revengeful spirit and colonial selfishness of
France.

But she shuddered over the German cruelties in Belgium and France.
The horrors of War were a revelation to her and she was henceforth a
Pacifist before all things. "_Your_ old statesmen and _our_ old or
middle-aged generals, my dear, are alike to blame. But you and I
know where the _real_ mischief lies. We are mis-ruled by an
All-Man Government. _I_, certainly, don't want the other extreme,
an All-Woman Government. What we want, and must have, is a
Man-and-Woman--a Married--Government. _Then_ we shall settle our
differences without going to war."

Vivie agreed with her, cordially.

She--Vivie--I really ought to begin calling her "Vivien": she is
forty-one by now--in resuming her duties at the Hôpital de St.
Pierre found no repugnance in tending wounded German soldiers--the
officers she did shrink from--She realized that the soldiers were
but the slaves of the officer class, of Kaiserdom. Her reward for
this degree of Christianity was to have a batch of wounded English
boys or men to look after. She saw again Bertie Adams in many of
them, especially in the sergeants and corporals. They, in turn,
thought her a very handsome, stately lady, but rather maudlin at
times. "So easy to set 'er off a-cryin' as though 'er 'eart would
break, poor thing.... And I says 'why ma'am, the pain's _nuthin_',
nuthin' to what it use ter be.' 'Spec' she lost some son in the war.
Wonder 'ow she came to be 'ere? Ain't the Germans afraid of 'er!"...

They were. The mental agony she had been through had etherialized
her face, added to its look of age and gravity, but imparted
likewise a sort of "awfulness." She exhaled an aura of righteous
authority. She had been through the furnace, and foolishness and
petulance had been burnt out of her ... though, thank goodness, she
retained some sense of humour. She had probably never been so
handsome from the painter's point of view, though one could not
imagine a young man falling in love with her now.

Her personality was first definitely noted by the Bruxellois the day
that von Bissing's funeral cortège passed through the streets of
Brussels on its way to Germany. Vivien Warren was sufficiently
restored to health then to stand on the steps of some monument and
cry "Vive la Belgique! À bas les tyrans!" The policemen and the
spies looked another way and affected deafness. They had orders not
to arrest her unless she actually resorted to firearms or other
lethal weapons.

It was said that her appeal for Bertie Adams did reach the Emperor,
two days too late; that he pished and pshawed over von Bissing's
cruel precipitancy. "Englishmen," he muttered to his entourage,
"don't assassinate. The Irish do. But _how_ I'm going to make peace
with England, _I_ don't know...!"

(His Hell on Earth must have been that few people admired the
English character more than he did, and yet, unprovoked, he had
blundered into war with England.)

However, though it was too late to save "this lunatic Adams," he
gave orders that Vivie was to be let alone. He even, through Gräfin
von Stachelberg, transmitted to her his regrets that she and her
mother had been treated so cavalierly at the Hotel Impérial. It was
not through any orders of his.

So: Vivie became quite a power in Brussels during that last anxious
year and a half of waiting, between May, 1917, and November, 1918.
German soldiers, still limping from their wounds, saluted her in the
street, remembering her kindness in hospital, and the letters she
unweariedly wrote at their dictation to their wives and
families--for she had become quite a scholar in German. The scanty
remains of the British Colony and the great ladies among the
patriotic Belgians now realized how false were the stories that had
circulated about her in the first year of the War; and extended to
her their friendship. And the Spanish Minister who had taken the
place of the American as protector of British subjects, invited her
to all the fêtes he gave for Belgian charities and Red Cross funds.
Through his Legation she endeavoured to send information to the
Y.M.C.A. and to Bertie's widow that Albert Adams of the Y.M.C.A.
"had died in Brussels from the consequences of the War."

I dare say in the autumn of 1917, if Vivien Warren had applied
through the Spanish Minister for a passport to leave Belgium for
some neutral country, it would have been accorded to her: the German
authorities would have been thankful to see her no more. She
reminded them of one of the cruellest acts of their administration.
But she preferred to stay for the historical revenge of seeing the
Germans driven out of Belgium, and Belgian independence restored.
And she could not go lest Bertie's grave should be forgotten. In
common with Edith Cavell, Gabrielle Petit, Philippe Bauck, and the
other forty or fifty victims of von Bissing's "Terror," he had been
buried in the grassy slopes of the amphitheatre of the Rifle range,
near where he had been executed. Every Sunday, wet or fine, Vivien
went there with fresh flowers. She had marked the actual grave with
a small wooden cross bearing his name, till the time should come
when she could have his remains transferred to English soil.

