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Title: The Rough Road
Author: Locke, William John, 1863-1930
Language: English
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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 "The Rough Road" ***

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THE ROUGH ROAD

by

WILLIAM J. LOCKE



First Edition ... September 1918

John Lane
The Bodley Head Ltd



TO
SHEILA

THIS LITTLE TALE OF
THE GREAT WAR
AS A MEMORY FOR AFTER YEARS



THE ROUGH ROAD



CHAPTER I


This is the story of Doggie Trevor. It tells of his doings and of a
girl in England and a girl in France. Chiefly it is concerned with the
influences that enabled him to win through the war. Doggie Trevor did
not get the Victoria Cross. He got no cross or distinction whatever.
He did not even attain the sorrowful glory of a little white cross
above his grave on the Western Front. Doggie was no hero of romance,
ancient or modern. But he went through with it and is alive to tell
the tale.

The brutal of his acquaintance gave him the name of "Doggie" years
before the war was ever thought of, because he had been brought up
from babyhood like a toy Pom. The almost freak offspring of elderly
parents, he had the rough world against him from birth. His father
died before he had cut a tooth. His mother was old enough to be his
grandmother. She had the intense maternal instinct and the brain, such
as it is, of an earwig. She wrapped Doggie--his real name was James
Marmaduke--in cotton-wool, and kept him so until he was almost a grown
man. Doggie had never a chance. She brought him up like a toy Pom
until he was twenty-one--and then she died. Doggie being comfortably
off, continued the maternal tradition and kept on bringing himself up
like a toy Pom. He did not know what else to do. Then, when he was
five-and-twenty, he found himself at the edge of the world gazing in
timorous starkness down into the abyss of the Great War. Something
kicked him over the brink and sent him sprawling into the thick of it.

       *       *       *       *       *

That the world knows little of its greatest men is a commonplace among
silly aphorisms. With far more justice it may be stated that of its
least men the world knows nothing and cares less. Yet the Doggies of
the War, who on the cry of "Havoc!" have been let loose, much to their
own and everybody else's stupefaction, deserve the passing tribute
sometimes, poor fellows, of a sigh, sometimes of a smile, often of a
cheer. Very few of them--very few, at any rate, of the English
Doggies--have tucked their little tails between their legs and run
away. Once a brawny humorist wrote to Doggie Trevor "_Sursum cauda._"
Doggie happened to be at the time in a water-logged front trench in
Flanders and the writer basking in the mild sunshine of Simla with his
Territorial regiment. Doggie, bidden by the Hedonist of circumstance
to up with his tail, felt like a scorpion.

Such feelings, however, will be more adequately dealt with hereafter.
For the moment, it is only essential to obtain a general view of the
type to which Trevor belonged.

       *       *       *       *       *

If there is one spot in England where the present is the past, where
the future is still more of the past, where the past wraps you and
enfolds you in the dreamy mist of Gothic beauty, where the lazy
meadows sloping riverward deny the passage of the centuries, where the
very clouds are secular, it is the cathedral town of Durdlebury. No
factory chimneys defile with their smoke its calm air, or defy its
august and heaven-searching spires. No rabble of factory hands shocks
its few and sedate streets. Divine Providence, according to the
devout, and the crass stupidity of the local authorities seventy years
ago, according to progressive minds, turned the main line of railway
twenty miles from the sacred spot. So that to this year of grace it is
the very devil of a business to find out, from Bradshaw, how to get to
Durdlebury, and, having found, to get there. As for getting away, God
help you! But whoever wanted to get away from Durdlebury, except the
Bishop? In pre-motor days he used to grumble tremendously and threaten
the House of Lords with Railway Bills and try to blackmail the
Government with dark hints of resignation, and so he lived and
threatened and made his wearisome diocesan round of visits and died.
But now he has his episcopal motor-car, which has deprived him of his
grievances.

In the Close of Durdlebury, greenswarded, silent, sentinelled by
immemorial elms that guard the dignified Gothic dwellings of the
cathedral dignitaries, was James Marmaduke Trevor born. His father, a
man of private fortune, was Canon of Durdlebury. For many years he
lived in the most commodious canonical house in the Close with his
sisters Sophia and Sarah. In the course of time a new Dean, Dr.
Conover, was appointed to Durdlebury, and, restless innovator that he
was, underpinned the North Transept and split up Canon Trevor's home
by marrying Sophia. Then Sarah, bitten by the madness, committed
abrupt matrimony with the Rev. Vernon Manningtree, Rector of
Durdlebury. Canon Trevor, many years older than his sisters, remained
for some months in bewildered loneliness, until one day he found
himself standing in front of the cathedral altar with Miss Mathilda
Jessup, while the Bishop pronounced over them words diabolically
strange yet ecclesiastically familiar. Miss Jessup, thus transformed
into Mrs. Trevor, was a mature and comfortable maiden lady of ample
means, the only and orphan daughter of a late Bishop of Durdlebury.
Never had there been such a marrying and giving in marriage in the
cathedral circle. Children were born in Decanal, Rectorial and
Canonical homes. First a son to the Manningtrees, whom they named
Oliver. Then a daughter to the Conovers. Then a son, named James
Marmaduke, after the late Bishop Jessup, was born to the Trevors. The
profane say that Canon Trevor, a profound patristic theologian and an
enthusiastic palæontologist, couldn't make head or tail of it all,
and, unable to decide whether James Marmaduke should be attributed to
Tertullian or the Neolithic period, expired in an agony of dubiety. At
any rate, the poor man died. The widow, of necessity, moved from the
Close, in order to make way for the new Canon, and betook herself with
her babe to Denby Hall, the comfortable house on the outskirts of the
town in which she had dwelt before her marriage.

The saturated essence of Durdlebury ran in Marmaduke's blood: an
honourable essence, a proud essence; an essence of all that is
statically beautiful and dignified in English life; but an essence
which, without admixture of wilder and more fluid elements, is apt to
run thick and clog the arteries. Marmaduke was coddled from his birth.
The Dean, then a breezy, energetic man, protested. Sarah Manningtree
protested. But when the Dean's eldest born died of diphtheria, Mrs.
Trevor, in her heart, set down the death as a judgment on Sophia for
criminal carelessness; and when young Oliver Manningtree grew up to be
an intolerable young Turk and savage, she looked on Marmaduke and,
thanking heaven that he was not as other boys were, enfolded him more
than ever beneath her motherly wing. When Oliver went to school in the
town and tore his clothes, and rolled in mud and punched other boys'
heads, Marmaduke remained at home under the educational charge of a
governess. Oliver, lean and lanky and swift-eyed, swaggered through
the streets unattended from the first day they sent him to a
neighbouring kindergarten. As the months and years of his childish
life passed, he grew more and more independent and vagabond. He swore
blood brotherhood with a butcher-boy and, unknown to his pious
parents, became the leader of a ferocious gang of pirates. Marmaduke,
on the other hand, was never allowed to cross the road without
feminine escort. Oliver had the profoundest contempt for Marmaduke.
Being two years older, he kicked him whenever he had a chance.
Marmaduke loathed him. Marmaduke shrank into Miss Gunter, the
governess's, skirts whenever he saw him. Mrs. Trevor therefore
regarded Oliver as the youthful incarnation of Beelzebub, and
quarrelled bitterly with her sister-in-law.

