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Title: Love and Mr. Lewisham
Author: Wells, H. G. (Herbert George), 1866-1946
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 "Love and Mr. Lewisham" ***

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[Illustration: "Why on earth did you put my roses here?" he asked.]






The opening chapter does not concern itself with Love--indeed that
antagonist does not certainly appear until the third--and Mr. Lewisham
is seen at his studies. It was ten years ago, and in those days he was
assistant master in the Whortley Proprietary School, Whortley, Sussex,
and his wages were forty pounds a year, out of which he had to afford
fifteen shillings a week during term time to lodge with Mrs. Munday,
at the little shop in the West Street. He was called "Mr." to
distinguish him from the bigger boys, whose duty it was to learn, and
it was a matter of stringent regulation that he should be addressed as

He wore ready-made clothes, his black jacket of rigid line was dusted
about the front and sleeves with scholastic chalk, and his face was
downy and his moustache incipient. He was a passable-looking youngster
of eighteen, fair-haired, indifferently barbered, and with a quite
unnecessary pair of glasses on his fairly prominent nose--he wore
these to make himself look older, that discipline might be
maintained. At the particular moment when this story begins he was in
his bedroom. An attic it was, with lead-framed dormer windows, a
slanting ceiling and a bulging wall, covered, as a number of torn
places witnessed, with innumerable strata of florid old-fashioned

To judge by the room Mr. Lewisham thought little of Love but much on
Greatness. Over the head of the bed, for example, where good folks
hang texts, these truths asserted themselves, written in a clear,
bold, youthfully florid hand:--"Knowledge is Power," and "What man has
done man can do,"--man in the second instance referring to
Mr. Lewisham. Never for a moment were these things to be
forgotten. Mr. Lewisham could see them afresh every morning as his
head came through his shirt. And over the yellow-painted box upon
which--for lack of shelves--Mr. Lewisham's library was arranged, was a
"_Schema_." (Why he should not have headed it "Scheme," the editor of
the _Church Times_, who calls his miscellaneous notes "_Varia_," is
better able to say than I.) In this scheme, 1892 was indicated as the
year in which Mr. Lewisham proposed to take his B.A. degree at the
London University with "hons. in all subjects," and 1895 as the date
of his "gold medal." Subsequently there were to be "pamphlets in the
Liberal interest," and such like things duly dated. "Who would control
others must first control himself," remarked the wall over the
wash-hand stand, and behind the door against the Sunday trousers was a
portrait of Carlyle.

These were no mere threats against the universe; operations had
begun. Jostling Shakespeare, Emerson's Essays, and the penny Life of
Confucius, there were battered and defaced school books, a number of
the excellent manuals of the Universal Correspondence Association,
exercise books, ink (red and black) in penny bottles, and an
india-rubber stamp with Mr. Lewisham's name. A trophy of bluish green
South Kensington certificates for geometrical drawing, astronomy,
physiology, physiography, and inorganic chemistry adorned his further
wall. And against the Carlyle portrait was a manuscript list of French
irregular verbs.

Attached by a drawing-pin to the roof over the wash-hand stand,
which--the room being an attic--sloped almost dangerously, dangled a
Time-Table. Mr. Lewisham was to rise at five, and that this was no
vain boasting, a cheap American alarum clock by the books on the box
witnessed. The lumps of mellow chocolate on the papered ledge by the
bed-head indorsed that evidence. "French until eight," said the
time-table curtly. Breakfast was to be eaten in twenty minutes; then
twenty-five minutes of "literature" to be precise, learning extracts
(preferably pompous) from the plays of William Shakespeare--and then
to school and duty. The time-table further prescribed Latin
Composition for the recess and the dinner hour ("literature," however,
during the meal), and varied its injunctions for the rest of the
twenty-four hours according to the day of the week. Not a moment for
Satan and that "mischief still" of his. Only three-score and ten has
the confidence, as well as the time, to be idle.

But just think of the admirable quality of such a scheme! Up and busy
at five, with all the world about one horizontal, warm, dreamy-brained
or stupidly hullish, if roused, roused only to grunt and sigh and roll
over again into oblivion. By eight three hours' clear start, three
hours' knowledge ahead of everyone. It takes, I have been told by an
eminent scholar, about a thousand hours of sincere work to learn a
language completely--after three or four languages much less--which
gives you, even at the outset, one each a year before breakfast. The
gift of tongues--picked up like mushrooms! Then that "literature"--an
astonishing conception! In the afternoon mathematics and the
sciences. Could anything be simpler or more magnificent? In six years
Mr. Lewisham will have his five or six languages, a sound, all-round
education, a habit of tremendous industry, and be still but
four-and-twenty. He will already have honour in his university and
ampler means. One realises that those pamphlets in the Liberal
interests will be no obscure platitudes. Where Mr. Lewisham will be at
thirty stirs the imagination. There will be modifications of the
Schema, of course, as experience widens. But the spirit of it--the
spirit of it is a devouring flame!

He was sitting facing the diamond-framed window, writing, writing
fast, on a second yellow box that was turned on end and empty, and the
lid was open, and his knees were conveniently stuck into the
cavity. The bed was strewn with books and copygraphed sheets of
instructions from his remote correspondence tutors. Pursuant to the
dangling time-table he was, you would have noticed, translating Latin
into English.

Imperceptibly the speed of his writing diminished. "_Urit me Glycerae
nitor_" lay ahead and troubled him. "Urit me," he murmured, and his
eyes travelled from his book out of window to the vicar's roof
opposite and its ivied chimneys. His brows were knit at first and then
relaxed. "_Urit me_!" He had put his pen into his mouth and glanced
about for his dictionary. _Urare_?

Suddenly his expression changed. Movement dictionary-ward ceased. He
was listening to a light tapping sound--it was a footfall--outside.

He stood up abruptly, and, stretching his neck, peered through his
unnecessary glasses and the diamond panes down into the
street. Looking acutely downward he could see a hat daintily trimmed
with pinkish white blossom, the shoulder of a jacket, and just the
tips of nose and chin. Certainly the stranger who sat under the
gallery last Sunday next the Frobishers. Then, too, he had seen her
only obliquely....

He watched her until she passed beyond the window frame. He strained
to see impossibly round the corner....

Then he started, frowned, took his pen from his mouth. "This wandering
attention!" he said. "The slightest thing! Where was I? Tcha!" He
made a noise with his teeth to express his irritation, sat down, and
replaced his knees in the upturned box. "Urit me," he said, biting the
end of his pen and looking for his dictionary.

It was a Wednesday half-holiday late in March, a spring day glorious
in amber light, dazzling white clouds and the intensest blue, casting
a powder of wonderful green hither and thither among the trees and
rousing all the birds to tumultuous rejoicings, a rousing day, a
clamatory insistent day, a veritable herald of summer. The stir of
that anticipation was in the air, the warm earth was parting above the
swelling seeds, and all the pine-woods were full of the minute
crepitation of opening bud scales. And not only was the stir of Mother
Nature's awakening in the earth and the air and the trees, but also in
Mr. Lewisham's youthful blood, bidding him rouse himself to live--live
in a sense quite other than that the Schema indicated.

He saw the dictionary peeping from under a paper, looked up "Urit me,"
appreciated the shining "nitor" of Glycera's shoulders, and so fell
idle again to rouse himself abruptly.

"I _can't_ fix my attention," said Mr. Lewisham. He took off the
needless glasses, wiped them, and blinked his eyes. This confounded
Horace and his stimulating epithets! A walk?

"I won't be beat," he said--incorrectly--replaced his glasses, brought
his elbows down on either side of his box with resonant violence, and
clutched the hair over his ears with both hands....

In five minutes' time he found himself watching the swallows curving
through the blue over the vicarage garden.

"Did ever man have such a bother with himself as me?" he asked vaguely
but vehemently. "It's self-indulgence does it--sitting down's the
beginning of laziness."

So he stood up to his work, and came into permanent view of the
village street. "If she has gone round the corner by the post office,
she will come in sight over the palings above the allotments,"
suggested the unexplored and undisciplined region of Mr. Lewisham's

She did not come into sight. Apparently she had not gone round by the
post office after all. It made one wonder where she had gone. Did she
go up through the town to the avenue on these occasions?... Then
abruptly a cloud drove across the sunlight, the glowing street went
cold and Mr. Lewisham's imagination submitted to control. So "_Mater
saeva cupidinum_," "The untamable mother of desires,"--Horace (Book
II. of the Odes) was the author appointed by the university for
Mr. Lewisham's matriculation--was, after all, translated to its
prophetic end.

Precisely as the church clock struck five Mr. Lewisham, with a
punctuality that was indeed almost too prompt for a really earnest
student, shut his Horace, took up his Shakespeare, and descended the
narrow, curved, uncarpeted staircase that led from his garret to the
living room in which he had his tea with his landlady, Mrs.
Munday. That good lady was alone, and after a few civilities
Mr. Lewisham opened his Shakespeare and read from a mark onward--that
mark, by-the-bye, was in the middle of a scene--while he consumed
mechanically a number of slices of bread and whort jam.

Mrs. Munday watched him over her spectacles and thought how bad so
much reading must be for the eyes, until the tinkling of her shop-bell
called her away to a customer. At twenty-five minutes to six he put
the book back in the window-sill, dashed a few crumbs from his jacket,
assumed a mortar-board cap that was lying on the tea-caddy, and went
forth to his evening "preparation duty."

The West Street was empty and shining golden with the sunset. Its
beauty seized upon him, and he forgot to repeat the passage from Henry
VIII. that should have occupied him down the street. Instead he was
presently thinking of that insubordinate glance from his window and of
little chins and nose-tips. His eyes became remote in their

The school door was opened by an obsequious little boy with "lines" to
be examined.

Mr. Lewisham felt a curious change of atmosphere on his entry. The
door slammed behind him. The hall with its insistent scholastic
suggestions, its yellow marbled paper, its long rows of hat-pegs, its
disreputable array of umbrellas, a broken mortar-board and a tattered
and scattered _Principia_, seemed dim and dull in contrast with the
luminous stir of the early March evening outside. An unusual sense of
the greyness of a teacher's life, of the greyness indeed of the life
of all studious souls came, and went in his mind. He took the "lines,"
written painfully over three pages of exercise book, and obliterated
them with a huge G.E.L., scrawled monstrously across each page. He
heard the familiar mingled noises of the playground drifting in to him
through the open schoolroom door.



A flaw in that pentagram of a time-table, that pentagram by which the
demons of distraction were to be excluded from Mr. Lewisham's career
to Greatness, was the absence of a clause forbidding study out of
doors. It was the day after the trivial window peeping of the last
chapter that this gap in the time-table became apparent, a day if
possible more gracious and alluring than its predecessor, and at
half-past twelve, instead of returning from the school directly to his
lodging, Mr. Lewisham escaped through the omission and made his
way--Horace in pocket--to the park gates and so to the avenue of
ancient trees that encircles the broad Whortley domain. He dismissed a
suspicion of his motive with perfect success. In the avenue--for the
path is but little frequented--one might expect to read undisturbed.
The open air, the erect attitude, are surely better than sitting in a
stuffy, enervating bedroom. The open air is distinctly healthy, hardy,

The day was breezy, and there was a perpetual rustling, a going and
coming in the budding trees.

The network of the beeches was full of golden sunlight, and all the
lower branches were shot with horizontal dashes of new-born green.

    "_Tu, nisi ventis
    Debes ludibrium, cave_."

was the appropriate matter of Mr. Lewisham's thoughts, and he was
mechanically trying to keep the book open in three places at once, at
the text, the notes, and the literal translation, while he turned up
the vocabulary for _ludibrium_, when his attention, wandering
dangerously near the top of the page, fell over the edge and escaped
with incredible swiftness down the avenue....

A girl, wearing a straw hat adorned with white blossom, was advancing
towards him. Her occupation, too, was literary. Indeed, she was so
busy writing that evidently she did not perceive him.

Unreasonable emotions descended upon Mr. Lewisham--emotions that are
unaccountable on the mere hypothesis of a casual meeting. Something
was whispered; it sounded suspiciously like "It's her!" He advanced
with his fingers in his book, ready to retreat to its pages if she
looked up, and watched her over it. _Ludibrium_ passed out of his
universe. She was clearly unaware of his nearness, he thought, intent
upon her writing, whatever that might be. He wondered what it might
be. Her face, foreshortened by her downward regard, seemed
infantile. Her fluttering skirt was short, and showed her shoes and
ankles. He noted her graceful, easy steps. A figure of health and
lightness it was, sunlit, and advancing towards him, something, as he
afterwards recalled with a certain astonishment, quite outside the

Nearer she came and nearer, her eyes still downcast. He was full of
vague, stupid promptings towards an uncalled-for intercourse. It was
curious she did not see him. He began to expect almost painfully the
moment when she would look up, though what there was to expect--! He
thought of what she would see when she discovered him, and wondered
where the tassel of his cap might be hanging--it sometimes occluded
one eye. It was of course quite impossible to put up a hand and
investigate. He was near trembling with excitement. His paces, acts
which are usually automatic, became uncertain and difficult. One might
have thought he had never passed a human being before. Still nearer,
ten yards now, nine, eight. Would she go past without looking up?...

Then their eyes met.

She had hazel eyes, but Mr. Lewisham, being quite an amateur about
eyes, could find no words for them. She looked demurely into his
face. She seemed to find nothing there. She glanced away from him
among the trees, and passed, and nothing remained in front of him but
an empty avenue, a sunlit, green-shot void.

The incident was over.

From far away the soughing of the breeze swept towards him, and in a
moment all the twigs about him were quivering and rustling and the
boughs creaking with a gust of wind. It seemed to urge him away from
her. The faded dead leaves that had once been green and young sprang
up, raced one another, leapt, danced and pirouetted, and then
something large struck him on the neck, stayed for a startling moment,
and drove past him up the avenue.

Something vividly white! A sheet of paper--the sheet upon which she
had been writing!

For what seemed a long time he did not grasp the situation. He glanced
over his shoulder and understood suddenly. His awkwardness
vanished. Horace in hand, he gave chase, and in ten paces had secured
the fugitive document. He turned towards her, flushed with triumph,
the quarry in his hand. He had as he picked it up seen what was
written, but the situation dominated him for the instant. He made a
stride towards her, and only then understood what he had seen. Lines
of a measured length and capitals! Could it really be--? He
stopped. He looked again, eyebrows rising. He held it before him,
staring now quite frankly. It had been written with a stylographic
pen. Thus it ran:--

"_Come! Sharp's the word._"

And then again,

"_Come! Sharp's the word._"

And then,

"_Come! Sharp's the word._"

"_Come! Sharp's the word._"

And so on all down the page, in a boyish hand uncommonly like
Frobisher ii.'s.

Surely! "I say!" said Mr. Lewisham, struggling with, the new aspect
and forgetting all his manners in his surprise.... He remembered
giving the imposition quite well:--Frobisher ii. had repeated the
exhortation just a little too loudly--had brought the thing upon
himself. To find her doing this jarred oddly upon certain vague
preconceptions he had formed of her. Somehow it seemed as if she had
betrayed him. That of course was only for the instant.

She had come up with him now. "May I have my sheet of paper, please?"
she said with a catching of her breath. She was a couple of inches
less in height than he. Do you observe her half-open lips? said Mother
Nature in a noiseless aside to Mr. Lewisham--a thing he afterwards
recalled. In her eyes was a touch of apprehension.

"I say," he said, with protest still uppermost, "you oughtn't to do

"Do what?"

"This. Impositions. For my boys."

She raised her eyebrows, then knitted them momentarily, and looked at
him. "Are _you_ Mr. Lewisham?" she asked with an affectation of entire
ignorance and discovery.

She knew him perfectly well, which was one reason why she was writing
the imposition, but pretending not to know gave her something to say.

Mr. Lewisham nodded.

"Of all people! Then"--frankly--"you have just found me out."

"I am afraid I have," said Lewisham. "I am afraid I _have_ found you

They looked at one another for the next move. She decided to plead in

"Teddy Frobisher is my cousin. I know it's very wrong, but he seemed
to have such a lot to do and to be in _such_ trouble. And I had
nothing to do. In fact, it was _I_ who offered...."

She stopped and looked at him. She seemed to consider her remark

That meeting of the eyes had an oddly disconcerting quality. He tried
to keep to the business of the imposition. "You ought not to have done
that," he said, encountering her steadfastly.

She looked down and then into his face again. "No," she said. "I
suppose I ought not to. I'm very sorry."

Her looking down and up again produced another unreasonable effect. It
seemed to Lewisham that they were discussing something quite other
than the topic of their conversation; a persuasion patently absurd and
only to be accounted for by the general disorder of his faculties. He
made a serious attempt to keep his footing of reproof.

"I should have detected the writing, you know."

"Of course you would. It was very wrong of me to persuade him. But I
did--I assure you. He seemed in such trouble. And I thought--"

She made another break, and there was a faint deepening of colour in
her cheeks. Suddenly, stupidly, his own adolescent cheeks began to
glow. It became necessary to banish that sense of a duplicate topic

"I can assure you," he said, now very earnestly, "I never give a
punishment, never, unless it is merited. I make that a rule.
I--er--_always_ make that a rule. I am very careful indeed."

"I am really sorry," she interrupted with frank contrition. "It _was_
silly of me."

Lewisham felt unaccountably sorry she should have to apologise, and he
spoke at once with the idea of checking the reddening of his face. "I
don't think _that_," he said with a sort of belated alacrity. "Really,
it was kind of you, you know--very kind of you indeed. And I know
that--I can quite understand that--er--your kindness...."

"Ran away with me. And now poor little Teddy will get into worse
trouble for letting me...."

"Oh no," said Mr. Lewisham, perceiving an opportunity and trying not
to smile his appreciation of what he was saying. "I had no business to
read this as I picked it up--absolutely no business. Consequently...."

"You won't take any notice of it? Really!"

"Certainly not," said Mr. Lewisham.

Her face lit with a smile, and Mr. Lewisham's relaxed in sympathy. "It
is nothing--it's the proper thing for me to do, you know."

"But so many people won't do it. Schoolmasters are not usually

He was chivalrous! The phrase acted like a spur. He obeyed a foolish

"If you like--" he said.


"He needn't do this. The Impot., I mean. I'll let him off."


"I can."

"It's awfully kind of you."

"I don't mind," he said. "It's nothing much. If you really think ..."

He was full of self-applause for this scandalous sacrifice of justice.

"It's awfully kind of you," she said.

"It's nothing, really," he explained, "nothing."

"Most people wouldn't--"

"I know."


"It's all right," he said. "Really."

He would have given worlds for something more to say, something witty
and original, but nothing came.

The pause lengthened. She glanced over her shoulder down the vacant
avenue. This interview--this momentous series of things unsaid was
coming to an end! She looked at him hesitatingly and smiled again. She
held out her hand. No doubt that was the proper thing to do. He took
it, searching a void, tumultuous mind in vain.

"It's awfully kind of you," she said again as she did so.

"It don't matter a bit," said Mr. Lewisham, and sought vainly for some
other saying, some doorway remark into new topics. Her hand was cool
and soft and firm, the most delightful thing to grasp, and this
observation ousted all other things. He held it for a moment, but
nothing would come.

They discovered themselves hand in hand. They both laughed and felt
"silly." They shook hands in the manner of quite intimate friends, and
snatched their hands away awkwardly. She turned, glanced timidly at
him over her shoulder, and hesitated. "Good-bye," she said, and was
suddenly walking from him.

He bowed to her receding back, made a seventeenth-century sweep with
his college cap, and then some hitherto unexplored regions of his mind
flashed into revolt.

Hardly had she gone six paces when he was at her side again.

"I say," he said with a fearful sense of his temerity, and raising his
mortar-board awkwardly as though he was passing a funeral. "But that
sheet of paper ..."

"Yes," she said surprised--quite naturally.

"May I have it?"


He felt a breathless pleasure, like that of sliding down a slope of
snow. "I would like to have it."

She smiled and raised her eyebrows, but his excitement was now too
great for smiling. "Look here!" she said, and displayed the sheet
crumpled into a ball. She laughed--with a touch of effort.

"I don't mind that," said Mr. Lewisham, laughing too. He captured the
paper by an insistent gesture and smoothed it out with fingers that

"You don't mind?" he said.

"Mind what?"

"If I keep it?"

"Why should I?"

Pause. Their eyes met again. There was an odd constraint about both of
them, a palpitating interval of silence.

"I really _must_ be going," she said suddenly, breaking the spell by
an effort. She turned about and left him with the crumpled piece of
paper in the fist that held the book, the other hand lifting the
mortar board in a dignified salute again.

He watched her receding figure. His heart was beating with remarkable
rapidity. How light, how living she seemed! Little round flakes of
sunlight raced down her as she went. She walked fast, then slowly,
looking sideways once or twice, but not back, until she reached the
park gates. Then she looked towards him, a remote friendly little
figure, made a gesture of farewell, and disappeared.

His face was flushed and his eyes bright. Curiously enough, he was out
of breath. He stared for a long time at the vacant end of the
avenue. Then he turned his eyes to his trophy gripped against the
closed and forgotten Horace in his hand.



On Sunday it was Lewisham's duty to accompany the boarders twice to
church. The boys sat in the gallery above the choirs facing the organ
loft and at right angles to the general congregation. It was a
prominent position, and made him feel painfully conspicuous, except in
moods of exceptional vanity, when he used to imagine that all these
people were thinking how his forehead and his certificates
accorded. He thought a lot in those days of his certificates and
forehead, but little of his honest, healthy face beneath it. (To tell
the truth there was nothing very wonderful about his forehead.) He
rarely looked down the church, as he fancied to do so would be to meet
the collective eye of the congregation regarding him. So that in the
morning he was not able to see that the Frobishers' pew was empty
until the litany.

But in the evening, on the way to church, the Frobishers and their
guest crossed the market-square as his string of boys marched along
the west side. And the guest was arrayed in a gay new dress, as if it
was already Easter, and her face set in its dark hair came with a
strange effect of mingled freshness and familiarity. She looked at him
calmly! He felt very awkward, and was for cutting his new
acquaintance. Then hesitated, and raised his hat with a jerk as if to
Mrs. Frobisher. Neither lady acknowledged his salute, which may
possibly have been a little unexpected. Then young Siddons dropped his
hymn-book; stooped to pick it up, and Lewisham almost fell over
him.... He entered church in a mood of black despair.

But consolation of a sort came soon enough. As _she_ took her seat she
distinctly glanced up at the gallery, and afterwards as he knelt to
pray he peeped between his fingers and saw her looking up again. She
was certainly not laughing at him.

In those days much of Lewisham's mind was still an unknown land to
him. He believed among other things that he was always the same
consistent intelligent human being, whereas under certain stimuli he
became no longer reasonable and disciplined but a purely imaginative
and emotional person. Music, for instance, carried him away, and
particularly the effect of many voices in unison whirled him off from
almost any state of mind to a fine massive emotionality. And the
evening service at Whortley church--at the evening service surplices
were worn--the chanting and singing, the vague brilliance of the
numerous candle flames, the multitudinous unanimity of the
congregation down there, kneeling, rising, thunderously responding,
invariably inebriated him. Inspired him, if you will, and turned the
prose of his life into poetry. And Chance, coming to the aid of Dame
Nature, dropped just the apt suggestion into his now highly responsive

The second hymn was a simple and popular one, dealing with the theme
of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and having each verse ending with the
word "Love." Conceive it, long drawn out and disarticulate,--

    "Faith will van ... ish in ... to sight,
    Hope be emp ... tied in deli ... ight,
    Love in Heaven will shine more bri ... ight,
      There ... fore give us Love."

At the third repetition of the refrain, Lewisham looked down across
the chancel and met her eyes for a brief instant....

He stopped singing abruptly. Then the consciousness of the serried
ranks of faces below there came with almost overwhelming force upon
him, and he dared not look at her again. He felt the blood rushing to
his face.

Love! The greatest of these. The greatest of all things. Better than
fame. Better than knowledge. So came the great discovery like a flood
across his mind, pouring over it with the cadence of the hymn and
sending a tide of pink in sympathy across his forehead. The rest of
the service was phantasmagorial background to that great reality--a
phantasmagorial background a little inclined to stare. He,
Mr. Lewisham, was in Love.

"A ... men." He was so preoccupied that he found the whole
congregation subsiding into their seats, and himself still standing,
rapt. He sat down spasmodically, with an impact that seemed to him to
re-echo through the church.

As they came out of the porch into the thickening night, he seemed to
see her everywhere. He fancied she had gone on in front, and he
hurried up the boys in the hope of overtaking her. They pushed through
the throng of dim people going homeward. Should he raise his hat to
her again?... But it was Susie Hopbrow in a light-coloured dress--a
raven in dove's plumage. He felt a curious mixture of relief and
disappointment. He would see her no more that night.

He hurried from the school to his lodging. He wanted very urgently to
be alone. He went upstairs to his little room and sat before the
upturned box on which his Butler's Analogy was spread open. He did not
go to the formality of lighting the candle. He leant back and gazed
blissfully at the solitary planet that hung over the vicarage garden.

He took out of his pocket a crumpled sheet of paper, smoothed and
carefully refolded, covered with a writing not unlike that of
Frobisher ii., and after some maidenly hesitation pressed this
treasure to his lips. The Schema and the time-table hung in the
darkness like the mere ghosts of themselves.

Mrs. Munday called him thrice to his supper.

He went out immediately after it was eaten and wandered under the
stars until he came over the hill behind the town again, and clambered
up the back to the stile in sight of the Frobishers' house. He
selected the only lit window as hers. Behind the blind, Mrs.
Frobisher, thirty-eight, was busy with her curl-papers--she used
papers because they were better for the hair--and discussing certain
neighbours in a fragmentary way with Mr. Frobisher, who was in
bed. Presently she moved the candle to examine a faint discolouration
of her complexion that rendered her uneasy.

Outside, Mr. Lewisham (eighteen) stood watching the orange oblong for
the best part of half an hour, until it vanished and left the house
black and blank. Then he sighed deeply and returned home in a very
glorious mood indeed.

He awoke the next morning feeling extremely serious, but not clearly
remembering the overnight occurrences. His eye fell on his clock. The
time was six and he had not heard the alarum; as a matter of fact the
alarum had not been wound up. He jumped out of bed at once and
alighted upon his best trousers amorphously dropped on the floor
instead of methodically cast over a chair. As he soaped his head he
tried, according to his rules of revision, to remember the overnight
reading. He could not for the life of him. The truth came to him as he
was getting into his shirt. His head, struggling in its recesses,
became motionless, the handless cuffs ceased to dangle for a

Then his head came through slowly with a surprised expression upon his
face. He remembered. He remembered the thing as a bald discovery, and
without a touch of emotion. With all the achromatic clearness, the
unromantic colourlessness of the early morning....

Yes. He had it now quite distinctly. There had been no overnight
reading. He was in Love.

The proposition jarred with some vague thing in his mind. He stood
staring for a space, and then began looking about absent-mindedly for
his collar-stud. He paused in front of his Schema, regarding it.



"Work must be done anyhow," said Mr. Lewisham.

But never had the extraordinary advantages of open-air study presented
themselves so vividly. Before breakfast he took half an hour of
open-air reading along the allotments lane near the Frobishers' house,
after breakfast and before school he went through the avenue with a
book, and returned from school to his lodgings circuitously through
the avenue, and so back to the avenue for thirty minutes or so before
afternoon school. When Mr. Lewisham was not looking over the top of
his book during these periods of open-air study, then commonly he was
glancing over his shoulder. And at last who should he see but--!

He saw her out of the corner of his eye, and he turned away at once,
pretending not to have seen her. His whole being was suddenly
irradiated with emotion. The hands holding his book gripped it very
tightly. He did not glance back again, but walked slowly and
steadfastly, reading an ode that he could not have translated to save
his life, and listening acutely for her approach. And after an
interminable time, as it seemed, came a faint footfall and the swish
of skirts behind him.

He felt as though his head was directed forward by a clutch of iron.

"Mr. Lewisham," she said close to him, and he turned with a quality of
movement that was almost convulsive. He raised his cap clumsily.

He took her extended hand by an afterthought, and held it until she
withdrew it. "I am so glad to have met you," she said.

"So am I," said Lewisham simply.

They stood facing one another for an expressive moment, and then by a
movement she indicated her intention to walk along the avenue with
him. "I wanted so much," she said, looking down at her feet, "to thank
you for letting Teddy off, you know. That is why I wanted to see you."
Lewisham took his first step beside her. "And it's odd, isn't it," she
said, looking up into his face, "that I should meet you here in just
the same place. I believe ... Yes. The very same place we met before."

Mr. Lewisham was tongue-tied.

"Do you often come here?" she said.

"Well," he considered--and his voice was most unreasonably hoarse when
he spoke--"no. No.... That is--At least not often. Now and then. In
fact, I like it rather for reading and that sort of thing. It's so

"I suppose you read a great deal?"

"When one teaches one has to."

"But you ..."

"I'm rather fond of reading, certainly. Are you?"

"I _love_ it."

Mr. Lewisham was glad she loved reading. He would have been
disappointed had she answered differently. But she spoke with real
fervour. She _loved_ reading! It was pleasant. She would understand
him a little perhaps. "Of course," she went on, "I'm not clever like
some people are. And I have to read books as I get hold of them."

"So do I," said Mr. Lewisham, "for the matter of that.... Have you
read ... Carlyle?"

The conversation was now fairly under way. They were walking side by
side beneath the swaying boughs. Mr. Lewisham's sensations were
ecstatic, marred only by a dread of some casual boy coming upon
them. She had not read _much_ Carlyle. She had always wanted to, even
from quite a little girl--she had heard so much about him. She knew he
was a Really Great Writer, a _very_ Great Writer indeed. All she _had_
read of him she liked. She could say that. As much as she liked
anything. And she had seen his house in Chelsea.

Lewisham, whose knowledge of London had been obtained by excursion
trips on six or seven isolated days, was much impressed by this. It
seemed to put her at once on a footing of intimacy with this imposing
Personality. It had never occurred to him at all vividly that these
Great Writers had real abiding places. She gave him a few descriptive
touches that made the house suddenly real and distinctive to him. She
lived quite near, she said, at least within walking distance, in
Clapham. He instantly forgot the vague design of lending her his
"_Sartor Resartus_" in his curiosity to learn more about her
home. "Clapham--that's almost in London, isn't it?" he said.

"Quite," she said, but she volunteered no further information about
her domestic circumstances, "I like London," she generalised, "and
especially in winter." And she proceeded to praise London, its public
libraries, its shops, the multitudes of people, the facilities for
"doing what you like," the concerts one could go to, the theatres. (It
seemed she moved in fairly good society.) "There's always something to
see even if you only go out for a walk," she said, "and down here
there's nothing to read but idle novels. And those not new."

Mr. Lewisham had regretfully to admit the lack of such culture and
mental activity in Whortley. It made him feel terribly her
inferior. He had only his bookishness and his certificates to set
against it all--and she had seen Carlyle's house! "Down here," she
said, "there's nothing to talk about but scandal." It was too true.

At the corner by the stile, beyond which the willows were splendid
against the blue with silvery aments and golden pollen, they turned by
mutual impulse and retraced their steps. "I've simply had no one to
talk to down here," she said. "Not what _I_ call talking."

"I hope," said Lewisham, making a resolute plunge, "perhaps while you
are staying at Whortley ..."

He paused perceptibly, and she, following his eyes, saw a voluminous
black figure approaching. "We may," said Mr. Lewisham, resuming his
remark, "chance to meet again, perhaps."

He had been about to challenge her to a deliberate meeting. A certain
delightful tangle of paths that followed the bank of the river had
been in his mind. But the apparition of Mr. George Bonover, headmaster
of the Whortley Proprietary School, chilled him amazingly. Dame
Nature no doubt had arranged the meeting of our young couple, but
about Bonover she seems to have been culpably careless. She now
receded inimitably, and Mr. Lewisham, with the most unpleasant
feelings, found himself face to face with a typical representative of
a social organisation which objects very strongly _inter alia_ to
promiscuous conversation on the part of the young unmarried junior

"--chance to meet again, perhaps," said Mr. Lewisham, with a sudden
lack of spirit.

"I hope so too," she said.

Pause. Mr. Bonover's features, and particularly a bushy pair of black
eyebrows, were now very near, those eyebrows already raised,
apparently to express a refined astonishment.

"Is this Mr. Bonover approaching?" she asked.


Prolonged pause.

Would he stop and accost them? At any rate this frightful silence must
end. Mr. Lewisham sought in his mind for some remark wherewith to
cover his employer's approach. He was surprised to find his mind a
desert. He made a colossal effort. If they could only talk, if they
could only seem at their ease! But this blank incapacity was eloquent
of guilt. Ah!

"It's a lovely day, though," said Mr. Lewisham. "Isn't it?"

She agreed with him. "Isn't it?" she said.

And then Mr. Bonover passed, forehead tight reefed so to speak, and
lips impressively compressed. Mr. Lewisham raised his mortar-board,
and to his astonishment Mr. Bonover responded with a markedly formal
salute--mock clerical hat sweeping circuitously--and the regard of a
searching, disapproving eye, and so passed. Lewisham was overcome with
astonishment at this improvement on the nod of their ordinary
commerce. And so this terrible incident terminated for the time.

He felt a momentary gust of indignation. After all, why should Bonover
or anyone interfere with his talking to a girl if he chose? And for
all he knew they might have been properly introduced. By young
Frobisher, say. Nevertheless, Lewisham's spring-tide mood relapsed
into winter. He was, he felt, singularly stupid for the rest of their
conversation, and the delightful feeling of enterprise that had
hitherto inspired and astonished him when talking to her had
shrivelled beyond contempt. He was glad--positively glad--when things
came to an end.

At the park gates she held out her hand. "I'm afraid I have
interrupted your reading," she said.

"Not a bit," said Mr. Lewisham, warming slightly. "I don't know when
I've enjoyed a conversation...."

"It was--a breach of etiquette, I am afraid, my speaking to you, but I
did so want to thank you...."

"Don't mention it," said Mr. Lewisham, secretly impressed by the

"Good-bye." He stood hesitating by the lodge, and then turned back up
the avenue in order not to be seen to follow her too closely up the
West Street.

And then, still walking away from her, he remembered that he had not
lent her a book as he had planned, nor made any arrangement ever to
meet her again. She might leave Whortley anywhen for the amenities of
Clapham. He stopped and stood irresolute. Should he run after her?
Then he recalled Bonover's enigmatical expression of face. He decided
that to pursue her would be altogether too conspicuous. Yet ... So he
stood in inglorious hesitation, while the seconds passed.

He reached his lodging at last to find Mrs. Munday halfway through

"You get them books of yours," said Mrs. Munday, who took a motherly
interest in him, "and you read and you read, and you take no account
of time. And now you'll have to eat your dinner half cold, and no time
for it to settle proper before you goes off to school. It's ruination
to a stummik--such ways."

"Oh, never mind my stomach, Mrs. Munday," said Lewisham, roused from a
tangled and apparently gloomy meditation; "that's _my_ affair." Quite
crossly he spoke for him.

"I'd rather have a good sensible actin' stummik than a full head,"
said Mrs. Monday, "any day."

"I'm different, you see," snapped Mr. Lewisham, and relapsed into
silence and gloom.

("Hoity toity!" said Mrs. Monday under her breath.)



Mr. Bonover, having fully matured a Hint suitable for the occasion,
dropped it in the afternoon, while Lewisham was superintending cricket
practice. He made a few remarks about the prospects of the first
eleven by way of introduction, and Lewisham agreed with him that
Frobisher i. looked like shaping very well this season.

A pause followed and the headmaster hummed. "By-the-bye," he said, as
if making conversation and still watching the play; "I,
ah,--understood that you, ah--were a _stranger_ to Whortley."

"Yes," said Lewisham, "that's so."

"You have made friends in the neighbourhood?"

Lewisham was troubled with a cough, and his ears--those confounded
ears--brightened, "Yes," he said, recovering, "Oh yes. Yes, I have."

"Local people, I presume."

"Well, no. Not exactly." The brightness spread from Lewisham's ears
over his face.

"I saw you," said Bonover, "talking to a young lady in the avenue. Her
face was somehow quite familiar to me. Who _was_ she?"

Should he say she was a friend of the Frobishers? In that case
Bonover, in his insidious amiable way, might talk to the Frobisher
parents and make things disagreeable for her. "She was," said
Lewisham, flushing deeply with the stress on his honesty and dropping
his voice to a mumble, "a ... a ... an old friend of my mother's. In
fact, I met her once at Salisbury."



"And her name?"

"Smith," said Lewisham, a little hastily, and repenting the lie even
as it left his lips.

"Well _hit_, Harris!" shouted Bonover, and began to clap his
hands. "Well _hit_, sir."

"Harris shapes very well," said Mr. Lewisham.

"Very," said Mr. Bonover. "And--what was it? Ah! I was just remarking
the odd resemblances there are in the world. There is a Miss
Henderson--or Henson--stopping with the Frobishers--in the very same
town, in fact, the very picture of your Miss ..."

"Smith," said Lewisham, meeting his eye and recovering the full
crimson note of his first blush.

"It's odd," said Bonover, regarding him pensively.

"Very odd," mumbled Lewisham, cursing his own stupidity and looking

"_Very_--very odd," said Bonover.

"In fact," said Bonover, turning towards the school-house, "I hardly
expected it of you, Mr. Lewisham."

"Expected what, sir?"

But Mr. Bonover feigned to be already out of earshot.

"Damn!" said Mr. Lewisham. "Oh!--_damn_!"--a most objectionable
expression and rare with him in those days. He had half a mind to
follow the head-master and ask him if he doubted his word. It was only
too evident what the answer would be.

He stood for a minute undecided, then turned on his heel and marched
homeward with savage steps. His muscles quivered as he walked, and his
face twitched. The tumult of his mind settled at last into angry

"Confound him!" said Mr. Lewisham, arguing the matter out with the
bedroom furniture. "Why the _devil_ can't he mind his own business?"

"Mind your own business, sir!" shouted Mr. Lewisham at the wash-hand
stand. "Confound you, sir, mind your own business!"

The wash-hand stand did.

"You overrate your power, sir," said Mr. Lewisham, a little
mollified. "Understand me! I am my own master out of school."

Nevertheless, for four days and some hours after Mr. Bonover's Hint,
Mr. Lewisham so far observed its implications as to abandon open-air
study and struggle with diminishing success to observe the spirit as
well as the letter of his time-table prescriptions. For the most part
he fretted at accumulating tasks, did them with slipshod energy or
looked out of window. The Career constituent insisted that to meet and
talk to this girl again meant reproof, worry, interference with his
work for his matriculation, the destruction of all "Discipline," and
he saw the entire justice of the insistence. It was nonsense this
being in love; there wasn't such a thing as love outside of trashy
novelettes. And forthwith his mind went off at a tangent to her eyes
under the shadow of her hat brim, and had to be lugged back by main
force. On Thursday when he was returning from school he saw her far
away down the street, and hurried in to avoid her, looking
ostentatiously in the opposite direction. But that was a
turning-point. Shame overtook him. On Friday his belief in love was
warm and living again, and his heart full of remorse for laggard days.

On Saturday morning his preoccupation with her was so vivid that it
distracted him even while he was teaching that most teachable subject,
algebra, and by the end of the school hours the issue was decided and
the Career in headlong rout. That afternoon he would go, whatever
happened, and see her and speak to her again. The thought of Bonover
arose only to be dismissed. And besides--

Bonover took a siesta early in the afternoon.

Yes, he would go out and find her and speak to her. Nothing should
stop him.