One day, as she was leaving the hospital in the autumn of 1917, a
shabby man pushed into her hand a soiled, way-worn copy of the
_Times_, a fortnight old. "Three francs," he whispered. She paid
him. It was no uncommon thing for her or one of her English or
Belgian acquaintances to buy the _Times_ or some other English daily
at a price ranging from one franc to ten, and then pass it round the
friendly circle of subscribers who apportioned the cost. On this
occasion she opened her _Times_ in the tram, going home, and glanced
at its columns. In any one but "Mees Varennes" in these days of
1917, 1918, this would have been a punishable offence; but in her
case no spy or policeman noted the infringement of regulations about
the enemy press. On one of the pages she read the account of a bad
air-raid on Portland Place, and a reference--with a short obituary
notice elsewhere--to the death of one of the victims of the German
bombs. This was "Linda, Lady Rossiter, the dearly loved wife of Sir
Michael Rossiter, whose discoveries in the way of bone grafting and
other forms of curative surgery had been among the outstanding
achievements in etc., etc."

"Dear me!" said Vivien to herself, as the tram coursed on beyond her
usual stopping place and the conductor obstinately looked the other
way, "I'm glad she lived to be _Lady_ Rossiter. It must have given
her such pleasure. Poor thing! And to think the knowledge that he's
a widower hardly stirs my pulses one extra beat. And how I _loved_
that man, seven years, six years, five years ago! Hullo! Where am I?
Miles from the Rue Haute! Conducteur! Arrêtez, s'il vous plaît."



CHAPTER XX

AFTER THE ARMISTICE


The Bruxellois felt very disheartened in the closing months of 1917.
The Russian revolution had brought about the collapse of Russia as
an enemy of Germany; and the Germans were enabled to transport most
of their troops on the Russian frontier to the west and to the
Italian frontier. Italy had lost half Venetia and enormous
quantities of guns in the breach of her defences at Caporetto. It
seemed indeed at any moment, when the ice and snow of that dreadful
winter of 1917-18 melted, as though Italy would share the fate of
Rumania. Though the British army had had a grand success with their
Tanks, they had, ere 1917 ended, lost nearly all the ground gained
round Cambrai. Besides, the submarine menace was imperilling the
British food supplies and connections with America. As to the United
States: was their intervention going to be more than money loans and
supplies of material? Would they really supply the fighting men, the
one thing at this crisis necessary to defeat Germany?

Belgium had been divided administratively into two distinct
portions, north and south of the Meuse. North of the Meuse she was
to be a Dutch-speaking country either part of Germany eventually, or
given to Holland to compensate her for her very benevolent
neutrality towards Germany during the War. A handful of Flemish
adventurers appeared at Brussels to form the Council of Flanders,
and sickened the Bruxellois by their lavish praise of the German
administration and servile concurrence with all German measures.

The events of the spring of 1918 accentuated the despair in the
Belgian capital. When the Germans broke through the defences of the
new lines which ran through Picardy and Champagne, reached the
vicinity of Amiens, retook Soissons, and recrossed the Marne, it
seemed as though Belgian independence had been lost; the utmost she
could hope for would be the self-government of a German province.

But Vivie was not among the pessimists. She discerned a smouldering
discontent among the German soldiers, even when Germany seemed near
to a sweeping victory over France and Britain.

The brutality of the soldiers, their deliberate, nasty dirtiness
during the first two years of the War seemed due rather to their
officers' orders than to an anti-human disposition of their own.
Many of the soldiers in Belgium, in Brussels, turned round--so to
speak--and conceived a horror of what they had done, of what they
had been told to do. Men who on the instigation of their
officers--and these last, especially the Prussians, seemed fiends
incarnate--had offered violence to young Belgian women, ended by
offering to marry them, even showed themselves kind husbands, only
too willing to become domesticated, groaning at having to leave
their temporary homes and return to the terrible fighting on the
Yser or in France.

There were, for example, the soldiers stationed at the Villa
Beau-séjour and at the Oudekens' farm. Vivie had a growing desire to
find out what had happened to her mother's property. One day, late
in February, 1918, when there was a premature breath and feeling of
Spring in the air, she called on her friend--as he had become--the
Directeur of the Prison of Saint-Gilles, and asked him--since she
herself could not deign to ask any favour or concession of the
German authorities--to obtain for her a permit to proceed to
Tervueren, the railway service between Brussels and that place
having been reopened. She walked over--with what reminiscences the
roads and paths were filled--to the Villa, and showing her pass was
received, not uncivilly, by the sergeant-major in charge.
Fortunately the officers had all gone, voting it very dull, with
Brussels so near and yet so far. After their departure the
sergeant-major and his reduced guard of men had begun to make the
place more homelike. The usual German thrift had shown itself. They
had reassembled the remains of Mrs. Warren's herd of cows. These had
calves and were giving milk. There were once more the beginnings of
a poultry yard. The rooms had been cleaned at any rate of their
unspeakable filth, though the dilapidations and the ruined furniture
made tears of vexation stand in Vivie's eyes. However she kept her
temper and told the sergeant that it was _her_ property now; that
she intended to reclaim it at the end of the War, and that if he saw
to it that the place was handed back to her with no further damage,
she would take care that he was duly rewarded; and as an instalment
she gave him a good tip. He replied with a laugh and a shrug "That
may well come about." ("Das könnte wohl geschehen.")