One day, Oliver, with three or four of his piratical friends, met
Marmaduke and Miss Gunter and a little toy terrier in the High Street.
The toy terrier was attached by a lead to Miss Gunter on the one side,
Marmaduke by a hand on the other. Oliver straddled rudely across the
path.

"Hallo! Look at thet two little doggies!" he cried. He snapped his
fingers at the terrier. "Come along, Tiny!" The terrier yapped. Oliver
grinned and turned to Marmaduke. "Come along, Fido, dear little
doggie."

"You're a nasty, rude, horrid boy, and I shall tell your mother,"
declared Miss Gunter indignantly.

But Oliver and his pirates laughed with the truculence befitting their
vocation, and bowing with ironical politeness, let their victim depart
to the parody of a popular song: "Good-bye, Doggie, we shall miss
you."

From that day onwards Marmaduke was known as "Doggie" throughout all
Durdlebury, save to his mother and Miss Gunter. The Dean himself grew
to think of him as "Doggie." People to this day call him Doggie,
without any notion of the origin of the name.

To preserve him from persecution, Mrs. Trevor jealously guarded him
from association with other boys. He neither learned nor played any
boyish games. In defiance of the doctor, whom she regarded as a member
of the brutal anti-Marmaduke League, Mrs. Trevor proclaimed
Marmaduke's delicacy of constitution. He must not go out into the
rain, lest he should get damp, nor into the hot sunshine, lest he
should perspire. She kept him like a precious plant in a carefully
warmed conservatory. Doggie, used to it from birth, looked on it as
his natural environment. Under feminine guidance and tuition he
embroidered and painted screens and played the piano and the mandolin,
and read Miss Charlotte Yonge and learned history from the late Mrs.
Markham. Without doubt his life was a happy one. All that he asked for
was sequestration from Oliver and his associates.

Now and then the cousins were forced to meet--at occasional children's
parties, for instance. A little daughter, Peggy, had been born in the
Deanery, replacing the lost firstborn, and festivals--to which came
the extreme youth of Durdlebury--were given in her honour. She liked
Marmaduke, who was five years her senior, because he was gentle and
clean and wore such beautiful clothes and brushed his hair so nicely;
whereas she detested Oliver, who, even at an afternoon party, looked
as if he had just come out of a rabbit-hole. Besides, Marmaduke danced
beautifully; Oliver couldn't and wouldn't, disdaining such effeminate
sports. His great joy was to put out a sly leg and send Doggie and his
partner sprawling. Once the Dean caught him at it, and called him a
horrid little beast, and threatened him with neck and crop expulsion
if he ever did it again. Doggie, who had picked himself up and
listened to the rebuke, said:

"I'm very glad to hear you talk to him like that, Uncle. I think his
behaviour is perfectly detestable."

The Dean's lips twitched and he turned away abruptly. Oliver glared at
Doggie.

"Oh, my holy aunt!" he whispered hoarsely. "Just you wait till I get
you alone!"

Oliver got him alone, an hour later, in a passage, having lain in
ambush for him, and after a few busy moments, contemplated a bruised
and bleeding Doggie blubbering in a corner.

"Do you think my behaviour is detestable now?"

"Yes," whimpered Doggie.

"I've a good mind to go on licking you until you say 'no,'" said
Oliver.

"You're a great big bully," said Doggie.

Oliver reflected. He did not like to be called a bully. "Look here,"
said he, "I'll stick my right arm down inside the back of my trousers
and fight you with my left."

"I don't want to fight. I can't fight," cried Doggie.

Oliver put his hands in his pockets.

"Will you come and play Kiss-in-the-Ring, then?" he asked
sarcastically.

"No," replied Doggie.

"Well, don't say I haven't made you generous offers," said Oliver, and
stalked away.

It was all very well for the Rev. Vernon Manningtree, when discussing
this incident with the Dean, to dismiss Doggie with a contemptuous
shrug and call him a little worm without any spirit. The unfortunate
Doggie remained a human soul with a human destiny before him. As to
his lack of spirit----

"Where," said the Dean, a man of wider sympathies, "do you suppose he
could get any from? Look at his parentage. Look at his upbringing by
that idiot woman."

"If he belonged to me, I'd drown him," said the Rector.

"If I had my way with Oliver," said the Dean, "I'd skin him alive."

"I'm afraid he's a young devil," said the Rector, not without paternal
pride. "But he has the makings of a man."

"So has Marmaduke," replied the Dean.

"Bosh!" said Mr. Manningtree.

       *       *       *       *       *

When Oliver went to Rugby, happier days than ever dawned for
Marmaduke. There were only the holidays to fear. But as time went on,
the haughty contempt of Oliver, the public-school boy, for the
home-bred Doggie, forbade him to notice the little creature's
existence; so that even the holidays lost their gloomy menace and
became like the normal halcyontide. Meanwhile Doggie grew up. When he
reached the age of fourteen, the Dean, by strenuous endeavour, rescued
him from the unavailing tuition of Miss Gunter. But school for
Marmaduke Mrs. Trevor would not hear of. It was brutal of Edward--the
Dean--to suggest such a thing. Marmaduke--so sensitive and
delicate--school would kill him. It would undo all the results of her
unceasing care. It would make him coarse and vulgar, like other horrid
boys. She would sooner see him dead at her feet than at a public
school. It was true that he ought to have the education of a
gentleman. She did not need Edward to point out her duty. She would
engage a private tutor.

"All right. I'll get you one," said the Dean.

The Master of his old college at Cambridge sent him an excellent
youth, who had just taken his degree--a second class in the Classical
Tripos--an all-round athlete and a gentleman. The first thing he did
was to take Marmaduke on the lazy river that flowed through the
Durdlebury meadows, thereby endangering his life, woefully blistering
his hands, and making him ache all over his poor little body. After a
quarter of an hour's interview with Mrs. Trevor, the indignant young
man threw up his post and departed.