Once that decision was taken his imagination became riotous with
things he might say, attitudes he might strike, and a multitude of
vague fine dreams about her. He would say this, he would say that,
his mind would do nothing but circle round this wonderful pose of
lover. What a cur he had been to hide from her so long! What could he
have been thinking about? How _could_ he explain it to her, when the
meeting really came? Suppose he was very frank--

He considered the limits of frankness. Would she believe he had not
seen her on Thursday?--if he assured her that it was so?

And, most horrible, in the midst of all this came Bonover with a
request that he would take "duty" in the cricket field instead of
Dunkerley that afternoon. Dunkerley was the senior assistant master,
Lewisham's sole colleague. The last vestige of disapprobation had
vanished from Bonover's manner; asking a favour was his autocratic way
of proffering the olive branch. But it came to Lewisham as a cruel
imposition. For a fateful moment he trembled on the brink of
acquiescence. In a flash came a vision of the long duty of the
afternoon--she possibly packing for Clapham all the while. He turned
white. Mr. Bonover watched his face.

"_No_," said Lewisham bluntly, saying all he was sure of, and
forthwith racking his unpractised mind for an excuse. "I'm sorry I
can't oblige you, but ... my arrangements ... I've made arrangements,
in fact, for the afternoon."

Mr. Bonover's eyebrows went up at this obvious lie, and the glow of
his suavity faded, "You see," he said, "Mrs. Bonover expects a friend
this afternoon, and we rather want Mr. Dunkerley to make four at

"I'm sorry," said Mr. Lewisham, still resolute, and making a mental
note that Bonover would be playing croquet.

"You don't play croquet by any chance?" asked Bonover.

"No," said Lewisham, "I haven't an idea."

"If Mr. Dunkerley had asked you?..." persisted Bonover, knowing
Lewisham's respect for etiquette.

"Oh! it wasn't on that account," said Lewisham, and Bonover with
eyebrows still raised and a general air of outraged astonishment left
him standing there, white and stiff, and wondering at his
extraordinary temerity.



As soon as school was dismissed Lewisham made a gaol-delivery of his
outstanding impositions, and hurried back to his lodgings, to spend
the time until his dinner was ready--Well?... It seems hardly fair,
perhaps, to Lewisham to tell this; it is doubtful, indeed, whether a
male novelist's duty to his sex should not restrain him, but, as the
wall in the shadow by the diamond-framed window insisted, "_Magna est
veritas et prevalebit_." Mr. Lewisham brushed his hair with
elaboration, and ruffled it picturesquely, tried the effect of all his
ties and selected a white one, dusted his boots with an old
pocket-handkerchief, changed his trousers because the week-day pair
was minutely frayed at the heels, and inked the elbows of his coat
where the stitches were a little white. And, to be still more
intimate, he studied his callow appearance in the glass from various
points of view, and decided that his nose might have been a little
smaller with advantage....

Directly after dinner he went out, and by the shortest path to the
allotment lane, telling himself he did not care if he met Bonover
forthwith in the street. He did not know precisely what he intended to
do, but he was quite clear that he meant to see the girl he had met in
the avenue. He knew he should see her. A sense of obstacles merely
braced him and was pleasurable. He went up the stone steps out of the
lane to the stile that overlooked the Frobishers, the stile from which
he had watched the Frobisher bedroom. There he seated himself with his
arms, folded, in full view of the house.

That was at ten minutes to two. At twenty minutes to three he was
still sitting there, but his hands were deep in his jacket pockets,
and he was scowling and kicking his foot against the step with an
impatient monotony. His needless glasses had been thrust into his
waistcoat pocket--where they remained throughout the afternoon--and
his cap was tilted a little back from his forehead and exposed a wisp
of hair. One or two people had gone down the lane, and he had
pretended not to see them, and a couple of hedge-sparrows chasing each
other along the side of the sunlit, wind-rippled field had been his
chief entertainment. It is unaccountable, no doubt, but he felt angry
with her as the time crept on. His expression lowered.

He heard someone going by in the lane behind him. He would not look
round--it annoyed him to think of people seeing him in this
position. His once eminent discretion, though overthrown, still made
muffled protests at the afternoon's enterprise. The feet down the lane
stopped close at hand.

"Stare away," said Lewisham between his teeth. And then began
mysterious noises, a violent rustle of hedge twigs, a something like a
very light foot-tapping.

Curiosity boarded Lewisham and carried him after the briefest
struggle. He looked round, and there she was, her back to him,
reaching after the spiky blossoming blackthorn that crested the
opposite hedge. Remarkable accident! She had not seen him!

In a moment Lewisham's legs were flying over the stile. He went down
the steps in the bank with such impetus that it carried him up into
the prickly bushes beside her. "Allow me," he said, too excited to see
she was not astonished.

"Mr. Lewisham!" she said in feigned surprise, and stood away to give
him room at the blackthorn.

"Which spike will you have?" he cried, overjoyed. "The whitest? The
highest? Any!"

"That piece," she chose haphazard, "with the black spike sticking out
from it."

A mass of snowy blossom it was against the April sky, and Lewisham,
straggling for it--it was by no means the most accessible--saw with
fantastic satisfaction a lengthy scratch flash white on his hand, and
turn to red.

"Higher up the lane," he said, descending triumphant and breathless,
"there is blackthorn.... This cannot compare for a moment...."

She laughed and looked at him as he stood there flushed, his eyes
triumphant, with an unpremeditated approval. In church, in the
gallery, with his face foreshortened, he had been effective in a way,
but this was different. "Show me," she said, though she knew this was
the only place for blackthorn for a mile in either direction.

"I _knew_ I should see you," he said, by way of answer, "I felt sure I
should see you to-day."

"It was our last chance almost," she answered with as frank a quality
of avowal. "I'm going home to London on Monday."

"I knew," he cried in triumph. "To Clapham?" he asked.

"Yes. I have got a situation. You did not know that I was a shorthand
clerk and typewriter, did you? I am. I have just left the school, the
Grogram School. And now there is an old gentleman who wants an

"So you know shorthand?" said he. "That accounts for the stylographic
pen. Those lines were written.... I have them still."

She smiled and raised her eyebrows. "Here," said Mr. Lewisham, tapping
his breast-pocket.

"This lane," he said--their talk was curiously inconsecutive--"some
way along this lane, over the hill and down, there is a gate, and that
goes--I mean, it opens into the path that runs along the river
bank. Have you been?"

"No," she said.

"It's the best walk about Whortley. It brings you out upon Immering
Common. You _must_--before you go."

"_Now_?" she said with her eyes dancing.

"Why not?"

"I told Mrs. Frobisher I should be back by four," she said.

"It's a walk not to be lost."

"Very well," said she.

"The trees are all budding," said Mr. Lewisham, "the rushes are
shooting, and all along the edge of the river there are millions of
little white flowers floating on the water, _I_ don't know the names
of them, but they're fine.... May I carry that branch of blossom?"

As he took it their hands touched momentarily ... and there came
another of those significant gaps.

"Look at those clouds," said Lewisham abruptly, remembering the remark
he had been about to make and waving the white froth of blackthorn,
"And look at the blue between them."

"It's perfectly splendid. Of all the fine weather the best has been
kept for now. My last day. My very last day."

And off these two young people went together in a highly electrical
state--to the infinite astonishment of Mrs. Frobisher, who was looking
out of the attic window--stepping out manfully and finding the whole
world lit and splendid for their entertainment. The things they
discovered and told each other that afternoon down by the river!--that
spring was wonderful, young leaves beautiful, bud scales astonishing
things, and clouds dazzling and stately!--with an air of supreme
originality! And their naïve astonishment to find one another in
agreement upon these novel delights! It seemed to them quite outside
the play of accident that they should have met each other.

They went by the path that runs among the trees along the river bank,
and she must needs repent and wish to take the lower one, the towing
path, before they had gone three hundred yards. So Lewisham had to
find a place fit for her descent, where a friendly tree proffered its
protruding roots as a convenient balustrade, and down she clambered
with her hand in his.

Then a water-vole washing his whiskers gave occasion for a sudden
touching of hands and the intimate confidence of whispers and silence
together. After which Lewisham essayed to gather her a marsh mallow at
the peril, as it was judged, of his life, and gained it together with
a bootful of water. And at the gate by the black and shiny lock, where
the path breaks away from the river, she overcame him by an unexpected
feat, climbing gleefully to the top rail with the support of his hand,
and leaping down, a figure of light and grace, to the ground.

They struck boldly across the meadows, which were gay with lady's
smock, and he walked, by special request, between her and three
matronly cows--feeling as Perseus might have done when he fended off
the sea-monster. And so by the mill, and up a steep path to Immering
Common. Across the meadows Lewisham had broached the subject of her
occupation. "And are you really going away from here to be an
amanuensis?" he said, and started her upon the theme of herself, a
theme she treated with a specialist's enthusiasm. They dealt with it
by the comparative methods and neither noticed the light was out of
the sky until the soft feet of the advancing shower had stolen right
upon them.

"Look!" said he. "Yonder! A shed," and they ran together. She ran
laughing, and yet swiftly and lightly. He pulled her through the hedge
by both hands, and released her skirt from an amorous bramble, and so
they came into a little black shed in which a rusty harrow of gigantic
proportions sheltered. He noted how she still kept her breath after
that run.

She sat down on the harrow and hesitated. "I _must_ take off my hat,"
she said, "that rain will spot it," and so he had a chance of admiring
the sincerity of her curls--not that he had ever doubted them. She
stooped over her hat, pocket-handkerchief in hand, daintily wiping off
the silvery drops. He stood up at the opening of the shed and looked
at the country outside through the veil of the soft vehemence of the
April shower.

"There's room for two on this harrow," she said.

He made inarticulate sounds of refusal, and then came and sat down
beside her, close beside her, so that he was almost touching her. He
felt a fantastic desire to take her in his arms and kiss her, and
overcame the madness by an effort. "I don't even know your name," he
said, taking refuge from his whirling thoughts in conversation.

"Henderson," she said.

"_Miss_ Henderson?"

She smiled in his face--hesitated. "Yes--_Miss_ Henderson."

Her eyes, her atmosphere were wonderful. He had never felt quite the
same sensation before, a strange excitement, almost like a faint echo
of tears. He was for demanding her Christian name. For calling her
"dear" and seeing what she would say. He plunged headlong into a
rambling description of Bonover and how he had told a lie about her
and called her Miss Smith, and so escaped this unaccountable emotional

The whispering of the rain about them sank and died, and the sunlight
struck vividly across the distant woods beyond Immering. Just then
they had fallen on a silence again that was full of daring thoughts
for Mr. Lewisham. He moved his arm suddenly and placed it so that it
was behind her on the frame of the harrow.

"Let us go on now," she said abruptly. "The rain has stopped."

"That little path goes straight to Immering," said Mr. Lewisham.

"But, four o'clock?"

He drew out his watch, and his eyebrows went up. It was already nearly
a quarter past four.

"Is it past four?" she asked, and abruptly they were face to face with
parting. That Lewisham had to take "duty" at half-past five seemed a
thing utterly trivial. "Surely," he said, only slowly realising what
this parting meant. "But must you? I--I want to talk to you."

"Haven't you been talking to me?"

"It isn't that. Besides--no."

She stood looking at him. "I promised to be home by four," she
said. "Mrs. Frobisher has tea...."

"We may never have a chance to see one another again."


Lewisham suddenly turned very white.

"Don't leave me," he said, breaking a tense silence and with a sudden
stress in his voice. "Don't leave me. Stop with me yet--for a little
while.... You ... You can lose your way."

"You seem to think," she said, forcing a laugh, "that I live without
eating and drinking."

"I have wanted to talk to you so much. The first time I saw you.... At
first I dared not.... I did not know you would let me talk.... And
now, just as I am--happy, you are going."

He stopped abruptly. Her eyes were downcast. "No," she said, tracing a
curve with the point of her shoe. "No. I am not going."

Lewisham restrained an impulse to shout. "You will come to Immering?"
he cried, and as they went along the narrow path through the wet
grass, he began to tell her with simple frankness how he cared for her
company, "I would not change this," he said, casting about for an
offer to reject, "for--anything in the world.... I shall not be back
for duty. I don't care. I don't care what happens so long as we have
this afternoon."

"Nor I," she said.

"Thank you for coming," he said in an outburst of gratitude.--"Oh,
thank you for coming," and held out his hand. She took it and pressed
it, and so they went on hand in hand until the village street was
reached. Their high resolve to play truant at all costs had begotten
a wonderful sense of fellowship. "I can't call you Miss Henderson," he
said. "You know I can't. You know ... I must have your Christian

"Ethel," she told him.

"Ethel," he said and looked at her, gathering courage as he did
so. "Ethel," he repeated. "It is a pretty name. But no name is quite
pretty enough for you, Ethel ... _dear_."...

The little shop in Immering lay back behind a garden full of
wallflowers, and was kept by a very fat and very cheerful little
woman, who insisted on regarding them as brother and sister, and
calling them both "dearie." These points conceded she gave them an
admirable tea of astonishing cheapness. Lewisham did not like the
second condition very much, because it seemed to touch a little on his
latest enterprise. But the tea and the bread and butter and the whort
jam were like no food on earth. There were wallflowers, heavy scented,
in a jug upon the table, and Ethel admired them, and when they set out
again the little old lady insisted on her taking a bunch with her.

It was after they left Immering that this ramble, properly speaking,
became scandalous. The sun was already a golden ball above the blue
hills in the west--it turned our two young people into little figures
of flame--and yet, instead of going homeward, they took the Wentworth
road that plunges into the Forshaw woods. Behind them the moon, almost
full, hung in the blue sky above the tree-tops, ghostly and
indistinct, and slowly gathered to itself such light as the setting
sun left for it in the sky.

Going out of Immering they began to talk of the future. And for the
very young lover there is no future but the immediate future.

"You must write to me," he said, and she told him she wrote such
_silly_ letters. "But I shall have reams to write to you," he told

"How are you to write to me?" she asked, and they discussed a new
obstacle between them. It would never do to write home--never. She was
sure of that with an absolute assurance. "My mother--" she said and

That prohibition cut him, for at that time he had the makings of a
voluminous letter-writer. Yet it was only what one might expect. The
whole world was unpropitious--obdurate indeed.... A splendid isolation
_à deux_.

Perhaps she might find some place where letters might be sent to her?
Yet that seemed to her deceitful.

So these two young people wandered on, full of their discovery of
love, and yet so full too of the shyness of adolescence that the word
"Love" never passed their lips that day. Yet as they talked on, and
the kindly dusk gathered about them, their speech and their hearts
came very close together. But their speech would seem so threadbare,
written down in cold blood, that I must not put it here. To them it
was not threadbare.

When at last they came down the long road into Whortley, the silent
trees were black as ink and the moonlight made her face pallid and
wonderful, and her eyes shone like stars. She still carried the
blackthorn from which most of the blossoms had fallen. The fragrant
wallflowers were fragrant still. And far away, softened by the
distance, the Whortley band, performing publicly outside the vicarage
for the first time that year, was playing with unctuous slowness a
sentimental air. I don't know if the reader remembers it that,
favourite melody of the early eighties:--

    "Sweet dreamland faces, passing to and fro, (pum, pum)
    Bring back to Mem'ry days of long ago-o-o-oh,"

was the essence of it, very slow and tender and with an accompaniment
of pum, pum. Pathetically cheerful that pum, pum, hopelessly cheerful
indeed against the dirge of the air, a dirge accentuated by sporadic
vocalisation. But to young people things come differently.

"I _love_ music," she said.

"So do I," said he.

They came on down the steepness of West Street. They walked athwart
the metallic and leathery tumult of sound into the light cast by the
little circle of yellow lamps. Several people saw them and wondered
what the boys and girls were coming to nowadays, and one eye-witness
even subsequently described their carriage as "brazen." Mr. Lewisham
was wearing his mortarboard cap of office--there was no mistaking
him. They passed the Proprietary School and saw a yellow picture
framed and glazed, of Mr. Bonover taking duty for his aberrant
assistant master. And outside the Frobisher house at last they parted

"Good-bye," he said for the third time. "Good-bye, Ethel."

She hesitated. Then suddenly she darted towards him. He felt her hands
upon his shoulders, her lips soft and warm upon his cheek, and before
he could take hold of her she had eluded him, and had flitted into the
shadow of the house. "Good-bye," came her sweet, clear voice out of
the shadow, and while he yet hesitated an answer, the door opened.

He saw her, black in the doorway, heard some indistinct words, and
then the door closed and he was alone in the moonlight, his cheek
still glowing from her lips....

So ended Mr. Lewisham's first day with Love.



And after the day of Love came the days of Reckoning.
Mr. Lewisham. was astonished--overwhelmed almost--by that Reckoning,
as it slowly and steadily unfolded itself. The wonderful emotions of
Saturday carried him through Sunday, and he made it up with the
neglected Schema by assuring it that She was his Inspiration, and that
he would work for Her a thousand times better than he could possibly
work for himself. That was certainly not true, and indeed he found
himself wondering whither the interest had vanished out of his
theological examination of Butler's Analogy. The Frobishers were not
at church for either service. He speculated rather anxiously why?

Monday dawned coldly and clearly--a Herbert Spencer of a day--and he
went to school sedulously assuring himself there was nothing to
apprehend. Day boys were whispering in the morning apparently about
him, and Frobisher ii. was in great request. Lewisham overheard a
fragment "My mother _was_ in a wax," said Frobisher ii.

At twelve came an interview with Bonover, and voices presently rising
in angry altercation and audible to Senior-assistant Dunkerley through
the closed study door. Then Lewisham walked across the schoolroom,
staring straight before him, his cheeks very bright.

Thereby Dunkerley's mind was prepared for the news that came the next
morning over the exercise books. "When?" said Dunkerley.

"End of next term," said Lewisham.

"About this girl that's been staying at the Frobishers?"


"She's a pretty bit of goods. But it will mess up your matric next
June," said Dunkerley.

"That's what I'm sorry for."

"It's scarcely to be expected he'll give you leave to attend the

"He won't," said Lewisham shortly, and opened his first exercise
book. He found it difficult to talk.

"He's a greaser." said Dunkerley. "But there!--what can you expect
from Durham?" For Bonover had only a Durham degree, and Dunkerley,
having none, inclined to be particular. Therewith Dunkerley lapsed
into a sympathetic and busy rustling over his own pile of
exercises. It was not until the heap had been reduced to a book or so
that he spoke again--an elaborate point.

"Male and female created He them," said Dunkerley, ticking his way
down the page. "Which (tick, tick) was damned hard (tick, tick) on
assistant masters."

He closed the book with a snap and flung it on the floor behind
him. "You're lucky," he said. "I _did_ think I should be first to get
out of this scandalising hole. You're lucky. It's always acting down
here. Running on parents and guardians round every corner. That's what
I object to in life in the country: it's so confoundedly
artificial. _I_ shall take jolly good care _I_ get out of it just as
soon as ever I can. You bet!"

"And work those patents?"

"Rather, my boy. Yes. Work those patents. The Patent Square Top
Bottle! Lord! Once let me get to London...."

"I think _I_ shall have a shot at London," said Lewisham.

And then the experienced Dunkerley, being one of the kindest young men
alive, forgot certain private ambitions of his own--he cherished
dreams of amazing patents--and bethought him of agents. He proceeded
to give a list of these necessary helpers of the assistant master at
the gangway--Orellana, Gabbitas, The Lancaster Gate Agency, and the
rest of them. He knew them all--intimately. He had been a "nix" eight
years. "Of course that Kensington thing may come off," said Dunkerley,
"but it's best not to wait. I tell you frankly--the chances are
against you."

The "Kensington thing" was an application for admission to the Normal
School of Science at South Kensington, which Lewisham had made in a
sanguine moment. There being an inadequate supply of qualified science
teachers in England, the Science and Art Department is wont to offer
free instruction at its great central school and a guinea a week to
select young pedagogues who will bind themselves to teach science
after their training is over. Dunkerley had been in the habit of
applying for several years, always in vain, and Lewisham had seen no
harm in following his example. But then Dunkerley had no green-grey

So Lewisham spent all that "duty" left him of the next day composing a
letter to copy out and send the several scholastic agencies. In this
he gave a brief but appreciative sketch of his life, and enlarged upon
his discipline and educational methods. At the end was a long and
decorative schedule of his certificates and distinctions, beginning
with a good-conduct prize at the age of eight. A considerable amount
of time was required to recopy this document, but his modesty upheld
him. After a careful consideration of the time-table, he set aside the
midday hour for "Correspondence."

He found that his work in mathematics and classics was already some
time in arrears, and a "test" he had sent to his correspondence Tutor
during those troublous days after the meeting with Bonover in the
Avenue, came back blottesquely indorsed: "Below Pass Standard." This
last experience was so unprecedented and annoyed him so much that for
a space he contemplated retorting with a sarcastic letter to the
tutor. And then came the Easter recess, and he had to go home and tell
his mother, with a careful suppression of details, that he was leaving
Whortley, "Where you have been getting on so well!" cried his mother.

But that dear old lady had one consolation. She observed he had given
up his glasses--he had forgotten to bring them with him--and her
secret fear of grave optical troubles--that were being "kept" from
her---was alleviated.

Sometimes he had moods of intense regret for the folly of that
walk. One such came after the holidays, when the necessity of revising
the dates of the Schema brought before his mind, for the first time
quite clearly, the practical issue of this first struggle with all
those mysterious and powerful influences the spring-time sets
a-stirring. His dream of success and fame had been very real and dear
to him, and the realisation of the inevitable postponement of his long
anticipated matriculation, the doorway to all the other great things,
took him abruptly like an actual physical sensation in his chest.

He sprang up, pen in hand, in the midst of his corrections, and began
pacing up and down the room. "What a fool I have been!" he
cried. "What a fool I have been!"

He flung the pen on the floor and made a rush at an ill-drawn attempt
upon a girl's face that adorned the end of his room, the visible
witness of his slavery. He tore this down and sent the fragments of it


It was a relief--a definite abandonment. He stared for a moment at the
destruction he had made, and then went back to the revision of the
time-table, with a mutter about "silly spooning."

That was one mood. The rarer one. He watched the posts with far more
eagerness for the address to which he might write to her than for any
reply to those reiterated letters of application, the writing of which
now ousted Horace and the higher mathematics (Lewisham's term for
conics) from his attention. Indeed he spent more time meditating the
letter to her than even the schedule of his virtues had required.

Yet the letters of application were wonderful compositions; each had a
new pen to itself and was for the first page at least in a handwriting
far above even his usual high standard. And day after day passed and
that particular letter he hoped for still did not come.

His moods were complicated by the fact that, in spite of his studied
reticence on the subject, the reason of his departure did in an
amazingly short time get "all over Whortley." It was understood that
he had been discovered to be "fast," and Ethel's behaviour was
animadverted upon with complacent Indignation--if the phrase may be
allowed--by the ladies of the place. Pretty looks were too often a
snare. One boy--his ear was warmed therefor--once called aloud
"Ethel," as Lewisham went by. The curate, a curate of the pale-faced,
large-knuckled, nervous sort, now passed him without acknowledgment of
his existence. Mrs. Bonover took occasion to tell him that he was a
"mere boy," and once Mrs. Frobisher sniffed quite threateningly at him
when she passed him in the street. She did it so suddenly she made him

This general disapproval inclined him at times to depression, but in
certain moods he found it exhilarating, and several times he professed
himself to Dunkerley not a little of a blade. In others, he told
himself he bore it for _her_ sake. Anyhow he had to bear it.

He began to find out, too, how little the world feels the need of a
young man of nineteen--he called himself nineteen, though he had
several months of eighteen still to run--even though he adds prizes
for good conduct, general improvement, and arithmetic, and advanced
certificates signed by a distinguished engineer and headed with the
Royal Arms, guaranteeing his knowledge of geometrical drawing,
nautical astronomy, animal physiology, physiography, inorganic
chemistry, and building construction, to his youth and strength and
energy. At first he had imagined headmasters clutching at the chance
of him, and presently he found himself clutching eagerly at them. He
began to put a certain urgency into his applications for vacant posts,
an urgency that helped him not at all. The applications grew longer
and longer until they ran to four sheets of note-paper--a pennyworth
in fact. "I can assure you," he would write, "that you will find me a
loyal and devoted assistant." Much in that strain. Dunkerley pointed
out that Bonover's testimonial ignored the question of moral character
and discipline in a marked manner, and Bonover refused to alter it. He
was willing to do what he could to help Lewisham, in spite of the way
he had been treated, but unfortunately his conscience....

Once or twice Lewisham misquoted the testimonial--to no purpose. And
May was halfway through, and South Kensington was silent. The future
was grey.

And in the depths of his doubt and disappointment came her letter. It
was typewritten on thin paper. "Dear," she wrote simply, and it
seemed to him the most sweet and wonderful of all possible modes of
address, though as a matter of fact it was because she had forgotten
his Christian name and afterwards forgotten the blank she had left for

"Dear, I could not write before because I have no room at home now
where I can write a letter, and Mrs. Frobisher told my mother
falsehoods about you. My mother has surprised me dreadfully--I did not
think it of her. She told me nothing. But of that I must tell you in
another letter. I am too angry to write about it now. Even now you
cannot write back, for _you must not send letters here_. It would
_never_ do. But I think of you, dear,"--the "dear" had been erased and
rewritten--"and I must write and tell you so, and of that nice walk we
had, if I never write again. I am very busy now. My work is rather
difficult and I am afraid I am a little stupid. It is hard to be
interested in anything just because that is how you have to live, is
it not? I daresay you sometimes feel the same of school. But I
suppose everybody is doing things they don't like. I don't know when
I shall come to Whortley again, if ever, but very likely you will be
coming to London. Mrs. Frobisher said the most horrid things. It
would be nice If you could come to London, because then perhaps you
might see me. There is a big boys' school at Chelsea, and when I go by
it every morning I wish you were there. Then you would come out in
your cap and gown as I went by. Suppose some day I was to see you
there suddenly!!"

So it ran, with singularly little information in it, and ended quite
abruptly, "Good-bye, dear. Good-bye, dear," scribbled in pencil. And
then, "Think of me sometimes."

Reading it, and especially that opening "dear," made Lewisham feel the
strangest sensation in his throat and chest, almost as though he was
going to cry. So he laughed instead and read it again, and went to and
fro in his little room with his eyes bright and that precious writing
held in his hand. That "dear" was just as if she had spoken--a voice
suddenly heard. He thought of her farewell, clear and sweet, out of
the shadow of the moonlit house.

But why that "If I never write again," and that abrupt ending? Of
course he would think of her.

It was her only letter. In a little time its creases were worn

Early in June came a loneliness that suddenly changed into almost
intolerable longing to see her. He had vague dreams of going to
London, to Clapham to find her. But you do not find people in Clapham
as you do in Whortley. He spent an afternoon writing and re-writing a
lengthy letter, against the day when her address should come. If it
was to come. He prowled about the village disconsolately, and at last
set off about seven and retraced by moonlight almost every step of
that one memorable walk of theirs.

In the blackness of the shed he worked himself up to the pitch of
talking as if she were present. And he said some fine brave things.

He found the little old lady of the wallflowers with a candle in her
window, and drank a bottle of ginger beer with a sacramental air. The
little old lady asked him, a trifle archly, after his sister, and he
promised to bring her again some day. "I'll certainly bring her," he
said. Talking to the little old lady somehow blunted his sense of
desolation. And then home through the white indistinctness in a state
of melancholy that became at last so fine as to be almost pleasurable.

The day after that mood a new "text" attracted and perplexed
Mrs. Munday, an inscription at once mysterious and familiar, and this
inscription was:


It was in Old English lettering and evidently very carefully executed.

Where had she seen it before?

It quite dominated all the rest of the room at first, it flaunted like
a flag of triumph over "discipline" and the time-table and the
Schema. Once indeed it was taken down, but the day after it
reappeared. Later a list of scholastic vacancies partially obscured
it, and some pencil memoranda were written on the margin.

And when at last the time came for him to pack up and leave Whortley,
he took it down and used it with several other suitable papers--the
Schema and the time-table were its next-door neighbours--to line the
bottom of the yellow box in which he packed his books: chiefly books
for that matriculation that had now to be postponed.



There is an interval of two years and a half and the story resumes
with a much maturer Mr. Lewisham, indeed no longer a youth, but a man,
a legal man, at any rate, of one-and-twenty years. Its scene is no
longer little Whortley embedded among its trees, ruddy banks, parks
and common land, but the grey spaciousness of West London.

And it does not resume with Ethel at all. For that promised second
letter never reached him, and though he spent many an afternoon during
his first few months in London wandering about Clapham, that arid
waste of people, the meeting that he longed for never came. Until at
last, after the manner of youth, so gloriously recuperative in body,
heart, and soul, he began to forget.

The quest of a "crib" had ended in the unexpected fruition of
Dunkerley's blue paper. The green-blue certificates had, it seemed, a
value beyond mural decoration, and when Lewisham was already
despairing of any employment for the rest of his life, came a
marvellous blue document from the Education Department promising
inconceivable things. He was to go to London and be paid a guinea a
week for listening to lectures--lectures beyond his most ambitious
dreams! Among the names that swam before his eyes was Huxley--Huxley
and then Lockyer! What a chance to get! Is it any wonder that for
three memorable years the Career prevailed with him?

You figure him on his way to the Normal School of Science at the
opening of his third year of study there. (They call the place the
Royal College of Science in these latter days.) He carried in his
right hand a shiny black bag, well stuffed with text-books, notes, and
apparatus for the, forthcoming session; and in his left was a book
that the bag had no place for, a book with gilt edges, and its binding
very carefully protected by a brown paper cover.

The lapse of time had asserted itself upon his upper lip in an
inaggressive but indisputable moustache, in an added inch or so of
stature, and in his less conscious carriage. For he no longer felt
that universal attention he believed in at eighteen; it was beginning
to dawn on him indeed that quite a number of people were entirely
indifferent to the fact of his existence. But if less conscious, his
carriage was decidedly more confident--as of one with whom the world
goes well.

His costume was--with one exception--a tempered black,--mourning put
to hard uses and "cutting up rusty." The mourning was for his mother,
who had died more than a year before the date when this story resumes,
and had left him property that capitalized at nearly a hundred pounds,
a sum which Lewisham hoarded jealously in the Savings Bank, paying
only for such essentials as university fees, and the books and
instruments his brilliant career as a student demanded. For he was
having a brilliant career, after all, in spite of the Whortley check,
licking up paper certificates indeed like a devouring flame.

(Surveying him, Madam, your eye would inevitably have fallen to his
collar--curiously shiny, a surface like wet gum. Although it has
practically nothing to do with this story, I must, I know, dispose of
that before I go on, or you will be inattentive. London has its
mysteries, but this strange gloss on his linen! "Cheap laundresses
always make your things blue," protests the lady. "It ought to have
been blue-stained, generously frayed, and loose about the button,
fretting his neck. But this gloss ..." You would have looked nearer,
and finally you would have touched--a charnel-house surface, dank and
cool! You see, Madam, the collar was a patent waterproof one. One of
those you wash over night with a tooth-brush, and hang on the back of
your chair to dry, and there you have it next morning rejuvenesced. It
was the only collar he had in the world, it saved threepence a week at
least, and that, to a South Kensington "science teacher in training,"
living on the guinea a week allowed by a parental but parsimonious
government, is a sum to consider. It had come to Lewisham as a great
discovery. He had seen it first in a shop window full of indiarubber
goods, and it lay at the bottom of a glass bowl In which goldfish
drifted discontentedly to and fro. And he told himself that he rather
liked that gloss.)

But the wearing of a bright red tie would have been unexpected--a
bright red tie after the fashion of a South-Western railway guard's!
The rest of him by no means dandiacal, even the vanity of glasses long
since abandoned. You would have reflected.... Where had you seen a
crowd--red ties abundant and in some way significant? The truth has to
be told. Mr. Lewisham had become a Socialist!

That red tie was indeed but one outward and visible sign of much
inward and spiritual development. Lewisham, in spite of the demands of
a studious career, had read his Butler's Analogy through by this time,
and some other books; he had argued, had had doubts, and called upon
God for "Faith" in the silence of the night--"Faith" to be delivered
immediately if Mr. Lewisham's patronage was valued, and which
nevertheless was not so delivered.... And his conception of his
destiny in this world was no longer an avenue of examinations to a
remote Bar and political eminence "in the Liberal interest (D.V.)" He
had begun to realise certain aspects of our social order that Whortley
did not demonstrate, begun to feel something of the dull stress
deepening to absolute wretchedness and pain, which is the colour of so
much human life in modern London. One vivid contrast hung in his mind
symbolical. On the one hand were the coalies of the Westbourne Park
yards, on strike and gaunt and hungry, children begging in the black
slush, and starving loungers outside a soup kitchen; and on the other,
Westbourne Grove, two streets further, a blazing array of crowded
shops, a stirring traffic of cabs and carriages, and such a spate of
spending that a tired student in leaky boots and graceless clothes
hurrying home was continually impeded in the whirl of skirts and
parcels and sweetly pretty womanliness. No doubt the tired student's
own inglorious sensations pointed the moral. But that was only one of
a perpetually recurring series of vivid approximations.

Lewisham had a strong persuasion, an instinct it may be, that human
beings should not be happy while others near them were wretched, and
this gay glitter of prosperity had touched him with a sense of
crime. He still believed people were responsible for their own lives;
in those days he had still to gauge the possibilities of moral
stupidity in himself and his fellow-men. He happened upon "Progress
and Poverty" just then, and some casual numbers of the "Commonweal,"
and it was only too easy to accept the theory of cunning plotting
capitalists and landowners, and faultless, righteous, martyr
workers. He became a Socialist forthwith. The necessity to do
something at once to manifest the new faith that was in him was
naturally urgent. So he went out and (historical moment) bought that
red tie!

"Blood colour, please," said Lewisham meekly to the young lady at the

"_What_ colour?" said the young lady at the counter, sharply.

"A bright scarlet, please," said Lewisham, blushing. And he spent the
best part of the evening and much of his temper in finding out how to
tie this into a neat bow. It was a plunge into novel handicraft--for
previously he had been accustomed to made-up ties.

So it was that Lewisham proclaimed the Social Revolution. The first
time that symbol went abroad a string of stalwart policemen were
walking in single file along the Brompton Road. In the opposite
direction marched Lewisham. He began to hum. He passed the policemen
with a significant eye and humming the _Marseillaise_....

But that was months ago, and by this time the red tie was a thing of
use and wont.

He turned out of the Exhibition Road through a gateway of wrought
iron, and entered the hall of the Normal School. The hall was crowded
with students carrying books, bags, and boxes of instruments, students
standing and chattering, students reading the framed and glazed
notices of the Debating Society, students buying note-books, pencils,
rubber, or drawing pins from the privileged stationer. There was a
strong representation of new hands, the paying students, youths and
young men in black coats and silk hats or tweed suits, the scholar
contingent, youngsters of Lewisham's class, raw, shabby, discordant,
grotesquely ill-dressed and awe-stricken; one Lewisham noticed with a
sailor's peaked cap gold-decorated, and one with mittens and very
genteel grey kid gloves; and Grummett the perennial Official of the
Books was busy among them.

"Der Zozalist!" said a wit.

Lewisham pretended not to hear and blushed vividly. He often wished he
did not blush quite so much, seeing he was a man of one-and-twenty.
He looked studiously away from the Debating Society notice-board,
whereon "G.E. Lewisham on Socialism" was announced for the next
Friday, and struggled through the hall to where the Book awaited his
signature. Presently he was hailed by name, and then again. He could
not get to the Book for a minute or so, because of the hand-shaking
and clumsy friendly jests of his fellow-"men."

He was pointed out to a raw hand, by the raw hand's experienced
fellow-townsman, as "that beast Lewisham--awful swat. He was second
last year on the year's work. Frightful mugger. But all these swats
have a touch of the beastly prig. Exams--Debating Society--more
Exams. Don't seem to have ever heard of being alive. Never goes near a
Music Hall from one year's end to the other."

Lewisham heard a shrill whistle, made a run for the lift and caught it
just on the point of departure. The lift was unlit and full of black
shadows; only the sapper who conducted it was distinct. As Lewisham
peered doubtfully at the dim faces near him, a girl's voice addressed
him by name.

"Is that you, Miss Heydinger?" he answered. "I didn't see, I hope you
have had a pleasant vacation."



When he arrived at the top of the building he stood aside for the only
remaining passenger to step out before him. It was the Miss Heydinger
who had addressed him, the owner of that gilt-edged book in the cover
of brown paper. No one else had come all the way up from the ground
floor. The rest of the load in the lift had emerged at the
"astronomical" and "chemical" floors, but these two had both chosen
"zoology" for their third year of study, and zoology lived in the
attics. She stepped into the light, with a rare touch of colour
springing to her cheeks in spite of herself. Lewisham perceived an
alteration in her dress. Perhaps she was looking for and noticed the
transitory surprise in his face.

The previous session--their friendship was now nearly a year old--it
had never once dawned upon him that she could possibly be pretty. The
chief thing he had been able to recall with any definiteness during
the vacation was, that her hair was not always tidy, and that even
when it chanced to be so, she was nervous about it; she distrusted
it. He remembered her gesture while she talked, a patting exploration
that verged on the exasperating. From that he went on to remember
that its colour was, on the whole, fair, a light brown. But he had
forgotten her mouth, he had failed to name the colour of her eyes. She
wore glasses, it is true. And her dress was indefinite in his
memory--an amorphous dinginess.

And yet he had seen a good deal of her. They were not in the same
course, but he had made her acquaintance on the committee of the
school Debating Society. Lewisham was just then discovering
Socialism. That had afforded a basis of conversation--an incentive to
intercourse. She seemed to find something rarely interesting in his
peculiar view of things, and, as chance would have it, he met her
accidentally quite a number of times, in the corridors of the schools,
in the big Education Library, and in the Art Museum. After a time
those meetings appear to have been no longer accidental.

Lewisham for the first time in his life began to fancy he had
conversational powers. She resolved to stir up his ambitions--an easy
task. She thought he had exceptional gifts and that she might serve to
direct them; she certainly developed his vanity. She had matriculated
at the London University and they took the Intermediate Examination in
Science together in July--she a little unwisely--which served, as
almost anything will serve in such cases, as a further link between
them. She failed, which in no way diminished Lewisham's regard for
her. On the examination days they discoursed about Friendship in
general, and things like that, down the Burlington Arcade during the
lunch time--Burlington Arcade undisguisedly amused by her learned
dinginess and his red tie--and among other things that were said she
reproached him for not reading poetry. When they parted in Piccadilly,
after the examination, they agreed to write, about poetry and
themselves, during the holidays, and then she lent him, with a touch
of hesitation, Rossetti's poems. He began to forget what had at first
been very evident to him, that she was two or three years older than

Lewisham spent the vacation with an unsympathetic but kindly uncle who
was a plumber and builder. His uncle had a family of six, the eldest
eleven, and Lewisham made himself agreeable and instructive. Moreover
he worked hard for the culminating third year of his studies (in which
he had decided to do great things), and he learnt to ride the Ordinary
Bicycle. He also thought about Miss Heydinger, and she, it would seem,
thought about him.

He argued on social questions with his uncle, who was a prominent
local Conservative. His uncle's controversial methods were coarse in
the extreme. Socialists, he said, were thieves. The object of
Socialism was to take away what a man earned and give it to "a lot of
lazy scoundrels." Also rich people were necessary. "If there weren't
well-off people, how d'ye think I'd get a livin'? Hey? And where'd
_you_ be then?" Socialism, his uncle assured him, was "got up" by
agitators. "They get money out of young Gabies like you, and they
spend it in champagne." And thereafter he met Mr. Lewisham's arguments
with the word "Champagne" uttered in an irritating voice, followed by
a luscious pantomime of drinking.