He had already heard of the Engländerin whom the Kommandantur was
afraid to touch, and opened his heart to her; even offering to
prepare her a little meal in her own _salle à manger_. With what
strange sensations she sat down to it. The sergeant as he brought in
the _oeufs au plat_ said the soldiers were already sick of the
War. Most wanted to go back to Germany, but a few were so much in
love with Belgium that they hoped they might be allowed to settle
down there; especially those who spoke Platt-deutsch, to whom
Flemish came so easy.

From Villa Beau-séjour, Vivien Warren passed on to the Oudekens'
farm, wondering what she would see--Some fresh horror? But on the
contrary, Mme. Oudekens looked years younger; indeed when Vivien
first stood outside the house door, she had heard really hearty
laughter coming from the orchard where the farmer's widow was
pinning up clothes to dry. Yet it was here that the woman's husband
had been shot and buried, as the result of a field-court's sentence.

But when she answered Vivien's questions, after plying her with
innumerable enquiries, she admitted with a blush that Heinrich, the
German sergeant, with whom she had first cohabited by constraint,
had recently married her at the Mairie, though the Curé had refused
to perform the religious service. Heinrich was now invariably kind
and worked hard on the farm. He hoped by diligently supplying the
officers' messes in Brussels with poultry and vegetables that he and
his assistants--two corporals--might be overlooked and not sent back
into the fighting ranks. As to her daughters, after a few months of
promiscuity--a terrible time that Mme. Oudekens wanted to
forget--they had been assigned to the two corporals as their
exclusive property. They were both of them about to become mothers,
and if no one interfered, as soon as this accursed War was over
their men would marry them. "But," said Vivie, "suppose your husband
and these corporals are married already, in Germany?" "Qu'est-ce-que
ça fait?" said Mme. Oudekens. "C'est si loin." By making these
little concessions she had already saved her youngest son from
deportation to Germany.

The enormous demands for food in Brussels, which in 1918 had a
floating population of over a million and where the Germans were
turning large dogs into pemmican, had tripled the value of all
productive farms so near the capital as those round Tervueren,
especially now the railway service was reopened. Many of the
peasants were making huge fortunes in complicity with some German
soldier-partner.

In Brussels itself, soldiers often sided with the people against the
odious "polizei," the intolerable German spies and police agents.
Conflicts would sometimes occur in the trams and the streets when
the German police endeavoured to arrest citizens for reading the
_Times_ or _La Libre Belgique_, or for saying disrespectful things
about the Emperor.

The tremendous rush of the German offensive onward to the Marne,
Somme, and Ypres salient in March-June, 1918, was received by the
shifting garrison of Brussels with little enthusiasm. Would it not
tend to prolong the War? The German advance into France was
spectacular, but it was paid for by an appalling death-roll. The
hospitals at Brussels were filled to overflowing with wounded and
dying men. The Austrians who were brought from the Italian front to
replenish the depleted battalions, quarrelled openly with the
Prussians, and in some cases had to be surrounded in a barrack
square and shot down.

The first real check to the German Army in its second march on
Paris--that which followed its crossing of the Marne near
Dormans--was prophetically greeted by the Bruxellois as the turning
of the tide. The Emperor had gone thither from the Hotel Impérial in
order to witness and follow the culminating march on Paris. But Foch
now struck with his reserves, and the head of the tortoise was
nipped off. The driving back of the Germans over the Marne coincided
with the Belgian National Fête of July 21. Not since 1914 had this
fête been openly observed. But on this day in 1918, the German
police made no protest when a huge crowd celebrated the fête day in
every church and every street. Vivien herself, smiling and laughing
as she had not done since Bertie's death, attended the service in
Sainte-Gudule and joined in singing _La Brabançonne_ in place of
_Te Deum, laudamus_. In the streets and houses of Brussels every
piano, every gramophone was enrolled to play the _Marseillaise_,
_Vers l'Avenir_, and _La Brabançonne_, the Belgian national anthem
(uninspiring words and dreary tune). From this date onwards--July
21--the German _débacle_ proceeded, with scarcely one day's
intermission, with never a German regain of lost ground.

When the Americans had retaken St. Mihiel on September 14, then did
Belgians boldly predict that their King would be back in Brussels by
Christmas. But their prophecies were outstripped by events. Already,
in the beginning of October, the accredited German Press in Belgium
was adjuring the Belgians not to be impatient, but to let them
evacuate Belgium quietly. At the end of October, Minna von
Stachelberg told Vivien that she and the other units of the German
Red Cross had received instructions to leave and hand over their
charges to the Belgian doctors and nurses. The two women took an
affectionate farewell of each other, vowing they would meet
again--somewhere--when the War was over. British wounded now began
to cease coming into Brussels, so Vivie was free to attend to her
own affairs.