Mrs. Trevor determined to select a tutor herself. A scholastic agency
sent her a dozen candidates. She went to London and interviewed them
all. A woman, even of the most limited intelligence, invariably knows
what she wants, and invariably gets it. Mrs. Trevor got Phineas
McPhail, M.A. Glasgow, B.A. Cambridge (Third Class Mathematical
Greats), reading for Holy Orders.

"I was training for the ministry in the Free Kirk of Scotland," said
he, "when I gradually became aware of the error of my ways, and saw
that there could only be salvation in the episcopal form of Church
government. As the daughter of a bishop, Mrs. Trevor, you will
appreciate my conscientious position. An open scholarship and the
remainder of my little patrimony enabled me to get my Oxford degree.
You would have no objection to my continuing my theological studies
while I undertake the education of your son?"

Phineas McPhail pleased Mrs. Trevor. He had what she called a rugged,
honest Scotch face, with a very big nose in the middle of it, and
little grey eyes overhung by brown and shaggy eyebrows. He spoke with
the mere captivating suggestion of an accent. The son of decayed,
proud, and now extinct gentlefolk, he presented personal testimonials
of an unexceptionable quality.

Phineas McPhail took to Doggie and Durdlebury as a duck to water. He
read for Holy Orders for seven years. When the question of his
ordination arose, he would declare impressively that his sacred duty
was the making of Marmaduke into a scholar and a Christian. That duty
accomplished, he would begin to think of himself. Mrs. Trevor
accounted him the most devoted and selfless friend that woman ever
had. He saw eye to eye with her in every detail of Marmaduke's
upbringing. He certainly taught the boy, who was naturally
intelligent, a great deal, and repaired the terrible gaps in Miss
Gunter's system of education. McPhail had started life with many eager
curiosities, under the impulse of which he had amassed considerable
knowledge of a superficial kind which, lolling in an arm-chair, with a
pipe in his mouth, he found easy to impart. To the credit side of Mrs.
Trevor's queer account it may be put that she did not object to
smoking. The late Canon smoked incessantly. Perhaps the odour of
tobacco was the only keen memory of her honeymoon and brief married
life.

During his seven years of soft living, Phineas McPhail scientifically
developed an original taste for whisky. He seethed himself in it as
the ancients seethed a kid in its mother's milk. He had the art to do
himself to perfection. Mrs. Trevor beheld in him the mellowest and
blandest of men. Never had she the slightest suspicion of evil
courses. To such a pitch of cunning in the observance of the
proprieties had he arrived, that the very servants knew not of his
doings. It was only later--after Mrs. Trevor's death--when a surveyor
was called in by Marmaduke to put the old house in order, that a
disused well at the back of the house was found to be half filled with
hundreds of whisky bottles secretly thrown in by Phineas McPhail.

The Dean and Mr. Manningtree, although ignorant of McPhail's habits,
agreed in calling him a lazy hound and a parasite on their fond
sister-in-law. And they were right. But Mrs. Trevor turned a deaf ear
to their slanders. They were unworthy to be called Christian men, let
alone ministers of the Gospel. Were it not for the sacred associations
of her father and her husband, she would never enter the cathedral
again. Mr. McPhail was exactly the kind of tutor that Marmaduke
needed. Mr. McPhail did not encourage him to play rough games, or take
long walks, or row on the river, because he appreciated his
constitutional delicacy. He was the only man in the world during her
unhappy widowhood who understood Marmaduke. He was a treasure beyond
price.

When Doggie was sixteen, fate, fortune, chance, or whatever you like
to call it, did him a good turn. It made his mother ill, and sent him
away with her to foreign health resorts. Doggie and McPhail travelled
luxuriously, lived in luxurious hotels and visited in luxurious ease
various picture galleries and monuments of historic or æsthetic
interest. The boy, artistically inclined and guided by the idle yet
well-informed Phineas, profited greatly. Phineas sought profit to them
both in other ways.

"Mrs. Trevor," said he, "don't you think it a sinful shame for
Marmaduke to waste his time over Latin and mathematics, and such
things as he can learn at home, instead of taking advantage of his
residence in a foreign country to perfect himself in the idiomatic and
conversational use of the language?"

Mrs. Trevor, as usual, agreed. So thenceforward, whenever they were
abroad, which was for three or four months of each year, Phineas
revelled in sheer idleness, nicotine, and the skilful consumption of
alcohol, while highly paid professors taught Marmaduke--and,
incidentally, himself--French and Italian.

Of the world, however, and of the facts, grim or seductive, of life,
Doggie learned little. Whether by force of some streak of honesty,
whether through sheer laziness, whether through canny self-interest,
Phineas McPhail conspired with Mrs. Trevor to keep Doggie in darkest
ignorance. His reading was selected like that of a young girl in a
convent: he was taken only to the most innocent of plays: foreign
theatres, casinos, and such-like wells of delectable depravity,
existed almost beyond his ken. Until he was twenty it never occurred
to him to sit up after his mother had gone to bed. Of strange
goddesses he knew nothing. His mother saw to that. He had a mild
affection for his cousin Peggy, which his mother encouraged. She
allowed him to smoke cigarettes, drink fine claret, the remains of the
cellar of her father, the bishop, a connoisseur, and _crème de
menthe_. And, until she died, that was all poor Doggie knew of the
lustiness of life.

Mrs. Trevor died, and Doggie, as soon as he had recovered from the
intensity of his grief, looked out upon a lonely world. Phineas, like
Mrs. Micawber, swore he would never desert him. In the perils of Polar
exploration or the comforts of Denby Hall, he would find Phineas
McPhail ever by his side. The first half-dozen or so of these
declarations consoled Doggie tremendously. He dreaded the Church
swallowing up his only protector and leaving him defenceless.
Conscientiously, however, he said:

"I don't want your affection for me to stand in your way, sir."

"'Sir'?" cried Phineas, "is it not practicable for us to do away with
the old relations of master and pupil, and become as brothers? You are
now a man, and independent. Let us be Pylades and Orestes. Let us
share and share alike. Let us be Marmaduke and Phineas."

Doggie was touched by such devotion. "But your ambitions to take Holy
Orders, which you have sacrificed for my sake?"

"I think it may be argued," said Phineas, "that the really beautiful
life is delight in continued sacrifice. Besides, my dear boy, I am not
quite so sure as I was when I was young, that by confining oneself
within the narrow limits of a sacerdotal profession, one can retain
all one's wider sympathies both with human infirmity and the gladder
things of existence."

"You're a true friend, Phineas," said Doggie.

"I am," replied Phineas.

It was just after this that Doggie wrote him a cheque for a thousand
pounds on account of a vaguely indicated year's salary.