Naturally Lewisham felt a little lonely, and perhaps he laid stress
upon it in his letters to Miss Heydinger. It came to light that she
felt rather lonely too. They discussed the question of True as
distinguished from Ordinary Friendship, and from that they passed to
Goethe and Elective Affinities. He told her how he looked for her
letters, and they became more frequent. Her letters were Indisputably
well written. Had he been a journalist with a knowledge of "_per
thou_." he would have known each for a day's work. After the practical
plumber had been asking what he expected to make by this here science
of his, re-reading her letters was balsamic. He liked Rossetti--the
exquisite sense of separation in "The Blessed Damozel" touched
him. But, on the whole, he was a little surprised at Miss Heydinger's
taste in poetry. Rossetti was so sensuous ... so florid. He had
scarcely expected that sort of thing.

Altogether he had returned to the schools decidedly more interested in
her than when they had parted. And the curious vague memories of her
appearance as something a little frayed and careless, vanished at
sight of her emerging from the darkness of the lift. Her hair was in
order, as the light glanced through it it looked even pretty, and she
wore a well-made, dark-green and black dress, loose-gathered as was
the fashion in those days, that somehow gave a needed touch of warmth
to her face. Her hat too was a change from the careless lumpishness of
last year, a hat that, to a feminine mind, would have indicated
design. It suited her--these things are past a male novelist's

"I have this book of yours, Miss Heydinger," he said.

"I am glad you have written that paper on Socialism," she replied,
taking the brown-covered volume.

They walked along the little passage towards the biological laboratory
side by side, and she stopped at the hat pegs to remove her hat. For
that was the shameless way of the place, a girl student had to take
her hat off publicly, and publicly assume the holland apron that was
to protect her in the laboratory. Not even a looking-glass!

"I shall come and hear your paper," she said.

"I hope you will like it," said Lewisham at the door of the

"And in the vacation I have been collecting evidence about ghosts--you
remember our arguments. Though I did not tell you in my letters."

"I'm sorry you're still obdurate," said Lewisham. "I thought that was

"And have you read 'Looking Backward'?"

"I want to."

"I have it here with my other books, if you'd care for me to lend it
to you. Wait till I reach my table. My hands are so full."

They entered the laboratory together, Lewisham holding the door open
courtly-wise, Miss Heydinger taking a reassuring pat at her hair. Near
the door was a group of four girls, which group Miss Heydinger joined,
holding the brown-covered book as inconspicuously as possible. Three
of them had been through the previous two years with her, and they
greeted her by her Christian name. They had previously exchanged
glances at her appearance in Lewisham's company.

A morose elderly young demonstrator brightened momentarily at the
sight of Lewisham. "Well, we've got one of the decent ones anyhow,"
said the morose elderly young demonstrator, who was apparently taking
an inventory, and then brightening at a fresh entry. "Ah! and here's



As one goes into the South Kensington Art Museum from the Brompton
Road, the Gallery of Old Iron is overhead to the right. But the way
thither is exceedingly devious and not to be revealed to everybody,
since the young people who pursue science and art thereabouts set a
peculiar value on its seclusion. The gallery is long and narrow and
dark, and set with iron gates, iron-bound chests, locks, bolts and
bars, fantastic great keys, lamps, and the like, and over the
balustrade one may lean and talk of one's finer feelings and regard
Michael Angelo's horned Moses, or Trajan's Column (in plaster) rising
gigantic out of the hall below and far above the level of the
gallery. And here, on a Wednesday afternoon, were Lewisham and Miss
Heydinger, the Wednesday afternoon immediately following that paper
upon Socialism, that you saw announced on the notice-board in the

The paper had been an immense success, closely reasoned, delivered
with a disciplined emotion, the redoubtable Smithers practically
converted, the reply after the debate methodical and complete, and it
may be there were symptoms of that febrile affection known to the
vulgar as "swelled 'ed." Lewisham regarded Moses and spoke of his
future. Miss Heydinger for the most part watched his face.

"And then?" said Miss Heydinger.

"One must bring these views prominently before people. I believe still
in pamphlets. I have thought ..." Lewisham paused, it is to be hoped
through modesty.

"Yes?" said Miss Heydinger.

"Well--Luther, you know. There is room, I think, in Socialism, for a

"Yes," said Miss Heydinger, imagining it. "Yes--that would be a grand

So it seemed to many people in those days. But eminent reformers have
been now for more than seven years going about the walls of the Social
Jericho, blowing their own trumpets and shouting--with such small
result beyond incidental displays of ill-temper within, that it is
hard to recover the fine hopefulness of those departed days.

"Yes," said Miss Heydinger. "That would be a grand way."

Lewisham appreciated the quality of personal emotion in her voice. He
turned his face towards her, and saw unstinted admiration in her
eyes. "It would be a great thing to do," he said, and added, quite
modestly, "if only one could do it."

"_You_ could do it."

"You think I could?" Lewisham blushed vividly--with pleasure.

"I do. Certainly you could set out to do it. Even to fail hopelessly
would be Great. Sometimes ..."

She hesitated. He looked expectation. "I think sometimes it is greater
even to fail than to succeed."

"I don't see that," said the proposed Luther, and his eyes went back
to the Moses. She was about to speak, and changed her mind.

Contemplative pause.

"And then, when a great number of people have heard of your views?"
she said presently.

"Then I suppose we must form a party and ... bring things about."

Another pause--full, no doubt, of elevated thoughts.

"I say," said Lewisham quite suddenly. "You do put--well--courage into
a chap. I shouldn't have done that Socialism paper if it hadn't been
for you." He turned round and stood leaning with his back to the
Moses, and smiling at her. "You do help a fellow," he said.

That was one of the vivid moments of Miss Heydinger's life. She
changed colour a little. "Do I?" she said, standing straight and
awkward and looking into his face, "I'm ... glad."

"I haven't thanked you for your letters," said Lewisham, "And I've
been thinking ..."


"We're first-rate friends, aren't we? The best of friends."

She held out her hand and drew a breath. "Yes," she said as they
gripped. He hesitated whether to hold her hand. He looked into her
eyes, and at that moment she would have given three-quarters of the
years she had still to live, to have had eyes and features that could
have expressed her. Instead, she felt her face hard, the little
muscles of her mouth twitching insubordinate, and fancied that her
self-consciousness made her eyes dishonest.

"What I mean," said Lewisham, "is--that this will go on. We're always
going to be friends, side by side."

"Always. Just as I am able to help you--I will help you. However I can
help you, I will."

"We two," said Lewisham, gripping her hand.

Her face lit. Her eyes were for a moment touched with the beauty of
simple emotion. "We two," she said, and her lips trembled and her
throat seemed to swell. She snatched her hand back suddenly and turned
her face away. Abruptly she walked towards the end of the gallery, and
he saw her fumbling for her handkerchief in the folds of the green and
black dress.

She was going to cry!

It set Lewisham marvelling--this totally inappropriate emotion.

He followed her and stood by her. Why cry? He hoped no one would come
into the little gallery until her handkerchief was put away.
Nevertheless he felt vaguely flattered. She controlled herself, dashed
her tears away, and smiled bravely at him with reddened eyes. "I'm
sorry," she said, gulping.

"I am so glad," she explained.

"But we will fight together. We two. I _can_ help you. I know I can
help you. And there is such Work to be done in the world!"

"You are very good to help me," said Lewisham, quoting a phrase from
what he had intended to say before he found out that he had a hold
upon her emotions.


"Has it ever occurred to you," she said abruptly, "how little a woman
can do alone in the world?"

"Or a man," he answered after a momentary meditation.

So it was Lewisham enrolled his first ally in the cause of the red
tie--of the red tie and of the Greatness that was presently to
come. His first ally; for hitherto--save for the indiscretion of his
mural inscriptions--he had made a secret of his private ambitions. In
that now half-forgotten love affair at Whortley even, he had, in spite
of the considerable degree of intimacy attained, said absolutely
nothing about his Career.



Miss Heydinger declined to disbelieve in the spirits of the dead, and
this led to controversy in the laboratory over Tea. For the girl
students, being in a majority that year, had organised Tea between
four o'clock and the advent of the extinguishing policeman at
five. And the men students were occasionally invited to Tea. But not
more than two of them at a time really participated, because there
were only two spare cups after that confounded Simmons broke the

Smithers, the square-headed student with the hard grey eyes, argued
against the spirits of the dead with positive animosity, while
Bletherley, who displayed an orange tie and lank hair in unshorn
abundance, was vaguely open-minded, "What is love?" asked Bletherley,
"surely that at any rate is immortal!" His remark was considered
irrelevant and ignored.

Lewisham, as became the most promising student of the year, weighed
the evidence--comprehensively under headings. He dismissed the
mediumistic _séances_ as trickery.

"Rot and imposture," said Smithers loudly, and with an oblique glance
to see if his challenge reached its mark. Its mark was a grizzled
little old man with a very small face and very big grey eyes, who had
been standing listlessly at one of the laboratory windows until the
discussion caught him. He wore a brown velvet jacket and was reputed
to be enormously rich. His name was Lagune. He was not a regular
attendant, but one of those casual outsiders who are admitted to
laboratories that are not completely full. He was known to be an
ardent spiritualist--it was even said that he had challenged Huxley to
a public discussion on materialism, and he came to the biological
lectures and worked intermittently, in order, he explained, to fight
disbelief with its own weapons. He rose greedily to Smithers'
controversial bait.

"I say _no_!" he said, calling down the narrow laboratory and
following his voice. He spoke with the ghost of a lisp. "Pardon my
interrupting, sir. The question interests me profoundly. I hope I
don't intrude. Excuse me, sir. Make it personal. Am I a--fool, or an

"Well," parried Smithers, with all a South Kensington student's want
of polish, "that's a bit personal."

"Assume, sir, that I am an honest observer."


"I have _seen_ spirits, _heard_ spirits, _felt_ the touch of spirits,"
He opened his pale eyes very widely.

"Fool, then," said Smithers in an undertone which did not reach the
ears of the spiritualist.

"You may have been deceived," paraphrased Lewisham.

"I can assure you ... others can see, hear, feel. I have tested,
sir. Tested! I have some scientific training and I have employed
tests. Scientific and exhaustive tests! Every possible way. I ask you,
sir--have you given the spirits a chance?"

"It is only paying guineas to humbugs," said Smithers.

"There you are! Prejudice! Here is a man denies the facts and
consequently _won't_ see them, won't go near them."

"But you wouldn't have every man in the three kingdoms, who
disbelieved in spirits, attend _séances_ before he should be allowed
to deny?"

"Most assuredly yes. Most assuredly yes! He knows nothing about it
till then."

The argument became heated. The little old gentleman was soon under
way. He knew a person of the most extraordinary gifts, a medium ...

"Paid?" asked Smithers.

"Would you muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn?" said Lagune

Smithers' derision was manifest.

"Would you distrust a balance because you bought it? Come and see."
Lagune was now very excited and inclined to gesticulate and raise his
voice. He invited the whole class incontinently to a series of special
_séances_. "Not all at once--the spirits--new influences." But in
sections. "I warn you we may get nothing. But the chances are ... I
would rejoice infinitely ..."

So it came about that Lewisham consented to witness a
spirit-raising. Miss Heydinger it was arranged should be there, and
the sceptic Smithers, Lagune, his typewriter and the medium would
complete the party. Afterwards there was to be another party for the
others. Lewisham was glad he had the moral support of Smithers.
"It's an evening wasted," said Smithers, who had gallantly resolved to
make the running for Lewisham in the contest for the Forbes
medal. "But I'll prove my case. You see if I don't." They were given
an address in Chelsea.

The house, when Lewisham found it at last, proved a large one, with
such an air of mellowed dignity that he was abashed. He hung his hat
up for himself beside a green-trimmed hat of straw in the wide,
rich-toned hall. Through an open door he had a glimpse of a palatial
study, book shelves bearing white busts, a huge writing-table lit by a
green-shaded electric lamp and covered thickly with papers. The
housemaid looked, he thought, with infinite disdain at the rusty
mourning and flamboyant tie, and flounced about and led him upstairs.

She rapped, and there was a discussion within. "They're at it already,
I believe," she said to Lewisham confidentially. "Mr. Lagune's always
at it."

There were sounds of chairs being moved, Smithers' extensive voice
making a suggestion and laughing nervously. Lagune appeared opening
the door. His grizzled face seemed smaller and his big grey eyes
larger than usual.

"We were just going to begin without you," he whispered. "Come

The room was furnished even more finely than the drawing-room of the
Whortley Grammar School, hitherto the finest room (except certain of
the State Apartments at Windsor) known to Lewisham. The furniture
struck him in a general way as akin to that in the South Kensington
Museum. His first impression was an appreciation of the vast social
superiority of the chairs; it seemed impertinent to think of sitting
on anything quite so quietly stately. He perceived Smithers standing
with an air of bashful hostility against a bookcase. Then he was aware
that Lagune was asking them all to sit down. Already seated at the
table was the Medium, Chaffery, a benevolent-looking, faintly shabby
gentleman with bushy iron-grey side-whiskers, a wide, thin-lipped
mouth tucked in at the corners, and a chin like the toe of a boot. He
regarded Lewisham critically and disconcertingly over gilt
glasses. Miss Heydinger was quite at her ease and began talking at
once. Lewisham's replies were less confident than they had been in the
Gallery of Old Iron; indeed there was almost a reversal of their
positions. She led and he was abashed. He felt obscurely that she had
taken an advantage of him. He became aware of another girlish figure
in a dark dress on his right.

Everyone moved towards the round table in the centre of the room, on
which lay a tambourine and a little green box. Lagune developed
unsuspected lengths of knobby wrist and finger directing his guests to
their seats. Lewisham was to sit next to him, between him and the
Medium; beyond the Medium sat Smithers with Miss Heydinger on the
other side of him, linked to Lagune by the typewriter. So sceptics
compassed the Medium about. The company was already seated before
Lewisham looked across Lagune and met the eyes of the girl next that
gentleman. It was Ethel! The close green dress, the absence of a hat,
and a certain loss of colour made her seem less familiar, but did not
prevent the instant recognition. And there was recognition in her

Immediately she looked away. At first his only emotion was
surprise. He would have spoken, but a little thing robbed him of
speech. For a moment he was unable to remember her surname. Moreover,
the strangeness of his surroundings made him undecided. He did not
know what was the proper way to address her--and he still kept to the
superstition of etiquette. Besides--to speak to her would involve a
general explanation to all these people ...

"Just leave a pin-point of gas, Mr. Smithers, please," said Lagune,
and suddenly the one surviving jet of the gas chandelier was turned
down and they were in darkness. The moment for recognition had

The joining of hands was punctiliously verified, the circle was linked
little finger to little finger. Lewisham's abstraction received a
rebuke from Smithers. The Medium, speaking in an affable voice,
premised that he could promise nothing, he had no "_directing_" power
over manifestations. Thereafter ensued a silence....

For a space Lewisham was inattentive to all that happened.

He sat in the breathing darkness, staring at the dim elusive shape
that had presented that remembered face. His mind was astonishment
mingled with annoyance. He had settled that this girl was lost to him
for ever. The spell of the old days of longing, of the afternoons
that he had spent after his arrival in London, wandering through
Clapham with a fading hope of meeting her, had not returned to
him. But he was ashamed of his stupid silence, and irritated by the
awkwardness of the situation. At one moment he was on the very verge
of breaking the compact and saying "Miss Henderson" across the

How was it he had forgotten that "Henderson"? He was still young
enough to be surprised at forgetfulness.

Smithers coughed, one might imagine with a warning intention.

Lewisham, recalling his detective responsibility with an effort,
peered about him, but the room was very dark. The silence was broken
ever and again by deep sighs and a restless stirring from the
Medium. Out of this mental confusion Lewisham's personal vanity was
first to emerge. What did she think of him? Was she peering at him
through the darkness even as he peered at her? Should he pretend to
see her for the first time when the lights were restored? As the
minutes lengthened it seemed as though the silence grew deeper and
deeper. There was no fire in the room, and it looked, for lack of that
glow, chilly. A curious scepticism arose in his mind as to whether he
had actually seen Ethel or only mistaken someone else for her. He
wanted the _séance_ over in order that he might look at her again.
The old days at Whortley came out of his memory with astonishing
detail and yet astonishingly free from emotion....

He became aware of a peculiar sensation down his back, that he tried
to account for as a draught....

Suddenly a beam of cold air came like a touch against his face, and
made him shudder convulsively. Then he hoped that she had not marked
his shudder. He thought of laughing a low laugh to show he was not
afraid. Someone else shuddered too, and he perceived an
extraordinarily vivid odour of violets. Lagune's finger communicated a
nervous quivering.

What was happening?

The musical box somewhere on the table began playing a rather trivial,
rather plaintive air that was strange to him. It seemed to deepen the
silence about him, an accent on the expectant stillness, a thread of
tinkling melody spanning an abyss.

Lewisham took himself in hand at this stage. What _was_ happening? He
must attend. Was he really watching as he should do? He had been
wool-gathering. There were no such things as spirits, mediums were
humbugs, and he was here to prove that sole remaining Gospel. But he
must keep up with things--he was missing points. What was that scent
of violets? And who had set the musical box going? The Medium, of
course; but how? He tried to recall whether he had heard a rustling or
detected any movement before the music began. He could not
recollect. Come! he must be more on the alert than this!

He became acutely desirous of a successful exposure. He figured the
dramatic moment he had prepared with Smithers--Ethel a spectator. He
peered suspiciously into the darkness.

Somebody shuddered again, someone opposite him this time. He felt
Lagune's finger quiver still more palpably, and then suddenly the raps
began, abruptly, all about him. _Rap_!--making him start violently. A
swift percussive sound, tap, rap, dap, under the table, under the
chair, in the air, round the cornices. The Medium groaned again and
shuddered, and his nervous agitation passed sympathetically round the
circle. The music seemed to fade to the vanishing point and grew
louder again.

How was it done?

He heard Lagune's voice next him speaking with a peculiar quality of
breathless reverence, "The alphabet?" he asked, "shall we--shall we
use the alphabet?"

A forcible rap under the table.

"No!" interpreted the voice of the Medium.

The raps were continued everywhere.

Of course it was trickery, Lewisham endeavoured to think what the
mechanism was. He tried to determine whether he really had the
Medium's little finger touching his. He peered at the dark shape next
him. There was a violent rapping far away behind them with an almost
metallic resonance. Then the raps ceased, and over the healing silence
the little jet of melody from the musical box played alone. And after
a moment that ceased also....

The stillness was profound, Mr. Lewisham was now highly strung. Doubts
assailed him suddenly, and an overwhelming apprehension, a sense of
vast occurrences gathering above him. The darkness was a physical

He started. Something had stirred on the table. There was the sharp
ping of metal being struck. A number of little crepitating sounds like
paper being smoothed. The sound of wind without the movement of air. A
sense of a presence hovering over the table.

The excitement of Lagune communicated itself in convulsive tremblings;
the Medium's hand quivered. In the darkness on the table something
faintly luminous, a greenish-white patch, stirred and hopped slowly
among the dim shapes.

The object, whatever it was, hopped higher, rose slowly in the air,
expanded. Lewisham's attention followed this slavishly. It was
ghostly--unaccountable--marvellous. For the moment he forgot even
Ethel. Higher and higher this pallid luminosity rose overhead, and
then he saw that it was a ghostly hand and arm, rising,
rising. Slowly, deliberately it crossed the table, seemed to touch
Lagune, who shivered. It moved slowly round and touched Lewisham. He
gritted his teeth.

There was no mistaking the touch, firm and yet soft, of
finger-tips. Almost simultaneously, Miss Heydinger cried out that
something was smoothing her hair, and suddenly the musical box set off
again with a reel. The faint oval of the tambourine rose, jangled, and
Lewisham heard it pat Smithers in the face. It seemed to pass
overhead. Immediately a table somewhere beyond the Medium began moving
audibly on its castors.

It seemed impossible that the Medium, sitting so still beside him,
could be doing all these things--grotesquely unmeaning though they
might be. After all....

The ghostly hand was hovering almost directly in front of
Mr. Lewisham's eyes. It hung with a slight quivering. Ever and again
its fingers flapped down and rose stiffly again.

Noise! A loud noise it seemed. Something moving? What was it he had
to do?

Lewisham suddenly missed the Medium's little finger. He tried to
recover it. He could not find it. He caught, held and lost an
arm. There was an exclamation. A faint report. A curse close to him
bitten in half by the quick effort to suppress it. Tzit! The little
pinpoint of light flew up with a hiss.

Lewisham, standing, saw a circle of blinking faces turned to the group
of two this sizzling light revealed. Smithers was the chief figure of
the group; he stood triumphant, one hand on the gas tap, the other
gripping the Medium's wrist, and in the Medium's hand--the
incriminatory tambourine.

"How's this, Lewisham?" cried Smithers, with the shadows on his face
jumping as the gas flared.

"_Caught_!" said Lewisham loudly, rising in his place and avoiding
Ethel's eyes.

"What's this?" cried the Medium.

"Cheating," panted Smithers.

"Not so," cried the Medium. "When you turned up the light ... put my
hand up ... caught tambourine ... to save head."

"Mr. Smithers," cried Lagune. "Mr. Smithers, this is very
wrong. This--shock--"

The tambourine fell noisily to the floor. The Medium's face changed,
he groaned strangely and staggered back. Lagune cried out for a glass
of water. Everyone looked at the man, expecting him to fall, save
Lewisham. The thought of Ethel had flashed back into his mind. He
turned to see how she took this exposure in which he was such a
prominent actor. He saw her leaning over the table as if to pick up
something that lay across it. She was not looking at him, she was
looking at the Medium. Her face was set and white. Then, as if she
felt his glance, her eyes met his.

She started back, stood erect, facing him with a strange hardness in
her eyes.

In the moment Lewisham did not grasp the situation. He wanted to show
that he was acting upon equal terms with Smithers in the exposure. For
the moment her action simply directed his attention to the object
towards which she had been leaning, a thing of shrivelled membrane, a
pneumatic glove, lying on the table. This was evidently part of the
mediumistic apparatus. He pounced and seized it.

"Look!" he said, holding it towards Smithers. "Here is more! What is

He perceived that the girl started. He saw Chaffery, the Medium, look
instantly over Smithers' shoulders, saw his swift glance of reproach
at the girl. Abruptly the situation appeared to Lewisham; he perceived
her complicity. And he stood, still in the attitude of triumph, with
the evidence against her in his hand! But his triumph had vanished.

"Ah!" cried Smithers, leaning across the table to secure it. "_Good_
old Lewisham!... Now we _have_ it. This is better than the

His eyes shone with triumph. "Do you see, Mr. Lagune?" said
Smithers. "The Medium held this in his teeth and blew it out. There's
no denying this. This wasn't falling on your head, Mr. Medium, was
it? _This_--this was the luminous hand!"



That night, as she went with him to Chelsea station, Miss Heydinger
discovered an extraordinary moodiness in Lewisham. She had been
vividly impressed by the scene in which they had just participated,
she had for a time believed in the manifestations; the swift exposure
had violently revolutionised her ideas. The details of the crisis were
a little confused in her mind. She ranked Lewisham with Smithers in
the scientific triumph of the evening. On the whole she felt
elated. She had no objection to being confuted by Lewisham. But she
was angry with the Medium, "It is dreadful," she said. "Living a lie!
How can the world grow better, when sane, educated people use their
sanity and enlightenment to darken others? It is dreadful!

"He was a horrible man--such an oily, dishonest voice. And the girl--I
was sorry for her. She must have been oh!--bitterly ashamed, or why
should she have burst out crying? That _did_ distress me. Fancy crying
like that! It was--yes--_abandon_. But what can one do?"

She paused. Lewisham was walking along, looking straight before him,
lost in some grim argument with himself.

"It makes me think of Sludge the Medium," she said.

He made no answer.

She glanced at him suddenly. "Have you read Sludge the Medium?"

"Eigh?" he said, coming back out of infinity. "What? I beg your pardon.
Sludge, the Medium? I thought his name was--it _was_--Chaffery."

He looked at her, clearly very anxious upon this question of fact.

"But I mean Browning's 'Sludge.' You know the poem."

"No--I'm afraid I don't," said Lewisham.

"I must lend it to you," she said. "It's splendid. It goes to the
very bottom of this business."

"Does it?"

"It never occurred to me before. But I see the point clearly now. If
people, poor people, are offered money if phenomena happen, it's too
much. They are _bound_ to cheat. It's bribery--immorality!"

She talked in panting little sentences, because Lewisham was walking
in heedless big strides. "I wonder how much--such people--could earn

Lewisham slowly became aware of the question at his ear. He hurried
back from infinity. "How much they could earn honestly? I haven't the
slightest idea."

He paused. "The whole of this business puzzles me," he said. "I want
to think."

"It's frightfully complex, isn't it?" she said--a little staggered.

But the rest of the way to the station was silence. They parted with
a hand-clasp they took a pride in--a little perfunctory so far as
Lewisham was concerned on this occasion. She scrutinised his face as
the train moved out of the station, and tried to account for his
mood. He was staring before him at unknown things as if he had already
forgotten her.

He wanted to think! But two heads, she thought, were better than one
in a matter of opinion. It troubled her to be so ignorant of his
mental states. "How we are wrapped and swathed about--soul from soul!"
she thought, staring out of the window at the dim things flying by

Suddenly a fit of depression came upon her. She felt alone--absolutely
alone--in a void world.

Presently she returned to external things. She became aware of two
people in the next compartment eyeing her critically. Her hand went
patting at her hair.



Ethel Henderson sat at her machine before the window of Mr. Lagume's
study, and stared blankly at the greys and blues of the November
twilight. Her face was white, her eyelids were red from recent
weeping, and her hands lay motionless in her lap. The door had just
slammed behind Lagune.

"Heigh-ho!" she said. "I wish I was dead. Oh! I wish I was out of it

She became passive again. "I wonder what I have _done_," she said,
"that I should be punished like this."

She certainly looked anything but a Fate-haunted soul, being indeed
visibly and immediately a very pretty girl. Her head was shapely and
covered with curly dark hair, and the eyebrows above her hazel eyes
were clear and dark. Her lips were finely shaped, her mouth was not
too small to be expressive, her chin small, and her neck white and
full and pretty. There is no need to lay stress upon her nose--it
sufficed. She was of a mediocre height, sturdy rather than slender,
and her dress was of a pleasant, golden-brown material with the easy
sleeves and graceful line of those aesthetic days. And she sat at her
typewriter and wished she was dead and wondered what she had _done_.

The room was lined with bookshelves, and conspicuous therein were a
long row of foolish pretentious volumes, the "works" of Lagune--the
witless, meandering imitation of philosophy that occupied his
life. Along the cornices were busts of Plato, Socrates, and Newton.
Behind Ethel was the great man's desk with its green-shaded electric
light, and littered with proofs and copies of _Hesperus_, "A Paper for
Doubters," which, with her assistance, he edited, published, compiled,
wrote, and (without her help) paid for and read. A pen, flung down
forcibly, quivered erect with its one surviving nib in the blotting
pad. Mr. Lagune had flung it down.

The collapse of the previous night had distressed him dreadfully, and
ever and again before his retreat he had been breaking into passionate
monologue. The ruin of a life-work, it was, no less. Surely she had
known that Chaffery was a cheat. Had she not known? Silence. "After
so many kindnesses--"

She interrupted him with a wailing, "Oh, I know--I know."

But Lagune was remorseless and insisted she had betrayed him,
worse--made him ridiculous! Look at the "work" he had undertaken at
South Kensington--how could he go on with that now? How could he find
the heart? When his own typewriter sacrificed him to her stepfather's
trickery? "Trickery!"

The gesticulating hands became active, the grey eyes dilated with
indignation, the piping voice eloquent.

"If he hadn't cheated you, someone else would," was Ethel's inadequate
muttered retort, unheard by the seeker after phenomena.

It was perhaps not so bad as dismissal, but it certainly lasted
longer. And at home was Chaffery, grimly malignant at her failure to
secure that pneumatic glove. He had no right to blame her, he really
had not; but a disturbed temper is apt to falsify the scales of
justice. The tambourine, he insisted, he could have explained by
saying he put up his hand to catch it and protect his head directly
Smithers moved. But the pneumatic glove there was no explaining. He
had made a chance for her to secure it when he had pretended to
faint. It was rubbish to say anyone could have been looking on the
table then--rubbish.

Beside that significant wreck of a pen stood a little carriage clock
in a case, and this suddenly lifted a slender voice and announced
_five_. She turned round on her stool and sat staring at the
clock. She smiled with the corners of her mouth down. "Home," she
said, "and begin again. It's like battledore and shuttlecock....

"I _was_ silly....

"I suppose I've brought it on myself. I ought to have picked it up, I
suppose. I had time....

"Cheats ... just cheats.

"I never thought I should see him again....

"He was ashamed, of course.... He had his own friends."

For a space she sat still, staring blankly before her. She sighed,
rubbed a knuckle in a reddened eye, rose.

She went into the hall, where her hat, transfixed by a couple of
hat-pins, hung above her jacket, assumed these garments, and let
herself out into the cold grey street.

She had hardly gone twenty yards from Lagune's door before she became
aware of a man overtaking her and walking beside her. That kind of
thing is a common enough experience to girls who go to and from work
in London, and she had had perforce to learn many things since her
adventurous Whortley days. She looked stiffly in front of her. The man
deliberately got in her way so that she had to stop. She lifted eyes
of indignant protest. It was Lewisham--and his face was white.

He hesitated awkwardly, and then in silence held out his hand. She
took it mechanically. He found his voice. "Miss Henderson," he said.

"What do you want?" she asked faintly.

"I don't know," he said.... "I want to talk to you."

"Yes?" Her heart was beating fast.

He found the thing unexpectedly difficult.

"May I--? Are you expecting--? Have you far to go? I would like to
talk to you. There is a lot ..."

"I walk to Clapham," she said. "If you care ... to come part of the
way ..."

She moved awkwardly. Lewisham took his place at her side. They walked
side by side for a moment, their manner constrained, having so much to
say that they could not find a word to begin upon.

"Have you forgotten Whortley?" he asked abruptly.


He glanced at her; her face was downcast. "Why did you never write?"
he asked bitterly.

"I wrote."

"Again, I mean."

"I did--in July."

"I never had it."

"It came back."

"But Mrs. Munday ..."

"I had forgotten her name. I sent it to the Grammar School."

Lewisham suppressed an exclamation.

"I am very sorry," she said.

They went on again in silence. "Last night," said Lewisham at
length. "I have no business to ask. But--"

She took a long breath. "Mr. Lewisham," she said. "That man you
saw--the Medium--was my stepfather."


"Isn't that enough?"

Lewisham paused. "No," he said.

There was another constrained silence. "No," he said less
dubiously. "I don't care a rap what your stepfather is. Were _you_

Her face turned white. Her mouth opened and closed. "Mr. Lewisham,"
she said deliberately, "you may not believe it, it may sound
impossible, but on my honour ... I did not know--I did not know for
certain, that is--that my stepfather ..."

"Ah!" said Lewisham, leaping at conviction. "Then I was right...."

For a moment she stared at him, and then, "I _did_ know," she said,
suddenly beginning to cry. "How can I tell you? It is a lie. I _did_
know. I _did_ know all the time."

He stared at her in white astonishment. He fell behind her one step,
and then in a stride came level again. Then, a silence, a silence that
seemed it would never end. She had stopped crying, she was one huge
suspense, not daring even to look at his face. And at last he spoke.

"No," he said slowly. "I don't mind even that. I don't care--even if
it was that."

Abruptly they turned into the King's Road, with its roar of wheeled
traffic and hurrying foot-passengers, and forthwith a crowd of boys
with a broken-spirited Guy involved and separated them. In a busy
highway of a night one must needs talk disconnectedly in shouted
snatches or else hold one's peace. He glanced at her face and saw that
it was set again. Presently she turned southward out of the tumult
into a street of darkness and warm blinds, and they could go on
talking again.

"I understand what you mean," said Lewisham. "I know I do. You knew,
but you did not want to know. It was like that."

But her mind had been active. "At the end of this road," she said,
gulping a sob, "you must go back. It was kind of you to come,
Mr. Lewisham. But you were ashamed--you are sure to be ashamed. My
employer is a spiritualist, and my stepfather is a professional
Medium, and my mother is a spiritualist. You were quite right not to
speak to me last night. Quite. It was kind of you to come, but you
must go back. Life is hard enough as it is ... You must go back at the
end of the road. Go back at the end of the road ..."

Lewisham made no reply for a hundred yards. "I'm coming on to
Clapham," he said.

They came to the end of the road in silence. Then at the kerb corner
she turned and faced him. "Go back," she whispered.

"No," he said obstinately, and they stood face to face at the cardinal
point of their lives.

"Listen to me," said Lewisham. "It is hard to say what I feel. I don't
know myself.... But I'm not going to lose you like this. I'm not going
to let you slip a second time. I was awake about it all last night. I
don't care where you are, what your people are, nor very much whether
you've kept quite clear of this medium humbug. I don't. You will in
future. Anyhow. I've had a day and night to think it over. I had to
come and try to find you. It's you. I've never forgotten
you. Never. I'm not going to be sent back like this."

"It can be no good for either of us," she said as resolute as he.

"I shan't leave you."

"But what is the good?..."

"I'm coming," said Lewisham, dogmatically.

And he came.

He asked her a question point blank and she would not answer him, and
for some way they walked in grim silence. Presently she spoke with a
twitching mouth. "I wish you would leave me," she said. "You are
quite different from what I am. You felt that last night. You helped
find us out...."

"When first I came to London I used to wander about Clapham looking
for you," said Lewisham, "week after week."

They had crossed the bridge and were in a narrow little street of
shabby shops near Clapham Junction before they talked again. She kept
her face averted and expressionless.

"I'm sorry," said Lewisham, with a sort of stiff civility, "if I seem
to be forcing myself upon you. I don't want to pry into your
affairs--if you don't wish me to. The sight of you has somehow brought
back a lot of things.... I can't explain it. Perhaps--I had to come to
find you--I kept on thinking of your face, of how you used to smile,
how you jumped from the gate by the lock, and how we had tea ... a lot
of things."

He stopped again.

"A lot of things."

"If I may come," he said, and went unanswered. They crossed the wide
streets by the Junction and went on towards the Common.

"I live down this road," she said, stopping abruptly at a corner. "I
would rather ..."

"But I have said nothing."

She looked at him with her face white, unable to speak for a
space. "It can do no good," she said. "I am mixed up with this...."

She stopped.

He spoke deliberately. "I shall come," he said, "to-morrow night."

"No," she said.

"But I shall come."

"No," she whispered.

"I shall come." She could hide the gladness of her heart from herself
no longer. She was frightened that he had come, but she was glad, and
she knew he knew that she was glad. She made no further protest. She
held out her hand dumbly. And on the morrow she found him awaiting her
even as he had said.



For three days the Laboratory at South Kensington saw nothing of
Lagune, and then he came back more invincibly voluble than
ever. Everyone had expected him to return apostate, but he brought
back an invigorated faith, a propaganda unashamed. From some source he
had derived strength and conviction afresh. Even the rhetorical
Smithers availed nothing. There was a joined battle over the
insufficient tea-cups, and the elderly young assistant demonstrator
hovered on the verge of the discussion, rejoicing, it is supposed,
over the entanglements of Smithers. For at the outset Smithers
displayed an overweening confidence and civility, and at the end his
ears were red and his finer manners lost to him.

Lewisham, it was remarked by Miss Heydinger, made but a poor figure in
this discussion. Once or twice he seemed about to address Lagune, and
thought better of it with the words upon his lips.

Lagune's treatment of the exposure was light and vigorous. "The man
Chaffery," he said, "has made a clean breast of it. His point of

"Facts are facts," said Smithers.

"A fact is a synthesis of impressions," said Lagune; "but that you
will learn when you are older. The thing is that we were at cross
purposes. I told Chaffery you were beginners. He treated you as
beginners--arranged a demonstration."

"It _was_ a demonstration," said Smithers.

"Precisely. If it had not been for your interruptions ..."


"He forged elementary effects ..."

"You can't but admit that."

"I don't attempt to deny it. But, as he explained, the thing is
necessary--justifiable. Psychic phenomena are subtle, a certain
training of the observation is necessary. A medium is a more subtle
instrument than a balance or a borax bead, and see how long it is
before you can get assured results with a borax bead! In the
elementary class, in the introductory phase, conditions are
too crude...."

"For honesty."

"Wait a moment. _Is_ it dishonest--rigging a demonstration?"

"Of course it is."

"Your professors do it."

"I deny that in toto," said Smithers, and repeated with satisfaction,
"in toto."

"That's all right," said Lagune, "because I have the facts. Your
chemical lecturers--you may go downstairs now and ask, if you
disbelieve me--always cheat over the indestructibility of matter
experiment--always. And then another--a physiography thing. You know
the experiment I mean? To demonstrate the existence of the earth's
rotation. They use--they use--"

"Foucault's pendulum," said Lewisham. "They use a rubber ball with a
pin-hole hidden in the hand, and blow the pendulum round the way it
ought to go."

"But that's different," said Smithers.

"Wait a moment," said Lagune, and produced a piece of folded printed
paper from his pocket. "Here is a review from _Nature_ of the work of
no less a person than Professor Greenhill. And see--a convenient pin
is introduced in the apparatus for the demonstration of virtual
velocities! Read it--if you doubt me. I suppose you doubt me."

Smithers abruptly abandoned his position of denial "in toto." "This
isn't my point, Mr. Lagune; this isn't my point," he said. "These
things that are done in the lecture theatre are not to prove facts,
but to give ideas."

"So was my demonstration," said Lagune.

"We didn't understand it in that light."

"Nor does the ordinary person who goes to Science lectures understand
it in that light. He is comforted by the thought that he is seeing
things with his own eyes."

"Well, I don't care," said Smithers; "two wrongs don't make a
right. To rig demonstrations is wrong."

"There I agree with you. I have spoken plainly with this man
Chaffery. He's not a full-blown professor, you know, a highly salaried
ornament of the rock of truth like your demonstration-rigging
professors here, and so I can speak plainly to him without offence.
He takes quite the view they would take. But I am more rigorous. I
insist that there shall be no more of this...."

"Next time--" said Smithers with irony.

"There will be no next time. I have done with elementary
exhibitions. You must take the word of the trained observer--just as
you do in the matter of chemical analysis."

"Do you mean you are going on with that chap when he's been caught
cheating under your very nose?"

"Certainly. Why not?"

Smithers set out to explain why not, and happened on confusion. "I
still believe the man has powers," said Lagune.

"Of deception," said Smithers.

"Those I must eliminate," said Lagune. "You might as well refuse to
study electricity because it escaped through your body. All new
science is elusive. No investigator in his senses would refuse to
investigate a compound because it did unexpected things. Either this
dissolves in acid or I have nothing more to do with it--eh? That's
fine research!"

Then it was the last vestiges of Smithers' manners vanished. "I don't
care _what_ you say," said Smithers. "It's all rot--it's all just
rot. Argue if you like--but have you convinced anybody? Put it to the

"That's democracy with a vengeance," said Lagune. "A general election
of the truth half-yearly, eh?"

"That's simply wriggling out of it," said Smithers. "That hasn't
anything to do with it at all."

Lagune, flushed but cheerful, was on his way downstairs when Lewisham
overtook him. He was pale and out of breath, but as the staircase
invariably rendered Lagune breathless he did not remark the younger
man's disturbance. "Interesting talk," panted Lewisham. "Very
interesting talk, sir."