Enormous quantities of German plunder were streaming out of Belgium
by train, by motor, in military lorries, in carts and waggons.
Nearly all this belonged to the officers, and the already-rebellious
soldiers broke out in protestations. "Why should they who had done
all the fighting have none of the loot?" So they won over the
Belgian engine-drivers--delighted to see this quarrel between the
hyenas--and held up the trains in the suburban stations north of
Brussels. There were pitched battles which ended always in the
soldiers' victory.

The soldiers then would hold auctions and markets of the plunder
captured in the trains and lorries. They were in a hurry to get a
little money to take back with them to Germany. Vivie, who had laid
her plans now as to what to do after the German evacuation of
Brussels, attended these auctions. She was nearly always civilly
treated, because so many German soldiers had known her as a friend
in hospital and told other soldiers. At one such sale she bought a
serviceable motor-car for 750 francs; at another drums of petrol.

She had provided herself with funds by going to her mother's bank
and reopening the question of the deposited jewels and plate. Now
that the victory of the Allies seemed certain, the bank manager was
more inclined to make things easy for her. He had the jewels and
plate valued--roughly--at £3,000; and although he would not
surrender them till the will could be proved and she could show
letters of administration, he consented on behalf of the bank to
make her a loan of 30,000 francs.

On November 10th, a German soldier who followed Vivien about with
humble fidelity since she had cured him of a bad whitlow--and also
because, as he said, it was a joy to speak English once more--for he
had been a waiter at the Savoy Hotel--came to her in the Boulevard
d'Anspach and said "The Red flag, lady, he fly from Kommandantur.
With us I think it is Kaput." This was what Vivien had been waiting
for. Asking the man to follow her, she first stopped outside a shop
of military equipment, and after a brief inspection of its goods
entered and purchased a short, not too flexible riding-whip, with a
heavy handle. Then as the trams were densely crowded, she walked at
a rapid pace--glancing round ever and again to see that her German
soldier was following--up the Boulevard du Jardin Botanique and
along the Rue Royale until she came to the Hotel Impérial. Here she
halted for a minute to have the soldier close behind her; then gave
the revolving door a turn and found herself and him in the marble
hall once built for Mrs. Warren's florid taste. "Call the Manager,"
she said--trying not to pant--to two Belgian servants who came up,
a porter and a lift man. The Manager--he who had ejected her and her
mother in 1915--was fortunately a little while in appearing. He was
really packing up with energy so as to depart with all the plunder
he could transport before the way of escape was closed. This little
delay enabled Vivien to get her breath and resume an impressive
calm.

"Well: what you want?" the Manager said insolently, recollecting
her.

"This first," she said, seizing him suddenly by his coat collar.

"I want--to--give--you--the--soundest--thrashing you have ever
had..."

And before he could offer any effective resistance she had lashed
him well with the riding _cravache_ about the shoulders, hands, back
and face. He wrenched himself free and crouched ready for a counter
attack. But the Belgian servants intervened and tripped him up; and
the German soldier--the ex-waiter from the Savoy--said that Madame
was by nature so kind that there must be some good reason for this
chastisement.

"There is," she replied, now she had got her breath and was inwardly
feeling ashamed at her resort to such violent methods.

"Three years ago, this creature turned my mother and myself out of
this hotel with such violence that my mother died of it a few
minutes afterwards. He stole our money and much of our property. I
have inherited from my mother, to whom this hotel once belonged, a
right over certain rooms which she used to occupy. I resume that
right from to-day. I shall go to them now. As to this wretch, throw
him out on to the pavement. He can afterwards send for his luggage,
and what really is his he shall have."

Her orders were executed.

She then sent a message to Mme. Walcker and to the kind tea-shop
woman, Mme. Trouessart, close by, explaining what she had done and
why. "I shall take control of this hotel in the name of the Belgian
Company that owns it, a Company in which, through my mother, I
possess shares. I shall stay here till responsible persons take it
over and I shall resume possession of the _appartement_ that
belonged to my mother." Meantime, would Madame Trouessart engage a
few stout wenches to eke out the scanty hotel staff, most of which
being German had already commenced its flight back to the fatherland
with all the plunder it could carry off. The soldier-ex-hotel-waiter
was provisionally engaged to remain, as long as the Belgian
Government allowed him, and three stalwart British soldiers, until
the day before prisoners-of-war, were enlisted in her service and
armed with revolvers to repel any ordinary act of brigandage.