If Phineas had maintained the wily caution which he had exercised for
the past seven years, all might have been well. But there came a time
when unneedfully he declared once more that he would never desert
Marmaduke, and declaring it, hiccoughed so horribly and stared so
glassily, that Doggie feared he might be ill. He had just lurched into
Doggie's own peacock-blue and ivory sitting-room when he was
mournfully playing the piano.

"You're unwell, Phineas. Let me get you something."

"You're right, laddie," Phineas agreed, his legs giving way
alarmingly, so that he collapsed on a brocade-covered couch. "It's a
touch of the sun, which I would give you to understand," he continued
with a self-preservatory flash, for it was an overcast day in June,
"is often magnified in power when it is behind a cloud. A wee drop of
whisky is what I require for a complete recovery."

Doggie ran into the dining-room and returned with a decanter of
whisky, glass and siphon--an adjunct to the sideboard since Mrs.
Trevor's death. Phineas filled half the tumbler with spirit, tossed it
off, smiled fantastically, tried to rise, and rolled upon the carpet.
Doggie, frightened, rang the bell. Peddle, the old butler, appeared.

"Mr. McPhail is ill. I can't think what can be the matter with him."

Peddle looked at the happy Phineas with the eyes of experience.

"If you will allow me to say so, sir," said he, "the gentleman is dead
drunk."

And that was the beginning of the end of Phineas. He lost grip of
himself. He became the scarlet scandal of Durdlebury and the terror of
Doggie's life. The Dean came to the rescue of a grateful nephew. A
swift attack of delirium tremens crowned and ended Phineas McPhail's
Durdlebury career.

"My boy," said the Dean on the day of Phineas's expulsion, "I don't
want to rub it in unduly, but I've warned your poor mother for years,
and you for months, against this bone-idle, worthless fellow. Neither
of you would listen to me. But you see that I was right. Perhaps now
you may be more inclined to take my advice."

"Yes, Uncle," replied Doggie submissively.

The Dean, a comfortable florid man in the early sixties, took up his
parable and expounded it for three-quarters of an hour. If ever young
man heard that which was earnestly meant for his welfare, Doggie heard
it from his Very Reverend Uncle's lips.

"And now, my dear boy," said the Dean by way of peroration, "you
cannot but understand that it is your bounden duty to apply yourself
to some serious purpose in life."

"I do," said Doggie. "I've been thinking over it for a long time. I'm
going to gather material for a history of wall-papers."



CHAPTER  II


Thenceforward Doggie, like the late Mr. Matthew Arnold's
fellow-millions, lived alone. He did not complain. There was little to
complain about. He owned a pleasant old house set in fifteen acres of
grounds. He had an income of three thousand pounds a year. Old Peddle,
the butler, and his wife, the housekeeper, saved him from domestic
cares. Rising late and retiring early, like the good King of Yvetot, he
cheated the hours that might have proved weary. His meals, his toilet,
his music, his wall-papers, his drawing and embroidering--specimens of
the last he exhibited with great success at various shows held by Arts
and Crafts Guilds, and such-like high and artistic fellowships--his
sweet-peas, his chrysanthemums, his postage stamps, his dilettante
reading and his mild social engagements, filled most satisfyingly the
hours not claimed by slumber. Now and then appointments with his
tailor summoned him to London. He stayed at the same mildewed old
family hotel in the neighbourhood of Bond Street at which his mother
and his grandfather, the bishop, had stayed for uncountable years.
There he would lunch and dine stodgily in musty state. In the evenings
he would go to the plays discussed in the less giddy of Durdlebury
ecclesiastical circles. The play over, it never occurred to him to do
otherwise than drive decorously back to Sturrocks's Hotel. Suppers at
the Carlton or the Savoy were outside his sphere of thought or
opportunity. His only acquaintance in London were vague elderly female
friends of his mother, who invited him to chilly semi-suburban teas
and entertained him with tepid reminiscence and criticism of their
divers places of worship. The days in London thus passed drearily, and
Doggie was always glad to get home again.

In Durdlebury he began to feel himself appreciated. The sleepy society
of the place accepted him as a young man of unquestionable birth and
irreproachable morals. He could play the piano, the harp, the viola,
the flute, and the clarinet, and sing a very true mild tenor. As
secretary of the Durdlebury Musical Association, he filled an
important position in the town. Dr. Flint--Joshua Flint, Mus.
Doc.--organist of the cathedral, scattered broadcast golden opinions
of Doggie. There was once a concert of old English music, which the
dramatic critics of the great newspapers attended--and one of them
mentioned Doggie--"Mr. Marmaduke Trevor, who played the viol da gamba
as to the manner born." Doggie cut out the notice, framed it, and
stuck it up in his peacock and ivory sitting-room.

Besides music, Doggie had other social accomplishments. He could
dance. He could escort young ladies home of nights. Not a dragon in
Durdlebury would not have trusted Doggie with untold daughters. With
women, old and young, he had no shynesses. He had been bred among
them, understood their purely feminine interests, and instinctively
took their point of view. On his visits to London, he could be
entrusted with commissions. He could choose the exact shade of silk
for a drawing-room sofa cushion, and had an unerring taste in the
selection of wedding presents. Young men, other than budding
ecclesiastical dignitaries, were rare in Durdlebury, and Doggie had
little to fear from the competition of coarser masculine natures. In a
word, Doggie was popular.

Although of no mean or revengeful nature, he was human enough to feel
a little malicious satisfaction when it was proved to Durdlebury that
Oliver had gone to the devil. His Aunt Sarah, Mrs. Manningtree, had
died midway in the Phineas McPhail period; Mr. Manningtree a year or
so later had accepted a living in the North of England, and died when
Doggie was about four-and-twenty. Meanwhile Oliver, who had been
withdrawn young from Rugby, where he had been a thorn in the side of
the authorities, and had been pinned like a cockchafer to a desk in a
family counting-house in Lothbury, E.C., had broken loose, quarrelled
with his father, gone off with paternal malediction and a maternal
heritage of a thousand pounds to California, and was lost to the
family ken. When a man does not write to his family, what explanation
can there be save that he is ashamed to do so? Oliver was ashamed of
himself. He had taken to desperate courses. He was an outlaw. He had
gone to the devil. His name was rarely mentioned in Durdlebury--to
Marmaduke Trevor's very great and catlike satisfaction. Only to the
Dean's ripe and kindly wisdom was his name not utterly anathema.

"My dear," said he once to his wife, who was deploring her nephew's
character and fate--"I have hopes of Oliver even yet. A man must have
something of the devil in him if he wants to drive the devil out."