"I'm glad you found it so--very," said Lagune.

There was a pause, and then Lewisham plunged desperately. "There is a
young lady--she is your typewriter...."

He stopped from sheer loss of breath.

"Yes?" said Lagune.

"Is she a medium or anything of that sort?"

"Well," Lagune reflected, "She is not a medium, certainly. But--why do
you ask?"

"Oh!... I wondered."

"You noticed her eyes perhaps. She is the stepdaughter of that man
Chaffery--a queer character, but indisputably mediumistic. It's odd
the thing should have struck you. Curiously enough I myself have
fancied she might be something of a psychic--judging from her face."

"A what?"

"A psychic--undeveloped, of course. I have thought once or twice. Only
a little while ago I was speaking to that man Chaffery about her."

"Were you?"

"Yes. He of course would like to see any latent powers developed. But
it's a little difficult to begin, you know."

"You mean--she won't?"

"Not at present. She is a good girl, but in this matter she
is--timid. There is often a sort of disinclination--a queer sort of
feeling--one might almost call it modesty."

"I see," said Lewisham.

"One can override it usually. I don't despair."

"No," said Lewisham shortly. They were at the foot of the staircase
now. He hesitated. "You've given me a lot to think about," he said
with an attempt at an off-hand manner. "The way you talked upstairs;"
and turned towards the book he had to sign.

"I'm glad you don't take up quite such an intolerant attitude as
Mr. Smithers," said Lagune; "very glad. I must lend you a book or
two. If your _cramming_ here leaves you any time, that is."

"Thanks," said Lewisham shortly, and walked away from him. The
studiously characteristic signature quivered and sprawled in an
unfamiliar manner.

"I'm _damned_ if he overrides it," said Lewisham, under his breath.



Lewisham was not quite clear what course he meant to take in the high
enterprise of foiling Lagune, and indeed he was anything but clear
about the entire situation. His logical processes, his emotions and
his imagination seemed playing some sort of snatching game with his
will. Enormous things hung imminent, but it worked out to this,
that he walked home with Ethel night after night for--to be
exact--seven-and-sixty nights. Every week night through November and
December, save once, when he had to go into the far East to buy
himself an overcoat, he was waiting to walk with her home. A curious,
inconclusive affair, that walk, to which he came nightly full of vague
longings, and which ended invariably under an odd shadow of
disappointment. It began outside Lagune's most punctually at five, and
ended--mysteriously--at the corner of a side road in Clapham, a road
of little yellow houses with sunk basements and tawdry decorations of
stone. Up that road she vanished night after night, into a grey mist
and the shadow beyond a feeble yellow gas-lamp, and he would watch her
vanish, and then sigh and turn back towards his lodgings.

They talked of this and that, their little superficial ideas about
themselves, and of their circumstances and tastes, and always there
was something, something that was with them unspoken, unacknowledged,
which made all these things unreal and insincere.

Yet out of their talk he began to form vague ideas of the home from
which she came. There was, of course, no servant, and the mother was
something meandering, furtive, tearful in the face of troubles.
Sometimes of an afternoon or evening she grew garrulous. "Mother does
talk so--sometimes." She rarely went out of doors. Chaffery always
rose late, and would sometimes go away for days together. He was mean;
he allowed only a weekly twenty-five shillings for housekeeping, and
sometimes things grew unsatisfactory at the week-end. There seemed to
be little sympathy between mother and daughter; the widow had been
flighty in a dingy fashion, and her marriage with her chief lodger
Chaffery had led to unforgettable sayings. It was to facilitate this
marriage that Ethel had been sent to Whortley, so that was counted a
mitigated evil. But these were far-off things, remote and unreal down
the long, ill-lit vista of the suburban street which swallowed up
Ethel nightly. The walk, her warmth and light and motion close to him,
her clear little voice, and the touch of her hand; that was reality.

The shadow of Chaffery and his deceptions lay indeed across all these
things, sometimes faint, sometimes dark and present. Then Lewisham
became insistent, his sentimental memories ceased, and he asked
questions that verged on gulfs of doubt. Had she ever "helped"? She
had not, she declared. Then she added that twice at home she had "sat
down" to complete the circle. She would never help again. That she
promised--if it needed promising. There had already been dreadful
trouble at home about the exposure at Lagune's. Her mother had sided
with her stepfather and joined in blaming her. But was she to blame?

"Of _course_ you were not to blame," said Lewisham. Lagune, he
learnt, had been unhappy and restless for the three days after the
_séance_--indulging in wearisome monologue--with Ethel as sole auditor
(at twenty-one shillings a week). Then he had decided to give Chaffery
a sound lecture on his disastrous dishonesty. But it was Chaffery
gave the lecture. Smithers, had he only known it, had been overthrown
by a better brain than Lagune's, albeit it spoke through Lagune's

Ethel did not like talking of Chaffery and these other things. "If you
knew how sweet it was to forget it all," she would say; "to be just us
two together for a little while." And, "What good _does_ it do to keep
on?" when Lewisham was pressing. Lewisham wanted very much to keep on
at times, but the good of it was a little hard to demonstrate. So his
knowledge of the situation remained imperfect and the weeks drifted

Wonderfully varied were those seven-and-sixty nights, as he came to
remember in after life. There were nights of damp and drizzle, and
then thick fogs, beautiful, isolating, grey-white veils, turning every
yard of pavement into a private room. Grand indeed were these fogs,
things to rejoice at mightily, since then it was no longer a thing for
public scorn when two young people hurried along arm in arm, and one
could do a thousand impudent, significant things with varying pressure
and the fondling of a little hand (a hand in a greatly mended glove of
cheap kid). Then indeed one seemed to be nearer that elusive something
that threaded it all together. And the dangers of the street corners,
the horses looming up suddenly out of the dark, the carters with
lanterns at their horses' heads, the street lamps, blurred, smoky
orange at one's nearest, and vanishing at twenty yards into dim haze,
seemed to accentuate the infinite need of protection on the part of a
delicate young lady who had already traversed three winters of fogs,
thornily alone. Moreover, one could come right down the quiet street
where she lived, halfway to the steps of her house, with a delightful
sense of enterprise.

The fogs passed all too soon into a hard frost, into nights of
starlight and presently moonlight, when the lamps looked hard,
flashing like rows of yellow gems, and their reflections and the glare
of the shop windows were sharp and frosty, and even the stars hard and
bright, snapping noiselessly (if one may say so) instead of
twinkling. A jacket trimmed with imitation Astrachan replaced Ethel's
lighter coat, and a round cap of Astrachan her hat, and her eyes shone
hard and bright, and her forehead was broad and white beneath it. It
was exhilarating, but one got home too soon, and so the way from
Chelsea to Clapham was lengthened, first into a loop of side streets,
and then when the first pulverulent snows told that Christmas was at
hand, into a new loop down King's Road, and once even through the
Brompton Road and Sloane Street, where the shops were full of
decorations and entertaining things.

And, under circumstances of infinite gravity, Mr. Lewisham secretly
spent three-and-twenty shillings out of the vestiges of that hundred
pounds, and bought Ethel a little gold ring set with pearls. With that
there must needs be a ceremonial, and on the verge of the snowy, foggy
Common she took off her glove and the ring was placed on her
finger. Whereupon he was moved to kiss her--on the frost-pink knuckle
next to an inky nail.

"It's silly of us," she said. "What can we do?--ever?"

"You wait." he said, and his tone was full of vague promises.

Afterwards he thought over those promises, and another evening went
into the matter more fully, telling her of all the brilliant things
that he held it was possible for a South Kensington student to do and
be--of headmasterships, northern science schools, inspectorships,
demonstratorships, yea, even professorships. And then, and then--To
all of which she lent a willing and incredulous ear, finding in that
dreaming a quality of fear as well as delight.

The putting on of the pearl-set ring was mere ceremonial, of course;
she could not wear it either at Lagune's or at home, so instead she
threaded it on a little white satin ribbon and wore it round her
neck--"next her heart." He thought of it there warm "next her heart."

When he had bought the ring he had meant to save it for Christmas
before he gave it to her. But the desire to see her pleasure had been
too strong for him.

Christmas Eve, I know not by what deceit on her part, these young
people spent together all day. Lagune was down with a touch of
bronchitis and had given his typewriter a holiday. Perhaps she forgot
to mention it at home. The Royal College was in vacation and Lewisham
was free. He declined the plumber's invitation; "work" kept him in
London, he said, though it meant a pound or more of added
expenditure. These absurd young people walked sixteen miles that
Christmas Eve, and parted warm and glowing. There had been a hard
frost and a little snow, the sky was a colourless grey, icicles hung
from the arms of the street lamps, and the pavements were patterned
out with frond-like forms that were trodden into slides as the day
grew older. The Thames they knew was a wonderful sight, but that they
kept until last. They went first along the Brompton Road....

And it is well that you should have the picture of them right:
Lewisham in the ready-made overcoat, blue cloth and velvet collar,
dirty tan gloves, red tie, and bowler hat; and Ethel in a two-year-old
jacket and hat of curly Astrachan; both pink-cheeked from the keen
air, shyly arm in arm occasionally, and very alert to miss no possible
spectacle. The shops were varied and interesting along the Brompton
Road, but nothing to compare with Piccadilly. There were windows in
Piccadilly so full of costly little things, it took fifteen minutes to
get them done, card shops, drapers' shops full of foolish,
entertaining attractions. Lewisham, in spite of his old animosities,
forgot to be severe on the Shopping Class, Ethel was so vastly
entertained by all these pretty follies.

Then up Regent Street by the place where the sham diamonds are, and
the place where the girls display their long hair, and the place where
the little chickens run about in the window, and so into Oxford
Street, Holborn, Ludgate Hill, St. Paul's Churchyard, to Leadenhall,
and the markets where turkeys, geese, ducklings, and chickens--turkeys
predominant, however--hang in rows of a thousand at a time.

"I _must_ buy you something," said Lewisham, resuming a topic.

"No, no," said Ethel, with her eye down a vista of innumerable birds.

"But I _must_," said Lewisham. "You had better choose it, or I shall
get something wrong." His mind ran on brooches and clasps.

"You mustn't waste your money, and besides, I have that ring."

But Lewisham insisted.

"Then--if you must--I am starving. Buy me something to eat."

An immense and memorable joke. Lewisham plunged
recklessly--orientally--into an awe-inspiring place with mitred
napkins. They lunched on cutlets--stripped the cutlets to the
bone--and little crisp brown potatoes, and they drank between them a
whole half bottle of--some white wine or other, Lewisham selected in
an off-hand way from the list. Neither of them had ever taken wine at
a meal before. One-and-ninepence it cost him, Sir, and the name of it
was Capri! It was really very passable Capri--a manufactured product,
no doubt, but warming and aromatic. Ethel was aghast at his
magnificence and drank a glass and a half.

Then, very warm and comfortable, they went down by the Tower, and the
Tower Bridge with its crest of snow, huge pendant icicles, and the ice
blocks choked in its side arches, was seasonable seeing. And as they
had had enough of shops and crowds they set off resolutely along the
desolate Embankment homeward.

But indeed the Thames was a wonderful sight that year! ice-fringed
along either shore, and with drift-ice in the middle reflecting a
luminous scarlet from the broad red setting sun, and moving steadily,
incessantly seaward. A swarm of mewing gulls went to and fro, and with
them mingled pigeons and crows. The buildings on the Surrey side were
dim and grey and very mysterious, the moored, ice-blocked barges
silent and deserted, and here and there a lit window shone warm. The
sun sank right out of sight into a bank of blue, and the Surrey side
dissolved in mist save for a few insoluble, spots of yellow light,
that presently became many. And after our lovers had come under
Charing Cross Bridge the Houses of Parliament rose before them at the
end of a great crescent of golden lamps, blue and faint, halfway
between the earth and sky. And the clock on the Tower was like a
November sun.

It was a day without a flaw, or at most but the slightest speck. And
that only came at the very end.

"Good-bye, dear," she said. "I have been very happy to-day."

His face came very close to hers. "Good-bye," he said, pressing her
hand and looking into her eyes.

She glanced round, she drew nearer to him. "_Dearest_ one," she
whispered very softly, and then, "Good-bye."

Suddenly he became unaccountably petulant, he dropped her hand. "It's
always like this. We are happy. _I_ am happy. And then--then you are
taken away...."

There was a silence of mute interrogations.

"Dear," she whispered, "we must wait."

A moment's pause. "_Wait_!" he said, and broke off. He
hesitated. "Good-bye," he said as though he was snapping a thread that
held them together.



The way from Chelsea to Clapham and the way from South Kensington to
Battersea, especially if the former is looped about a little to make
it longer, come very near to each other. One night close upon
Christmas two friends of Lewisham's passed him and Ethel. But Lewisham
did not see them, because he was looking at Ethel's face.

"Did you see?" said the other girl, a little maliciously.

"Mr. Lewisham--wasn't it?" said Miss Heydinger in a perfectly
indifferent tone.

       *       *       *       *       *

Miss Heydinger sat in the room her younger sisters called her
"Sanctum." Her Sanctum was only too evidently an intellectualised
bedroom, and a cheap wallpaper of silvery roses peeped coquettishly
from among her draped furniture. Her particular glories were the
writing-desk in the middle and the microscope on the unsteady
octagonal table under the window. There were bookshelves of
workmanship patently feminine in their facile decoration and
structural instability, and on them an array of glittering poets,
Shelley, Rossetti, Keats, Browning, and odd volumes of Ruskin, South
Place Sermons, Socialistic publications in torn paper covers, and
above, science text-books and note-books in an oppressive
abundance. The autotypes that hung about the room were eloquent of
aesthetic ambitions and of a certain impermeability to implicit
meanings. There were the Mirror of Venus by Burne Jones, Rossetti's
Annunciation, Lippi's Annunciation, and the Love of Life and Love and
Death of Watts. And among other photographs was one of last year's
Debating Society Committee, Lewisham smiling a little weakly near the
centre, and Miss Heydinger out of focus in the right wing. And Miss
Heydinger sat with her back to all these things, in her black
horse-hair arm-chair, staring into the fire, her eyes hot, and her
chin on her hand.

"I might have guessed--before," she said. "Ever since that
_séance_. It has been different ..."

She smiled bitterly. "Some shop girl ..."

She mused. "They are all alike, I suppose. They come back--a little
damaged, as the woman says in 'Lady Windermere's Fan.' Perhaps he
will. I wonder ..."

"Why should he be so deceitful? Why should he act to me ...?"

"Pretty, pretty, pretty--that is our business. What man hesitates in
the choice? He goes his own way, thinks his own thoughts, does his own
work ...

"His dissection is getting behind--one can see he takes scarcely any

For a long time she was silent. Her face became more intent. She began
to bite her thumb, at first slowly, then faster. She broke out at last
into words again.

"The things he might do, the great things he might do. He is able, he
is dogged, he is strong. And then comes a pretty face! Oh God! _Why_
was I made with heart and brain?" She sprang to her feet, with her
hands clenched and her face contorted. But she shed no tears.

Her attitude fell limp in a moment. One hand dropped by her side, the
other rested on a fossil on the mantel-shelf, and she stared down into
the red fire.

"To think of all we might have done! It maddens me!

"To work, and think, and learn. To hope and wait. To despise the
petty arts of womanliness, to trust to the sanity of man....

"To awake like the foolish virgins," she said, "and find the hour of
life is past!"

Her face, her pose, softened into self-pity.

"Futility ...

"It's no good...." Her voice broke.

"I shall never be happy...."

She saw the grandiose vision of the future she had cherished suddenly
rolled aside and vanishing, more and more splendid as it grew more and
more remote--like a dream at the waking moment. The vision of her
inevitable loneliness came to replace it, clear and acute. She saw
herself alone and small in a huge desolation--infinitely pitiful,
Lewisham callously receding with "some shop girl." The tears came,
came faster, until they were streaming down her face. She turned as if
looking for something. She flung herself upon her knees before the
little arm-chair, and began an incoherent sobbing prayer for the pity
and comfort of God.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next day one of the other girls in the biological course remarked
to her friend that "Heydinger-dingery" had relapsed. Her friend
glanced down the laboratory. "It's a bad relapse," she said. "Really
... I couldn't ... wear my hair like that."

She continued to regard Miss Heydinger with a critical eye. She was
free to do this because Miss Heydinger was standing, lost in thought,
staring at the December fog outside the laboratory windows. "She looks
white," said the girl who had originally spoken. "I wonder if she
works hard."

"It makes precious little difference if she does," said her friend. "I
asked her yesterday what were the bones in the parietal segment, and
she didn't know one. Not one."

The next day Miss Heydinger's place was vacant. She was ill--from
overstudy--and her illness lasted to within three weeks of the
terminal examination. Then she came back with a pallid face and a
strenuous unavailing industry.



It was nearly three o'clock, and in the Biological Laboratory the
lamps were all alight. The class was busy with razors cutting sections
of the root of a fern to examine it microscopically. A certain silent
frog-like boy, a private student who plays no further part in this
story, was working intently, looking more like a frog than usual--his
expression modest with a touch of effort. Behind Miss Heydinger, jaded
and untidy in her early manner again, was a vacant seat, an abandoned
microscope and scattered pencils and note-books.

On the door of the class-room was a list of those who had passed the
Christmas examination. At the head of it was the name of the aforesaid
frog-like boy; next to him came Smithers and one of the girls
bracketed together. Lewisham ingloriously headed the second class, and
Miss Heydinger's name did not appear--there was, the list asserted,
"one failure." So the student pays for the finer emotions.

And in the spacious solitude of the museum gallery devoted to the
Raphael cartoons sat Lewisham, plunged in gloomy meditation. A
negligent hand pulled thoughtfully at the indisputable moustache, with
particular attention to such portions as were long enough to gnaw.

He was trying to see the situation clearly. As he was just smarting
acutely under his defeat, this speaks little for the clearness of his
mind. The shadow of that defeat lay across everything, blotted out the
light of his pride, shaded his honour, threw everything into a new
perspective. The rich prettiness of his love-making had fled to some
remote quarter of his being. Against the frog-like youngster he felt a
savage animosity. And Smithers had betrayed him. He was angry,
bitterly angry, with "swats" and "muggers" who spent their whole time
grinding for these foolish chancy examinations. Nor had the practical
examination been altogether fair, and one of the questions in the
written portion was quite outside the lectures. Biver, Professor
Biver, was an indiscriminating ass, he felt assured, and so too was
Weeks, the demonstrator. But these obstacles could not blind his
intelligence to the manifest cause of his overthrow, the waste of more
than half his available evening, the best time for study in the
twenty-four hours, day after day. And that was going on steadily, a
perpetual leakage of time. To-night he would go to meet her again, and
begin to accumulate to himself ignominy in the second part of the
course, the botanical section, also. And so, reluctantly rejecting one
cloudy excuse after another, he clearly focussed the antagonism
between his relations to Ethel and his immediate ambitions.

Things had come so easily to him for the last two years that he had
taken his steady upward progress in life as assured. It had never
occurred to him, when he went to intercept Ethel after that _séance_,
that he went into any peril of that sort. Now he had had a sharp
reminder. He began to shape a picture of the frog-like boy at home--he
was a private student of the upper middle class--sitting in a
convenient study with a writing-table, book-shelves, and a shaded
lamp--Lewisham worked at his chest of drawers, with his greatcoat on,
and his feet in the lowest drawer wrapped in all his available
linen--and in the midst of incredible conveniences the frog-like boy
was working, working, working. Meanwhile Lewisham toiled through the
foggy streets, Chelsea-ward, or, after he had left her, tramped
homeward--full of foolish imaginings.

He began to think with bloodless lucidity of his entire relationship
to Ethel. His softer emotions were in abeyance, but he told himself no
lies. He cared for her, he loved to be with her and to talk to her and
please her, but that was not all his desire. He thought of the bitter
words of an orator at Hammersmith, who had complained that in our
present civilisation even the elemental need of marriage was
denied. Virtue had become a vice. "We marry in fear and trembling, sex
for a home is the woman's traffic, and the man comes to his heart's
desire when his heart's desire is dead." The thing which had seemed a
mere flourish, came back now with a terrible air of truth. Lewisham
saw that it was a case of divergent ways. On the one hand that shining
staircase to fame and power, that had been his dream from the very
dawn of his adolescence, and on the other hand--Ethel.

And if he chose Ethel, even then, would he have his choice? What would
come of it? A few walks more or less! She was hopelessly poor, he was
hopelessly poor, and this cheat of a Medium was her stepfather! After
all she was not well-educated, she did not understand his work and his

He suddenly perceived with absolute conviction that after the _séance_
he should have gone home and forgotten her. Why had he felt that
irresistible impulse to seek her out? Why had his imagination spun
such a strange web of possibilities about her? He was involved now,
foolishly involved.... All his future was a sacrifice to this
transitory ghost of love-making in the streets. He pulled spitefully
at his moustache.

His picture began to shape itself into Ethel, and her mysterious
mother, and the vague dexterous Chaffery holding him back, entangled
in an impalpable net from that bright and glorious ascent to
performance and distinction. Leaky boots and the splash of cabs for
all his life as his portion! Already the Forbes Medal, the immediate
step, was as good as lost....

What on earth had he been thinking about? He fell foul of his
upbringing. Men of the upper or middle classes were put up to these
things by their parents; they were properly warned against involving
themselves in this love nonsense before they were independent. It was
much better....

Everything was going. Not only his work--his scientific career, but
the Debating Society, the political movement, all his work for
Humanity.... Why not be resolute--even now?... Why not put the thing
clearly and plainly to her? Or write? If he wrote now he could get the
advantage of the evening at the Library. He must ask her to forgo
these walks home--at least until the next examination. _She_ would
understand. He had a qualm of doubt whether she would understand....
He grew angry at this possibility. But it was no good mincing
matters. If once he began to consider her--Why should he consider her
in that way? Simply because she was unreasonable!

Lewisham had a transitory gust of anger.

Yet that abandonment of the walks insisted on looking mean to him. And
she would think it mean. Which was very much worse, somehow. _Why_
mean? Why should she think it mean? He grew angry again.

The portly museum policeman who had been watching him furtively,
wondering why a student should sit in front of the "Sacrifice of
Lystra" and gnaw lips and nails and moustache, and scowl and glare at
that masterpiece, saw him rise suddenly to his feet with an air of
resolution, spin on his heel, and set off with a quick step out of the
gallery. He looked neither to the right nor the left. He passed out of
sight down the staircase.

"Gone to get some more moustache to eat, I suppose," said the
policeman reflectively....

"One 'ud think something had bit him."

After some pensive moments the policeman strolled along down the
gallery and came to a stop opposite the cartoon.

"Figgers is a bit big for the houses," said the policeman, anxious to
do impartial justice. "But that's Art. I lay '_e_ couldn't do
anything ... not arf so good."



The night next but one after this meditation saw a new order in the
world. A young lady dressed in an astrachan-edged jacket and with a
face of diminished cheerfulness marched from Chelsea to Clapham alone,
and Lewisham sat in the flickering electric light of the Education
Library staring blankly over a business-like pile of books at unseen

The arrangement had not been effected without friction, the
explanation had proved difficult. Evidently she did not appreciate the
full seriousness of Lewisham's mediocre position in the list. "But you
have _passed_ all right," she said. Neither could she grasp the
importance of evening study. "Of course I don't know," she said
judicially; "but I thought you were learning all day." She calculated
the time consumed by their walk as half an hour, "just one half hour;"
she forgot that he had to get to Chelsea and then to return to his
lodgings. Her customary tenderness was veiled by an only too apparent
resentment. First at him, and then when he protested, at Fate. "I
suppose it _has_ to be," she said. "Of course, it doesn't matter, I
suppose, if we _don't_ see each other quite so often," with a quiver
of pale lips.

He had returned from the parting with an uneasy mind, and that evening
had gone in the composition of a letter that was to make things
clearer. But his scientific studies rendered his prose style "hard,"
and things he could whisper he could not write. His justification
indeed did him no sort of justice. But her reception of it made her
seem a very unreasonable person. He had some violent fluctuations. At
times he was bitterly angry with her for her failure to see things as
he did. He would wander about the museum conducting imaginary
discussions with her and making even scathing remarks. At other times
he had to summon all his powers of acrid discipline and all his
memories of her resentful retorts, to keep himself from a headlong
rush to Chelsea and unmanly capitulation.

And this new disposition of things endured for two weeks. It did not
take Miss Heydinger all that time to discover that the disaster of the
examination had wrought a change in Lewisham. She perceived those
nightly walks were over. It was speedily evident to her that he was
working with a kind of dogged fury; he came early, he went late. The
wholesome freshness of his cheek paled. He was to be seen on each of
the late nights amidst a pile of diagrams and text-books in one of the
less draughty corners of the Educational Library, accumulating piles
of memoranda. And nightly in the Students' "club" he wrote a letter
addressed to a stationer's shop in Clapham, but that she did not see.
For the most part these letters were brief, for Lewisham, South
Kensington fashion, prided himself upon not being "literary," and some
of the more despatch-like wounded a heart perhaps too hungry for
tender words.

He did not meet Miss Heydinger's renewed advances with invariable
kindness. Yet something of the old relations were presently
restored. He would talk well to her for a time, and then snap like a
dry twig. But the loaning of books was resumed, the subtle process of
his aesthetic education that Miss Heydinger had devised. "Here is a
book I promised you," she said one day, and he tried to remember the

The book was a collection of Browning's Poems, and it contained
"Sludge"; it also happened that it contained "The Statue and the
Bust"--that stimulating lecture on half-hearted constraints. "Sludge"
did not interest Lewisham, it was not at all his idea of a medium, but
he read and re-read "The Statue and the Bust." It had the profoundest
effect upon him. He went to sleep--he used to read his literature in
bed because it was warmer there, and over literature nowadays it did
not matter as it did with science if one dozed a little--with these
lines stimulating his emotion:--

    "So weeks grew months, years; gleam by gleam
    The glory dropped from their youth and love,
    And both perceived they had dreamed a dream."

By way of fruit it may be to such seed, he dreamed a dream that
night. It concerned Ethel, and at last they were a-marrying. He drew
her to his arms. He bent to kiss her. And suddenly he saw her lips
were shrivelled and her eyes were dull, saw the wrinkles seaming her
face! She was old! She was intolerably old! He woke in a kind of
horror and lay awake and very dismal until dawn, thinking of their
separation and of her solitary walk through the muddy streets,
thinking of his position, the leeway he had lost and the chances there
were against him in the battle of the world. He perceived the
colourless truth; the Career was improbable, and that Ethel should be
added to it was almost hopeless. Clearly the question was between
these two. Or should he vacillate and lose both? And then his
wretchedness gave place to that anger that comes of perpetually
thwarted desires....

It was on the day after this dream that he insulted Parkson so
grossly. He insulted Parkson after a meeting of the "Friends of
Progress" at Parkson's rooms.

No type of English student quite realises the noble ideal of plain
living and high thinking nowadays. Our admirable examination system
admits of extremely little thinking at any level, high or low. But the
Kensington student's living is at any rate insufficient, and he makes
occasional signs of recognition towards the cosmic process.

One such sign was the periodic gathering of these "Friends of
Progress," an association begotten of Lewisham's paper on
Socialism. It was understood that strenuous things were to be done to
make the world better, but so far no decisive action had been taken.

They met in Parkson's sitting-room, because Parkson was the only one
of the Friends opulent enough to have a sitting-room, he being a
Whitworth Scholar and in receipt of one hundred pounds a year. The
Friends were of various ages, mostly very young. Several smoked and
others held pipes which they had discontinued smoking--but there was
nothing to drink, except coffee, because that was the extent of their
means. Dunkerley, an assistant master in a suburban school, and
Lewisham's former colleague at Whortley, attended these assemblies
through the introduction of Lewisham. All the Friends wore red ties
except Bletherley, who wore an orange one to show that he was aware of
Art, and Dunkerley, who wore a black one with blue specks, because
assistant masters in small private schools have to keep up
appearances. And their simple procedure was that each talked as much
as the others would suffer.

Usually the self-proposed "Luther of Socialism"--ridiculous
Lewisham!--had a thesis or so to maintain, but this night he was
depressed and inattentive. He sat with his legs over the arm of his
chair by way of indicating the state of his mind. He had a packet of
Algerian cigarettes (twenty for fivepence), and appeared chiefly
concerned to smoke them all before the evening was out. Bletherley was
going to discourse of "Woman under Socialism," and he brought a big
American edition of Shelley's works and a volume of Tennyson with the
"Princess," both bristling with paper tongues against his marked
quotations. He was all for the abolition of "monopolies," and the
_créche_ was to replace the family. He was unctuous when he was not
pretty-pretty, and his views were evidently unpopular.

Parkson was a man from Lancashire, and a devout Quaker; his third and
completing factor was Ruskin, with whose work and phraseology he was
saturated. He listened to Bletherley with a marked disapproval, and
opened a vigorous defence of that ancient tradition of loyalty that
Bletherley had called the monopolist institution of marriage. "The
pure and simple old theory--love and faithfulness," said Parkson,
"suffices for me. If we are to smear our political movements with
this sort of stuff ..."

"Does it work?" interjected Lewisham, speaking for the first time.

"What work?"

"The pure and simple old theory. I know the theory. I believe in the
theory. Bletherley's Shelley-witted. But it's theory. You meet the
inevitable girl. The theory says you may meet her anywhen. You meet
too young. You fall in love. You marry--in spite of obstacles. Love
laughs at locksmiths. You have children. That's the theory. All very
well for a man whose father can leave him five hundred a year. But how
does it work for a shopman?... An assistant master like Dunkerley? Or
... Me?"

"In these cases one must exercise restraint," said Parkson. "Have
faith. A man that is worth having is worth waiting for."

"Worth growing old for?" said Lewisham.

"Chap ought to fight," said Dunkerley. "Don't see your difficulty,
Lewisham. Struggle for existence keen, no doubt, tremendous in
fact--still. In it--may as well struggle. Two--join forces--pool the
luck. If I saw, a girl I fancied so that I wanted to, I'd marry her
to-morrow. And my market value is seventy _non res_."

Lewisham looked round at him eagerly, suddenly interested. "_Would_
you?" he said. Dunkerley's face was slightly flushed.

"Like a shot. Why not?"

"But how are you to live?"

"That comes after. If ..."

"I can't agree with you, Mr. Dunkerley," said Parkson. "I don't know
if you have read Sesame and Lilies, but there you have, set forth far
more fairly than any words of mine could do, an ideal of a woman's
place ..."

"All rot--Sesame and Lilies," interrupted Dunkerley. "Read
bits. Couldn't stand it. Never _can_ stand Ruskin. Too many
prepositions. Tremendous English, no doubt, but not my style. Sort of
thing a wholesale grocer's daughter might read to get refined. _We_
can't afford to get refined."

"But would you really marry a girl ...?" began Lewisham, with an
unprecedented admiration for Dunkerley in his eyes.

"Why not?"

"On--?" Lewisham hesitated.

"Forty pounds a year _res_. Whack! Yes."

A silent youngster began to speak, cleared an accumulated huskiness
from his throat and said, "Consider the girl."

"Why _marry_?" asked Bletherley, unregarded.

"You must admit you are asking a great thing when you want a girl ..."
began Parkson.

"Not so. When a girl's chosen a man, and he chooses her, her place is
with him. What is the good of hankering? Mutual. Fight together."

"Good!" said Lewisham, suddenly emotional. "You talk like a man,
Dunkerley. I'm hanged if you don't."

"The place of Woman," insisted Parkson, "is the Home. And if there is
no home--! I hold that, if need be, a man should toil seven years--as
Jacob did for Rachel--ruling his passions, to make the home fitting
and sweet for her ..."

"Get the hutch for the pet animal," said Dunkerley. "No. I mean to
marry a _woman_. Female sex always _has_ been in the struggle for
existence--no great damage so far--always will be. Tremendous
idea--that struggle for existence. Only sensible theory you've got
hold of, Lewisham. Woman who isn't fighting square side by side with a
man--woman who's just kept and fed and petted is ..." He hesitated.

A lad with a spotted face and a bulldog pipe between his teeth
supplied a Biblical word.

"That's shag," said Dunkerley, "I was going to say 'a harem of one'"

The youngster was puzzled for a moment. "I smoke Perique," he said.

"It will make you just as sick," said Dunkerley.

"Refinement's so beastly vulgar," was the belated answer of the smoker
of Perique.

That was the interesting part of the evening to Lewisham. Parkson
suddenly rose, got down "Sesame and Lilies," and insisted upon reading
a lengthy mellifluous extract that went like a garden roller over the
debate, and afterwards Bletherley became the centre of a wrangle that
left him grossly insulted and in a minority of one. The institution
of marriage, so far as the South Kensington student is concerned, is
in no immediate danger.

Parkson turned out with the rest of them at half-past ten, for a
walk. The night was warm for February and the waxing moon
bright. Parkson fixed himself upon Lewisham and Dunkerley, to
Lewisham's intense annoyance--for he had a few intimate things he
could have said to the man of Ideas that night. Dunkerley lived north,
so that the three went up Exhibition Road to High Street,
Kensington. There they parted from Dunkerley, and Lewisham and Parkson
turned southward again for Lewisham's new lodging in Chelsea.

Parkson was one of those exponents of virtue for whom the discussion
of sexual matters has an irresistible attraction. The meeting had left
him eloquent. He had argued with Dunkerley to the verge of indelicacy,
and now he poured out a vast and increasingly confidential flow of
talk upon Lewisham. Lewisham was distraught. He walked as fast as he
could. His sole object was to get rid of Parkson. Parkson's sole
object was to tell him interesting secrets, about himself and a
Certain Person with a mind of extraordinary Purity of whom Lewisham
had heard before.

Ages passed.

Lewisham suddenly found himself being shown a photograph under a
lamp. It represented an unsymmetrical face singularly void of
expression, the upper part of an "art" dress, and a fringe of
curls. He perceived he was being given to understand that this was a
Paragon of Purity, and that she was the particular property of
Parkson. Parkson was regarding him proudly, and apparently awaiting
his verdict.

Lewisham struggled with the truth. "It's an interesting face," he

"It is a face essentially beautiful," said Parkson quietly but
firmly. "Do you notice the eyes, Lewisham?"

"Oh yes," said Lewisham. "Yes. I see the eyes."

"They are ... innocent. They are the eyes of a little child."

"Yes. They look that sort of eye. Very nice, old man. I congratulate
you. Where does she live?"

"You never saw a face like that in London," said Parkson.

"_Never_," said Lewisham decisively.

"I would not show that to every one," said Parkson. "You can scarcely
judge all that pure-hearted, wonderful girl is to me." He returned the
photograph solemnly to its envelope, regarding Lewisham with an air of
one who has performed the ceremony of blood-brotherhood. Then taking
Lewisham's arm affectionately--a thing Lewisham detested--he went on
to a copious outpouring on Love--with illustrative anecdotes of the
Paragon. It was just sufficiently cognate to the matter of Lewisham's
thoughts to demand attention. Every now and then he had to answer, and
he felt an idiotic desire--albeit he clearly perceived its idiocy--to
reciprocate confidences. The necessity of fleeing Parkson became
urgent--Lewisham's temper under these multitudinous stresses was

"Every man needs a Lode Star," said Parkson--and Lewisham swore under
his breath.

Parkson's lodgings were now near at hand to the left, and it occurred
to him this boredom would be soonest ended if he took Parkson home,
Parkson consented mechanically, still discoursing.

"I have often seen you talking to Miss Heydinger," he said. "If you
will pardon my saying it ..."

"We are excellent friends," admitted Lewisham. "But here we are at
your diggings."

Parkson stared at his "diggings." "There's Heaps I want to talk
about. I'll come part of the way at any rate to Battersea. Your Miss
Heydinger, I was saying ..."

From that point onwards he made casual appeals to a supposed
confidence between Lewisham and Miss Heydinger, each of which
increased Lewisham's exasperation. "It will not be long before you
also, Lewisham, will begin to know the infinite purification of a Pure
Love...." Then suddenly, with a vague idea of suppressing Parkson's
unendurable chatter, as one motive at least, Lewisham rushed into the

"I know," he said. "You talk to me as though ... I've marked out my
destiny these three years." His confidential impulse died as he
relieved it.

"You don't mean to say Miss Heydinger--?" asked Parkson.

"Oh, _damn_ Miss Heydinger!" said Lewisham, and suddenly, abruptly,
uncivilly, he turned away from Parkson at the end of the street and
began walking away southward, leaving Parkson in mid-sentence at the

Parkson stared in astonishment at his receding back and ran after him
to ask for the grounds of this sudden offence. Lewisham walked on for
a space with Parkson trotting by his side. Then suddenly he
turned. His face was quite white and he spoke in a tired voice.

"Parkson," he said, "you are a fool!... You have the face of a sheep,
the manners of a buffalo, and the conversation of a bore, Pewrity
indeed!... The girl whose photograph you showed me has eyes that don't
match. She looks as loathsome as one would naturally expect.... I'm
not joking now.... Go away!"

After that Lewisham went on his southward way alone. He did not go
straight to his room in Chelsea, but spent some hours in a street in
Battersea, pacing to and fro in front of a possible house. His passion
changed from savageness to a tender longing. If only he could see her
to-night! He knew his own mind now. To-morrow he was resolved _he_
would fling work to the dogs and meet her. The things Dunkerley had
said had filled his mind with wonderful novel thoughts. If only he
could see her now!

His wish was granted. At the corner of the street two figures passed
him; one of these, a tall man in glasses and a quasi-clerical hat,
with coat collar turned up under his grey side-whiskers, he recognised
as Chaffery; the other he knew only too well. The pair passed him
without seeing him, but for an instant the lamplight fell upon her
face and showed it white and tired.

Lewisham stopped dead at the corner, staring in blank astonishment
after these two figures as they receded into the haze under the
lights. He was dumfounded. A clock struck slowly. It was
midnight. Presently down the road came the slamming of their door.

Long after the echo died away he stood there. "She has been at a
_séance_; she has broken her promise. She has been at a _séance_; she
has broken her promise," sang in perpetual reiteration through his

And then came the interpretation. "She has done it because I have left
her. I might have told it from her letters. She has done it because
she thinks I am not in earnest, that my love-making was just
boyishness ...

"I knew she would never understand."



The next morning Lewisham learnt from Lagune that his intuition was
correct, that Ethel had at last succumbed to pressure and consented to
attempt thought-reading. "We made a good beginning," said Lagune,
rubbing his hands. "I am sure we shall do well with her. Certainly she
has powers. I have always felt it in her face. She has powers."

"Was much ... pressure necessary?" asked Lewisham by an effort.

"We had--considerable difficulty. Considerable. But of course--as I
pointed out to her--it was scarcely possible for her to continue as my
typewriter unless she was disposed to take an interest in my

"You did that?"

"Had to. Fortunately Chaffery--it was his idea. I must admit--"

Lagune stopped astonished. Lewisham, after making an odd sort of
movement with his hands, had turned round and was walking away down
the laboratory. Lagune stared; confronted by a psychic phenomenon
beyond his circle of ideas. "Odd!" he said at last, and began to
unpack his bag. Ever and again he stopped and stared at Lewisham, who
was now sitting in his own place and drumming on the table with both

Presently Miss Heydinger came out of the specimen room and addressed a
remark to the young man. He appeared to answer with considerable
brevity. He then stood up, hesitated for a moment between the three
doors of the laboratory and walked out by that opening on the back
staircase. Lagune did not see him again until the afternoon.

That night Ethel had Lewisham's company again on her way home, and
their voices were earnest. She did not go straight home, but instead
they went up under the gas lamps to the vague spaces of Clapham Common
to talk there at length. And the talk that night was a momentous
one. "Why have you broken your promise?" he said.