By the end of November she had the Hotel Édouard-Sept--with the
old name restored--running smoothly and ready for the new
guests--British, French officers and civilians who would follow
the King of the Belgians on his return to his capital. The
re-established Belgian authorities soon put her into possession of
the Villa Beau-séjour. The German sergeant-major here had kept faith
with her, and in return for handing over everything intact,
including the herd of cows, received a _douceur_ which amply
rewarded him for this belated honesty before he, too, set his face
towards Germany with the rest of the evacuating army. The motor-car
she had bought enabled her to fetch supplies of food from farm to
hotel and to perform many little services to Belgians who were
returning to their old homes. Madame Trouessart, not as yet having
any stock of tea with which to reopen her tea-shop to the first
incoming of curious tourists, agreed to live with Miss Warren at the
hotel and act as her deputy, if affairs took her away from Brussels.

It was at the Hotel Édouard-Sept, the place where she had been
born, that Rossiter met her when he arrived in Brussels after the
Armistice. She felt a little tremulous when his card was sent up to
her, and kept him waiting quite five minutes while she saw that her
hair was tidy and estimated before the glass the extent to which it
had gone grey. She had let it grow of late years--the days of David
Williams and Mr. Michaelis seemed very remote--and spent some time
and consideration in arranging it. Her costume was workmanlike and
that of an hotel manageress in the morning; yet distinctly set off
her figure and suited her character of an able-bodied, intellectual
woman.

       *       *       *       *       *

"Vivie!"

"Michael!"

"My _dear_! You're handsomer than ever!"

"Michael! Your khaki uniform becomes you; and I'm _so_ glad you've
got rid of that beard. _Now_ we can see your well-shaped chin. But
still: we mustn't stand here, paying one another compliments, though
this meeting is _too_ wonderful: I never thought I should see you
again. Let's come to realities. I suppose the real heart-felt
question at the back of your mind is: _can_ I let you have a room? I
can, but not a bath-room suite; they're all taken..."

_Michael_: "Nonsense! I'm going to be put up at the Palace Hotel.
Jenkins--you remember the butler of old time?--Jenkins, and my
batman, a refined brigand, a polished robber, have already been
there and commandeered something....

"No. I came here, firstly to find out if you were living; secondly
to ask you to marry me" ... (a pause) ... "and thirdly to find out
what happened to Bertie Adams. A message came through the Spanish
Legation here, a year and a half ago, to the effect that he had died
at Brussels from the consequences of the War. However, unless you
can tell me at once this is all a mistake, we can go into his
affairs later. My first question is--Oh! Bother all this cackle....
_Will_ you marry me?"

_Vivie_: "Dear, brave Bertie, whom I shall everlastingly mourn, was
shot here in Brussels by the abominable Germans, as a spy, on April
8th, 1917. He was of course no more a spy than you are or I am. The
poor devoted fool--I rage still, because I shall never be worth such
folly, such selfless devotion--got into Belgium with false
passports--American: in the hope of rescuing me. He came and
enquired here--my last address in his remembrance--and came by sheer
bad luck just as the Kaiser was about to arrive. They jumped to the
conclusion that--"

_Rossiter_: "_Awfully, cruelly_ sad. But you can give me the details
of it later on. You must have a long, long story of your own to tell
which ought to be of poignant interest. But ... will you marry me? I
suppose you know dear Linda died--was killed by a bomb in a German
air-raid last year--October, 1917. I really felt _heart-broken_
about it, but I know now I am only doing what she would have wished.
She came at last to talk about you _quite_ differently, _quite_
understanding--"

_Vivie_: "That's what all widowers say. They always declare the dead
wife begged them to marry again, and even designated her successor.
Poor Linda! Yes, I read an account of it in a copy of the _Times_;
but I couldn't of course communicate with you to say how _truly,
truly_ sorry I was. I am glad to know she spoke nicely of me. Did
she really? Or have you only made it up?"

_Michael_: "_Of course_ I haven't. She really did. Do you know, she
and I quite altered after the War began? She lost all her old
silliness and inefficiency--or at any rate only retained enough of
the old childishness to make her endearing. And I really grew to
love her. I quite forgot you. Yes: I admit it....

"But somehow, after she was dead the old feeling for you came back
... and without any disloyalty to Linda. I felt in a way--I know it
is an absurd thing for a man of science to say, for we have still no
proof--I felt somehow as though she lived still. That's why I don't
want to get rid of the Park Crescent house. Her presence seems to
linger there. But I also knew--instinctively--that she would like us
to come together.... She..."

_Waiter_ (knocking at door and slightly opening it): "Madame! Le
Général Tompkins veut vous voir. Il ajoute qu'il n'est pas habitué à
attendre. Il y a aussi M'sieur Émile Vandervelde, qui arrive
instamment et qui n'a pas d'installation..."