Mrs. Conover was shocked. "My dear Edward!" she cried.

"My dear Sophia," said he, with a twinkle in his mild blue eyes that
had puzzled her from the day when he first put a decorous arm round
her waist. "My dear Sophia, if you knew what a ding-dong scrap of
fiends went on inside me before I could bring myself to vow to be a
virtuous milk-and-water parson, your hair, which is as long and
beautiful as ever, would stand up straight on end."

Mrs. Conover sighed.

"I give you up."

"It's too late," said the Dean.

       *       *       *       *       *

The Manningtrees, father and mother and son, were gone. Doggie bore
the triple loss with equanimity. Then Peggy Conover, hitherto under
the eclipse of boarding-schools, finishing schools and foreign travel,
swam, at the age of twenty, within his orbit. When first they met,
after a year's absence, she very gracefully withered the symptoms of
the cousinly kiss, to which they had been accustomed all their lives,
by stretching out a long, frank, and defensive arm. Perhaps if she had
allowed the salute, there would have been an end of the matter. But
there came the phenomenon which, unless she was a minx of craft and
subtlety, she did not anticipate; for the first time in his life he
was possessed of a crazy desire to kiss her. Doggie fell in love. It
was not a wild consuming passion. He slept well, he ate well, and he
played the flute without a sigh causing him to blow discordantly into
the holes of the instrument. Peggy vowing that she would not marry a
parson, he had no rivals. He knew not even the pinpricks of jealousy.
Peggy liked him. At first she delighted in him as in a new and
animated toy. She could pull strings and the figure worked amazingly
and amusingly. He proved himself to be a useful toy, too. He was at
her beck all day long. He ran on errands, he fetched and carried.
Peggy realized blissfully that she owned him. He haunted the Deanery.

One evening after dinner the Dean said:

"I am going to play the heavy father. How are things between you and
Peggy?"

Marmaduke, taken unawares, reddened violently. He murmured that he
didn't know.

"You ought to," said the Dean. "When a young man converts himself into
a girl's shadow, even although he is her cousin and has been brought
up with her from childhood, people begin to gossip. They gossip even
within the august precincts of a stately cathedral."

"I'm very sorry," said Marmaduke. "I've had the very best intentions."

The Dean smiled.

"What were they?"

"To make her like me a little," replied Marmaduke. Then, feeling that
the Dean was kindly disposed, he blurted out awkwardly: "I hoped that
one day I might ask her to marry me."

"That's what I wanted to know," said the Dean.

"You haven't done it yet?"

"No," said Marmaduke.

"Why don't you?"

"It seems taking such a liberty," replied Marmaduke.

The Dean laughed. "Well, I'm not going to do it for you. My chief
desire is to regularize the present situation. I can't have you two
running about together all day and every day. If you like to ask
Peggy, you have my permission and her mother's."

"Thank you, Uncle Edward," said Marmaduke.

"Let us join the ladies," said the Dean.

In the drawing-room the Dean exchanged glances with his wife. She saw
that he had done as he had been bidden. Marmaduke was not an ideal
husband for a brisk, pleasure-loving modern young woman. But where was
another husband to come from? Peggy had banned the Church. Marmaduke
was wealthy, sound in health and free from vice. It was obvious to
maternal eyes that he was in love with Peggy. According to the Dean,
if he wasn't, he oughtn't to be for ever at her heels. The young woman
herself seemed to take considerable pleasure in his company. If she
cared nothing for him, she was acting in a reprehensible manner. So
the Dean had been deputed to sound Marmaduke.

Half an hour later the young people were left alone. First the Dean
went to his study. Then Mrs. Conover departed to write letters.
Marmaduke advancing across the room from the door which he had opened,
met Peggy's mocking eyes as she stood on the hearthrug with her hands
behind her back. Doggie felt very uncomfortable. Never had he said a
word to her in betrayal of his feelings. He had a vague idea that
propriety required a young man to get through some wooing before
asking a girl to marry him. To ask first and woo afterwards seemed
putting the cart before the horse. But how to woo that remarkably cool
and collected young person standing there, passed his wit.

"Well," she said, "the dear old birds seem very fussy to-night. What's
the matter?" And as he said nothing, but stood confused with his hands
in his pockets, she went on. "You, too, seem rather ruffled. Look at
your hair."

Doggie, turning to a mirror, perceived that an agitated hand had
disturbed the symmetry of his sleek black hair, brushed without a
parting away from the forehead over his head. Hastily he smoothed down
the cockatoo-like crest.

"I've been talking to your father, Peggy."

"Have you really?" she said with a laugh.

Marmaduke summoned his courage.

"He told me I might ask you to marry me," he said.

"Do you want to?"

"Of course I do," he declared.

"Then why not do it?"

But before he could answer, she clapped her hands on his shoulders,
and shook him, and laughed out loud.

"Oh, you dear silly old thing! What a way to propose to a girl!"

"I've never done such a thing before," said Doggie, as soon as he was
released.

She resumed her attitude on the hearthrug.

"I'm in no great hurry to be married. Are you?"

He said: "I don't know. I've never thought of it. Just whenever you
like."

"All right," she returned calmly. "Let it be a year hence. Meanwhile,
we can be engaged. It'll please the dear old birds. I know all the
tabbies in the town have been mewing about us. Now they can mew about
somebody else."

"That's awfully good of you, Peggy," said Marmaduke. "I'll go up to
town to-morrow and get you the jolliest ring you ever saw."

She sketched him a curtsy. "That's one thing, at any rate, I can trust
you in--your taste in jewellery."

He moved nearer to her. "I suppose you know, Peggy dear, I've been
awfully fond of you for quite a long time."

"The feeling is more or less reciprocated," she replied lightly. Then,
"You can kiss me if you like. I assure you it's quite usual."

He kissed her somewhat shyly on the lips.

She whispered: "I do think I care for you, old thing." Marmaduke
replied sententiously: "You have made me a very happy man." Then they
sat down side by side on the sofa, and for all Peggy's mocking
audacity, they could find nothing in particular to say to each other.

"Let us play patience," she said at last.

And when Mrs. Conover appeared awhile later, she found them poring
over the cards in a state of unruffled calm. Peggy looked up, smiled,
and nodded.

"We've fixed it up, Mummy; but we're not going to be married for a
year."