Her excuses were vague and weak. "I thought you did not care so much
as you did," she said. "And when you stopped these walks--nothing
seemed to matter. Besides--it is not like _séances_ with spirits ..."

At first Lewisham was passionate and forcible. His anger at Lagune and
Chaffery blinded him to her turpitude. He talked her defences
down. "It is cheating," he said. "Well--even if what _you_ do is not
cheating, it is delusion--unconscious cheating. Even if there is
something in it, it is wrong. True or not, it is wrong. Why don't
they thought-read each other? Why should they want you? Your mind is
your own. It is sacred. To probe it!--I won't have it! I won't have
it! At least you are mine to that extent. I can't think of you like
that--bandaged. And that little fool pressing his hand on the back of
your neck and asking questions. I won't have it! I would rather kill
you than that."

"They don't do that!"

"I don't care! that is what it will come to. The bandage is the
beginning. People must not get their living in that way anyhow. I've
thought it out. Let them thought-read their daughters and hypnotise
their aunts, and leave their typewriters alone."

"But what am I to do?"

"That's not it. There are things one must not suffer anyhow, whatever
happens! Or else--one might be made to do anything. Honour! Just
because we are poor--Let him dismiss you! _Let_ him dismiss you. You
can get another place--"

"Not at a guinea a week."

"Then take less."

"But I have to pay sixteen shillings every week."

"That doesn't matter."

She caught at a sob, "But to leave London--I can't do it, I can't."

"But how?--Leave London?" Lewisham's face changed.

"Oh! life is _hard_," she said. "I can't. They--they wouldn't let me
stop in London."

"What do you mean?"

She explained if Lagune dismissed her she was to go into the country
to an aunt, a sister of Chaffery's who needed a companion. Chaffery
insisted upon that. "Companion they call it. I shall be just a
servant--she has no servant. My mother cries when I talk to her. She
tells me she doesn't want me to go away from her. But she's afraid of
him. 'Why don't you do what he wants?' she says."

She sat staring in front of her at the gathering night. She spoke
again in an even tone.

"I hate telling you these things. It is you ... If you didn't mind
... But you make it all different. I could do it--if it wasn't for
you. I was ... I _was_ helping ... I had gone meaning to help if
anything went wrong at Mr. Lagune's. Yes--that night. No ... don't! It
was too hard before to tell you. But I really did not feel it
... until I saw you there. Then all at once I felt shabby and mean."

"Well?" said Lewisham.

"That's all. I may have done thought-reading, but I have never really
cheated since--_never_.... If you knew how hard it is ..."

"I wish you had told me that before."

"I couldn't. Before you came it was different. He used to make fun of
the people--used to imitate Lagune and make me laugh. It seemed a sort
of joke." She stopped abruptly. "Why did you ever come on with me? I
told you not to--you _know_ I did."

She was near wailing. For a minute she was silent.

"I can't go to his sister's," she cried. "I may be a coward--but I

Pause. And then Lewisham saw his solution straight and clear. Suddenly
his secret desire had become his manifest duty.

"Look here," he said, not looking at her and pulling his moustache. "I
won't have you doing any more of that damned cheating. You shan't soil
yourself any more. And I won't have you leaving London."

"But what am I to do?" Her voice went up.

"Well--there is one thing you can do. If you dare."

"What is it?"

He made no answer for some seconds. Then he turned round and sat
looking at her. Their eyes met....

The grey of his mind began to colour. Her face was white and she was
looking at him, in fear and perplexity. A new tenderness for her
sprang up in him--a new feeling. Hitherto he had loved and desired her
sweetness and animation--but now she was white and weary-eyed. He
felt as though he had forgotten her and suddenly remembered. A great
longing came into his mind.

"But what is the other thing I can do?"

It was strangely hard to say. There came a peculiar sensation in his
throat and facial muscles, a nervous stress between laughing and
crying. All the world vanished before that great desire. And he was
afraid she would not dare, that she would not take him seriously.

"What is it?" she said again.

"Don't you see that we can marry?" he said, with the flood of his
resolution suddenly strong and steady. "Don't you see that is the
only thing for us? The dead lane we are in! You must come out of your
cheating, and I must come out of my ... cramming. And we--we must

He paused and then became eloquent. "The world is against us,
against--us. To you it offers money to cheat--to be ignoble. For it
_is_ ignoble! It offers you no honest way, only a miserable
drudgery. And it keeps you from me. And me too it bribes with the
promise of success--if I will desert you ... You don't know all ... We
may have to wait for years--we may have to wait for ever, if we wait
until life is safe. We may be separated.... We may lose one another
altogether.... Let us fight against it. Why should we separate?
Unless True Love is like the other things--an empty cant. This is the
only way. We two--who belong to one another."

She looked at him, her face perplexed with this new idea, her heart
beating very fast. "We are so young," she said. "And how are we to
live? You get a guinea."

"I can get more--I can earn more, I have thought it out. I have been
thinking of it these two days. I have been thinking what we could
do. I have money."

"You have money?"

"Nearly a hundred pounds."

"But we are so young--And my mother ..."

"We won't ask her. We will ask no one. This is _our_ affair. Ethel!
this is _our_ affair. It is not a question of ways and means--even
before this--I have thought ... Dear one!--_don't_ you love me?"

She did not grasp his emotional quality. She looked at him with
puzzled eyes--still practical--making the suggestion arithmetical.

"I could typewrite if I had a machine. I have heard--"

"It's not a question of ways and means. Now. Ethel--I have longed--"

He stopped. She looked at his face, at his eyes now eager and eloquent
with the things that never shaped themselves into words.

"_Dare_ you come with me?" he whispered.

Suddenly the world opened out in reality to her as sometimes it had
opened out to her in wistful dreams. And she quailed before it. She
dropped her eyes from his. She became a fellow-conspirator. "But,

"I will think how. Trust me! Surely we know each other now--Think! We

"But I have never thought--"

"I could get apartments for us both. It would be so easy. And think of
it--think--of what life would be!"

"How can I?"

"You will come?"

She looked at him, startled. "You know," she said, "you must know I
would like--I would love--"

"You will come?"

"But, dear--! Dear, if you _make_ me--"

"Yes!" cried Lewisham triumphantly. "You will come." He glanced round
and his voice dropped. "Oh! my dearest! my dearest!..."

His voice sank to an inaudible whisper. But his face was eloquent. Two
garrulous, home-going clerks passed opportunely to remind him that his
emotions were in a public place.



On the Wednesday afternoon following this--it was hard upon the
botanical examination--Mr. Lewisham was observed by Smithers in the
big Education Library reading in a volume of the British
Encyclopaedia. Beside him were the current Whitaker's Almanac, an open
note-book, a book from the Contemporary Science Series, and the
Science and Art Department's Directory. Smithers, who had a profound
sense of Lewisham's superiority in the art of obtaining facts of value
in examinations, wondered for some minutes what valuable tip for a
student in botany might be hidden in Whitaker, and on reaching his
lodgings spent some time over the landlady's copy. But really Lewisham
was not studying botany, but the art of marriage according to the best
authorities. (The book from the Contemporary Science Series was
Professor Letourneau's "Evolution of Marriage." It was interesting
certainly, but of little immediate use.)

From Whitaker Lewisham learnt that it would be possible at a cost of
£2, 6s. 1d. or £2, 7s. 1d. (one of the items was ambiguous) to get
married within the week--that charge being exclusive of vails--at the
district registry office. He did little addition sums in the
note-book. The church fees he found were variable, but for more
personal reasons he rejected a marriage at church. Marriage by
certificate at a registrar's involved an inconvenient delay. It would
have to be £2, 7s. 1d. Vails--ten shillings, say.

Afterwards, without needless ostentation, he produced a cheque-book
and a deposit-book, and proceeded to further arithmetic. He found that
he was master of £61, 4s. 7d. Not a hundred as he had said, but a fine
big sum--men have started great businesses on less. It had been a
hundred originally. Allowing five pounds for the marriage and moving,
this would leave about £56. Plenty. No provision was made for flowers,
carriages, or the honeymoon. But there would be a typewriter to
buy. Ethel was to do her share....

"It will be a devilish close thing," said Lewisham with a quite
unreasonable exultation. For, strangely enough, the affair was
beginning to take on a flavour of adventure not at all unpleasant. He
leant back in his chair with the note-book closed in his hand....

But there was much to see to that afternoon. First of all he had to
discover the district superintendent registrar, and then to find a
lodging whither he should take Ethel--their lodging, where they were
to live together.

At the thought of that new life together that was drawing so near, she
came into his head, vivid and near and warm....

He recovered himself from a day dream. He became aware of a library
attendant down the room leaning forward over his desk, gnawing the tip
of a paper knife after the fashion of South Kensington library
attendants, and staring at him curiously. It occurred to Lewisham that
thought reading was one of the most possible things in the world. He
blushed, rose clumsily and took the volume of the Encyclopaedia back
to its shelf.

He found the selection of lodgings a difficult business. After his
first essay he began to fancy himself a suspicious-looking character,
and that perhaps hampered him. He had chosen the district southward
of the Brompton Road. It had one disadvantage--he might blunder into a
house with a fellow-student.... Not that it mattered vitally. But the
fact is, it is rather unusual for married couples to live permanently
in furnished lodgings in London. People who are too poor to take a
house or a flat commonly find it best to take part of a house or
unfurnished apartments. There are a hundred couples living in
unfurnished rooms (with "the use of the kitchen") to one in furnished
in London. The absence of furniture predicates a dangerous want of
capital to the discreet landlady. The first landlady Lewisham
interviewed didn't like ladies, they required such a lot of
attendance; the second was of the same mind; the third told
Mr. Lewisham he was "youngish to be married;" the fourth said she only
"did" for single "gents." The fifth was a young person with an arch
manner, who liked to know all about people she took in, and subjected
Lewisham to a searching cross-examination. When she had spitted him
in a downright lie or so, she expressed an opinion that her rooms
"would scarcely do," and bowed him amiably out.

He cooled his ears and cheeks by walking up and down the street for a
space, and then tried again. This landlady was a terrible and pitiful
person, so grey and dusty she was, and her face deep lined with dust
and trouble and labour. She wore a dirty cap that was all askew. She
took Lewisham up into a threadbare room on the first floor, "There's
the use of a piano," she said, and indicated an instrument with a
front of torn green silk. Lewisham opened the keyboard and evoked a
vibration of broken strings. He took one further survey of the dismal
place, "Eighteen shillings," he said. "Thank you ... I'll let you
know." The woman smiled with the corners of her mouth down, and
without a word moved wearily towards the door. Lewisham felt a
transient wonder at her hopeless position, but he did not pursue the

The next landlady sufficed. She was a clean-looking German woman,
rather smartly dressed; she had a fringe of flaxen curls and a voluble
flow of words, for the most part recognisably English. With this she
sketched out remarks. Fifteen shillings was her demand for a minute
bedroom and a small sitting-room, separated by folding doors on the
ground floor, and her personal services. Coals were to be "sixpence a
kettle," she said--a pretty substitute for scuttle. She had not
understood Lewisham to say he was married. But she had no hesitation.
"Aayteen shillin'," she said imperturbably. "Paid furs day ich wik
... See?" Mr. Lewisham surveyed the rooms again. They looked clean,
and the bonus tea vases, the rancid, gilt-framed oleographs, two
toilet tidies used as ornaments, and the fact that the chest of
drawers had been crowded out of the bedroom into the sitting-room,
simply appealed to his sense of humour. "I'll take 'em from Saturday
next," he said.

She was sure he would like them, and proposed to give him his book
forthwith. She mentioned casually that the previous lodger had been a
captain and had stayed three years. (One never hears by any chance of
lodgers stopping for a shorter period.) Something happened (German)
and now he kept his carriage--apparently an outcome of his stay. She
returned with a small penny account-book, a bottle of ink and an
execrable pen, wrote Lewisham's name on the cover of this, and a
receipt for eighteen shillings on the first page. She was evidently a
person of considerable business aptitude. Lewisham paid, and the
transaction terminated. "Szhure to be gomfortable," followed him
comfortingly to the street.

Then he went on to Chelsea and interviewed a fatherly gentleman at the
Vestry offices. The fatherly gentleman was chubby-faced and
spectacled, and his manner was sympathetic but business-like. He
"called back" each item of the interview, "And what can I do for you?
You wish to be married! By licence?"

"By licence."

"By licence!"

And so forth. He opened a book and made neat entries of the

"The lady's age?"


"A very suitable age ... for a lady."

He advised Lewisham to get a ring, and said he would need two

"_Well_--" hesitated Lewisham.

"There is always someone about," said the superintendent
registrar. "And they are quite used to it."

Thursday and Friday Lewisham passed in exceedingly high spirits. No
consciousness of the practical destruction of the Career seems to have
troubled him at this time. Doubt had vanished from his universe for a
space. He wanted to dance along the corridors. He felt curiously
irresponsible and threw up an unpleasant sort of humour that pleased
nobody. He wished Miss Heydinger many happy returns of the day,
_apropos_ of nothing, and he threw a bun across the refreshment room
at Smithers and hit one of the Art School officials. Both were
extremely silly things to do. In the first instance he was penitent
immediately after the outrage, but in the second he added insult to
injury by going across the room and asking in an offensively
suspicious manner if anyone had seen his bun. He crawled under a table
and found it at last, rather dusty but quite eatable, under the chair
of a lady art student. He sat down by Smithers to eat it, while he
argued with the Art official. The Art official said the manners of the
Science students were getting unbearable, and threatened to bring the
matter before the refreshment-room committee. Lewisham said it was a
pity to make such a fuss about a trivial thing, and proposed that the
Art official should throw his lunch--steak and kidney pudding--across
the room at him, Lewisham, and so get immediate satisfaction. He then
apologised to the official and pointed out in extenuation that it was
a very long and difficult shot he had attempted. The official then
drank a crumb, or breathed some beer, or something of that sort, and
the discussion terminated. In the afternoon, however, Lewisham, to
his undying honour, felt acutely ashamed of himself. Miss Heydinger
would not speak to him.

On Saturday morning he absented himself from the schools, pleading by
post a slight indisposition, and took all his earthly goods to the
booking office at Vauxhall Station. Chaffery's sister lived at
Tongham, near Farnham, and Ethel, dismissed a week since by Lagune,
had started that morning, under her mother's maudlin supervision, to
begin her new slavery. She was to alight either at Farnham or Woking,
as opportunity arose, and to return to Vauxhall to meet him. So that
Lewisham's vigil on the main platform was of indefinite duration.

At first he felt the exhilaration of a great adventure. Then, as he
paced the long platform, came a philosophical mood, a sense of entire
detachment from the world. He saw a bundle of uprooted plants beside
the portmanteau of a fellow-passenger and it suggested a grotesque
simile. His roots, his earthly possessions, were all downstairs in
the booking-office. What a flimsy thing he was! A box of books and a
trunk of clothes, some certificates and scraps of paper, an entry here
and an entry there, a body not over strong--and the vast multitude of
people about him--against him--the huge world in which he found
himself! Did it matter anything to one human soul save her if he
ceased to exist forthwith? And miles away perhaps she also was
feeling little and lonely....

Would she have trouble with her luggage? Suppose her aunt were to come
to Farnham Junction to meet her? Suppose someone stole her purse?
Suppose she came too late! The marriage was to take place at
two.... Suppose she never came at all! After three trains in
succession had disappointed him his vague feelings of dread gave place
to a profound depression....

But she came at last, and it was twenty-three minutes to two. He
hurried her luggage downstairs, booked it with his own, and in another
minute they were in a hansom--their first experience of that species
of conveyance--on the way to the Vestry office. They had said scarcely
anything to one another, save hasty directions from Lewisham, but
their eyes were full of excitement, and under the apron of the cab
their hands were gripped together.

The little old gentleman was business-like but kindly. They made
their vows to him, to a little black-bearded clerk and a lady who took
off an apron in the nether part of the building to attend. The little
old gentleman made no long speeches. "You are young people," he said
slowly, "and life together is a difficult thing.... Be kind to each
other." He smiled a little sadly, and held out a friendly hand.

Ethel's eyes glistened and she found she could not speak.



Then a furtive payment of witnesses, and Lewisham was beside her. His
face was radiant. A steady current of workers going home to their
half-holiday rest poured along the street. On the steps before them
lay a few grains of rice from some more public nuptials.

A critical little girl eyed our couple curiously and made some remark
to her ragamuffin friend.

"Not them," said the ragamuffin friend, "They've only been askin'

The ragamuffin friend was no judge of faces.

They walked back through the thronged streets to Vauxhall station,
saying little to one another, and there Lewisham, assuming as
indifferent a manner as he could command, recovered their possessions
from the booking-office by means of two separate tickets and put them
aboard a four-wheeler. His luggage went outside, but the little brown
portmanteau containing Ethel's trousseau was small enough to go on the
seat in front of them. You must figure a rather broken-down
four-wheeler bearing the yellow-painted box and the experienced trunk
and Mr. Lewisham and all his fortunes, a despondent fitful horse, and
a threadbare venerable driver, blasphemous _sotto voce_ and
flagellant, in an ancient coat with capes. When our two young people
found themselves in the cab again a certain stiffness of manner
between them vanished and there was more squeezing of hands. "Ethel
_Lewisham_," said Lewisham several times, and Ethel reciprocated with
"Husbinder" and "Hubby dear," and took off her glove to look again in
an ostentatious manner at a ring. And she kissed the ring.

They were resolved that their newly-married state should not appear,
and with considerable ceremony it was arranged that he should treat
her with off-hand brusqueness when they arrived at their lodging. The
Teutonic landlady appeared in the passage with an amiable smile and
the hope that they had had a pleasant journey, and became voluble with
promises of comfort. Lewisham having assisted the slatternly general
servant to carry in his boxes, paid the cabman a florin in a resolute
manner and followed the ladies into the sitting-room.

Ethel answered Madam Gadow's inquiries with admirable self-possession,
followed her through the folding-doors and displayed an intelligent
interest in a new spring mattress. Presently the folding-doors were
closed again. Lewisham hovered about the front room pulling his
moustache and pretending to admire the oleographs, surprised to find
himself trembling....

The slatternly general servant reappeared with the chops and tinned
salmon he had asked Madam Gadow to prepare for them. He went and
stared out of the window, heard the door close behind the girl, and
turned at a sound as Ethel appeared shyly through the folding-doors.

She was suddenly domestic. Hitherto he had seen her without a hat and
jacket only on one indistinct dramatic occasion. Now she wore a little
blouse of soft, dark red material, with a white froth about the wrists
and that pretty neck of hers. And her hair was a new wonderland of
curls and soft strands. How delicate she looked and sweet as she stood
hesitating there. These gracious moments in life! He took two steps
and held out his arms. She glanced at the closed door of the room and
came flitting towards him....



For three indelible days Lewisham's existence was a fabric of fine
emotions, life was too wonderful and beautiful for any doubts or
forethought. To be with Ethel was perpetual delight--she astonished
this sisterless youngster with a thousand feminine niceties and
refinements. She shamed him for his strength and clumsiness. And the
light in her eyes and the warmth in her heart that lit them!

Even to be away from her was a wonder and in its way delightful. He
was no common Student, he was a man with a Secret Life. To part from
her on Monday near South Kensington station and go up Exhibition Road
among all the fellows who lived in sordid, lonely lodgings and were
boys to his day-old experience! To neglect one's work and sit back and
dream of meeting again! To slip off to the shady churchyard behind the
Oratory when, or even a little before, the midday bell woke the great
staircase to activity, and to meet a smiling face and hear a soft,
voice saying sweet foolish things! And after four another meeting and
the walk home--their own home.

No little form now went from him and flitted past a gas lamp down a
foggy vista, taking his desire with her. Never more was that to
be. Lewisham's long hours in the laboratory were spent largely in a
dreamy meditation, in--to tell the truth--the invention of foolish
terms of endearment: "Dear Wife," "Dear Little Wife Thing," "Sweetest
Dearest Little Wife," "Dillywings." A pretty employment! And these
are quite a fair specimen of his originality during those wonderful
days. A moment of heart-searching in that particular matter led to
the discovery of hitherto undreamt-of kindred with Swift. For
Lewisham, like Swift and most other people, had hit upon, the Little
Language. Indeed it was a very foolish time.

Such section cutting as he did that third day of his married life--and
he did very little--was a thing to marvel at. Bindon, the botany
professor, under the fresh shock of his performance, protested to a
colleague in the grill room that never had a student been so foolishly

And Ethel too had a fine emotional time. She was mistress of a
home--_their_ home together. She shopped and was called "Ma'am" by
respectful, good-looking shopmen; she designed meals and copied out
papers of notes with a rich sense of helpfulness. And ever and again
she would stop writing and sit dreaming. And for four bright week-days
she went to and fro to accompany and meet Lewisham and listen greedily
to the latest fruits of his imagination.

The landlady was very polite and conversed entertainingly about the
very extraordinary and dissolute servants that had fallen to her
lot. And Ethel disguised her newly wedded state by a series of
ingenious prevarications. She wrote a letter that Saturday evening to
her mother--Lewisham had helped her to write it--making a sort of
proclamation of her heroic departure and promising a speedy
visit. They posted the letter so that it might not be delivered until

She was quite sure with Lewisham that only the possible dishonour of
mediumship could have brought their marriage about--she sank the
mutual attraction beyond even her own vision. There was more than a
touch of magnificence, you perceive, about this affair.

It was Lewisham had persuaded her to delay that reassuring visit until
Monday night. "One whole day of honeymoon," he insisted, was to be
theirs. In his prenuptial meditations he had not clearly focussed the
fact that even after marriage some sort of relations with Mr. and
Mrs. Chaffery would still go on. Even now he was exceedingly
disinclined to face that obvious necessity. He foresaw, in spite of a
resolute attempt to ignore it, that there would be explanatory scenes
of some little difficulty. But the prevailing magnificence carried him
over this trouble.

"Let us at least have this little time for ourselves," he said, and
that seemed to settle their position.

Save for its brevity and these intimations of future trouble it was a
very fine time indeed. Their midday dinner together, for example--it
was a little cold when at last they came to it on Saturday--was
immense fun. There was no marked subsidence of appetite; they ate
extremely well in spite of the meeting of their souls, and in spite of
certain shiftings of chairs and hand claspings and similar delays. He
really made the acquaintance of her hands then for the first time,
plump white hands with short white fingers, and the engagement ring
had come out of its tender hiding-place and acted as keeper to the
wedding ring. Their eyes were perpetually flitting about the room and
coming back to mutual smiles. All their movements were faintly

She professed to be vastly interested and amused by the room and its
furniture and her position, and he was delighted by her delight. She
was particularly entertained by the chest of drawers in the living
room, and by Lewisham's witticisms at the toilet tidies and the

And after the chops and the most of the tinned salmon and the very new
loaf were gone they fell to with fine effect upon a tapioca
pudding. Their talk was fragmentary. "Did you hear her call me
_Madame? Mádáme_--so!" "And presently I must go out and do some
shopping. There are all the things for Sunday and Monday morning to
get. I must make a list. It will never do to let her know how little I
know about things.... I wish I knew more."

At the time Lewisham regarded her confession of domestic ignorance as
a fine basis for facetiousness. He developed a fresh line of thought,
and condoled with her on the inglorious circumstances of their
wedding. "No bridesmaids," he said; "no little children scattering
flowers, no carriages, no policemen to guard the wedding presents,
nothing proper--nothing right. Not even a white favour. Only you and

"Only you and I. _Oh_!"

"This is nonsense," said Lewisham, after an interval.

"And think what we lose in the way of speeches," he resumed. "Cannot
you imagine the best man rising:--'Ladies and gentlemen--the health of
the bride.' That is what the best man has to do, isn't it?"

By way of answer she extended her hand.

"And do you know," he said, after that had received due recognition,
"we have never been introduced!"

"Neither have we!" said Ethel. "Neither have we! We have never been

For some inscrutable reason it delighted them both enormously to think
that they had never been introduced....

In the later afternoon Lewisham, having unpacked his books to a
certain extent, and so forth, was visible to all men, visibly in the
highest spirits, carrying home Ethel's shopping. There were parcels
and cones in blue and parcels in rough grey paper and a bag of
confectionery, and out of one of the side pockets of that East-end
overcoat the tail of a haddock protruded from its paper. Under such
magnificent sanctions and amid such ignoble circumstances did this
honeymoon begin.

On Sunday evening they went for a long rambling walk through the quiet
streets, coming out at last into Hyde Park. The early spring night was
mild and clear and the kindly moonlight was about them. They went to
the bridge and looked down the Serpentine, with the little lights of
Paddington yellow and remote. They stood there, dim little figures and
very close together. They whispered and became silent.

Presently it seemed that something passed and Lewisham began talking
in his magnificent vein. He likened the Serpentine to Life, and found
Meaning in the dark banks of Kensington Gardens and the remote bright
lights. "The long struggle," he said, "and the lights at the
end,"--though he really did not know what he meant by the lights at
the end. Neither did Ethel, though the emotion was indisputable. "We
are Fighting the World," he said, finding great satisfaction in the
thought. "All the world is against us--and we are fighting it all."

"We will not be beaten," said Ethel.

"How could we be beaten--together?" said Lewisham. "For you I would
fight a dozen worlds."

It seemed a very sweet and noble thing to them under the sympathetic
moonlight, almost indeed too easy for their courage, to be merely
fighting the world.

       *       *       *       *       *

"You 'aven't bin married ver' long," said Madam Gadow with an
insinuating smile, when she readmitted Ethel on Monday morning after
Lewisham had been swallowed up by the Schools.

"No, I haven't _very_ long," admitted Ethel.

"You are ver' 'appy," said Madam Gadow, and sighed.

"_I_ was ver' 'appy," said Madam Gadow.



The golden mists of delight lifted a little on Monday, when Mr. and
Mrs. G.E. Lewisham went to call on his mother-in-law and
Mr. Chaffery. Mrs. Lewisham went in evident apprehension, but clouds
of glory still hung about Lewisham's head, and his manner was heroic.
He wore a cotton shirt and linen collar, and a very nice black satin
tie that Mrs. Lewisham had bought on her own responsibility during the
day. She naturally wanted him to look all right.

Mrs. Chaffery appeared in the half light of the passage as the top of
a grimy cap over Ethel's shoulder and two black sleeves about her
neck. She emerged as a small, middle-aged woman, with a thin little
nose between silver-rimmed spectacles, a weak mouth and perplexed
eyes, a queer little dust-lined woman with the oddest resemblance to
Ethel in her face. She was trembling visibly with nervous agitation.

She hesitated, peering, and then kissed Mr. Lewisham effusively. "And
this is Mr. Lewisham!" she said as she did so.

She was the third thing feminine to kiss Lewisham since the
promiscuous days of his babyhood. "I was so afraid--There!" She
laughed hysterically.

"You'll excuse my saying that it's comforting to see you--honest like
and young. Not but what Ethel ... _He_ has been something dreadful,"
said Mrs. Chaffery. "You didn't ought to have written about that
mesmerising. And of all letters that which Jane wrote--there! But
he's waiting and listening--"

"Are we to go downstairs, Mums?" asked Ethel.

"He's waiting for you there," said Mrs. Chaffery. She held a dismal
little oil lamp, and they descended a tenebrous spiral structure into
an underground breakfast-room lit by gas that shone through a
partially frosted globe with cut-glass stars. That descent had a
distinctly depressing effect upon Lewisham. He went first. He took a
deep breath at the door. What on earth was Chaffery going to say? Not
that he cared, of course.

Chaffery was standing with his back to the fire, trimming his
finger-nails with a pocket-knife. His gilt glasses were tilted forward
so as to make an inflamed knob at the top of his long nose, and he
regarded Mr. and Mrs. Lewisham over them with--Lewisham doubted his
eyes for a moment--but it was positively a smile, an essentially
waggish smile.

"You've come back," he said quite cheerfully over Lewisham to
Ethel. There was a hint of falsetto in his voice.

"She has called to see her mother," said Lewisham. "You, I believe,
are Mr. Chaffery?"

"I would like to know who the Deuce _you_ are?" said Chaffery,
suddenly tilting his head back so as to look through his glasses
instead of over them, and laughing genially. "For thoroughgoing Cheek,
I'm inclined to think you take the Cake. Are you the Mr. Lewisham to
whom this misguided girl refers in her letter?"

"I am."

"Maggie," said Mr. Chaffery to Mrs. Chaffery, "there is a class of
being upon whom delicacy is lost--to whom delicacy is practically
unknown. Has your daughter got her marriage lines?"

"Mr. Chaffery!" said Lewisham, and Mrs. Chaffery exclaimed, "James!
How _can_ you?"

Chaffery shut his penknife with a click and slipped it into his
vest-pocket. Then he looked up again, speaking in the same equal
voice. "I presume we are civilised persons prepared to manage our
affairs in a civilised way. My stepdaughter vanishes for two nights
and returns with an alleged husband. I at least am not disposed to be
careless about her legal position."

"You ought to know her better--" began Lewisham.

"Why argue about it," said Chaffery gaily, pointing a lean finger at
Ethel's gesture, "when she has 'em in her pocket? She may just as well
show me now. I thought so. Don't be alarmed at my handling them.
Fresh copies can always be got at the nominal price of two-and-seven.
Thank you ... Lewisham, George Edgar. One-and-twenty. And ...
You--one-and-twenty! I never did know your age, my dear, exactly, and
now your mother won't say. Student!  Thank you. I am greatly
obliged. Indeed I am greatly relieved. And now, what have you got to
say for yourselves in this remarkable affair?"

"You had a letter," said Lewisham.

"I had a letter of excuses--the personalities I overlook ... Yes,
sir--they were excuses. You young people wanted to marry--and you
seized an occasion. You did not even refer to the fact that you
wanted to marry in your letter. Pure modesty! But now you have come
here married. It disorganises this household, it inflicts endless
bother on people, but never you mind that! I'm not blaming
_you_. Nature's to blame! Neither of you know what you are in for
yet. You will. You're married, and that is the great essential
thing.... (Ethel, my dear, just put your husband's hat and stick
behind the door.) And you, sir, are so good as to disapprove of the
way in which I earn my living?"

"Well," said Lewisham. "Yes--I'm bound to say I do."

"You are really _not_ bound to say it. The modesty of inexperience
would excuse you."

"Yes, but it isn't right--it isn't straight."

"Dogma," said Chaffery. "Dogma!"

"What do you mean by dogma?" asked Lewisham.

"I mean, dogma. But we must argue this out in comfort. It is our
supper hour, and I'm not the man to fight against accomplished
facts. We have intermarried. There it is. You must stop to
supper--and you and I must thresh these things out. We've involved
ourselves with each other and we've got to make the best of it. Your
wife and mine will spread the board, and we will go on talking. Why
not sit in that chair instead of leaning on the back? This is a
home--_domus_--not a debating society--humble in spite of my manifest
frauds.... That's better. And in the first place I hope--I do so
hope"--Chaffery was suddenly very impressive--"that you're not a

"Eh!" said Lewisham, and then, "No! I am _not_ a Dissenter."

"That's better," said Mr. Chaffery. "I'm glad of that. I was just a
little afraid--Something in your manner. I can't stand Dissenters.
I've a peculiar dislike to Dissenters. To my mind it's the great
drawback of this Clapham. You see ... I have invariably found them

He grimaced and dropped his glasses with a click against his waistcoat
buttons. "I'm very glad of that," he said, replacing them. "The
Dissenter, the Nonconformist Conscience, the Puritan, you know, the
Vegetarian and Total Abstainer, and all that sort of thing, I cannot
away with them. I have cleared my mind of cant and formulae. I've a
nature essentially Hellenic. Have you ever read Matthew Arnold?"

"Beyond my scientific reading--"

"Ah! you _should_ read Matthew Arnold--a mind of singular clarity. In
him you would find a certain quality that is sometimes a little
wanting in your scientific men. They are apt to be a little too
phenomenal, you know, a little too objective. Now I seek after
noumena. Noumena, Mr. Lewisham! If you follow me--?"

He paused, and his eyes behind the glasses were mildly
interrogative. Ethel re-entered without her hat and jacket, and with a
noisy square black tray, a white cloth, some plates and knives and
glasses, and began to lay the table.

"_I_ follow you," said Lewisham, reddening. He had not the courage to
admit ignorance of this remarkable word. "You state your case."

"I seek after _noumena_," repeated Chaffery with great satisfaction,
and gesticulated with his hand, waving away everything but that. "I
cannot do with surfaces and appearances. I am one of those
nympholepts, you know, nympholepts ... Must pursue the truth of
things! the elusive fundamental ... I make a rule, I never tell myself
lies--never. There are few who can say that. To my mind--truth begins
at home. And for the most part--stops there. Safest and seemliest!
_you_ know. With most men--with your typical Dissenter _par
excellence_--it's always gadding abroad, calling on the neighbours.
You see my point of view?"

He glanced at Lewisham, who was conscious of an unwonted opacity of
mind. He became wary, as wary as he could manage to be on the spur of
the moment.

"It's a little surprising, you know," he said very carefully, "if I
may say so--and considering what happened--to hear _you_ ..."

"Speaking of truth? Not when you understand my position. Not when you
see where I stand. That is what I am getting at. That is what I am
naturally anxious to make clear to you now that we have intermarried,
now that you are my stepson-in-law. You're young, you know, you're
young, and you're hard and fast. Only years can give a mind
_tone_--mitigate the varnish of education. I gather from this
letter--and your face--that you are one of the party that participated
in that little affair at Lagune's."

He stuck out a finger at a point he had just seen. "By-the-bye!--That
accounts for Ethel," he said.

Ethel rapped down the mustard on the table. "It does," she said, but
not very loudly.

"But you had met before?" said Chaffery.

"At Whortley," said Lewisham.

"I see," said Chaffery.

"I was in--I was one of those who arranged the exposure," said
Lewisham. "And now you have raised the matter, I am bound to say--"

"I knew," interrupted Chaffery. "But what a shock that was for
Lagune!" He looked down at his toes for a moment with the corners of
his mouth tucked in. "The hand dodge wasn't bad, you know," he said,
with a queer sidelong smile.

Lewisham was very busy for a moment trying to get this remark in
focus. "I don't see it in the same light as you do," he explained at

"Can't get away from your moral bias, eh?--Well, well. We'll go into
all that. But apart from its moral merits--simply as an artistic
trick--it was not bad."

"I don't know much about tricks--"

"So few who undertake exposures do. You admit you never heard or
thought of that before--the bladder, I mean. Yet it's as obvious as
tintacks that a medium who's hampered at his hands will do all he can
with his teeth, and what _could_ be so self-evident as a bladder under
one's lappel? What could be? Yet I know psychic literature pretty
well, and it's never been suggested even! Never. It's a perpetual
surprise to me how many things are _not_ thought of by investigators.
For one thing, they never count the odds against them, and that puts
them wrong at the start. Look at it! I am by nature tricky. I spend
all my leisure standing or sitting about and thinking up or practising
new little tricks, because it amuses me immensely to do so. The whole
thing amuses me. Well--what is the result of these meditations? Take
one thing:--I know eight-and-forty ways of making raps--of which at
least ten are original. Ten original ways of making raps." His manner
was very impressive. "And some of them simply tremendous raps. There!"

A confirmatory rap exploded--as it seemed between Lewisham and

"_Eh?_" said Chaffery.

The mantelpiece opened a dropping fire, and the table went off under
Lewisham's nose like a cracker.

"You see?" said Chaffery, putting his hands under the tail of his
coat. The whole room seemed snapping its fingers at Lewisham for a

"Very well, and now take the other side. Take the severest test I ever
tried. Two respectable professors of physics--not Newtons, you
understand, but good, worthy, self-important professors of physics--a
lady anxious to prove there's a life beyond the grave, a journalist
who wants stuff to write--a person, that is, who gets his living by
these researches just as I do--undertook to test me. Test _me_!... Of
course they had their other work to do, professing physics, professing
religion, organising research, and so forth. At the outside they don't
think an hour a day about it, and most of them had never cheated
anybody in their existence, and couldn't, for example, travel without
a ticket for a three-mile journey and not get caught, to save their
lives.... Well--you see the odds?"

He paused. Lewisham appeared involved in some interior struggle.

"You know," explained Chaffery, "it was quite an accident you got
me--quite. The thing slipped out of my mouth. Or your friend with, the
flat voice wouldn't have had a chance. Not a chance."

Lewisham spoke like a man who is lifting a weight. "All _this_, you
know, is off the question. I'm not disputing your ability. But the
thing is ... it isn't right."

"We're coming to that," said Chaffery.

"It's evident we look at things in a different light."

"That's it. That's just what we've got to discuss. Exactly!"

"Cheating is cheating. You can't get away from that. That's simple

"Wait till I've done with it," said Chaffery with a certain zest. "Of
course it's imperative you should understand my position. It isn't as
though I hadn't one. Ever since I read your letter I've been thinking
over that. Really!--a justification! In a way you might almost say I
had a mission. A sort of prophet. You really don't see the beginning
of it yet."

"Oh, but hang it!" protested Lewisham.

"Ah! you're young, you're crude. My dear young man, you're only at the
beginning of things. You really must concede a certain possibility of
wider views to a man more than twice your age. But here's supper. For
a little while at any rate we'll call a truce."

Ethel had come in again bearing an additional chair, and Mrs. Chaffery
appeared behind her, crowning the preparations with a jug of small
beer. The cloth, Lewisham observed, as he turned towards it, had
several undarned holes and discoloured places, and in the centre stood
a tarnished cruet which contained mustard, pepper, vinegar, and three
ambiguous dried-up bottles. The bread was on an ample board with a
pious rim, and an honest wedge of cheese loomed disproportionate on a
little plate. Mr. and Mrs. Lewisham were seated facing one another,
and Mrs. Chaffery sat in the broken chair because she understood its

"This cheese is as nutritious and unattractive and indigestible as
Science," remarked Chaffery, cutting and passing wedges. "But crush
it--so--under your fork, add a little of this good Dorset butter, a
dab of mustard, pepper--the pepper is very necessary--and some malt
vinegar, and crush together. You get a compound called Crab and by no
means disagreeable. So the wise deal with the facts of life, neither
bolting nor rejecting, but adapting."

"As though pepper and mustard were not facts," said Lewisham, scoring
his solitary point that evening.

Chaffery admitted the collapse of his image in very complimentary
terms, and Lewisham could not avoid a glance across the table at
Ethel. He remembered that Chaffery was a slippery scoundrel whose
blame was better than his praise, immediately afterwards.

For a time the Crab engaged Chaffery, and the conversation
languished. Mrs. Chaffery asked Ethel formal questions about their
lodgings, and Ethel's answers were buoyant, "You must come and have
tea one day," said Ethel, not waiting for Lewisham's endorsement, "and
see it all."

Chaffery astonished Lewisham by suddenly displaying a complete
acquaintance with his status as a South Kensington teacher in
training. "I suppose you have some money beyond that guinea," said
Chaffery offhandedly.

"Enough to go on with," said Lewisham, reddening.

"And you look to them at South Kensington, to do something for you--a
hundred a year or so, when your scholarship is up?"

"Yes," said Lewisham a little reluctantly. "Yes. A hundred a year or
so. That's the sort of idea. And there's lots of places beyond South
Kensington, of course, even if they don't put me up there."

"I see," said Chaffery; "but it will be a pretty close shave for all
that--one hundred a year. Well, well--there's many a deserving man has
to do with less," and after a meditative pause he asked Lewisham to
pass the beer.