_Rossiter_: "Damn! Let me go and settle with 'em. Tompkins! I never
heard such cheek--"

_Vivien_: "Not at all. You forget I am Manageress." (To Waiter)
"Entrez done! Dîtes au Général que je serai à sa disposition dans
trois minutes; et montrez-lui ce que nous avons en fait de chambres.
Tous les appartements avec bain sont pris. Casez M'sieur Vandervelde
quelque part. Du reste, je descendrai."... (Waiter goes out) ...
"Michael! It is impossible to have a sentimental conversation here,
and at this hour--Eleven o'clock on a busy morning. If you want an
answer to your second question, now you've seen me, meet me outside
the Palm House of the Jardin Botanique, at 3 p.m. I'll get off
somehow for an hour just then. Don't forget! It's close by
here--along the Rue Royale. Be absolutely punctual, or else I shall
think that having _seen_ me, seen how changed I am, you have altered
your mind. I shall _quite_ understand; only I _may_ come back at
five minutes past three and accept General Tompkins. Acquaintances
ripen quickly in Brussels."

       *       *       *       *       *

In the Palm House--or rather one of its many compartments; 3.5 p.m.,
on a beautiful afternoon in early December. The sun is sinking over
outspread Brussels in a pink and yellow haze radiating from the
good-humoured-looking, orange orb. There are no other visitors to
the Palm House, at any rate not to this compartment, except the
superintending gardener--the same that cheered the last hours of
Mrs. Warren. He recognizes Vivien and salutes her gravely. Seeing
that she is accompanied by a gentleman in khaki he discreetly
withdraws out of hearing and tidies up a tree fern. Vivien and
Michael seat themselves on two green iron chairs under the fronds
and in front of grey stems.

_Vivie_: "This is a favourite place of mine for assignations. I
can't think why it is so little appreciated by young Brussels. These
palm houses are much more beautiful than anything at Kew; they are
in the heart of Brussels, over which, as you see, you have a
wonderful view. It was much more frequented when the Germans were
here. With all their brutality they did not injure this unequalled
collection of Tropical plants. They made the Palm House an allowance
of coal and coke in winter while we poor human beings went without.
I used often to come in here on a winter's day to get warm and to
forget my sorrows....

"Look at that superb Raphia--_what_ fronds! And that Phoenix
spinosa--and that Aralia--"

_Rossiter_: "Bother the Aralia. I haven't come here for a Botany
lesson. Besides, it isn't an Aralia; it's a Gomphocarpus.... Vivie!
_Will_ you marry me?"

_Vivie_: "My dear Michael: I was forty-three last October."

_Michael_: "I was _fifty-three_ last November, the day the Armistice
was signed. But I feel more like thirty-three. Life in camp has
quite rejuvenated me..."

_Vivie_ (continuing): ... "And my hair is cinder grey--an
unfortunate transition colour. And if the gardener were not looking
I should say: 'Feel my elbows ... Dreadfully bony! And my face has
become..." She turns her face towards him. He sees tears trembling
on the lower lashes of her grey eyes, but something has come into
the features, some irradiation of love--is it the light of the
sunset?--which imparts a tender youthfulness to the curvature of
cheek, lips and chin. Her face, indeed, might be of any age: it held
the undying beauty of a goddess, in whom knowledge has sweetened to
tenderness and divinity has dissolved in a need for compassion; and
the youthful assurance of a happy woman whose wish at last is
won....

For a minute she looks at him without finishing her sentence. Then
she sits up straighter and says explicitly: "Yes, I will."

       *       *       *       *       *

The gardener managed an occasional peep at them, sitting hand in
hand. He wished the idyll to last as long as the clear daylight, but
the hour for closing was four o'clock--"Il n'y avait pas à nier."
Either they were husband and wife, reunited, after years of
war-severance; or they were mature lovers, and probably of the most
respectable. In either case, the necessary hint that ecstasies must
transfer themselves at sunset from the glass houses of the Jardin
Botanique to the outer air was best conveyed on this occasion by a
discreet gift of flowers. Accordingly he went on to where exotic
lilies were blooming, picked a few blossoms, returned, came with
soft padding steps up to Vivie, offered them with a bow and "Mes
félicitations _sincères_, Madame." Vivie laughed and took the
lilies; Rossiter of course gave him a ten-franc note. And they
sauntered slowly back to the hotel.



L'ENVOI


I am reproached by such Art Critics as deign to notice my pictures
with "finishing my foregrounds over much,"--filling them with
superabundant detail, making the primroses more important than the
snow-peaks. And by my publishers with forgetting the price of paper
and the cost of printing. My jury of matrons thinks I don't know
where to leave off and that I might very well close this book on the
answer that Mrs. Warren's daughter gave to Sir Michael Rossiter's
proposal of marriage in the Palm House at Brussels. "The reader,"
they say, "can very well fill in the rest of the story for himself
or herself. It is hardly likely that Vivie will cry off at the last
moment, or Michael reconsider the plunge into a second marriage. Why
therefore waste print and paper and our eyesight in describing the
marriage ceremony, the inevitable visit to Honoria, and what Vivie
did with the property she inherited from her mother?"