Doggie went home that evening in a tepid glow. It contented him. He
thought himself the luckiest of mortals. A young man with more passion
or imagination might have deplored the lack of romance in the
betrothal. He might have desired on the part of the maiden either more
shyness, delicacy, and elusiveness, or more resonant emotion. The
finer tendrils of his being might have shivered, ready to shrivel, as
at a touch of frost, in the cool ironical atmosphere which the girl
had created around her. But Doggie was not such a young man. Such
passions as heredity had endowed him with had been drugged by
training. No tales of immortal love had ever fired his blood. Once,
somewhere abroad, the unprincipled McPhail found him reading _Manon
Lescaut_--he had bought a cheap copy haphazard--and taking the
delectable volume out of his hands, asked him what he thought of it.

"It's like reading about a lunatic," replied the bewildered Doggie.
"Do such people as Des Grieux exist?"

"Ay, laddie," replied McPhail, greatly relieved. "Your acumen has
pierced to the root of the matter. They do exist, but nowadays we put
them into asylums. We must excuse the author for living in the
psychological obscurity of the eighteenth century. It's just a silly,
rotten book."

"I'm glad you're of the same opinion as myself," said Doggie, and
thought no more of the absurd but deathless pair of lovers. The
unprincipled McPhail, not without pawky humour, immediately gave him
_Paul et Virginie_, which Doggie, after reading it, thought the truest
and most beautiful story in the world. Even in later years, when his
intelligence had ripened and his sphere of reading expanded, he looked
upon the passion of a Romeo or an Othello as a conventional peg on
which the poet hung his imagery, but having no more relation to real
life as it is lived by human beings than the blood-lust of the
half-man, half-bull Minotaur, or the uncomfortable riding conversation
of the Valkyrie.

So Doggie Trevor went home perfectly contented with himself, with
Peggy Conover, with his Uncle and Aunt, of whom hitherto he had been
just a little bit afraid, with Fortune, with Fate, with his house,
with his peacock and ivory room, with a great clump of typescript and
a mass of coloured proof-prints, which represented a third of his
projected history of wall-papers, with his feather-bed, with Goliath,
his almost microscopic Belgian griffon, with a set of Nile-green silk
underwear that had just come from his outfitters in London, with his
new Rolls-Royce car and his new chauffeur Briggins (parenthetically it
may be remarked that a seven-hour excursion in this vehicle, youth in
the back seat and Briggins at the helm, all ordained by Peggy, had
been the final cause of the evening's explanations), with the starry
heavens above, with the well-ordered earth beneath them, and with all
human beings on the earth, including Germans, Turks, Infidels, and
Hereticks--all save one: and that, as he learned from a letter
delivered by the last post, was a callous, heartless London manicurist
who, giving no reasons, regretted that she would be unable to pay her
usual weekly visit to Durdlebury on the morrow. Of all days in the
year: just when it was essential that he should look his best!

"What the deuce am I going to do?" he cried, pitching the letter into
the waste-paper basket.

He sat down to the piano in the peacock and ivory room and tried to
play the nasty crumpled rose-leaf of a manicurist out of his mind.

Suddenly he remembered, with a kind of shock, that he had pledged
himself to go up to London the next day to buy an engagement-ring. So
after all the manicurist's defection did not matter. All was again
well with the world.

Then he went to bed and slept the sleep of the just and perfect man
living the just and perfect life in a just and perfect universe.

And the date of this happening was the fifteenth day of July in the
year of grace one thousand nine hundred and fourteen.



CHAPTER III


The shadow cast by the great apse of the cathedral slanted over the
end of the Deanery garden, leaving the house in the blaze of the
afternoon sun, and divided the old red-brick wall into a vivid
contrast of tones. The peace of centuries brooded over the place. No
outside convulsions could ever cause a flutter of her calm wings. As
it was thirty years ago, when the Dean first came to Durdlebury, as it
was three hundred, six hundred years ago, so it was now; and so it
would be hundreds of years hence as long as that majestic pile housing
the Spirit of God should last.

Thus thought, thus, in some such words, proclaimed the Dean, sitting
in the shade, with his hands clasped behind his head. Tea was over.
Mrs. Conover, thin and faded, still sat by the little table, wondering
whether she might now blow out the lamp beneath the silver kettle. Sir
Archibald Bruce, a neighbouring landowner, and his wife had come,
bringing their daughter Dorothy to play tennis. The game had already
started on the court some little distance off--the players being
Dorothy, Peggy and a couple of athletic, flannel-clad parsons.
Marmaduke Trevor reposed on a chair under the lee of Lady Bruce. He
looked very cool and spick and span in a grey cashmere suit, grey
shirt, socks and tie, and grey _suède_ shoes. He had a weak,
good-looking little face and a little black moustache turned up at the
ends. He was discoursing to his neighbour on Palestrina.

The Dean's proclamation had been elicited by some remark of Sir
Archibald.

"I wonder how you have stuck it for so long," said the latter. He had
been a soldier in his youth and an explorer, and had shot big game.

"I haven't your genius, my dear Bruce, for making myself
uncomfortable," replied the Dean.

"You were energetic enough when you first came here," said Sir
Archibald. "We all thought you a desperate fellow who was going to
rebuild the cathedral, turn the Close into industrial dwellings, and
generally play the deuce."

The Dean sighed pleasantly. He had snowy hair and a genial, florid,
clean-shaven face.

"I was appointed very young--six-and-thirty--and I thought I could
fight against the centuries. As the years went on I found I couldn't.
The grey changelessness of things got hold of me, incorporated me into
them. When I die--for I hope I shan't have to resign through doddering
senility--my body will be buried there"--he jerked his head slightly
towards the cathedral--"and my dust will become part and parcel of the
fabric--like that of many of my predecessors."

"That's all very well," said Sir Archibald, "but they ought to have
caught you before this petrification set in, and made you a bishop."

It was somewhat of an old argument, for the two were intimates. The
Dean smiled and shook his head.

"You know I declined----"

"After you had become petrified."

"Perhaps so. It is not a place where ambitions can attain a riotous
growth."

"I call it a rotten place," said the elderly worldling. "I wouldn't
live in it myself for twenty thousand a year."

"Lots like you said the same in crusading times--Sir Guy de Chevenix,
for instance, who was the Lord, perhaps, of your very Manor, and an
amazing fire-eater--but--see the gentle irony of it--there his bones
lie, at peace for ever, in the rotten place, with his effigy over them
cross-legged and his dog at his feet, and his wife by his side. I
think he must sometimes look out of Heaven's gate down on the
cathedral and feel glad, grateful--perhaps a bit wistful--if the
attribution of wistfulness, which implies regret, to a spirit in
Paradise doesn't savour of heresy----"

"I'm going to be cremated," interrupted Sir Archibald, twirling his
white moustache.