"Hev you a mother living, Mr. Lewisham?" said Mrs. Chaffery suddenly,
and pursued him through the tale of his connexions. When he came to
the plumber, Mrs. Chaffery remarked with an unexpected air of
consequence that most families have their poor relations. Then the
air of consequence vanished again into the past from which it had

Supper finished, Chaffery poured the residuum of the beer into his
glass, produced a Broseley clay of the longest sort, and invited
Lewisham to smoke. "Honest smoking," said Chaffery, tapping the bowl
of his clay, and added: "In this country--cigars--sound cigars--and
honesty rarely meet."

Lewisham fumbled in his pocket for his Algerian cigarettes, and
Chaffery having regarded them unfavourably through his glasses, took
up the thread of his promised apologia. The ladies retired to wash up
the supper things.

"You see," said Chaffery, opening abruptly so soon as the clay was
drawing, about this cheating--I do not find life such a simple matter
as you do."

"_I_ don't find life simple," said Lewisham, "but I do think there's a
Right and a Wrong in things. And I don't think you have said anything
so far to show that spiritualistic cheating is Right."

"Let us thresh the matter out," said Chaffery, crossing his legs; "let
us thresh the matter out. Now"--he drew at his pipe--"I don't think
you fully appreciate the importance of Illusion in life, the Essential
Nature of Lies and Deception of the body politic. You are inclined to
discredit one particular form of Imposture, because it is not
generally admitted--carries a certain discredit, and--witness the heel
edges of my trouser legs, witness yonder viands--small rewards."

"It's not that," said Lewisham.

"Now I am prepared to maintain," said Chaffery, proceeding with his
proposition, "that Honesty is essentially an anarchistic and
disintegrating force in society, that communities are held together
and the progress of civilisation made possible only by vigorous and
sometimes even, violent Lying; that the Social Contract is nothing
more or less than a vast conspiracy of human beings to lie to and
humbug themselves and one another for the general Good. Lies are the
mortar that bind the savage Individual man into the social
masonry. There is the general thesis upon which I base my
justification. My mediumship, I can assure you, is a particular
instance of the general assertion. Were I not of a profoundly
indolent, restless, adventurous nature, and horribly averse to
writing, I would make a great book of this and live honoured by every
profound duffer in the world."

"But how are _you_ going to prove it?"

"Prove It! It simply needs pointing out. Even now there are
men--Bernard Shaw, Ibsen, and such like--who have seen bits of it in a
new-gospel-grubbing sort of fashion. What Is man? Lust and greed
tempered by fear and an irrational vanity."

"I don't agree with that," said Mr. Lewisham.

"You will as you grow older," said Chaffery. "There's truths you have
to grow into. But about this matter of Lies--let us look at the fabric
of society, let us compare the savage. You will discover the only
essential difference between savage and civilised is this: The former
hasn't learnt to shirk the truth of things, and the latter has. Take
the most obvious difference--the clothing of the civilised man, his
invention of decency. What _is_ clothing? The concealment of essential
facts. What is decorum? Suppression! I don't argue against decency and
decorum, mind you, but there they are--essentials to civilisation and
essentially '_suppressio veri_.' And in the pockets of his clothes our
citizen carries money. The pure savage has no money. To him a lump of
metal is a lump of metal--possibly ornamental--no more. That's
right. To any lucid-minded man it's the same or different only through
the gross folly of his fellows. But to the common civilised man the
universal exchangeability of this gold is a sacred and fundamental
fact. Think of it! Why should it be? There isn't a why! I live in
perpetual amazement at the gullibility of my fellow-creatures. Of a
morning sometimes, I can assure you, I lie in bed fancying that people
may have found out this swindle in the night, expect to hear a tumult
downstairs and see your mother-in-law come rushing into the room with
a rejected shilling from the milkman. 'What's this?' says he. 'This
Muck for milk?' But it never happens. Never. If it did, if people
suddenly cleared their minds of this cant of money, what would happen?
The true nature of man would appear. I should whip out of bed, seize
some weapon, and after the milkman forthwith. It's becoming to keep
the peace, but it's necessary to have milk. The neighbours would come
pouring out--also after milk. Milkman, suddenly enlightened, would
start clattering up the street. After him! Clutch--tear! Got him!
Over goes the cart! Fight if you like, but don't upset the
can!... Don't you see it all?--perfectly reasonable every bit of it. I
should return, bruised and bloody, with the milk-can under my arm.
Yes, _I_ should have the milk-can--I should keep my eye on
that.... But why go on? You of all men should know that life is a
struggle for existence, a fight for food. Money is just the lie that
mitigates our fury."

"No," said Lewisham; "no! I'm not prepared to admit that."

"What _is_ money?"

Mr. Lewisham dodged. "You state your case first," he said. "I really
don't see what all this has to do with cheating at a _séance_."

"I weave my defence from this loom, though. Take some aggressively
respectable sort of man--a bishop, for example."

"Well," said Lewisham, "I don't much hold with bishops."

"It doesn't matter. Take a professor of science, walking the
earth. Remark his clothing, making a decent citizen out of him,
concealing the fact that physically he is a flabby, pot-bellied
degenerate. That is the first Lie of his being. No fringes round _his_
trousers, my boy. Notice his hair, groomed and clipped, the tacit lie
that its average length is half an inch, whereas in nature he would
wave a few score yard-long hairs of ginger grey to the winds of
heaven. Notice the smug suppressions of his face. In his mouth are
Lies in the shape of false teeth. Then on the earth somewhere poor
devils are toiling to get him meat and corn and wine. He is clothed in
the lives of bent and thwarted weavers, his Way is lit by phossy jaw,
he eats from lead-glazed crockery--all his ways are paved with the
lives of men.... Think of the chubby, comfortable creature! And, as
Swift has it--to think that such a thing should deal in pride!... He
pretends that his blessed little researches are in some way a fair
return to these remote beings for their toil, their suffering;
pretends that he and his parasitic career are payment for their
thwarted desires. Imagine him bullying his gardener over some
transplanted geraniums, the thick mist of lies they stand in, so that
the man does not immediately with the edge of a spade smite down his
impertinence to the dust from which it rose.... And his case is the
case of all comfortable lives. What a lie and sham all civility is,
all good breeding, all culture and refinement, while one poor ragged
wretch drags hungry on the earth!"

"But this is Socialism!" said Lewisham. "_I_--"

"No Ism," said Chaffery, raising his rich voice. "Only the ghastly
truth of things--the truth that the warp and the woof of the world of
men is Lying. Socialism is no remedy, no _ism_ is a remedy; things
are so."

"I don't agree--" began Lewisham.

"Not with the hopelessness, because you are young, but with the
description you do."

"Well--within limits."

"You agree that most respectable positions in the world are tainted
with the fraud of our social conditions. If they were not tainted
with fraud they would not be respectable. Even your own position--Who
gave you the right to marry and prosecute interesting scientific
studies while other young men rot in mines?"

"I admit--"

"You can't help admitting. And here is my position. Since all ways of
life are tainted with fraud, since to live and speak the truth is
beyond human strength and courage--as one finds it--is it not better
for a man that he engage in some straightforward comparatively harmless
cheating, than if he risk his mental integrity in some ambiguous
position and fall at last into self-deception and self-righteousness?
That is the essential danger. That is the thing I always guard
against. Heed that! It is the master sin.  Self-righteousness."

Mr. Lewisham pulled at his moustache.

"You begin to take me. And after all, these worthy people do not
suffer so greatly. If I did not take their money some other impostor
would. Their huge conceit of intelligence would breed perhaps some
viler swindle than my facetious rappings. That's the line our doubting
bishops take, and why shouldn't I? For example, these people might
give it to Public Charities, minister to the fattened secretary, the
prodigal younger son. After all, at worst, I am a sort of latter-day
Robin Hood; I take from the rich according to their incomes. I don't
give to the poor certainly, I don't get enough. But--there are other
good works. Many a poor weakling have I comforted with Lies, great
thumping, silly Lies, about the grave! Compare me with one of those
rascals who disseminate phossy jaw and lead poisons, compare me with a
millionaire who runs a music hall with an eye to feminine talent, or
an underwriter, or the common stockbroker. Or any sort of lawyer....

"There are bishops," said Chaffery, "who believe in Darwin and doubt
Moses. Now, I hold myself better than they--analogous perhaps, but
better--for I do at least invent something of the tricks I play--I do
do that."

"That's all very well," began Lewisham.

"I might forgive them their dishonesty," said Chaffery, "but the
stupidity of it, the mental self-abnegation--Lord! If a solicitor
doesn't swindle in the proper shabby-magnificent way, they chuck him
for unprofessional conduct." He paused. He became meditative, and
smiled faintly.

"Now, some of _my_ dodges," he said with a sudden change of voice,
turning towards Lewisham, his eyes smiling over his glasses and an
emphatic hand patting the table-cloth; "some of _my_ dodges are
_damned_ ingenious, you know--_damned_ ingenious--and well worth
double the money they bring me--double."

He turned towards the fire again, pulling at his smouldering pipe, and
eyeing Lewisham over the corner of his glasses.

"One or two of my little things would make Maskelyne sit up," he said
presently. "They would set that mechanical orchestra playing out of
pure astonishment. I really must explain some of them to you--now we
have intermarried."

It took Mr. Lewisham a minute or so to re-form the regiment of his
mind, disordered by its headlong pursuit of Chaffery's flying
arguments. "But on your principles you might do almost anything!" he

"Precisely!" said Chaffery.


"It is rather a curious method," protested Chaffery; "to test one's
principles of action by judging the resultant actions on some other
principle, isn't it?"

Lewisham took a moment to think. "I suppose that is so," he said, in
the manner of a man convinced against his will.

He perceived his logic insufficient. He suddenly thrust the delicacies
of argument aside. Certain sentences he had brought ready for use in
his mind came up and he delivered them abruptly. "Anyhow," he said, "I
don't agree with this cheating. In spite of what you say, I hold to
what I said in my letter. Ethel's connexion with all these things is
at an end. I shan't go out of my way to expose you, of course, but if
it comes in my way I shall speak my mind of all these spiritualistic
phenomena. It's just as well that we should know clearly where we

"That is clearly understood, my dear stepson-in-law," said
Chaffery. "Our present object is discussion."

"But Ethel--"

"Ethel is yours," said Chaffery. "Ethel is yours," he repeated after
an interval and added pensively--"to keep."

"But talking of Illusion," he resumed, dismissing the sordid with a
sign of relief, "I sometimes think with Bishop Berkeley, that all
experience is probably something quite different from reality. That
consciousness is _essentially_ hallucination. I, here, and you, and
our talk--it is all Illusion. Bring your Science to bear--what am I? A
cloudy multitude of atoms, an infinite interplay of little cells. Is
this hand that I hold out me? This head? Is the surface of my skin any
more than a rude average boundary? You say it is my mind that is me?
But consider the war of motives. Suppose I have an impulse that I
resist--it is _I_ resist it--the impulse is outside me, eh? But
suppose that impulse carries me and I do the thing--that impulse is
part of me, is it not? Ah! My brain reels at these mysteries! Lord!
what flimsy fluctuating things we are--first this, then that, a
thought, an impulse, a deed and a forgetting, and all the time madly
cocksure we are ourselves. And as for you--you who have hardly learned
to think for more than five or six short years, there you sit,
assured, coherent, there you sit in all your inherited original
sin--Hallucinatory Windlestraw!--judging and condemning. _You_ know
Right from Wrong! My boy, so did Adam and Eve ... _so soon as they'd
had dealings with the father of lies_!"

       *       *       *       *       *

At the end of the evening whisky and hot water were produced, and
Chaffery, now in a mood of great urbanity, said he had rarely enjoyed
anyone's conversation so much as Lewisham's, and insisted upon
everyone having whisky. Mrs. Chaffery and Ethel added sugar and
lemon. Lewisham felt an instantaneous mild surprise at the sight of
Ethel drinking grog.

At the door Mrs. Chaffery kissed Lewisham an effusive good-bye, and
told Ethel she really believed it was all for the best.

On the way home Lewisham was thoughtful and preoccupied. The problem
of Chaffery assumed enormous proportions. At times indeed even that
good man's own philosophical sketch of himself as a practical exponent
of mental sincerity touched with humour and the artistic spirit,
seemed plausible. Lagune was an undeniable ass, and conceivably
psychic research was an incentive to trickery. Then he remembered the
matter in his relation to Ethel....

"Your stepfather is a little hard to follow," he said at last, sitting
on the bed and taking off one boot. "He's dodgy--he's so confoundedly
dodgy. One doesn't know where to take hold of him. He's got such a
break he's clean bowled me again and again."

He thought for a space, and then removed his boot and sat with it on
his knee. "Of course!... all that he said was wrong--quite
wrong. Right is right and cheating is cheating, whatever you say about

"That's what I feel about him," said Ethel at the looking-glass.
"That's exactly how it seems to me."



On Saturday Lewisham was first through the folding doors. In a moment
he reappeared with a document extended. Mrs. Lewisham stood arrested
with her dress skirt in her hand, astonished at the astonishment on
his face. "_I_ say!" said Lewisham; "just look here!"

She looked at the book that he held open before her, and perceived
that its vertical ruling betokened a sordid import, that its list of
items in an illegible mixture of English and German was lengthy. "1
kettle of coals 6d." occurred regularly down that portentous array and
buttoned it all together. It was Madam Gadow's first bill. Ethel took
it out of his hand and examined it closer. It looked no smaller
closer. The overcharges were scandalous. It was curious how the humour
of calling a scuttle "kettle" had evaporated.

That document, I take it, was the end of Mr. Lewisham's informal
honeymoon. Its advent was the snap of that bright Prince Rupert's
drop; and in a moment--Dust. For a glorious week he had lived in the
persuasion that life was made of love and mystery, and now he was
reminded with singular clearness that it was begotten of a struggle
for existence and the Will to Live. "Confounded imposition!" fumed
Mr. Lewisham, and the breakfast table was novel and ominous,
mutterings towards anger on the one hand and a certain consternation
on the other. "I must give her a talking to this afternoon," said
Lewisham at his watch, and after he had bundled his books into the
shiny black bag, he gave the first of his kisses that was not a
distinct and self-subsisting ceremony. It was usage and done in a
hurry, and the door slammed as he went his way to the schools. Ethel
was not coming that morning, because by special request and because
she wanted to help him she was going to copy out some of his botanical
notes which had fallen into arrears.

On his way to the schools Lewisham felt something suspiciously near a
sinking of the heart. His preoccupation was essentially
arithmetical. The thing that engaged his mind to the exclusion of all
other matters is best expressed in the recognised business form.

Dr.             £  s. d.     Cr.                     £  s. d
       Mr. L.{ 13 10  4-1/2  By bus fares to South
Cash in hand {                Kensington (late)      0  0  2
      Mrs. L.{  0 11  7      By six lunches at the
                               Students' Club        0  5  2-1/2
At  bank       45  0  0      By two packets of cig-
To scholarship  1  1  0        arettes (to smoke
                               after dinner)         0  0  6
                             By marriage and elope-
                               ment                  4 18 10
                             By necessary subse-
                               quent additions to
                               bride's trousseau     0 16  1
                             By housekeeping  exs.   1  1  4-1/2
                             By "A few little
                              things" bought by
                              housekeeper            0 15  3-1/2
                             By Madam Gadow for
                               coal, lodging and
                               attendance (as per
                               account rendered)     1 15  0
                             By missing              0  0  4
                             By balance             50  3  2
              -------------                        -------------
              £60  3 11-1/2                        £60  3 11-1/2
              -------------                        -------------

From this it will be manifest to the most unbusiness like that,
disregarding the extraordinary expenditure on the marriage, and the by
no means final "few little things" Ethel had bought, outgoings
exceeded income by two pounds and more, and a brief excursion into
arithmetic will demonstrate that in five-and-twenty weeks the balance
of the account would be nothing.

But that guinea a week was not to go on for five-and-twenty weeks, but
simply for fifteen, and then the net outgoings will be well over three
guineas, reducing the "law" accorded our young couple to
two-and-twenty weeks. These details are tiresome and disagreeable, no
doubt, to the refined reader, but just imagine how much more
disagreeable they were to Mr. Lewisham, trudging meditative to the
schools. You will understand his slipping out of the laboratory, and
betaking himself to the Educational Reading-room, and how it was that
the observant Smithers, grinding his lecture notes against the now
imminent second examination for the "Forbes," was presently perplexed
to the centre of his being by the spectacle of Lewisham intent upon a
pile of current periodicals, the _Educational Times_, the _Journal of
Education_, the _Schoolmaster, Science and Art, The University
Correspondent, Nature, The Athenaeum, The Academy_, and _The Author_.

Smithers remarked the appearance of a note-book, the jotting down of
memoranda. He edged into the bay nearest Lewisham's table and
approached him suddenly from the flank. "What are _you_ after?" said
Smithers in a noisy whisper and with a detective eye on the papers. He
perceived Lewisham was scrutinising the advertisement column, and his
perplexity increased.

"Oh--nothing," said Lewisham blandly, with his hand falling casually
over his memoranda; "what's your particular little game?"

"Nothing much," said Smithers, "just mooching round. You weren't at
the meeting last Friday?"

He turned a chair, knelt on it, and began whispering over the back
about Debating Society politics. Lewisham was inattentive and
brief. What had he to do with these puerilities? At last Smithers went
away foiled, and met Parkson by the entrance. Parkson, by-the-bye, had
not spoken to Lewisham since their painful misunderstanding. He made a
wide detour to his seat at the end table, and so, and by a singular
rectitude of bearing and a dignified expression, showed himself aware
of Lewisham's offensive presence.

Lewisham's investigations were two-fold. He wanted to discover some
way of adding materially to that weekly guinea by his own exertions,
and he wanted to learn the conditions of the market for typewriting.
For himself he had a vague idea, an idea subsequently abandoned, that
it was possible to get teaching work in evening classes during the
month of March. But, except by reason of sadden death, no evening
class in London changes its staff after September until July comes
round again. Private tuition, moreover, offered many attractions to
him, but no definite proposals. His ideas of his own possibilities
were youthful or he would not have spent time in noting the conditions
of application for a vacant professorship in physics at the Melbourne
University. He also made a note of the vacant editorship of a monthly
magazine devoted to social questions. He would not have minded doing
that sort of thing at all, though the proprietor might. There was
also a vacant curatorship in the Museum of Eton College.

The typewriting business was less varied and more definite. Those were
the days before the violent competition of the half-educated had
brought things down to an impossible tenpence the thousand words, and
the prevailing price was as high as one-and-six. Calculating that
Ethel could do a thousand words in an hour and that she could work
five or six hours in the day, it was evident that her contributions to
the household expenses would be by no means despicable; thirty
shillings a week perhaps. Lewisham was naturally elated at this
discovery. He could find no advertisements of authors or others
seeking typewriting, but he saw that a great number of typewriters
advertised themselves in the literary papers. It was evident Ethel
also must advertise. "'Scientific phraseology a speciality' might be
put," meditated Lewisham. He returned to his lodgings in a hopeful
mood with quite a bundle of memoranda of possible employments. He
spent five shillings in stamps on the way.

After lunch, Lewisham--a little short of breath-asked to see Madam
Gadow. She came up in the most affable frame of mind; nothing could be
further from the normal indignation of the British landlady. She was
very voluble, gesticulatory and lucid, but unhappily bi-lingual, and
at all the crucial points German. Mr. Lewisham's natural politeness
restrained him from too close a pursuit across the boundary of the two
imperial tongues. Quite half an hour's amicable discussion led at last
to a reduction of sixpence, and all parties professed themselves
satisfied with this result.

Madam Gadow was quite cool even at the end. Mr. Lewisham was flushed
in the face, red-eared, and his hair slightly disordered, but that
sixpence was at any rate an admission of the justice of his
claim. "She was evidently trying it on," he said almost apologetically
to Ethel. "It was absolutely necessary to present a firm front to
her. I doubt if we shall have any trouble again....

"Of course what she says about kitchen coals is perfectly just."

Then the young couple went for a walk in Kensington Gardens, and--the
spring afternoon was so warm and pleasant--sat on two attractive green
chairs near the band-stand, for which Lewisham had subsequently to pay
twopence. They had what Ethel called a "serious talk." She was really
wonderfully sensible, and discussed the situation exhaustively. She
was particularly insistent upon the importance of economy in her
domestic disbursements and deplored her general ignorance very
earnestly. It was decided that Lewisham should get a good elementary
text-book of domestic economy for her private study. At home
Mrs. Chaffery guided her house by the oracular items of "Inquire
Within upon Everything," but Lewisham considered that work

Ethel was also of opinion that much might be learnt from the sixpenny
ladies' papers--the penny ones had hardly begun in those days. She had
bought such publications during seasons of affluence, but chiefly, as
she now deplored, with an eye to the trimming of hats and such like
vanities. The sooner the typewriter came the better. It occurred to
Lewisham with unpleasant suddenness that he had not allowed for the
purchase of a typewriter in his estimate of their resources. It
brought their "law" down to twelve or thirteen weeks.

They spent the evening in writing and copying a number of letters,
addressing envelopes and enclosing stamps. There were optimistic

"Melbourne's a fine city," said Lewisham, "and we should have a
glorious voyage out." He read the application for the Melbourne
professorship out loud to her, just to see how it read, and she was
greatly impressed by the list of his accomplishments and successes.

"I did not, know you knew _half_ those things," she said, and became
depressed at her relative illiteracy. It was natural, after such
encouragement, to write to the scholastic agents in a tone of assured

The advertisement for typewriting in the _Athenaeum_ troubled his
conscience a little. After he had copied out his draft with its
"Scientific phraseology a speciality," fine and large, he saw the
notes she had written out for him. Her handwriting was still round and
boyish, even as it had appeared in the Whortley avenue, but her
punctuation was confined to the erratic comma and the dash, and there
was a disposition to spell the imperfectly legible along the line of
least resistance. However, he dismissed that matter with a resolve to
read over and correct anything in that way that she might have sent
her to do. It would not be a bad idea, he thought parenthetically, if
he himself read up some sound authority on the punctuation of

They sat at this business quite late, heedless of the examination in
botany that came on the morrow. It was very bright and cosy in their
little room with their fire burning, the gas lit and the curtains
drawn, and the number of applications they had written made them
hopeful. She was flushed and enthusiastic, now flitting about the
room, now coming close to him and leaning over him to see what he had
done. At Lewisham's request she got him the envelopes from the chest
of drawers. "You _are_ a help to a chap," said Lewisham, leaning back
from the table, "I feel I could do anything for a girl like

"_Really!_" she cried, "Really! Am I really a help?"

Lewisham's face and gesture, were all assent. She gave a little cry of
delight, stood for a moment, and then by way of practical
demonstration of her unflinching helpfulness, hurried round the table
towards him with arms extended, "You dear!" she cried.

Lewisham, partially embraced, pushed his chair back with his
disengaged arm, so that she might sit on his knee....

Who could doubt that she was a help?



Lewisham's inquiries for evening teaching and private tuition were
essentially provisional measures. His proposals for a more permanent
establishment displayed a certain defect in his sense of
proportion. That Melbourne professorship, for example, was beyond his
merits, and there were aspects of things that would have affected the
welcome of himself and his wife at Eton College. At the outset he was
inclined to regard the South Kensington scholar as the intellectual
salt of the earth, to overrate the abundance of "decent things"
yielding from one hundred and fifty to three hundred a year, and to
disregard the competition of such inferior enterprises as the
universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and the literate North. But the
scholastic agents to whom he went on the following Saturday did much
in a quiet way to disabuse his mind.

Mr. Blendershin's chief assistant in the grimy little office in Oxford
Street cleared up the matter so vigorously that Lewisham was angered.
"Headmaster of an endowed school, perhaps!" said Mr. Blendershin's
chief assistant "Lord!--why not a bishopric? I say,"--as
Mr. Blendershin entered smoking an assertive cigar--"one-and-twenty,
_no_ degree, _no_ games, two years' experience as junior--wants a
headmastership of an endowed school!" He spoke so loudly that it was
inevitable the selection of clients in the waiting-room should hear,
and he pointed with his pen.

"Look here!" said Lewisham hotly; "if I knew the ways of the market I
shouldn't come to you."

Mr. Blendershin stared at Lewisham for a moment. "What's he done in
the way of certificates?" asked Mr. Blendershin of the assistant.

The assistant read a list of 'ologies and 'ographies. "Fifty
resident," said Mr. Blendershin concisely--"that's _your_
figure. Sixty, if you're lucky."

"_What_?" said Mr. Lewisham.

"Not enough for you?"

"Not nearly."

"You can get a Cambridge graduate for eighty resident--and grateful,"
said Mr. Blendershin.

"But I don't want a resident post," said Lewisham.

"Precious few non-resident shops," said Mr. Blendershin. "Precious
few. They want you for dormitory supervision--and they're afraid of
your taking pups outside."

"Not married by any chance?" said the assistant suddenly, after an
attentive study of Lewisham's face.

"Well--er." Lewisham met Mr. Blendershin's eye. "Yes," he said.

The assistant was briefly unprintable. "Lord! you'll have to keep that
dark," said Mr. Blendershin. "But you have got a tough bit of hoeing
before you. If I was you I'd go on and get my degree now you're so
near it. You'll stand a better chance."


"The fact is," said Lewisham slowly and looking at his boot toes, "I
must be doing _something_ while I am getting my degree."

The assistant, whistled softly.

"Might get you a visiting job, perhaps," said Mr. Blendershin
speculatively. "Just read me those items again, Binks," He listened
attentively. "Objects to religious teaching!--Eh?" He stopped the
reading by a gesture, "That's nonsense. You can't have everything, you
know. Scratch that out. You won't get a place in any middle-class
school in England if you object to religious teaching. It's the
mothers--bless 'em! Say nothing about it. Don't believe--who does?
There's hundreds like you, you know--hundreds. Parsons--all sorts. Say
nothing about it--"

"But if I'm asked?"

"Church of England. Every man in this country who has not dissented
belongs to the Church of England. It'll be hard enough to get you
anything without that."

"But--" said Mr. Lewisham. "It's lying."

"Legal fiction," said Mr. Blendershin. "Everyone understands. If you
don't do that, my dear chap, we can't do anything for you. It's
Journalism, or London docks. Well, considering your experience,--say

Lewisham's face flushed irregularly. He did not answer. He scowled and
tugged at the still by no means ample moustache.

"Compromise, you know," said Mr. Blendershin, watching him
kindly. "Compromise."

For the first time in his life Lewisham faced the necessity of telling
a lie in cold blood. He glissaded from, the austere altitudes of his
self-respect, and his next words were already disingenuous.

"I won't promise to tell lies if I'm asked," he said aloud. "I can't
do that."

"Scratch it out," said Blendershin to the clerk. "You needn't mention
it. Then you don't say you can teach drawing."

"I can't," said Lewisham.

"You just give out the copies," said Blendershin, "and take care they
don't see you draw, you know."

"But that's not teaching drawing--"

"It's what's understood by it in _this_ country," said Blendershin.
"Don't you go corrupting your mind with pedagogueries. They're the
ruin of assistants. Put down drawing. Then there's shorthand--"

"Here, I say!" said Lewisham.

"There's shorthand, French, book-keeping, commercial geography, land

"But I can't teach any of those things!"

"Look here," said Blendershin, and paused. "Has your wife or you a
private income?"

"No," said Lewisham.


A pause of further moral descent, and a whack against an obstacle.
"But they will find me out," said Lewisham.

Blendershin smiled. "It's not so much ability as willingness to teach,
you know. And _they_ won't find you out. The sort of schoolmaster we
deal with can't find anything out. He can't teach any of these things
himself--and consequently he doesn't believe they _can_ be taught.
Talk to him of pedagogics and he talks of practical experience. But he
puts 'em on his prospectus, you know, and he wants 'em on his
time-table. Some of these subjects--There's commercial geography, for
instance. What _is_ commercial geography?"

"Barilla," said the assistant, biting the end of his pen, and added
pensively, "_and_ blethers."

"Fad," said Blendershin, "Just fad. Newspapers talk rot about
commercial education, Duke of Devonshire catches on and talks
ditto--pretends he thought it himself--much _he_ cares--parents get
hold of it--schoolmasters obliged to put something down, consequently
assistants must. And that's the end of the matter!"

"_All_ right," said Lewisham, catching his breath in a faint sob of
shame, "Stick 'em down. But mind--a non-resident place."

"Well," said Blendershin, "your science may pull you through. But I
tell you it's hard. Some grant-earning grammar school may want
that. And that's about all, I think. Make a note of the address...."

The assistant made a noise, something between a whistle and the word
"Fee." Blendershin glanced at Lewisham and nodded doubtfully.

"Fee for booking," said the assistant; "half a crown, postage--in
advance--half a crown."

But Lewisham remembered certain advice Dunkerley had given him in the
old Whortley days. He hesitated. "No," he said. "I don't pay that. If
you get me anything there's the commission--if you don't--"

"We lose," supplied the assistant.

"And you ought to," said Lewisham. "It's a fair game."

"Living in London?" asked Blendershin.

"Yes," said the clerk.

"That's all right," said Mr. Blendershin. "We won't say anything about
the postage in that case. Of course it's the off season, and you
mustn't expect anything at present very much. Sometimes there's a
shift or so at Easter.... There's nothing more.... Afternoon. Anyone
else, Binks?"

Messrs. Maskelyne, Smith, and Thrums did a higher class of work than
Blendershin, whose specialities were lower class private
establishments and the cheaper sort of endowed schools. Indeed, so
superior were Maskelyne, Smith, and Thrums that they enraged Lewisham
by refusing at first to put him on their books. He was interviewed
briefly by a young man dressed and speaking with offensive precision,
whose eye adhered rigidly to the waterproof collar throughout the

"Hardly our line," he said, and pushed Lewisham a form to fill
up. "Mostly upper class and good preparatory schools here, you know."

As Lewisham filled up the form with his multitudinous "'ologies" and
"'ographies," a youth of ducal appearance entered and greeted the
precise young man in a friendly way. Lewisham, bending down to write,
perceived that this professional rival wore a very long frock coat,
patent leather boots, and the most beautiful grey trousers. His
conceptions of competition enlarged. The precise young man by a motion
of his eyes directed the newcomer's attention to Lewisham's waterproof
collar, and was answered by raised eyebrows and a faint tightening of
the mouth. "That bounder at Castleford has answered me," said the
new-comer in a fine rich voice. "Is he any bally good?"

When the bounder at Castleford had been discussed Lewisham presented
his paper, and the precise young man with his eye still fixed on the
waterproof collar took the document in the manner of one who reaches
across a gulf. "I doubt if we shall be able to do anything for you,"
he said reassuringly. "But an English mastership may chance to be
vacant. Science doesn't count for much in _our_ sort of schools, you
know. Classics and good games--that's our sort of thing."

"I see," said Lewisham.

"Good games, good form, you know, and all that sort of thing."

"I see," said Lewisham.

"You don't happen to be a public-school boy?" asked the precise young

"No," said Lewisham.

"Where were you educated?"

Lewisham's face grew hot. "Does that matter?" he asked, with his eye
on the exquisite grey trousering.

"In our sort of school--decidedly. It's a question of tone, you know."

"I see," said Lewisham, beginning to realise new limitations. His
immediate impulse was to escape the eye of the nicely dressed
assistant master. "You'll write, I suppose, if you have anything," he
said, and the precise young man responded with alacrity to his
door-ward motion.

"Often get that kind of thing?" asked the nicely dressed young man
when Lewisham had departed.

"Rather. Not quite so bad as that, you know. That waterproof
collar--did you notice it? Ugh! And--'I see.' And the scowl and the
clumsiness of it. Of course _he_ hasn't any decent clothes--he'd go
to a new shop with one tin box! But that sort of thing--and board
school teachers--they're getting everywhere! Only the other
day--Rowton was here."

"Not Rowton of Pinner?"

"Yes, Rowton of Pinner. And he asked right out for a board
schoolmaster. He said, 'I want someone who can teach arithmetic.'"

He laughed. The nicely dressed young man meditated over the handle of
his cane. "A bounder of that kind can't have a particularly nice
time," he said, "anyhow. If he does get into a decent school, he must
get tremendously cut by all the decent men."

"Too thick-skinned to mind that sort of thing, I fancy," said the
scholastic agent. "He's a new type. This South Kensington place and
the polytechnics an turning him out by the hundred...."

Lewisham forgot his resentment at having to profess a religion he did
not believe, in this new discovery of the scholastic importance of
clothing. He went along with an eye to all the shop windows that
afforded a view of his person. Indisputably his trousers _were_
ungainly, flapping abominably over his boots and bagging terribly at
the knees, and his boots were not only worn and ugly but extremely ill
blacked. His wrists projected offensively from his coat sleeves, he
perceived a huge asymmetry in the collar of his jacket, his red tie
was askew and ill tied, and that waterproof collar! It was shiny,
slightly discoloured, suddenly clammy to the neck. What if he did
happen to be well equipped for science teaching? That was nothing. He
speculated on the cost of a complete outfit. It would be difficult to
get such grey trousers as those he had seen for less than sixteen
shillings, and he reckoned a frock coat at forty shillings at
least--possibly even more. He knew good clothes were very
expensive. He hesitated at Poole's door and turned away. The thing was
out of the question. He crossed Leicester Square and went down
Bedford Street, disliking every well-dressed person he met.

Messrs. Danks and Wimborne inhabited a bank-like establishment near
Chancery Lane, and without any conversation presented him with forms
to fill up. Religion? asked the form. Lewisham paused and wrote
"Church of England."

Thence he went to the College of Pedagogues in Holborn. The College of
Pedagogues presented itself as a long-bearded, corpulent, comfortable
person with a thin gold watch chain and fat hands. He wore gilt
glasses and had a kindly confidential manner that did much to heal
Lewisham's wounded feelings. The 'ologies and 'ographies were taken
down with polite surprise at their number. "You ought to take one of
our diplomas," said the stout man. "You would find no difficulty. No
competition. And there are prizes--several prizes--in money."

Lewisham was not aware that the waterproof collar had found a
sympathetic observer.

"We give courses of lectures, and have an examination in the theory
and practice of education. It is the only examination in the theory
and practice of education for men engaged in middle and upper class
teaching in this country. Except the Teacher's Diploma. And so few
come--not two hundred a year. Mostly governesses. The men prefer to
teach by rule of thumb, you know. English characteristic--rule of
thumb. It doesn't do to say anything of course--but there's bound to
be--something happen--something a little disagreeable--somewhen if
things go on as they do. American schools keep on getting
better--German too. What used to do won't do now. I tell this to you,
you know, but it doesn't do to tell everyone. It doesn't do. It
doesn't do to do anything. So much has to be considered. However
... But you'd do well to get a diploma and make yourself
efficient. Though that's looking ahead."

He spoke of looking ahead with an apologetic laugh as though it was an
amiable weakness of his. He turned from such abstruse matters and
furnished Lewisham with the particulars of the college diplomas, and
proceeded to other possibilities. "There's private tuition," he
said. "Would you mind a backward boy? Then we are occasionally asked
for visiting masters. Mostly by girls' schools. But that's for older
men--married men, you know."

"I am married," said Lewisham.

"_Eh_?" said the College of Pedagogues, startled.

"I _am_ married," said Lewisham.

"Dear me," said the College of Pedagogues gravely, and regarding
Mr. Lewisham over gold-rimmed glasses. "Dear me! And I am more than
twice your age, and I am not married at all. One-and-twenty! Have
you--have you been married long?"

"A few weeks," said Lewisham.

"That's very remarkable," said the College of Pedagogues. "Very
interesting.... _Really!_ Your wife must be a very courageous young
person.... Excuse me! You know--You will really have a hard fight for
a position. However--it certainly makes you eligible for girls'
schools; it does do that. To a certain extent, that is."

The evidently enhanced respect of the College of Pedagogues pleased
Lewisham extremely. But his encounter with the Medical, Scholastic,
and Clerical Agency that holds by Waterloo Bridge was depressing
again, and after that he set out to walk home. Long before he reached
home he was tired, and his simple pride in being married and in active
grapple with an unsympathetic world had passed. His surrender on the
religious question had left a rankling bitterness behind it; the
problem of the clothes was acutely painful. He was still far from a
firm grasp of the fact that his market price was under rather than
over one hundred pounds a year, but that persuasion was gaining ground
in his mind.

The day was a greyish one, with a dull cold wind, and a nail in one of
his boots took upon itself to be objectionable. Certain wild shots
and disastrous lapses in his recent botanical examination, that he had
managed to keep out of his mind hitherto, forced their way on his
attention. For the first time since his marriage he harboured
premonitions of failure.

When he got in he wanted to sit down at once in the little creaky
chair by the fire, but Ethel came flitting from the newly bought
typewriter with arms extended and prevented him. "Oh!--it _has_ been
dull," she said.

He missed the compliment. "_I_ haven't had such a giddy time that you
should grumble," he said, in a tone that was novel to her. He
disengaged himself from her arms and sat down. He noticed the
expression of her face.

"I'm rather tired," he said by way of apology. "And there's a
confounded nail I must hammer down in my boot. It's tiring work
hunting up these agents, but of course it's better to go and see
them. How have you been getting on?"

"All right," she said, regarding him. And then, "You _are_ tired.
We'll have some tea. And--let me take off your boot for you, dear.
Yes--I will."

She rang the bell, bustled out of the room, called for tea at the
staircase, came back, pulled out Madam Gadow's ungainly hassock and
began unlacing his boot. Lewisham's mood changed. "You _are_ a trump,
Ethel," he said; "I'm hanged if you're not." As the laces flicked he
bent forward and kissed her ear. The unlacing was suspended and there
were reciprocal endearments....

Presently he was sitting in his slippers, with a cup of tea in his
hand, and Ethel, kneeling on the hearthrug with the firelight on her
face, was telling him of an answer that had come that afternoon to her
advertisement in the _Athenaeum_.

"That's good," said Lewisham.

"It's a novelist," she said with the light of pride in her eyes, and
handed him the letter. "Lucas Holderness, the author of 'The Furnace
of Sin' and other stories."

"That's first rate," said Lewisham with just a touch of envy, and bent
forward to read by the firelight.

The letter was from an address in Judd Street, Euston Road, written on
good paper and in a fair round hand such as one might imagine a
novelist using. "Dear Madam," said the letter, "I propose to send you,
by registered letter, the MS. of a three-volume novel. It is about
90,000 words--but you must count the exact number."

"How I shall count I don't know," said Ethel.

"I'll show you a way," said Lewisham. "There's no difficulty in
that. You count the words on three or four pages, strike an average,
and multiply."

"But, of course, before doing so I must have a satisfactory guarantee
that my confidence in putting my work in your hands will not be
misplaced and that your execution is of the necessary high quality."

"Oh!" said Lewisham; "that's a bother."

"Accordingly I must ask you for references."

"That's a downright nuisance," said Lewisham. "I suppose that ass,
Lagune ... But what's this? 'Or, failing references, for a deposit
...' That's reasonable, I suppose."

It was such a moderate deposit too--merely a guinea. Even had the
doubt been stronger, the aspect of helpful hopeful little Ethel eager
for work might well have thrust it aside. "Sending him a cheque will
show him we have a banking account behind us," said Lewisham,--his
banking was still sufficiently recent for pride. "We will send him a
cheque. That'll settle _him_ all right."

That evening after the guinea cheque had been despatched, things were
further brightened by the arrival of a letter of atrociously
jellygraphed advices from Messrs. Danks and Wimborne. They all
referred to resident vacancies for which Lewisham was manifestly
unsuitable, nevertheless their arrival brought an encouraging
assurance of things going on, of shifting and unstable places in the
defences of the beleaguered world. Afterwards, with occasional
endearments for Ethel, he set himself to a revision of his last year's
note-books, for now the botany was finished, the advanced zoological
course--the last lap, as it were, for the Forbes medal--was
beginning. She got her best hat from the next room to make certain
changes in the arrangement of its trimmings. She sat in the little
chair, while Lewisham, with documents spread before him, sat at the

Presently she looked up from an experimental arrangement of her
cornflowers, and discovered Lewisham, no longer reading, but staring
blankly at the middle of the table-cloth, with an extraordinary misery
in his eyes. She forgot the cornflowers and stared at him.