No doubt they are all right. Yet I am distrustful of my readers'
judgment and imagination. I feel both want guiding, and I doubt
their knowledge of the world and goodness of heart being equal to
mine, except in rare cases.

So I throw out these indications to influence the sequels they may
plan to this story.

I think that Michael and Vivie were married at the British Legation
in Brussels between Christmas and the New Year of 1918-1919; before
that Legation was erected into an Embassy; and that the marriage
officer was kind, genial Mr. Hawk when he returned to Brussels from
The Hague and proceeded to get the Legation into working order. I am
sure Mr. Hawk entered into the spirit of the thing and gave an
informal breakfast afterwards in the Rue de Spa to which Mons. and
Mme. Walcker, Mons. and Mme. Trouessart, and the Directeur of the
prison of Saint-Gilles and his wife were invited. I think the head
gardener of the Jardin Botanique who had charge of the Tropical
houses cribbed from the collections some of the most magnificent
blooms, and presented them to Vivie on the morning of her marriage;
and that afterwards she laid the bouquet on her mother's newly
finished tomb in the cemetery of St. Josse-ten-Noode, where, the
weather being singularly mild for the time of year, the flowers
lasted fresh and blooming for several days.

I am sure she and Michael then crossed the road and passed on to the
building of the Tir National; entered it and stood for a moment in
the verandah from which Vivie had seen Bertie Adams executed; and
passed on over the tussocky grass to the graves of Bertie Adams and
Edith Cavell, where they did silent homage to the dead. I believe a
few days afterwards they visited the Senate where the victims of von
Bissing's "Terror" had been tried, browbeaten, insulted, mocked. And
the functionary who showed them over this superb national palace is
certain to have included in his exposition the once splendid
carpets which the German officers prior to their evacuation of the
Senate--all but the legislative chamber of which was used as a
barracks for rough soldiery--had sprayed and barred, streaked and
splodged with printing ink. He would also have pointed out the
three-hundred-year-old tapestries they had ripped from the walls and
the historical portraits they had slashed, and would again have
emphasized the fact that in all these senseless devastations the
officers were far worse than the men.

Also I am certain that Michael and Vivie made a pilgrimage to the
prison of Saint-Gilles, and stood silently in the cell where Bertie
Adams and Vivie had spent those terrible days of suspense and
despair between April 6 and April 8, 1917; and that when they
entered that other compartment of the prison where Edith Cavell had
passed her last days before her execution, they listened with
sympathetic reverence to the recital by the Directeur of verses from
"l'Hymne d'Édith Cavell"--as it is now called--no other than the sad
old poem of human sorrow, _Abide with me_; and that they appreciated
to the full the warmth of Belgian feeling which has turned the cell
of Edith Cavell into a Chapelle Ardente in perpetuity.

I think they returned to England in January, 1919, so that Michael
might get back quickly to his work of mending the maimed, now
transferred to English hospitals; and so that Vivie--always a
practical woman--should prove her mother's will, secure her heritage
and have it in hand as a fund from which to promote all the
happiness she could. I doubt whether she will give much of it to
"causes" rather than cases and to politics in preference to persons.
I think she was awfully disgusted when she was back in the England
of to-day not to find Mrs. Fawcett Prime Ministress and First Lady
of the Treasury, Annie Kenney at the Board of Trade and Christabel
Pankhurst running the Ministry of Health. It was disheartening after
the long struggle for the Woman's Vote and the equality of the sexes
in opportunity to find the same old men-muddlers in charge of all
public affairs and departments of state, and the only woman on the
benches of the House of Commons a millionaire peeress never before
identified with the struggle for the Woman's Cause.

However I think her disenchantment did not diminish the rapture at
finding herself once more in the intimacy of Honoria Armstrong. Sir
Petworth, when he ran over on leave from the Army of Occupation,
thought her enormously improved, though he had the tact not to say
so. He frankly made the _amende honorable_ for his suspicions and
churlishness of the past, and himself--I think--insisted on his
frank and friendly children calling her "Aunt Vivie." I am equally
sure that Vivie was not long in London before she appeared at dear
old Praddy's studio, beautifully gowned and looking years younger
than forty-three; and I shouldn't wonder but that her presence once
more in his circle will give his frame a fillip so that he may cheat
Death over a few more annual outbreaks of influenza. I am convinced
that he has left all his money, after providing a handsome annuity
for the parlour-maid, to Vivie, knowing that in her hands, far
more--and far more quickly than in those that direct princely and
public charities--will his funds reach the students and the
poverty-stricken artists whom he wants to benefit.