The Dean smiled and did not take up the cue. The talk died. It was a
drowsy day. The Dean went off into a little reverie. Perhaps his old
friend's reproach was just. Dean of a great cathedral at thirty-six,
he had the world of dioceses at his feet. Had he used to the full the
brilliant talents with which he started? He had been a good Dean, a
capable, business-like Dean. There was not a stone of the cathedral
that he did not know and cherish. Under his care the stability of
every part of the precious fabric had been assured for a hundred
years. Its financial position, desperate on his appointment, was now
sound. He had come into a scene of petty discords and jealousies; for
many years there had been a no more united chapter in any cathedral
close in England. As an administrator he had been a success. The
devotion of his life to the cathedral had its roots deep in spiritual
things. For the greater glory of God had the vast edifice been
erected, and for the greater glory of God had he, its guardian,
reverently seen to its preservation and perfect appointment. Would he
have served God better by pursuing the ambitions of youth? He could
have had his bishopric; but he knew that the choice lay between him
and Chanways, a flaming spirit, eager for power, who hadn't the sacred
charge of a cathedral, and he declined. And now Chanways was a force
in the Church and the country, and was making things hum. If he,
Conover, after fifteen years of Durdlebury, had accepted, he would
have lost the power to make things hum. He would have made a very
ordinary, painstaking bishop, and his successor at Durdlebury might
possibly have regarded that time-worn wonder of spiritual beauty
merely as a stepping-stone to higher sacerdotal things. Such a man, he
considered, having once come under the holy glamour of the cathedral,
would have been guilty of the Unforgivable Sin. He had therefore saved
two unfortunate situations.

"You are quite an intelligent man, Bruce," he said, with a sudden
whimsicality, "but I don't think you would ever understand."

The set of tennis being over, Peggy, flushed and triumphant, rushed
into the party in the shade.

"Mr. Petherbridge and I have won--six--three," she announced. The old
gentlemen smiled and murmured their congratulations. She swung to the
tea-table some paces away, and plucked Marmaduke by the sleeve,
interrupting him in the middle of an argument. He rose politely.

"Come and play."

"My dear," he said, "I'm such a duffer at games."

"Never mind; you'll learn in time."

He drew out a grey silk handkerchief as if ready to perspire at the
first thought of it. "Tennis makes one so dreadfully hot," said he.

Peggy tapped the point of her foot irritably, but she laughed as she
turned to Lady Bruce.

"What's the good of being engaged to a man if he can't play tennis
with you?"

"There are other things in life besides tennis, my dear," replied Lady
Bruce.

The girl flushed, but being aware that a pert answer turneth away
pleasant invitations, said nothing. She nodded and went off to her
game, and informing Mr. Petherbridge that Lady Bruce was a
platitudinous old tabby, flirted with him up to the nice limits of his
parsonical dignity. But Marmaduke did not mind.

"Games are childish and somewhat barbaric. Don't you think so, Lady
Bruce?"

"Most young people seem fond of them," replied the lady. "Exercise
keeps them in health."

"It all depends," he argued. "Often they get exceedingly hot, then
they sit about and catch their death of cold."

"That's very true," said Lady Bruce. "It's what I'm always telling Sir
Archibald about golf. Only last week he caught a severe chill in that
very way. I had to rub his chest with camphorated oil."

"Just as my poor dear mother used to do to me," said Marmaduke.

There followed a conversation on ailments and their treatment, in
which Mrs. Conover joined. Marmaduke was quite happy. He knew that the
two elderly ladies admired the soundness of his views and talked to
him as to one of themselves.

"I'm sure, my dear Marmaduke, you're very wise to take care of
yourself," said Lady Bruce, "especially now, when you have the
responsibilities of married life before you."

Marmaduke curled himself up comfortably in his chair. If he had been a
cat, he would have purred. The old butler, grown as grey in the
service of the Deanery as the cathedral itself--he had been page and
footman to Dr. Conover's predecessor--removed the tea-things and
brought out a tray of glasses and lemonade with ice clinking
refreshingly against the sides of the jug. When the game was over, the
players came and drank and sat about the lawn. The shadow of the apse
had spread over the garden to the steps of the porch. Anyone looking
over the garden wall would have beheld a scene typical of the heart of
England--a scene of peace, ease and perfectly ordered comfort. The two
well-built young men, one a minor canon, the other a curate, lounging
in their flannels, clever-faced, honest-eyed, could have been bred
nowhere but in English public schools and at Oxford or Cambridge. The
two elderly ladies were of the fine flower of provincial England; the
two old men, so different outwardly, one burly, florid, exquisitely
ecclesiastical, the other thin, nervous, soldierly, each was an
expression of high English tradition. The two young girls, unerringly
correct and dainty, for all their modern abandonment of attitude,
pretty, flushed of cheek, frank of glance, were two of a hundred
thousand flowers of girlhood that could have been picked that
afternoon in lazy English gardens. And Marmaduke's impeccable grey
costume struck a harmonizing English note of Bond Street and the
Burlington Arcade. The scent of the roses massed in delicate splendour
against the wall, and breathing now that the cool shade had fallen on
them, crept through the still air to the flying buttresses and the
window mullions and traceries and the pinnacles of the great English
cathedral. And in the midst of the shaven lawn gleamed the old
cut-glass jug on its silver tray.

Some one did look over the wall and survey the scene: a man,
apparently supporting himself with tense, straightened arms on the
coping; a man with a lean, bronzed, clean-shaven face, wearing an old
soft felt hat at a swaggering angle; a man with a smile on his face
and a humorous twinkle in his eyes. By chance he had leisure to survey
the scene for some time unobserved. At last he shouted:

"Hello! Have none of you ever moved for the last ten years?"

At the summons every one was startled. The young men scrambled to
their feet. The Dean rose and glared at the intruder, who sprang over
the wall, recklessly broke through the rose-bushes and advanced with
outstretched hand to meet him.

"Hello, Uncle Edward!"

"Goodness gracious me!" cried the Dean. "It's Oliver!"

"Right first time," said the young man, gripping him by the hand.
"You're not looking a day older. And Aunt Sophia----" He strode up to
Mrs. Conover and kissed her. "Do you know," he went on, holding her at
arm's length and looking round at the astonished company, "the last
time I saw you all you were doing just the same! I peeped over the
wall just before I went away, just such a summer afternoon as this,
and you were all sitting round drinking the same old lemonade out of
the same old jug--and, Lady Bruce, you were here, and you, Sir
Archibald"--he shook hands with them rapidly. "You haven't changed a
bit. And you--good Lord! Is this Peggy?" He put his hand on the Dean's
shoulder and pointed at the girl.

"That's Peggy," said the Dean.

"You're the only thing that's grown. I used to gallop with you on my
shoulders all round the lawn. I suppose you remember? How do you do?"