"Penny," she said after an interval.

Lewisham started and looked up. "_Eh_?"

"Why were you looking so miserable?" she asked.

"_Was_ I looking miserable?"

"Yes. And _cross_!"

"I was thinking just then that I would like to boil a bishop or so in

"My dear!"

"They know perfectly well the case against what they teach, they know
it's neither madness nor wickedness nor any great harm, to others not
to believe, they know perfectly well that a man may be as honest as
the day, and right--right and decent in every way--and not believe in
what they teach. And they know that it only wants the edge off a man's
honour, for him to profess anything in the way of belief. Just
anything. And they won't say so. I suppose they want the edge off
every man's honour. If a man is well off they will truckle to him no
end, though he laughs at all their teaching. They'll take gold plate
from company promoters and rent from insanitary houses. But if a man
is poor and doesn't profess to believe in what some of them scarcely
believe themselves, they wouldn't lift a finger to help him against
the ignorance of their followers. Your stepfather was right enough
there. They know what's going on. They know that it means lying and
humbug for any number of people, and they don't care. Why should
they? _They've_ got it down all right. They're spoilt, and why
shouldn't we be?"

Lewisham having selected the bishops as scapegoats for his turpitude,
was inclined to ascribe even the nail in his boot to their agency.

Mrs. Lewisham looked puzzled. She realised his drift.

"You're not," she said, and dropped her voice, "an _infidel_?"

Lewisham nodded gloomily. "Aren't you?" he said.

"Oh no," said Mrs. Lewisham.

"But you don't go to church, you don't--"

"No, I don't," said Mrs. Lewisham; and then with more assurance, "But
I'm not an infidel."


"I suppose so."

"But a Christian--What do you believe?"

"Oh! to tell the truth, and do right, and not hurt or injure people
and all that."

"That's not a Christian. A Christian is one who believes."

"It's what _I_ mean by a Christian," said Mrs. Lewisham.

"Oh! at that rate anyone's a Christian," said Lewisham. "We all think
it's right to do right and wrong to do wrong."

"But we don't all do it," said Mrs. Lewisham, taking up the
cornflowers again.

"No," said Lewisham, a little taken aback by the feminine method of
discussion. "We don't all do it--certainly." He stared at her for a
moment--her head was a little on one side and her eyes on the
cornflower--and his mind was full of a strange discovery. He seemed on
the verge of speaking, and turned to his note-book again.

Very soon the centre of the table-cloth resumed its sway.

       *       *       *       *       *

The following day Mr. Lucas Holderness received his cheque for a
guinea. Unhappily it was crossed. He meditated for some time, and then
took pen and ink and improved Lewisham's careless "one" to "five" and
touched up his unticked figure one to correspond.

You perceive him, a lank, cadaverous, good-looking man with long black
hair and a semi-clerical costume of quite painful rustiness. He made
the emendations with grave carefulness. He took the cheque round to
his grocer. His grocer looked at it suspiciously.

"You pay it in," said Mr. Lucas Holderness, "if you've any doubts
about it. Pay it in. _I_ don't know the man or what he is. He may be a
swindler for all I can tell. _I_ can't answer for him. Pay it in and
see. Leave the change till then. I can wait. I'll call round in a few
days' time."

"All right, wasn't it?" said Mr. Lucas Holderness in a casual tone two
days later.

"Quite, sir," said his grocer with enhanced respect, and handed him
his four pounds thirteen and sixpence change.

Mr. Lucas Holderness, who had been eyeing the grocer's stock with a
curious intensity, immediately became animated and bought a tin of
salmon. He went out of the shop with the rest of the money in his
hand, for the pockets of his clothes were old and untrustworthy. At
the baker's he bought a new roll.

He bit a huge piece of the roll directly he was out of the shop, and
went on his way gnawing. It was so large a piece that his gnawing
mouth was contorted into the ugliest shapes. He swallowed by an
effort, stretching his neck each time. His eyes expressed an animal
satisfaction. He turned the corner of Judd Street biting again at the
roll, and the reader of this story, like the Lewishams, hears of him
no more.



After all, the rosy love-making and marrying and Epithalamy are no
more than the dawn of things, and to follow comes all the spacious
interval of white laborious light. Try as we may to stay those
delightful moments, they fade and pass remorselessly; there is no
returning, no recovering, only--for the foolish--the vilest peep-shows
and imitations in dens and darkened rooms. We go on--we grow. At least
we age. Our young couple, emerging presently from an atmosphere of
dusk and morning stars, found the sky gathering greyly overhead and
saw one another for the first time clearly in the light of every-day.

It might perhaps witness better to Lewisham's refinement if one could
tell only of a moderated and dignified cooling, of pathetic little
concealments of disappointment and a decent maintenance of the
sentimental atmosphere. And so at last daylight. But our young couple
were too crude for that. The first intimations of their lack of
identity have already been described, but it would be tedious and
pitiful to tell of all the little intensifications, shade by shade, of
the conflict of their individualities. They fell out, dear lady! they
came to conflict of words. The stress of perpetual worry was upon
them, of dwindling funds and the anxious search for work that would
not come. And on Ethel lay long, vacant, lonely hours in dull
surroundings. Differences arose from the most indifferent things; one
night Lewisham lay awake in unfathomable amazement because she had
convinced him she did not care a rap for the Welfare of Humanity, and
deemed his Socialism a fancy and an indiscretion. And one Sunday
afternoon they started for a walk under the pleasantest auspices, and
returned flushed and angry, satire and retort flying free--on the
score of the social conventions in Ethel's novelettes. For some
inexplicable reason Lewisham saw fit to hate her novelettes very
bitterly. These encounters indeed were mere skirmishes for the most
part, and the silences and embarrassments that followed ended sooner
or later in a "making up," tacit or definite, though once or twice
this making up only re-opened the healing wound. And always each
skirmish left its scar, effaced from yet another line of their lives
the lingering tints of romantic colour.

There came no work, no added income for either of them, saving two
trifles, for five long months. Once Lewisham won twelve shillings in
the prize competition of a penny weekly, and three times came
infinitesimal portions of typewriting from a poet who had apparently
seen the _Athenaeum_ advertisement. His name was Edwin Peak Baynes and
his handwriting was sprawling and unformed. He sent her several short
lyrics on scraps of paper with instructions that he desired "three
copies of each written beautifully in different styles" and "_not_
fastened with metal fasteners but with silk thread of an appropriate
colour." Both of our young people were greatly exercised by these
instructions. One fragment was called "Bird Song," one "Cloud
Shadows," and one "Eryngium," but Lewisham thought they might be
spoken of collectively as Bosh. By way of payment, this poet sent, in
contravention of the postal regulations, half a sovereign stuck into a
card, asking her to keep the balance against future occasions. In a
little while, greatly altered copies of these lyrics were returned by
the poet in person, with this enigmatical instruction written across
the cover of each: "This style I like, only if possible more so."

Lewisham was out, but Ethel opened the door, so this indorsement was
unnecessary, "He's really only a boy," said Ethel, describing the
interview to Lewisham, who was curious. They both felt that the
youthfulness of Edwin Peak Baynes detracted something from the reality
of this employment.

From his marriage until the final examination in June, Lewisham's life
had an odd amphibious quality. At home were Ethel and the perpetual
aching pursuit of employment, the pelting irritations of Madam Gadow's
persistent overcharges, and so forth, and amid such things he felt
extraordinarily grown up; but intercalated with these experiences were
those intervals at Kensington, scraps of his adolescence, as it were,
lying amidst the new matter of his manhood, intervals during which he
was simply an insubordinate and disappointing student with an
increasing disposition to gossip. At South Kensington he dwelt with
theories and ideals as a student should; at the little rooms in
Chelsea--they grew very stuffy as the summer came on, and the
accumulation of the penny novelettes Ethel favoured made a
litter--there was his particular private concrete situation, and
ideals gave place to the real.

It was a strangely narrow world, he perceived dimly, in which his
manhood opened. The only visitors were the Chafferys. Chaffery would
come to share their supper, and won upon Lewisham in spite of his
roguery by his incessantly entertaining monologue and by his expressed
respect for and envy of Lewisham's scientific attainments. Moreover,
as time went on Lewisham found himself more and more in sympathy with
Chaffery's bitterness against those who order the world. It was good
to hear him on bishops and that sort of people. He said what Lewisham
wanted to say beautifully. Mrs. Chaffery was perpetually
flitting--out of the house as Lewisham came home, a dim, black,
nervous, untidy little figure. She came because Ethel, in spite of her
expressed belief that love was "all in all," found married life a
little dull and lonely while Lewisham was away. And she went hastily
when he came, because of a certain irritability that the struggle
against the world was developing. He told no one at Kensington about
his marriage, at first because it was such a delicious secret, and
then for quite other reasons. So there was no overlapping. The two
worlds began and ended sharply at the wrought-iron gates. But the day
came when Lewisham passed those gates for the last time and his
adolescence ended altogether.

In the final examination of the biological course, the examination
that signalised the end of his income of a weekly guinea, he knew well
enough that he had done badly. The evening of the last day's practical
work found him belated, hot-headed, beaten, with ruffled hair and red
ears. He sat to the last moment doggedly struggling to keep cool and
to mount the ciliated funnel of an earthworm's nephridium. But
ciliated funnels come not to those who have shirked the laboratory
practice. He rose, surrendered his paper to the morose elderly young
assistant demonstrator who had welcomed him so flatteringly eight
months before, and walked down the laboratory to the door where the
rest of his fellow-students clustered.

Smithers was talking loudly about the "twistiness" of the
identification, and the youngster with the big ears was listening

"Here's Lewisham! How did _you_ get on, Lewisham?" asked Smithers,
not concealing his assurance.

"Horribly," said Lewisham shortly, and pushed past.

"Did you spot D?" clamoured Smithers.

Lewisham pretended not to hear.

Miss Heydinger stood with her hat in her hand and looked at Lewisham's
hot eyes. He was for walking past her, but something in her face
penetrated even his disturbance. He stopped.

"Did you get out the nephridium?" he said as graciously as he could.

She shook her head. "Are you going downstairs?" she asked.

"Rather," said Lewisham, with a vague intimation in his manner of the
offence Smithers gave him.

He opened the glass door from the passage to the staircase. They went
down one tier of that square spiral in silence.

"Are you coming up again next year?" asked Miss Heydinger.

"No," said Lewisham. "No, I shall not come here again. Ever."

Pause. "What will you do?" she asked.

"I don't know. I have to get a living somehow. It's been bothering me
all the session."

"I thought--" She stopped. "Will you go down to your uncle's again?"
she said.

"No. I shall stop in London. It's no good going out of things into the
country. And besides--I've quarrelled rather with my uncle."

"What do you think of doing?--teaching?"

"I suppose it will be teaching, I'm not sure. Anything that turns up."

"I see," she said.

They went on down in silence for a time.

"I suppose you will come up again?" he asked.

"I may try the botanical again--if they can find room. And, I was
thinking--sometimes one hears of things. What is your address? So that
if I heard of anything."

Lewisham stopped on the staircase and thought. "Of course," he
said. He made no effort to give her the address, and she demanded it
again at the foot of the stairs.

"That confounded nephridium--!" he said. "It has put everything out of
my head."

They exchanged addresses on leaflets torn from Miss Heydinger's little

She waited at the Book in the hall while he signed his name. At the
iron gates of the Schools she said: "I am going through Kensington

He was now feeling irritated about the addresses, and he would not see
the implicit invitation. "I am going towards Chelsea."

She hesitated a moment, looking at him--puzzled. "Good-bye, then,"
she said.

"Good-bye," he answered, lifting his hat.

He crossed the Exhibition Road slowly with his packed glazed bag, now
seamed with cracks, in his hand. He went thoughtfully down to the
corner of the Cromwell Road and turned along that to the right so that
he could see the red pile of the Science Schools rising fair, and
tall across the gardens of the Natural History Museum. He looked back
towards it regretfully.

He was quite sure that he had failed in this last examination. He
knew that any career as a scientific man was now closed to him for
ever. And he remembered now how he had come along this very road to
that great building for the first time in his life, and all the hopes
and resolves that had swelled within him as he had drawn near. That
dream of incessant unswerving work! Where might he have reached if
only he had had singleness of purpose to realise that purpose?...

And in these gardens it was that he and Smithers and Parkson had sat
on a seat hard by the fossil tree, and discoursed of Socialism
together before the great paper was read....

"Yes," he said, speaking aloud to himself; "yes--_that's_
all over too. Everything's over."

Presently the corner of the Natural History Museum came between him
and his receding Alma Mater. He sighed and turned his face towards the
stuffy little rooms at Chelsea, and the still unconquered world.



It was late in September that this particular quarrel occurred. Almost
all the roseate tints seemed gone by this time, for the Lewishams had
been married six months. Their financial affairs had changed from the
catastrophic to the sordid; Lewisham had found work. An army crammer
named Captain Vigours wanted someone energetic for his mathematical
duffers and to teach geometrical drawing and what he was pleased to
call "Sandhurst Science." He paid no less than two shillings an hour
for his uncertain demands on Lewisham's time. Moreover, there was a
class in lower mathematics beginning at Walham Green where Lewisham
was to show his quality. Fifty shillings a week or more seemed
credible--more might be hoped for. It was now merely a case of tiding
over the interval until Vigours paid. And meanwhile the freshness of
Ethel's blouses departed, and Lewisham refrained from the repair of
his boot which had cracked across the toe.

The beginning of the quarrel was trivial enough. But by the end they
got to generalities. Lewisham had begun the day in a bad temper and
under the cloud of an overnight passage of arms--and a little incident
that had nothing to do with their ostensible difference lent it a
warmth of emotion quite beyond its merits. As he emerged through the
folding doors he saw a letter lying among the sketchily laid breakfast
things, and Ethel's attitude suggested the recoil of a quick movement;
the letter suddenly dropped. Her eyes met his and she flushed. He sat
down and took the letter--a trifle awkwardly perhaps. It was from Miss
Heydinger. He hesitated with it halfway to his pocket, then decided to
open it. It displayed an ample amount of reading, and he read. On the
whole he thought it rather a dull sort of letter, but he did not allow
this to appear. When it was read he put it carefully in his pocket.

That formally had nothing to do with the quarrel. The breakfast was
already over when the quarrel began. Lewisham's morning was vacant,
and be proposed to occupy it in the revision of certain notes bearing
upon "Sandhurst Science." Unhappily the search for his note-book
brought him into collision with the accumulation of Ethel's

"These things are everywhere," he said after a gust of vehement
handling, "I _wish_ you'd tidy them up sometimes."

"They were tidy enough till you began to throw them about," Ethel
pointed out.

"Confounded muck! it's only fit to be burnt," Lewisham remarked to the
universe, and pitched one viciously into the corner.

"Well, you tried to write one, anyhow," said Ethel, recalling a
certain "Mammoth" packet of note-paper that had come on an evil end
before Lewisham found his industrial level. This reminiscence always
irritated him exceedingly.

"Eh?" he said sharply.

"You tried to write one," repeated Ethel--a little unwillingly.

"You don't mean me to forget that."

"It's you reminded me."

He stared hostility for a space.

"Well, the things make a beastly litter anyhow; there isn't a tidy
corner anywhere in the room. There never is."

"That's just the sort of thing you always say."

"Well--_is_ there?"

"Yes, there is."


Ethel professed not to hear. But a devil had possession of Lewisham
for a time. "It isn't as though you had anything else to do," he
remarked, wounding dishonourably.

Ethel turned. "If I _put_ those things away," she said with tremendous
emphasis on the "_put_," "you'd only say I'd hidden them. What _is_
the good of trying to please you?"

The spirit of perversity suggested to Lewisham, "None apparently."

Ethel's cheeks glowed and her eyes were bright with unshed
tears. Abruptly she abandoned the defensive and blurted out the thing
that had been latent so long between them. Her voice took a note of
passion. "Nothing I can do ever does please you, since that Miss
Heydinger began to write to you."

There was a pause, a gap. Something like astonishment took them
both. Hitherto it had been a convention that she knew nothing of the
existence of Miss Heydinger. He saw a light. "How did you know?" he
began, and perceived that line was impossible. He took the way of the
natural man; he ejaculated an "Ugh!" of vast disgust, he raised his
voice. "You _are_ unreasonable!" he cried in angry remonstrance.
"Fancy saying that! As though you ever tried to please me! Just as
though it wasn't all the other way about!" He stopped--struck by a
momentary perception of injustice. He plunged at the point he had
shirked, "How did you know it _was_ Miss Heydinger--?"

Ethel's voice took upon itself the quality of tears. "I wasn't
_meant_ to know, was I?" she said.

"But how?"

"I suppose you think it doesn't concern me? I suppose you think I'm
made of stone?"

"You mean--you think--?"

"Yes--I _do_."

For a brief interval Lewisham stared at the issue she had laid
bare. He sought some crashing proposition, some line of convincing
reasoning, with which to overwhelm and hide this new aspect of
things. It would not come. He found himself fenced in on every side. A
surging, irrational rage seized upon him.

"Jealousy!" he cried. "Jealousy! Just as though--Can't I have
letters about things you don't understand--that you _won't_
understand? If I asked you to read them you wouldn't--It's just

"You never give me a _chance_ to understand."

"Don't I?"


"Why!--At first I was always trying. Socialism, religion--all those
things. But you don't care--you won't care. You won't have that I've
thought over these things at all, that I care for these things! It
wasn't any _good_ to argue. You just care for me in a way--and all the
rest of me--doesn't matter! And because I've got a friend ..."



"Why!--you hide her letters!"

"Because I tell you you wouldn't understand what they are about. But,
pah! I won't argue. I _won't!_ You're jealous, and there's the end of
the matter!"

"Well, who _wouldn't_ be jealous?"

He stared at her as if he found the question hard to see. The theme
was difficult--invincibly difficult. He surveyed the room for a
diversion. The note-book he had disinterred from her novelettes lay
upon the table and reminded him of his grievance of rained hours. His
rage exploded. He struck out abruptly towards fundamental things. He
gesticulated forcibly. "This can't go on!" he cried, "this can't go
on! How can I work? How can I do anything?"

He made three steps and stood in a clear space.

"I won't _stand_, it--I won't go on at this!
Quarrels--bickerings--discomfort. Look there! I meant to work this
morning. I meant to look up notes! Instead of which you start a

The gross injustice raised Ethel's voice to an outcry. "_I_ didn't
start the quarrel--"

The only response to this was to shout, and Lewisham shouted. "You
start a quarrel!" he repeated. "You make a shindy! You spring a
dispute--jealousy!--on me! How can I do anything? How can one stop in
a house like this? I shall go out. Look here!--I shall go out. I shall
go to Kensington and work there!"

He perceived himself wordless, and Ethel was about to speak. He glared
about him, seeking a prompt climax. Instant action was necessary. He
perceived Huxley's _Vertebrata_ upon the side-table. He clutched it,
swayed it through a momentous arc, hurled it violently into the empty

For a second he seemed to be seeking some other missile. He perceived
his hat on the chest of drawers, seized it, and strode tragically from
the room.

He hesitated with the door half closed, then opened it wide and
slammed it vehemently. Thereby the world was warned of the justice of
his rage, and so he passed with credit into the street.

He went striding heedless of his direction through the streets dotted
with intent people hurrying to work, and presently habit turned his
feet towards the Brompton Road. The eastward trend of the morning
traffic caught him. For a time, save for a rebellious ingredient of
wonder at the back of his mind, he kept his anger white and pure. Why
had he married her? was the text to which he clung. Why in the name of
destiny had he married her? But anyhow he had said the decisive
thing. He would not stand it! It must end. Things were intolerable and
they must end. He meditated devastating things that he might presently
say to her in pursuance of this resolution. He contemplated acts of
cruelty. In such ways he would demonstrate clearly that he would not
stand it. He was very careful to avoid inquiring what it was he would
not stand.

How in the name of destiny had he come to marry her? The quality of
his surroundings mingled in some way with the quality of his
thoughts. The huge distended buildings of corrugated iron in which the
Art Museum (of all places!) culminates, the truncated Oratory all
askew to the street, seemed to have a similar quarrel with fate. How
in the name of destiny? After such high prolusions!

He found that his thoughts had carried him past the lodge of the
museum. He turned back irritably and went through the turnstile. He
entered the museum and passed beneath the gallery of Old Iron on his
way to the Education Library. The vacant array of tables, the bays of
attendant books had a quality of refuge....

So much for Lewisham in the morning. Long before midday all the vigour
of his wrath was gone, all his passionate conviction of Ethel's
unworthiness. Over a pile of neglected geological works he presented a
face of gloom. His memory presented a picture of himself as noisy,
overbearing, and unfair. What on earth had it all been about?

By two o'clock he was on his way to Vigours', and his mood was acute
remorse. Of the transition there can be no telling in words, for
thoughts are more subtle than words and emotions infinitely
vaguer. But one thing at least is definite, that a memory returned.

It drifted in to him, through the glass roof of the Library far
above. He did not perceive it as a memory at first, but as an
irritating obstacle to attention. He struck the open pages of the book
before him with his flat hand. "Damn that infernal hurdy-gurdy!"  he

Presently he made a fretful movement and put his hands over his ears.

Then he thrust his books from him, got up, and wandered about the
Library. The organ came to an abrupt end in the middle of a bar, and
vanished in the circumambient silence of space.

Lewisham standing in a bay closed a book with a snap and returned to
his seat.

Presently he found himself humming a languid tune, and thinking again
of the quarrel that he had imagined banished from his mind. What in
the name of destiny had it all been about? He had a curious sense that
something had got loose, was sliding about in his mind. And as if by
way of answer emerged a vision of Whortley--a singularly vivid
vision. It was moonlight and a hillside, the little town lay lit and
warm below, and the scene was set to music, a lugubriously sentimental
air. For some reason this music had the quality of a barrel
organ--though he knew that properly it came from a band--and it
associated with itself a mystical formula of words, drawing words:--

    "Sweet dreamland fa--ces, passing to and fro,
    Bring back to mem'ry days of long ago--oh!"

This air not only reproduced the picture with graphic vividness, but
it trailed after it an enormous cloud of irrational emotion, emotion
that had but a moment before seemed gone for ever from his being.

He recalled it all! He had come down that hillside and Ethel had been
with him....

Had he really felt like that about her?

"Pah!" he said suddenly, and reverted to his books.

But the tune and the memory had won their footing, they were with him
through his meagre lunch of milk and scones--he had resolved at the
outset he would not go back to her for the midday meal--and on his way
to Vigours' they insisted on attention. It may be that lunching on
scone and milk does in itself make for milder ways of thinking. A
sense of extraordinary contradiction, of infinite perplexity, came to

"But then," he asked, "how the devil did we get to _this_?"

Which is indeed one of the fundamental questions of matrimony.

The morning tumults had given place to an almost scientific calm. Very
soon he was grappling manfully with the question. There was no
disputing it, they had quarrelled. Not once but several times lately
they had quarrelled. It was real quarrelling;--they had stood up
against one another, striking, watching to strike, seeking to
wound. He tried to recall just how things had gone--what he had said
and what she had replied. He could not do it. He had forgotten
phrases and connexions. It stood in his memory not as a sequence of
events but as a collection of disconnected static sayings; each saying
blunt, permanent, inconsecutive like a graven inscription. And of the
scene there came only one picture--Ethel with a burning face and her
eyes shining with tears.

The traffic of a cross street engaged him for a space. He emerged on
the further side full of the vivid contrast of their changed
relations. He made a last effort to indict her, to show that for the
transition she was entirely to blame. She had quarrelled with him, she
had quarrelled deliberately because she was jealous. She was jealous
of Miss Heydinger because she was stupid. But now these accusations
faded like smoke as he put them forth. But the picture of two little
figures back there in the moonlit past did not fade. It was in the
narrows of Kensington High Street that he abandoned her
arraignment. It was beyond the Town Hall that he made the new
step. Was it, after all, just possible that in some degree he himself
rather was the chief person to blame?

It was instantly as if he had been aware of that all the time.

Once he had made that step, he moved swiftly. Not a hundred paces
before the struggle was over, and he had plunged headlong into the
blue abyss of remorse. And all these things that had been so dramatic
and forcible, all the vivid brutal things he had said, stood no longer
graven inscriptions but in letters of accusing flame. He tried to
imagine he had not said them, that his memory played him a trick;
tried to suppose he had said something similar perhaps, but much less
forcible. He attempted with almost equal futility to minimise his own
wounds. His endeavour served only to measure the magnitude of his

He had recovered everything now, he saw it all. He recalled Ethel,
sunlit in the avenue, Ethel, white in the moonlight before they parted
outside the Frobisher house, Ethel as she would come out of Lagune's
house greeting him for their nightly walk, Ethel new wedded, as she
came to him through the folding doors radiant in the splendour his
emotions threw about her. And at last, Ethel angry, dishevelled and
tear-stained in that ill-lit, untidy little room. All to the cadence
of a hurdy-gurdy tune! From that to this! How had it been possible to
get from such an opalescent dawning to such a dismal day? What was it
had gone? He and she were the same two persons who walked so brightly
in his awakened memory; he and she who had lived so bitterly through
the last few weeks of misery!

His mood sank for a space to the quality of groaning. He implicated
her now at most as his partner in their failure--"What a mess we have
made of things!" was his new motif. "What a mess!"

He knew love now for what it was, knew it for something more ancient
and more imperative than reason. He knew now that he loved her, and
his recent rage, his hostility, his condemnation of her seemed to him
the reign of some exterior influence in his mind. He thought
incredulously of the long decline in tenderness that had followed the
first days of their delight in each other, the diminution of
endearment, the first yielding to irritability, the evenings he had
spent doggedly working, resisting all his sense of her presence. "One
cannot always be love-making," he had said, and so they were slipping
apart. Then in countless little things he had not been patient, he had
not been fair. He had wounded her by harshness, by unsympathetic
criticism, above all by his absurd secrecy about Miss Heydinger's
letters. Why on earth had he kept those letters from her? as though
there was something to hide! What was there to hide? What possible
antagonism could there be? Yet it was by such little things that
their love was now like some once valued possession that had been in
brutal hands, it was scratched and chipped and tarnished, it was on
its way to being altogether destroyed. Her manner had changed towards
him, a gulf was opening that he might never be able to close again.

"No, it _shall_ not be!" he said, "it shall not be!"

But how to get back to the old footing? how to efface the things he
had said, the things that had been done?

Could they get back?

For a moment he faced a new possibility. Suppose they could not get
back! Suppose the mischief was done! Suppose that when he slammed the
door behind him it locked, and was locked against him for ever!

"But we _must_!" said Lewisham, "we must!"

He perceived clearly that this was no business of reasoned
apologies. He must begin again, he must get back to emotion, he must
thrust back the overwhelming pressure of everyday stresses and
necessities that was crushing all the warmth and colour from their
lives. But how? How?

He must make love to her again. But how to begin--how to mark the
change? There had been making-up before, sullen concessions and
treaties. But this was different. He tried to imagine something he
might say, some appeal that he might make. Everything he thought of
was cold and hard, or pitiful and undignified, or theatrical and
foolish. Suppose the door _was_ closed! If already it was too late!
In every direction he was confronted by the bristling memories of
harsh things. He had a glimpse of how he must have changed in her
eyes, and things became intolerable for him. For now he was assured he
loved her still with all his heart.

And suddenly came a florist's window, and in the centre of it a
glorious heap of roses.

They caught his eye before they caught his mind. He saw white roses,
virginal white, roses of cream and pink and crimson, the tints of
flesh and pearl, rich, a mass of scented colour, visible odours, and
in the midst of them a note of sullen red. It was as it were the very
colour of his emotion. He stopped abruptly. He turned back to the
window and stared frankly. It was gorgeous, he saw, but why so
particularly did it appeal to him?

Then he perceived as though it was altogether self-evident what he had
to do. This was what he wanted. This was the note he had to
strike. Among other things because it would repudiate the accursed
worship of pinching self-restraint that was one of the incessant
stresses between them. They would come to her with a pure
unexpectedness, they would flame upon her.

Then, after the roses, he would return.

Suddenly the grey trouble passed from his mind; he saw the world full
of colour again. He saw the scene he desired bright and clear, saw
Ethel no longer bitter and weeping, but glad as once she had always
seemed glad. His heart-beats quickened. It was giving had been needed,
and he would give.

Some weak voice of indiscreet discretion squeaked and vanished. He
had, he knew, a sovereign in his pocket. He went in.

He found himself in front of a formidable young lady in black, and
unprepared with any formula. He had never bought flowers before. He
looked about him for an inspiration. He pointed at the roses. "I want
those roses," he said....

He emerged again with only a few small silver coins remaining out of
the sovereign he had changed. The roses were to go to Ethel, properly
packed; they were to be delivered according to his express direction
at six o'clock.

"Six o'clock," Lewisham had reiterated very earnestly.

"We quite understand," the young lady in black had said, and had
pretended to be unable to conceal a smile. "We're _quite_ accustomed
to sending out flowers."



And the roses miscarried!

When Lewisham returned from Vigours' it was already nearly seven. He
entered the house with a beating heart. He had expected to find Ethel
excited, the roses displayed. But her face was white and jaded. He was
so surprised by this that the greeting upon his lips died away. He was
balked! He went into, the sitting-room and there were no roses to be
seen. Ethel came past him and stood with her back to him looking out
of the window. The suspense was suddenly painful....

He was obliged to ask, though he was certain of the answer, "Has
nothing come?"

Ethel looked at him. "What did you think had come?"

"Oh! nothing."

She looked out of the window again. "No," she said slowly, "nothing
has come."

He tried to think of something to say that might bridge the distance
between them, but he could think of nothing. He must wait until the
roses came. He took out his books and a gaunt hour passed to supper
time. Supper was a chilly ceremonial set with necessary over-polite
remarks. Disappointment and exasperation darkened Lewisham's soul. He
began to feel angry with everything--even with her--he perceived she
still judged him angry, and that made him angry with her. He was
resuming his books and she was helping Madam Gadow's servant to clear
away, when they heard a rapping at the street door. "They have come at
last," he said to himself brightening, and hesitated whether he should
bolt or witness her reception of them. The servant was a
nuisance. Then he heard Chaffery's voices and whispered a soft "damn!"
to himself.

The only thing to do now if the roses came was to slip out into the
passage, intercept them, and carry them into the bedroom by the door
between that and the passage. It would be undesirable for Chaffery to
witness that phase of sentiment. He might flash some dart of ridicule
that would stick in their memory for ever.

Lewisham tried to show that he did not want a visitor. But Chaffery
was in high spirits, and could have warmed a dozen cold welcomes. He
sat down without any express invitation in the chair that he

Before Mr. and Mrs. Chaffery the Lewishams veiled whatever trouble
might be between them beneath an insincere cordiality, and Chaffery
was soon talking freely, unsuspicious of their crisis. He produced two
cigars. "I had a wild moment," he said. "'For once,' said I, 'the
honest shall smoke the admirable--or the admirable shall smoke the
honest,' whichever you like best. Try one? No? Those austere
principles of yours! There will be more pleasure then. But really, I
would as soon you smoked it as I. For to-night I radiate benevolence."

He cut the cigar with care, he lit it with ceremony, waiting until
nothing but honest wood was burning on the match, and for fully a
minute he was silent, evolving huge puffs of smoke. And then he spoke
again, punctuating his words by varied and beautiful spirals. "So
far," he said, "I have only trifled with knavery."

As Lewisham said nothing he resumed after a pause.

"There are three sorts of men in the world, my boy, three and no
more--and of women only one. There are happy men and there are knaves
and fools. Hybrids I don't count. And to my mind knaves and fools are
very much alike."

He paused again.

"I suppose they are," said Lewisham flatly, and frowned at the

Chaffery eyed him. "I am talking wisdom. To-night I am talking a
particular brand of wisdom. I am broaching some of my oldest and
finest, because--as you will find one day--this is a special occasion.
And you are distrait!"

Lewisham looked up. "Birthday?" he said.

"You will see. But I was making golden observations about knaves and
fools. I was early convinced of the absolute necessity of
righteousness if a man is to be happy. I know it as surely as there is
a sun in the heavens. Does that surprise you?"

"Well, it hardly squares--"

"No. I know. I will explain all that. But let me tell you the happy
life. Let me give you that, as if I lay on my deathbed and this was a
parting gift. In the first place, mental integrity. Prove all things,
hold fast to that which is right. Let the world have no illusions for
you, no surprises. Nature is full of cruel catastrophes, man is a
physically degenerate ape, every appetite, every instinct, needs the
curb; salvation is not in the nature of things, but whatever salvation
there may be is in the nature of man; face all these painful things. I
hope you follow that?"

"Go on," said Lewisham, with the debating-society taste for a thesis
prevailing for a minute over that matter of the roses.

"In youth, exercise and learning; in adolescence, ambition; and in
early manhood, love--no footlight passion." Chaffery was very solemn
and insistent, with a lean extended finger, upon this point.

"Then marriage, young and decent, and then children and stout honest
work for them, work too for the State in which they live; a life of
self-devotion, indeed, and for sunset a decent pride--that is the
happy life. Rest assured that is the happy life; the life Natural
Selection has been shaping for man since life began. So a man may go
happy from the cradle to the grave--at least--passably happy. And to
do this needs just three things--a sound body, a sound intelligence,
and a sound will ... A sound will."

Chaffery paused on the repetition.

"No other happiness endures. And when all men are wise, all men will
seek that life. Fame! Wealth! Art!--the Red Indians worship lunatics,
and we are still by way of respecting the milder sorts. But I say that
all men who do not lead that happy life are knaves and fools. The
physical cripple, you know, poor devil, I count a sort of bodily

"Yes," weighed Lewisham, "I suppose he is."

"Now a fool fails of happiness because of his insufficient mind, he
miscalculates, he stumbles and hobbles, some cant or claptrap whirls
him away; he gets passion out of a book and a wife out of the stews,
or he quarrels on a petty score; threats frighten him, vanity beguiles
him, he fails by blindness. But the knave who is not a fool fails
against the light. Many knaves are fools also--_most_ are--but some
are not. I know--I am a knave but no fool. The essence of your knave
is that he lacks the will, the motive capacity to seek his own greater
good. The knave abhors persistence. Strait is the way and narrow the
gate; the knave cannot keep to it and the fool cannot find it."

Lewisham lost something of what Chaffery was saying by reason of a rap
outside. He rose, but Ethel was before him. He concealed his anxiety
as well as he could; and was relieved when he heard the front door
close again and her footsteps pass into the bedroom by the passage
door. He reverted to Chaffery.

"Has it ever occurred to you," asked Chaffery, apparently apropos of
nothing, "that intellectual conviction is no motive at all? Any more
than a railway map will run a train a mile."

"Eh?" said Lewisham. "Map--run a train a mile--of course, yes. No, it

"That is precisely my case," said Chaffery. "That is the case of
your pure knave everywhere. We are not fools--because we know. But
yonder runs the highway, windy, hard, and austere, a sort of dry
happiness that will endure; and here is the pleasant by-way--lush,
my boy, lush, as the poets have it, and with its certain man-trap
among the flowers ..."

Ethel returned through the folding doors. She glanced at Lewisham,
remained standing for awhile, sat down in the basket chair as if to
resume some domestic needlework that lay upon the table, then rose and
went back into the bedroom.

Chaffery proceeded to expatiate on the transitory nature of passion
and all glorious and acute experiences. Whole passages of that
discourse Lewisham did not hear, so intent was he upon those
roses. Why had Ethel gone back into the bedroom? Was it possible--?
Presently she returned, but she sat down so that he could not see her

"If there is one thing to set against the wholesome life it is
adventure," Chaffery was saying. "But let every adventurer pray for an
early death, for with adventure come wounds, and with wounds come
sickness, and--except in romances--sickness affects the nervous
system. Your nerve goes. Where are you then, my boy?"

"Ssh! what's that?" said Lewisham.

It was a rap at the house door. Heedless of the flow of golden wisdom,
he went out at once and admitted a gentleman friend of Madam Gadow,
who passed along the passage and vanished down the staircase. When he
returned Chaffery was standing to go.

"I could have talked with you longer," he said, "but you have
something on your mind, I see. I will not worry you by guessing
what. Some day you will remember ..." He said no more, but laid his
hand on Lewisham's shoulder.

One might almost fancy he was offended at something.

At any other time Lewisham might have been propitiatory, but now he
offered no apology. Chaffery turned to Ethel and looked at her
curiously for a moment. "Good-bye," he said, holding out his hand to

On the doorstep Chaffery regarded Lewisham with the same curious look,
and seemed to weigh some remark. "Good-bye," he said at last with
something in his manner that kept Lewisham at the door for a moment
looking after his stepfather's receding figure. But immediately the
roses were uppermost again.

When he re-entered the living room he found Ethel sitting idly at her
typewriter, playing with the keys. She got up at his return and sat
down in the armchair with a novelette that hid her face. He stared at
her, full of questions. After all, then, they had not come. He was
intensely disappointed now, he was intensely angry with the ineffable
young shop-woman in black. He looked at his watch and then again, he
took a book and pretended to read and found himself composing a
scathing speech of remonstrance to be delivered on the morrow at the
flower-shop. He put his book down, went to his black bag, opened and
closed it aimlessly. He glanced covertly at Ethel, and found her
looking covertly at him. He could not quite understand her expression.

He fidgeted into the bedroom and stopped as dead as a pointer.

He felt an extraordinary persuasion of the scent of roses. So strong
did it seem that he glanced outside the room door, expecting to find a
box there, mysteriously arrived. But there was no scent of roses in
the passage.

Then he saw close by his foot an enigmatical pale object, and
stooping, picked up the creamy petal of a rose. He stood with it in
his hand, perplexed beyond measure. He perceived a slight disorder of
the valence of the dressing-table and linked it with this petal by a
swift intuition.

He made two steps, lifted the valence, and behold! there lay his
roses crushed together!

He gasped like a man who plunges suddenly into cold water. He remained
stooping with the valence raised.

Ethel appeared in the half doorway and her, expression was unfamiliar.
He stared at her white face.

"Why on earth did you put my roses here?" he asked.

She stared back at him. Her face reflected his astonishment.

"Why did you put my roses here?" he asked again.

"Your roses!" she cried, "What! Did _you_ send those roses?"



He remained stooping and staring up at her, realising the implication
of her words only very slowly.

Then it grew clear to him.

As she saw understanding dawning in his face, she uttered a cry of
consternation. She came forward and sat down upon the little bedroom
chair. She turned to him and began a sentence. "I," she said, and
stopped, with an impatient gesture of her hands. "_Oh_!"

He straightened himself and stood regarding her. The basket of roses
lay overturned between them.

"You thought these came from someone else?" he said, trying to grasp
this inversion of the universe.

She turned her eyes, "I did not know," she panted. "A trap.... Was it
likely--they came from you?"

"You thought they came from someone else," he said.

"Yes," she said, "I did."


"Mr. Baynes."

"That boy!"

"Yes--that boy."


Lewisham looked about him--a man in the presence of the inconceivable.

"You mean to say you have been carrying on with that youngster behind
my back?" he asked.

She opened her lips to speak and had no words to say.

His pallor increased until every tinge of colour had left his face. He
laughed and then set his teeth. Husband and wife looked at one

"I never dreamt," he said in even tones.