I think that after spending the first five months of 1919 in London,
getting No. 1 Park Crescent tidy again and fully repaired (because
Michael wished to pursue more thoroughly than ever his biological
researches), Vivie and Michael went off to spend their real
honeymoon in the Occupied Territory of the Rhineland, in that
never-to-be forgotten June, memorable for its splendid sunshine and
the beauty of its flowers and foliage. I think they did this
expressly (under the guise of a visit to General Armstrong), so that
Vivie and Minna von Stachelberg--now Minna Schultz--might foregather
at Bonn. Minna had married again, an officer of no family but of
means and of fine physique whom she had nursed in Brussels. His left
arm had been shattered, but the skill of the Belgian surgeons and
her devoted nursing had saved it from being amputated. She had
wished however to have him examined by some great exponent of
curative surgery at Bonn University, and the conjunction of the
celebrated Sir Michael Rossiter--who in his discussions of anatomy
with the Bonn professors forgot there had ever been a war between
Britain and Germany--was most opportune.

I think however that Sir Michael said this was all humbug on Minna's
part, and that all she wanted--her husband, Major Schultz, looking
the picture of health--was to meet once more her well-beloved Vivie.
At any rate I am sure they met in the Rhineland in a propitious
month when you could be out of doors all day and all night; and that
Minna said some time or other how happy she was in her second
marriage, and that however heartily she disliked militarism and
condemned War, soldiers made the nicest husbands. I think before she
and Vivie parted to go their several ways, they determined to work
for the building up of an Anglo-German reconciliation, and for the
advocacy in both countries of a Man-and-Woman Government.

I think, nevertheless, that Vivie being a sound business woman and
possessing a strong sense of justice on the lines of an eye for an
eye, will claim at least Five Thousand pounds from the German
Government for the devastations and thefts at the Villa Beau-séjour;
and that having got it and having disposed of her mother's jewellery
and plate for £3,500, she will present the Villa Beau-séjour
property and an endowment of £8,000 to the Town of Brussels, as an
educational orphanage for the children of Belgian soldiers who have
died in the War, where they may receive a practical education in
agriculture and poultry farming.

I fancy she gave a Thousand pounds to Pasteur Walcker's Congo
Mission; and transferred to Mme. Trouessart all her shares in and
rights over the Hotel Édouard-Sept.

I also picture to myself the Rossiters having a motor tour of pure
pleasure and delight of the eyes in South Wales in September, 1919.

I imagine their going to Pontystrad and surprising the Vicar and
Vicaress and puzzling them by purposely-diffuse stories of Vivie's
cousin the late David Vavasour Williams, intended to convey the
idea, without telling unnecessary fibs, that David died abroad
during the War, but that Vivie in his memory and that of his dear
old father intends to continue a strong personal interest in the
Village Hall and its educational aims. I also picture Vivie going
alone to Mrs. Evanwy's rose-entwined cottage. The old lady is now
rather shaky and does not walk far from her little garden with its
box bower and garden seat. I can foreshadow Vivie dispelling some of
the mystery about David Williams and being embraced by the old
Nannie with warm affection and the hearty assurances that she had
guessed the secret from the very first but had been so drawn to the
false David Williams and so sure of his honest purposes that nothing
would have induced her to undeceive the old Vicar. I can even
imagine the old lady ere--years hence--paralysis strikes her
down--telling Vivie so much gossip about the Welsh Vavasours that
Vivie becomes positively certain her mother came from that stock and
that she really was first cousin to the boy she personated for the
laudable purpose of showing how well a woman could practise at the
Bar.

I like to think also that by the present year of grace--1920--the
Rossiters will have become convinced that No. 1 Park Crescent, even
with the Zoo and the Royal Botanic Gardens close by and the
ornamental garden of Regent's Park in between, does not satisfy all
their needs and ambitions: that they will have resolved even before
this year began--to supplement it by a home in the country for
week-ends, for summer visits, and finally for rest in their old age.
That for this purpose they will acquire some ideal Grange or Priory,
or ample farmstead near Petworth and the Armstrongs' home, over
against the South Downs, and near the river Rother; that it shall be
in no mere suburb of Petworth but in a stately little village with
its own character and history going back to Roman times and a church
with a Saxon body and a Norman chancel. And that in the ideal
churchyard of this enviable church with ancient yews and 18th
century tomb-stones, and old, old benches in the sunshine for the
grandfathers and loafers of the village to sit on and smoke of a
Sabbath morning, a place shall be found for the bones of Bertie
Adams; reverently brought over from the grassy amphitheatre of the
Tir National to repose in this churchyard of West Sussex which looks
out over one of the finest cricket pitches in the county. If, then,
there is any lien between the mouldering fragments of our bodies and
the inexplicable personality which has been generated in the living
brain, the former office boy of _Fraser and Warren_ will know that
he is always present in the memory of Vivien Rossiter, that she has
placed the few physical fragments still representing him in such a
setting as would have delighted his honest, simple nature in his
lifetime. He would also know that his children are now hers and her
husband's; that his Nance very rightly married the excellent butler,
Jenkins, with whom he had discussed many a cricket score; and that
Love, after all, is stronger than Death.


THE END





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Mrs. Warren's Daughter - A Story of the Woman's Movement" ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home