He sat down on the bed, thrusting his feet among the scattered roses
with a sort of grim satisfaction. "I never dreamt," he repeated, and
the flimsy basket kicked by his swinging foot hopped indignantly
through the folding doors into the living room and left a trail of
blood-red petals.

They sat for perhaps two minutes, and when he spoke again his voice
was hoarse. He reverted to a former formula. "Look here," he said, and
cleared his throat. "I don't know whether you think I'm going to
stand this, but I'm not."

He looked at her. She sat staring in front of her, making no attempt
to cope with disaster.

"When I say I'm not going to stand it," explained Lewisham, "I don't
mean having a row or anything of that sort. One can quarrel and be
disappointed over--other things--and still go on. But this is a
different thing altogether.

"Of all dreams and illusions!... Think what I have lost in this
accursed marriage. And _now_ ... You don't understand--you won't

"Nor you," said Ethel, weeping but neither looking at him nor moving
her hands from her lap where they lay helplessly. "_You_ don't

"I'm beginning to."

He sat in silence gathering force. "In one year," he said, "all my
hopes, all my ambitions have gone. I know I have been cross and
irritable--I know that. I've been pulled two ways. But ... I bought
you these roses."

She looked at the roses, and then at his white face, made an
imperceptible movement towards him, and became impassive again.

"I do think one thing. I have found out you are shallow, you don't
think, you can't feel things that I think and feel. I have been
getting over that. But I did think you were loyal--"

"I _am_ loyal," she cried.

"And you think--Bah!--you poke my roses under the table!"

Another portentous silence. Ethel stirred and he turned his eyes to
watch what she was about to do. She produced her handkerchief and
began to wipe her dry eyes rapidly, first one and then the other. Then
she began sobbing. "I'm ... as loyal as you ... anyhow," she said.

For a moment Lewisham was aghast. Then he perceived he must ignore
that argument.

"I would have stood it--I would have stood anything if you had been
loyal--if I could have been sure of you. I am a fool, I know, but I
would have stood the interruption of my work, the loss of any hope of
a Career, if I had been sure you were loyal. I ... I cared for you a
great deal."

He stopped. He had suddenly perceived the pathetic. He took refuge in

"And you have deceived me! How long, how much, I don't care. You have
deceived me. And I tell you"--he began to gesticulate--"I'm not so
much your slave and fool as to stand that! No woman shall make me
_that_ sort of fool, whatever else--So far as I am concerned, this
ends things. This ends things. We are married--but I don't care if we
were married five hundred times. I won't stop with a woman who takes
flowers from another man--"

"I _didn't_," said Ethel.

Lewisham gave way to a transport of anger. He caught up a handful of
roses and extended them, trembling. "What's _this_?" he asked. His
finger bled from a thorn, as once it had bled from a blackthorn spray.

"I _didn't_ take them," said Ethel. "I couldn't help it if they were

"Ugh!" said Lewisham. "But what is the good of argument and denial?
You took them in, you had them. You may have been cunning, but you
have given yourself away. And our life and all this"--he waved an
inclusive hand at Madam Gadow's furniture--"is at an end."

He looked at her and repeated with bitter satisfaction, "At an end."

She glanced at his face, and his expression was remorseless. "I will
not go on living with you," he said, lest there should be any
mistake. "Our life is at an end."

Her eyes went from his face to the scattered roses. She remained
staring at these. She was no longer weeping, and her face, save about
the eyes, was white.

He presented it in another form. "I shall go away."

"We never ought to have married," he reflected. "But ... I never
expected _this_!"

"I didn't know," she cried out, lifting up her voice. "I _didn't_
know. How could _I_ help! _Oh_!"

She stopped and stared at him with hands clenched, her eyes haggard
with despair.

Lewisham remained impenetrably malignant.

"I don't _want_ to know," he said, answering her dumb appeal. "That
settles everything. _That_!" He indicated the scattered flowers. "What
does it matter to me what has happened or hasn't happened? Anyhow--oh!
I don't mind. I'm glad. See? It settles things.

"The sooner we part the better. I shan't stop with you another
night. I shall take my box and my portmanteau into that room and
pack. I shall stop in there to-night, sleep in a chair or _think_. And
to-morrow I shall settle up with Madam Gadow and go. You can go back
... to your cheating."

He stopped for some seconds. She was deadly still. "You wanted to,
and now you may. You wanted to, before I got work. You remember? You
know your place is still open at Lagune's. I don't care. I tell you I
don't care _that_. Not that! You may go your own way--and I shall go
mine. See? And all this rot--this sham of living together when neither
cares for the other--I don't care for you _now_, you know, so you
needn't think it--will be over and done with. As for marriage--I don't
care _that_ for marriage--it can't make a sham and a blunder anything
but a sham.

"It's a sham, and shams have to end, and that's the end of the

He stood up resolutely. He kicked the scattered roses out of his way
and dived beneath the bed for his portmanteau. Ethel neither spoke
nor moved, but remained watching his movements. For a time the
portmanteau refused to emerge, and he marred his stern resolution by a
half audible "Come here--damn you!" He swung it into the living room
and returned for his box. He proposed to pack in that room.

When he had taken all his personal possessions out of the bedroom, he
closed the folding-doors with an air of finality. He knew from the
sounds that followed that she flung herself upon the bed, and that
filled him with grim satisfaction.

He stood listening for a space, then set about packing
methodically. The first rage of discovery had abated; he knew quite
clearly that he was inflicting grievous punishment, and that gratified
him. There was also indeed a curious pleasure in the determination of
a long and painful period of vague misunderstanding by this unexpected
crisis. He was acutely conscious of the silence on the other side of
the folding-doors, he kept up a succession of deliberate little
noises, beat books together and brushed clothes, to intimate the
resolute prosecution of his preparations.

That was about nine o'clock. At eleven he was still busy....

Darkness came suddenly upon him. It was Madam Gadow's economical habit
to turn off all her gas at that hour unless she chanced to be
entertaining friends.

He felt in his pocket for matches and he had none. He whispered
curses. Against such emergencies he had bought a brass lamp and in the
bedroom there were candles. Ethel had a candle alight, he could see
the bright yellow line that appeared between the folding doors. He
felt his way presently towards the mantel, receiving a blow in the
ribs from a chair on the way, and went carefully amidst Madam Gadow's
once amusing ornaments.

There were no matches on the mantel. Going to the chest of drawers he
almost fell over his open portmanteau. He had a silent ecstasy of
rage. Then he kicked against the basket in which the roses had
come. He could find no matches on the chest of drawers.

Ethel must have the matches in the bedroom, but that was absolutely
impossible. He might even have to ask her for them, for at times she
pocketed matches.... There was nothing for it but to stop
packing. Not a sound came from the other room.

He decided he would sit down in the armchair and go to sleep. He crept
very carefully to the chair and sat down. Another interval of
listening and he closed his eyes and composed himself for slumber.

He began to think over his plans for the morrow. He imagined the scene
with Madam Gadow, and then his departure to find bachelor lodgings
once more. He debated in what direction he should go to get, suitable
lodgings. Possible difficulties with his luggage, possible annoyances
of the search loomed gigantic. He felt greatly irritated at these
minor difficulties. He wondered if Ethel also was packing. What
particularly would she do? He listened, but he could hear nothing.
She was very still. She was really very still! What could she be
doing? He forgot the bothers of the morrow in this new interest.
Presently he rose very softly and listened. Then he sat down again
impatiently. He tried to dismiss his curiosity about the silence by
recapitulating the story of his wrongs.

He had some difficulty in fixing his mind upon this theme, but
presently his memories were flowing freely. Only it was not wrongs
now that he could recall. He was pestered by an absurd idea that he
had again behaved unjustly to Ethel, that he had been headlong and
malignant. He made strenuous efforts to recover his first heat of
jealousy--in vain. Her remark that she had been as loyal as he, became
an obstinate headline in his mind. Something arose within him that
insisted upon Ethel's possible fate if he should leave her. What
particularly would she do? He knew how much her character leant upon
his, Good Heavens! What might she not do?

By an effort he succeeded in fixing his mind on Baynes. That helped
him back to the harsher footing. However hard things might be for her
she deserved them. She deserved them!

Yet presently he slipped again, slipped back to the remorse and
regrets of the morning time. He clutched at Baynes as a drowning man
clutches at a rope, and recovered himself. For a time he meditated on
Baynes. He had never seen the poet, so his imagination had scope. It
appeared to him as an exasperating obstacle to a tragic avenging of
his honour that Baynes was a mere boy--possibly even younger than

The question, "What will become of Ethel?" rose to the surface
again. He struggled against its possibilities. No! That was not it!
That was her affair.

He felt inexorably kept to the path he had chosen, for all the waning
of his rage. He had put his hand to the plough. "If you condone this,"
he told himself, "you might condone anything. There are things one
_must_ not stand." He tried to keep to that point of view--assuming
for the most part out of his imagination what it was he was not
standing. A dim sense came to him of how much he was assuming. At any
rate she must have flirted!... He resisted this reviving perception of
justice as though it was some unspeakably disgraceful craving. He
tried to imagine her with Baynes.

He determined he would go to sleep.

But his was a waking weariness. He tried counting. He tried to
distract his thoughts from her by going over the atomic weights of the

He shivered, and realised that he was cold and sitting cramped on an
uncomfortable horsehair chair. He had dozed. He glanced for the yellow
line between the folding doors. It was still there, but it seemed to
quiver. He judged the candle must be flaring. He wondered why
everything was so still.

Now why should he suddenly feel afraid?

He sat for a long time trying to hear some movement, his head craning
forward in the darkness.

A grotesque idea came into his head that all that had happened a very
long time ago. He dismissed that. He contested an unreasonable
persuasion that some irrevocable thing had passed. But why was
everything so still?

He was invaded by a prevision of unendurable calamity.

Presently he rose and crept very slowly, and with infinite precautions
against noise, towards the folding doors. He stood listening with his
ear near the yellow chink.

He could hear nothing, not even the measured breathing of a sleeper.

He perceived that the doors were not shut, but slightly ajar. He
pushed against the inner one very gently and opened it silently. Still
there was no sound of Ethel. He opened the door still wider and
peered into the room. The candle had burnt down and was flaring in
its socket. Ethel was lying half undressed upon the bed, and in her
hand and close to her face was a rose.

He stood watching her, fearing to move. He listened hard and his face
was very white. Even now he could not hear her breathing.

After all, it was probably all right. She was just asleep. He would
slip back before she woke. If she found him--

He looked at her again. There was something in her face--

He came nearer, no longer heeding the sounds he made. He bent over
her. Even now she did not seem to breathe.

He saw that her eyelashes were still wet, the pillow by her cheek was
wet. Her white, tear-stained face hurt him....

She was intolerably pitiful to him. He forgot everything but that and
how he had wounded her that day. And then she stirred and murmured
indistinctly a foolish name she had given him.

He forgot that they were going to part for ever. He felt nothing but a
great joy that she could stir and speak. His jealousy flashed out of
being. He dropped upon his knees.

"Dear," he whispered, "Is it all right? I ... I could not hear you
breathing. I could not hear you breathing."

She started and was awake.

"I was in the other room," said Lewisham in a voice full of
emotion. "Everything was so quiet, I was afraid--I did not know what
had happened. Dear--Ethel dear. Is it all right?"

She sat up quickly and scrutinised his face. "Oh! let me tell you,"
she wailed. "Do let me tell you. It's nothing. It's nothing. You
wouldn't hear me. You wouldn't hear me. It wasn't fair--before you had
heard me...."

His arms tightened about her. "Dear," he said, "I knew it was
nothing. I knew. I knew."

She spoke in sobbing sentences. "It was so simple. Mr. Baynes
... something in his manner ... I knew he might be silly ... Only I
did so want to help you." She paused. Just for one instant she saw
one untenable indiscretion as it were in a lightning flash. A chance
meeting it was, a "silly" thing or so said, a panic, retreat. She
would have told it--had she known how. But she could not do it. She
hesitated. She abolished it--untold. She went on: "And then, I thought
he had sent the roses and I was frightened ... I was frightened."

"Dear one," said Lewisham. "Dear one! I have been cruel to you. I have
been unjust. I understand. I do understand. Forgive me.
Dearest--forgive me."

"I did so want to do something for you. It was all I could do--that
little money. And then you were angry. I thought you didn't love me
any more because I did not understand your work.... And that Miss
Heydinger--Oh! it was hard."

"Dear one," said Lewisham, "I do not care your little finger for Miss

"I know how I hamper you. But if you will help me. Oh! I would work, I
would study. I would do all I could to understand."

"Dear," whispered Lewisham. "_Dear_"

"And to have _her_--"

"Dear," he vowed, "I have been a brute. I will end all that. I will
end all that."

He took her suddenly into his arms and kissed her.

"Oh, I _know_ I'm stupid," she said.

"You're not. It's I have been stupid. I have been unkind,
unreasonable. All to-day--... I've been thinking about it. Dear! I
don't care for anything--It's _you_. If I have you nothing else
matters ... Only I get hurried and cross. It's the work and being
poor. Dear one, we _must_ hold to each other. All to-day--It's been

He stopped. They sat clinging to one another.

"I do love you," she said presently with her arms about him. "Oh! I
do--_do_--love you."

He drew her closer to him.

He kissed her neck. She pressed him to her.

Their lips met.

The expiring candle streamed up into a tall flame, flickered, and was
suddenly extinguished. The air was heavy with the scent of roses.



On Tuesday Lewisham returned from Vigours' at five--at half-past six
he would go on to his science class at Walham Green--and discovered
Mrs. Chaffery and Ethel in tears. He was fagged and rather anxious for
some tea, but the news they had for him drove tea out of his head

"He's gone," said Ethel.

"Who's gone? What! Not Chaffery?"

Mrs. Chaffery, with a keen eye to Lewisham's behaviour, nodded
tearfully over an experienced handkerchief.

Lewisham grasped the essentials of the situation forthwith, and
trembled on the brink of an expletive. Ethel handed him a letter.

For a moment Lewisham held this in his hand asking;
questions. Mrs. Chaffery had come upon it in the case of her eight-day
clock when the time to wind it came round. Chaffery, it seemed, had
not been home since Saturday night. The letter was an open one
addressed to Lewisham, a long rambling would-be clever letter, oddly
inferior in style to Chaffery's conversation. It had been written some
hours before Chaffery's last visit his talk then had been perhaps a
sort of codicil.

"The inordinate stupidity of that man Lagune is driving me out of the
country," Lewisham saw. "It has been at last a definite stumbling
block--even a legal stumbling block. I fear. I am off. I skedaddle. I
break ties. I shall miss our long refreshing chats--you had found me
out and I could open my mind. I am sorry to part from Ethel also, but
thank Heaven she has you to look to! And indeed they both have you to
look to, though the 'both' may be a new light to you."

Lewisham growled, went from page 1 to page 3--conscious of their both
looking to him now--even intensely--and discovered Chaffery in a
practical vein.

"There is but little light, and portable property in that house in
Clapham that has escaped my lamentable improvidence, but there are one
or two things--the iron-bound chest, the bureau with a broken hinge,
and the large air pump--distinctly pawnable if only you can contrive
to get them to a pawnshop. You have more Will power than I--I never
could get the confounded things downstairs. That iron-bound box was
originally mine, before I married your mother-in-law, so that I am not
altogether regardless of your welfare and the necessity of giving some
equivalent. Don't judge me too harshly."

Lewisham turned over sharply without finishing that page.

"My life at Clapham," continued the letter, "has irked me for some
time, and to tell you the truth, the spectacle of your vigorous young
happiness--you are having a very good time, you know, fighting the
world--reminded me of the passing years. To be frank in
self-criticism, there is more than a touch of the New Woman about me,
and I feel I have still to live my own life. What a beautiful phrase
that is--to live one's own life!--redolent of honest scorn for moral
plagiarism. No _Imitatio Christi_ in that ... I long to see more of
men and cities.... I begin late, I know, to live my own life, bald as
I am and grey-whiskered; but better late than never. Why should the
educated girl have the monopoly of the game? And after all, the
whiskers will dye....

"There are things--I touch upon them lightly--that will presently
astonish Lagune." Lewisham became more attentive. "I marvel at that
man, grubbing hungry for marvels amidst the almost incredibly
marvellous. What can be the nature of a man who gapes after
Poltergeists with the miracle of his own silly existence
(inconsequent, reasonless, unfathomably weird) nearer to him than
breathing and closer than hands and feet. What is _he_ for, that he
should wonder at Poltergeists? I am astonished these by no means
flimsy psychic phenomena do not turn upon their investigators, and
that a Research Society of eminent illusions and hallucinations does
not pursue Lagune with sceptical! inquiries. Take his house--expose
the alleged man of Chelsea! _A priori_ they might argue that a thing
so vain, so unmeaning, so strongly beset by cackle, could only be the
diseased imagining of some hysterical phantom. Do _you_ believe that
such a thing as Lagune exists? I must own to the gravest doubts. But
happily his banker is of a more credulous type than I.... Of all that
Lagune will tell you soon enough."

Lewisham read no more. "I suppose he thought himself clever when he
wrote that rot," said Lewisham bitterly, throwing the sheets forcibly
athwart the table. "The simple fact is, he's stolen, or forged, or
something--and bolted."

There was a pause. "What will become of Mother?" said Ethel.

Lewisham looked at Mother and thought for a moment. Then he glanced
at Ethel.

"We're all in the same boat," said Lewisham.

"I don't want to give any trouble to a single human being," said
Mrs. Chaffery.

"I think you might get a man his tea, Ethel," said Lewisham, sitting
down suddenly; "anyhow." He drummed on the table with his fingers. "I
have to get to Walham Green by a quarter to seven."

"We're all in the same boat," he repeated after an interval, and
continued drumming. He was chiefly occupied by the curious fact that
they were all in the same boat. What an extraordinary faculty he had
for acquiring responsibility! He looked up suddenly and caught
Mrs. Chaffery's tearful eye directed to Ethel and full of distressful
interrogation, and his perplexity was suddenly changed to pity. "It's
all right, Mother," he said. "I'm not going to be unreasonable. I'll
stand by you."

"Ah!" said Mrs. Chaffery. "As if I didn't know!" and Ethel came and
kissed him.

He seemed in imminent danger of universal embraces.

"I wish you'd let me have my tea," he said. And while he had his tea
he asked Mrs. Chaffery questions and tried to get the new situation
into focus.

But even at ten o'clock, when he was returning hot and jaded from
Walham Green, he was still trying to get the situation into
focus. There were vague ends and blank walls of interrogation in the
matter, that perplexed him.

He knew that his supper would be only the prelude to an interminable
"talking over," and indeed he did not get to bed until nearly two. By
that time a course of action was already agreed upon. Mrs. Chaffery
was tied to the house in Clapham by a long lease, and thither they
must go. The ground floor and first floor were let unfurnished, and
the rent of these practically paid the rent of the house. The
Chafferys occupied basement and second floor. There was a bedroom on
the second floor, formerly let to the first floor tenants, that he and
Ethel could occupy, and in this an old toilet table could be put for
such studies as were to be prosecuted at home. Ethel could have her
typewriter in the subterranean breakfast-room. Mrs. Chaffery and Ethel
must do the catering and the bulk of the housework, and as soon as
possible, since letting lodgings would not square with Lewisham's
professional pride, they must get rid of the lease that bound them and
take some smaller and more suburban residence. If they did that
without leaving any address it might save their feelings from any
return of the prodigal Chaffery.

Mrs. Chaffery's frequent and pathetic acknowledgments of Lewisham's
goodness only partly relieved his disposition to a philosophical
bitterness. And the practical issues were complicated by excursions
upon the subject of Chaffery, what he might have done, and where he
might have gone, and whether by any chance he might not return.

When at last Mrs. Chaffery, after a violent and tearful kissing and
blessing of them both--they were "good dear children," she said--had
departed, Mr. and Mrs. Lewisham returned into their sitting-room.
Mrs. Lewisham's little face was enthusiastic. "You're a Trump," she
said, extending the willing arms that were his reward. "I know," she
said, "I know, and all to-night I have been loving you. Dear! Dear!

The next day Lewisham was too full of engagements to communicate with
Lagune, but the following morning he called and found the psychic
investigator busy with the proofs of _Hesperus_. He welcomed the young
man cordially nevertheless, conceiving him charged with the questions
that had been promised long ago--it was evident he knew nothing of
Lewisham's marriage. Lewisham stated his case with some bluntness.

"He was last here on Saturday," said Lagune. "You have always been
inclined to suspicion about him. Have you any grounds?"

"You'd better read this," said Lewisham, repressing a grim smile, and
he handed Lagune Chaffery's letter.

He glanced at the little man ever and again to see if he had come to
the personal portion, and for the rest of the time occupied himself
with an envious inventory of the writing appointments about him. No
doubt the boy with the big ears had had the same sort of thing ...

When Lagune came to the question of his real identity he blew out his
cheeks in the most astonishing way, but made no other sign.

"Dear, dear!" he said at last. "My bankers!"

He looked at Lewisham with the exaggerated mildness of his spectacled
eye. "What do you think it means?" he asked. "Has he gone mad? We have
been conducting some experiments involving--considerable mental
strain. He and I and a lady. Hypnotic--"

"I should look at my cheque-book if I were you."

Lagune produced some keys and got out his cheque book. He turned over
the counterfoils. "There's nothing wrong here," he said, and handed
the book to Lewisham.

"Um," said Lewisham. "I suppose this--I say, is _this_ right?"

He handed back the book to Lagune, open at the blank counterfoil of a
cheque that had been removed. Lagune stared and passed his hand over
his forehead in a confused way. "I can't see this," he said.

Lewisham had never heard of post hypnotic suggestion and he stood
incredulous. "You can't see that?" he said. "What nonsense!"

"I can't see it," repeated Lagune.

For some seconds Lewisham could not get away from stupid repetitions
of his inquiry. Then he hit upon a collateral proof. "But look here!
Can you see _this_ counterfoil?"

"Plainly," said Lagune.

"Can you read the number?"

"Five thousand two hundred and seventy-nine."

"Well, and this?"

"Five thousand two hundred and eighty-one."

"Well--where's five thousand two hundred and eighty?"

Lagune began to look uncomfortable. "Surely," he said, "he has
not--Will you read it out--the cheque, the counterfoil I mean, that I
am unable to see?"

"It's blank," said Lewisham with an irresistible grin.

"Surely," said Lagune, and the discomfort of his expression
deepened. "Do you mind if I call in a servant to confirm--?"

Lewisham did not mind, and the same girl who had admitted him to the
_séance_ appeared. When she had given her evidence she went again. As
she left the room by the door behind Lagune her eyes met Lewisham's,
and she lifted her eyebrows, depressed her mouth, and glanced at
Lagune with a meaning expression.

"I'm afraid," said Lagune, "that I have been shabbily treated.
Mr. Chaffery is a man of indisputable powers--indisputable powers; but
I am afraid--I am very much afraid he has abused the conditions of the
experiment. All this--and his insults--touch me rather nearly."

He paused. Lewisham rose. "Do you mind if you come again?" asked
Lagune with gentle politeness.

Lewisham was surprised to find himself sorry.

"He was a man of extraordinary gifts," said Lagune. "I had come to
rely upon him.... My cash balance has been rather heavy lately. How he
came to know of that I am unable to say. Without supposing, that is,
that he had very remarkable gifts."

When Lewisham saw Lagune again he learnt the particulars of Chaffery's
misdeed and the additional fact that the "lady" had also
disappeared. "That's a good job," he remarked selfishly. "There's no
chance of _his_ coming back." He spent a moment trying to imagine the
"lady"; he realised more vividly than he had ever done before the
narrow range of his experience, the bounds of his imagination. These
people also--with grey hair and truncated honour--had their emotions I
Even it may be glowing! He came back to facts. Chaffery had induced
Lagune when hypnotised to sign a blank cheque as an "autograph." "The
strange thing is," explained Lagune, "it's doubtful if he's legally
accountable. The law is so peculiar about hypnotism and I certainly
signed the cheque, you know."

The little man, in spite of his losses, was now almost cheerful again
on account of a curious side issue. "You may say it is coincidence,"
he said, "you may call it a fluke, but I prefer to look for some other
interpretation! Consider this. The amount of my balance is a secret
between me and my bankers. He never had it from _me_, for I did not
know it--I hadn't looked at my passbook for months. But he drew it all
in one cheque, within seventeen and sixpence of the total. And the
total was over five hundred pounds!"

He seemed quite bright again as he culminated.

"Within seventeen and sixpence," he said. "Now how do you account for
that, eh? Give me a materialistic explanation that will explain away
all that. You can't. Neither can I."

"I think I can," said Lewisham.

"Well--what is it?"

Lewisham nodded towards a little drawer of the bureau. "Don't you
think--perhaps"--a little ripple of laughter passed across his
mind--"he had a skeleton key?"

Lagune's face lingered amusingly in Lewisham's mind as he returned to
Clapham. But after a time that amusement passed away. He declined upon
the extraordinary fact that Chaffery was his father-in-law, Mrs.
Chaffery his mother-in-law, that these two and Ethel constituted his
family, his clan, and that grimy graceless house up the Clapham
hillside was to be his home. Home! His connexion with these things as
a point of worldly departure was as inexorable now as though he had
been born to it. And a year ago, except for a fading reminiscence of
Ethel, none of these people had existed for him. The ways of Destiny!
The happenings of the last few months, foreshortened in perspective,
seemed to have almost a pantomimic rapidity. The thing took him
suddenly as being laughable; and he laughed.

His laugh marked an epoch. Never before had Lewisham laughed at any
fix in which he had found himself! The enormous seriousness of
adolescence was coming to an end; the days of his growing were
numbered. It was a laugh of infinite admissions.



Now although Lewisham had promised to bring things to a conclusion
with Miss Heydinger, he did nothing in the matter for five weeks, he
merely left that crucial letter of hers unanswered. In that time their
removal from Madam Gadow's into the gaunt house at Clapham was
accomplished--not without polyglot controversy--and the young couple
settled themselves into the little room on the second floor even as
they had arranged. And there it was that suddenly the world was
changed--was astonishingly transfigured--by a whisper.

It was a whisper between sobs and tears, with Ethel's arms about him
and Ethel's hair streaming down so that it hid her face from him. And
he too had whispered, dismayed perhaps a little, and yet feeling a
strange pride, a strange novel emotion, feeling altogether different
from the things he had fancied he might feel when this thing that he
had dreaded should come. Suddenly he perceived finality, the advent of
the solution, the reconciliation of the conflict that had been waged
so long. Hesitations were at an end;--he took his line.

Next day he wrote a note, and two mornings later he started for his
mathematical duffers an hour before it was absolutely necessary, and
instead of going directly to Vigours', went over the bridge to
Battersea Park. There waiting for him by a seat where once they had
met before, he found Miss Heydinger pacing. They walked up and down
side by side, speaking for a little while about indifferent topics,
and then they came upon a pause ...

"You have something to tell me?" said Miss Heydinger abruptly.

Lewisham changed colour a little. "Oh yes," he said; "the fact is--"
He affected ease. "Did I ever tell you I was married?"




"Yes," a little testily.

For a moment neither spoke. Lewisham stood without dignity staring at
the dahlias of the London County Council, and Miss Heydinger stood
regarding him.

"And that is what you have to tell me?"

Mr. Lewisham tamed and met her eyes. "Yes!" he said. "That is what I
have to tell you."

Pause. "Do you mind if I sit down?" asked Miss Heydinger in an
indifferent tone.

"There is a seat yonder," said Lewisham, "under the tree."

They walked to the seat in silence.

"Now," said Miss Heydinger, quietly. "Tell me whom you have married."

Lewisham answered sketchily. She asked him another question and
another. He felt stupid and answered with a halting truthfulness.

"I might have known," she said, "I might have known. Only I would not
know. Tell me some more. Tell me about her."

Lewisham did. The whole thing was abominably disagreeable to him, but
it had to be done, he had promised Ethel it should be done. Presently
Miss Heydinger knew the main outline of his story, knew all his story
except, the emotion that made it credible. "And you were
married--before the second examination?" she repeated.

"Yes," said Lewisham.

"But why did you not tell me of this before?" asked Miss Heydinger.

"I don't, know," said Lewisham. "I wanted to--that day, in Kensington
Gardens. But I didn't. I suppose I ought to have done so."

"I think you ought to have done so."

"Yes, I suppose I ought ... But I didn't. Somehow--it has been hard. I
didn't know what you would say. The thing seemed so rash, you know,
and all that."

He paused blankly.

"I suppose you had to do it," said Miss Heydinger presently, with her
eyes on his profile.

Lewisham began the second and more difficult part of his
explanation. "There's been a difficulty," he said, "all the way
along--I mean--about you, that is. It's a little difficult--The fact
is, my life, you know--She looks at things differently from what we


"Yes--it's odd, of course. But she has seen your letters--"

"You didn't show her--?"

"No. But, I mean, she knows you write to me, and she knows you write
about Socialism and Literature and--things we have in common--things
she hasn't."

"You mean to say she doesn't understand these things?"

"She's not thought about them. I suppose there's a sort of difference
in education--"

"And she objects--?"

"No," said Lewisham, lying promptly. "She doesn't _object_ ..."

"Well?" said Miss Heydinger, and her face was white.

"She feels that--She feels--she does not say, of course, but I know
she feels that it is something she ought to share. I know--how she
cares for me. And it shames her--it reminds her--Don't you see how it
hurts her?"

"Yes. I see. So that even that little--" Miss Heydinger's breath
seemed to catch and she was abruptly silent.

She spoke at last with an effort. "That it hurts _me_," she said, and
grimaced and stopped again.

"No," said Lewisham, "that is not it." He hesitated.

"I _knew_ this would hurt you."

"You love her. You can sacrifice--"

"No. It is not that. But there is a difference. Hurting _her_--she
would not understand. But you--somehow it seems a natural thing for me
to come to you. I seem to look to you--For her I am always making

"You love her."

"I wonder if it _is_ that makes the difference. Things are so
complex. Love means anything--or nothing. I know you better than I do
her, you know me better than she will ever do. I could tell you things
I could not tell her. I could put all myself before you--almost--and
know you would understand--Only--"

"You love her."

"Yes," said Lewisham lamely and pulling at his moustache. "I suppose
... that must be it."

For a space neither spoke. Then Miss Heydinger said "_Oh_!" with
extraordinary emphasis.

"To think of this end to it all! That all your promise ... What is it
she gives that I could not have given?

"Even now! Why should I give up that much of you that is mine? If she
could take it--But she cannot take it. If I let you go--you will do
nothing. All this ambition, all these interests will dwindle and die,
and she will not mind. She will not understand. She will think that
she still has you. Why should she covet what she cannot possess? Why
should she be given the thing that is mine--to throw aside?"

She did not look at Lewisham, but before her, her face a white misery.

"In a way--I had come to think of you as something, belonging to me
... I shall--still."

"There is one thing," said Lewisham after a pause, "it is a thing that
has come to me once or twice lately Don't you think that perhaps you
over-estimate the things I might have done? I know we've talked of
great things to do. But I've been struggling for half a year and more
to get the sort of living almost anyone seems able to get. It has
taken me all my time. One can't help thinking after that, perhaps the
world is a stiffer sort of affair ..."

"No," she said decisively. "You could have done great things.

"Even now," she said, "you may do great things--If only I might see
you sometimes, write to you sometimes--You are so capable
and--weak. You must have somebody--That is your weakness. You fail in
your belief. You must have support and belief--unstinted support and
belief. Why could I not be that to you? It is all I want to be. At
least--all I want to be now. Why need she know? It robs her of
nothing. I want nothing--she has. But I know of my own strength too I
can do nothing. I know that with you ... It is only knowing hurts
her. Why should she know?"

Mr. Lewisham looked at her doubtfully. That phantom greatness of his,
it was that lit her eyes. In that instant, at least he had no doubts
of the possibility of his Career. But he knew that in some way the
secret of his greatness and this admiration went together. Conceivably
they were one and indivisible. Why indeed need Ethel know? His
imagination ran over the things that might be done, the things that
might happen, and touched swiftly upon complication, confusion,

"The thing is, I must simplify my life. I shall do nothing unless I
simplify my life. Only people who are well off can be--complex. It is
one thing or the other--"

He hesitated and suddenly had a vision of Ethel weeping as once he had
seen her weep with the light on the tears in her eyes.

"No," he said almost brutally. "No. It's like this--I can't do
anything underhand. I mean--I'm not so amazingly honest--now. But I've
not that sort of mind. She would find me out. It would do no good and
she would find me out. My life's too complex. I can't manage it and go
straight. I--you've overrated me. And besides--Things have
happened. Something--" He hesitated and then snatched at his resolve,
"I've got to simplify--and that's the plain fact of the case. I'm
sorry, but it is so."

Miss Heydinger made no answer. Her silence astonished him. For nearly
twenty seconds perhaps they sat without speaking. With a quick motion
she stood up, and at once he stood up before her. Her face was
flushed, her eyes downcast.

"Good-bye," she said suddenly in a low tone and held out her hand.

"But," said Lewisham and stopped. Miss Heydinger's colour left her.

"Good-bye," she said, looking him suddenly in the eyes and smiling
awry. "There is no more to say, is there? Good-bye."

He took her hand. "I hope I didn't--"

"Good-bye," she said impatiently, and suddenly disengaged her hand and
turned away from him. He made a step after her.

"Miss Heydinger," he said, but she did not stop. "Miss Heydinger." He
realised that she did not want to answer him again....

He remained motionless, watching her retreating figure. An
extraordinary sense of loss came into his mind, a vague impulse to
pursue her and pour out vague passionate protestations....

Not once did she look back. She was already remote when he began
hurrying after her. Once he was in motion he quickened his pace and
gained upon her. He was within thirty yards of her as she drew near
the gates.

His pace slackened. Suddenly he was afraid she might look back. She
passed out of the gates, out of his sight. He stopped, looking where
she had disappeared. He sighed and took the pathway to his left that
led back to the bridge and Vigours'.

Halfway across this bridge came another crisis of indecision. He
stopped, hesitating. An impertinent thought obtruded. He looked at his
watch and saw that he must hurry if he would catch the train for
Earl's Court and Vigours'. He said Vigours' might go to the devil.

But in the end he caught his train.



That night about seven Ethel came into their room with a waste-paper
basket she had bought for him, and found him sitting at the little
toilet table at which he was to "write." The outlook was, for a London
outlook, spacious, down a long slope of roofs towards the Junction, a
huge sky of blue passing upward to the darkling zenith and downward
into a hazy bristling mystery of roofs and chimneys, from which
emerged signal lights and steam puffs, gliding chains of lit window
carriages and the vague vistas of streets. She showed him the basket
and put it beside him, and then her eye caught the yellow document in
his hand. "What is that you have there?"

He held it out to her. "I found it--lining my yellow box. I had it at

She took it and perceived a chronological scheme. It was headed
"SCHEMA," there were memoranda in the margin, and all the dates had
been altered by a hasty hand.

"Hasn't it got yellow?" she said.

That seemed to him the wrong thing for her to say. He stared at the
document with a sudden accession of sympathy. There was an
interval. He became aware of her hand upon his shoulder, that she was
bending over him. "Dear," she whispered, with a strange change in the
quality of her voice. He knew she was seeking to say something that
was difficult to say.

"Yes?" he said presently.

"You are not grieving?"

"What about?"



"You are not--you are not even sorry?" she said.

"No--not even sorry."

"I can't understand that. It's so much--"

"I'm glad," he proclaimed. "_Glad."_

"But--the trouble--the expense--everything--and your work?"

"Yes," he said, "that's just it."

She looked at him doubtfully. He glanced up at her, and she questioned
his eyes. He put his arm about her, and presently and almost
absent-mindedly she obeyed his pressure and bent down and kissed him.

"It settles things," he said, holding her. "It joins us. Don't you
see? Before ... But now it's different. It's something we have between
us. It's something that ... It's the link we needed. It will hold us
together, cement us together. It will be our life. This will be my
work now. The other ..."

He faced a truth. "It was just ... vanity!"

There was still a shade of doubt in her face, a wistfulness.

Presently she spoke.

"Dear," she said.


She knitted her brows. "No!" she said. "I can't say it."

In the interval she came into a sitting position on his knees.

He kissed her hand, but her face remained grave, and she looked out
upon the twilight. "I know I'm stupid," she said. "The things I say
... aren't the things I feel."

He waited for her to say more.

"It's no good," she said.

He felt the onus of expression lay on him. He too found it a little
difficult to put into words. "I think I understand," he said, and
wrestled with the impalpable. The pause seemed long and yet not
altogether vacant. She lapsed abruptly into the prosaic. She started
from him.

"If I don't go down, Mother will get supper ..."

At the door she stopped and turned a twilight face to him. For a
moment they scrutinised one another. To her he was no more than a dim
outline. Impulsively he held out his arms....

Then at the sound of a movement downstairs she freed herself and
hurried out. He heard her call "Mother! You're not to lay
supper. You're to rest."

He listened to her footsteps until the kitchen had swallowed them
up. Then he turned his eyes to the Schema again and for a moment it
seemed but a little thing.

He picked it up in both hands and looked at it as if it was the
writing of another man, and indeed it was the writing of another
man. "Pamphlets in the Liberal Interest," he read, and smiled.

Presently a train of thought carried him off. His attitude relaxed a
little, the Schema became for a time a mere symbol, a point of
departure, and he stared out of the window at the darkling night. For
a long time he sat pursuing thoughts that were half emotions, emotions
that took upon themselves the shape and substance of ideas. The
deepening current stirred at last among the roots of speech.

"Yes, it was vanity," he said. "A boy's vanity. For me--anyhow. I'm
too two-sided.... Two-sided?... Commonplace!

"Dreams like mine--abilities like mine. Yes--any man! And yet ...--The
things I meant to do!"

His thoughts went to his Socialism, to his red-hot ambition of world
mending. He marvelled at the vistas he had discovered since those

"Not for us--Not for us.

"We must perish in the wilderness.--Some day. Somewhen. But not for

"Come to think, it is all the Child. The future is the Child. The
Future. What are we--any of us--but servants or traitors to that?...

       *       *       *       *       *

"Natural Selection--it follows ... this way is happiness ... must
be. There can be no other."

He sighed. "To last a lifetime, that is.

"And yet--it is almost as if Life had played me a trick--promised so
much--given so little!...

"No! One must not look at it in that way! That will not do! That will
_not_ do.

"Career! In itself it is a career--the most important career in the
world. Father! Why should I want more?

"And ... Ethel! No wonder she seemed shallow ... She has been
shallow. No wonder she was restless. Unfulfilled ... What had she to
do? She was drudge, she was toy ...

"Yes. This is life. This alone is life! For this we were made and
born. All these other things--all other things--they are only a sort
of play....


His eyes came back to the Schema. His hands shifted to the opposite
corner and he hesitated. The vision of that arranged Career, that
ordered sequence of work and successes, distinctions and yet further
distinctions, rose brightly from the symbol. Then he compressed his
lips and tore the yellow sheet in half, tearing very deliberately. He
doubled the halves and tore again, doubled again very carefully and
neatly until the Schema was torn into numberless little pieces. With
it he seemed to be tearing his past self.

"Play," he whispered after a long silence.

"It is the end of adolescence," he said; "the end of empty dreams...."

He became very still, his hands resting on the table, his eyes staring
out of the blue oblong of the window. The dwindling light gathered
itself together and became a star.

He found he was still holding the torn fragments. He stretched out
his hand and dropped them into that new waste-paper basket Ethel had
bought for him.

Two pieces fell outside the basket. He stooped, picked them up, and
put them carefully with their fellows.

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