And without waiting for an answer he kissed her soundly. It was all
done with whirlwind suddenness. The tempestuous young man had
scattered every one's wits. All stared at him. Releasing Peggy----

"My holy aunt!" he cried, "there's another of 'em. It's Doggie! You
were in the old picture, and I'm blessed if you weren't wearing the
same beautiful grey suit. How do, Doggie?"

He gripped Doggie's hand. Doggie's lips grew white.

"I'm glad to welcome you back, Oliver," he said. "But I would have you
to know that my name is Marmaduke."

"Sooner be called Doggie myself, old chap," said Oliver.

He stepped back, smiling at them all--a handsome devil-may-care
fellow, tall, tough and supple, his hands in the pockets of a
sun-stained double-breasted blue jacket.

"We're indeed glad to see you, my dear boy," said the Dean, recovering
equanimity; "but what have you been doing all this time? And where on
earth have you come from?"

"I've just come from the South Seas. Arrived in London last evening.
This morning I thought I'd come and look you up."

"But if you had let us know you were coming, we should have met you at
the station with the car. Where's your luggage?"

He jerked a hand. "In the road. My man's sitting on it. Oh, don't
worry about him," he cried airily to the protesting Dean. "He's well
trained. He'll go on sitting on it all night."

"You've brought a man--a valet?" asked Peggy.

"It seems so."

"Then you must be getting on."

"I don't think he turns you out very well," said Doggie.

"You must really let one of the servants see about your things,
Oliver," said Mrs. Conover, moving towards the porch. "What will
people say?"

He strode after her, and kissed her. "Oh, you dear old Durdlebury
Aunt! Now I know I'm in England again. I haven't heard those words for
years!"

Mrs. Conover's hospitable intentions were anticipated by the old
butler, who advanced to meet them with the news that Sir Archibald's
car had been brought round. As soon as he recognized Oliver he started
back, mouth agape.

"Yes, it's me all right, Burford," laughed Oliver. "How did I get
here? I dropped from the moon."

He shook hands with Burford, of whose life he had been the plague
during his childhood, proclaimed him as hardy and unchanging as a
gargoyle, and instructed him where to find man and luggage.

The Bruces and the two clerical tennis players departed. Marmaduke was
for taking his leave too. All his old loathing of Oliver had suddenly
returned. His cousin stood for everything he detested--swagger,
arrogance, self-assurance. He hated the shabby rakishness of his
attire, the self-assertive aquiline beak of a nose which he had
inherited from his father, the Rector. He dreaded his aggressive
masculinity. He had come back with the same insulting speech on his
lips. His finger-nails were dreadful. Marmaduke desired as little as
possible of his odious company. But his Aunt Sophia cried out:

"You'll surely dine with us to-night, Marmaduke, to celebrate Oliver's
return?"

And Oliver chimed in, "Do! And don't worry about changing," as Doggie
began to murmur excuses, "I can't. I've no evening togs. My old ones
fell to bits when I was trying to put them on, on board the steamer,
and I had to chuck 'em overboard. They turned up a shark, who went for
'em. So don't you worry, Doggie, old chap. You look as pretty as paint
as you are. Doesn't he, Peggy?"

Peggy, with a slight flush on her cheek, came to the rescue and linked
her arm in Marmaduke's.

"You haven't had time to learn everything yet, Oliver; but I think you
ought to know that we are engaged."

"Holy Gee! Is that so? My compliments." He swept them a low bow. "God
bless you, my children!"

"Of course he'll stay to dinner," said Peggy; and she looked at Oliver
as who should say, "Touch him at your peril: he belongs to me."

So Doggie had to yield. Mrs. Conover went into the house to arrange
for Oliver's comfort, and the others strolled round the garden.

"Well, my boy," said the Dean, "so you're back in the old country?"

"Turned up again like a bad penny."

The Dean's kindly face clouded. "I hope you'll soon be able to find
something to do."

"It's money I want, not work," said Oliver.

"Ah!" said the Dean, in a tone so thoughtful as just to suggest a lack
of sympathy.

Oliver looked over his shoulder--the Dean and himself were preceding
Marmaduke and Peggy on the trim gravel path. "Do you care to lend me a
few thousands, Doggie?"

"Certainly not," replied Marmaduke.

"There's family affection for you, Uncle Edward! I've come half-way
round the earth to see him, and--say, will you lend me a fiver?"

"If you need it," said Marmaduke in a dignified way, "I shall be very
happy to advance you five pounds."

Oliver brought the little party to a halt and burst into laughter.

"I believe you good people think I've come back broke to the world.
The black sheep returned like a wolf to the fold. Only Peggy drew a
correct inference from the valet--wait till you see him! As Peggy
said, I've been getting on." He laid a light hand on the Dean's
shoulder. "While all you folks in Durdlebury, especially my dear
Doggie, for the last ten years have been durdling, I've been doing.
I've not come all this way to tap relations for five-pound notes. I'm
swaggering into the City of London for Capital--with a great big C."

Marmaduke twirled his little moustache. "You've taken to company
promoting," he remarked acidly.

"I have. And a damn--I beg your pardon, Uncle Edward--we poor Pacific
Islanders lisp in damns for want of deans to hold us up--and a jolly
good company too. We--that's I and another man--that's all the company
as yet--two's company, you know--own a trading fleet."

"You own ships?" cried Peggy.

"Rather. Own 'em, sail 'em, navigate 'em, stoke 'em, clean out the
boilers, sit on the safety valves when we want to make speed, do every
old thing----"

"And what do you trade in?" asked the Dean.

"Copra, bêche-de-mer, mother-of-pearl----"

"Mother-of-pearl! How awfully romantic!" cried Peggy.

"We've got a fishery. At any rate, the concession. To work it properly
we require capital. That's why I'm here--to turn the concern into a
limited company."

"And where is this wonderful place?" asked the Dean.

"Huaheine."

"What a beautiful word!"

"Isn't it?" said Oliver. "Like the sigh of a girl in her sleep."

The old Dean shot a swift glance at his nephew; then took his arm and
walked on, and looked at the vast mass of the cathedral and at the
quiet English garden in its evening shadow.

"Copra, bêche-de-mer, mother-of-pearl, Huaheine," he murmured. "And
these strange foreign things are the commonplaces of your life!"

Peggy and Marmaduke lagged behind a little. She pressed his arm.

"I'm so glad you're staying for dinner. I shouldn't like to think you
were running away from him."

"I was only afraid of losing my temper and making a scene," replied
Doggie with dignity.

"His manners are odious," said Peggy. "You leave him to me."

Suddenly the Dean, taking a turn that brought him into view of the
porch, stopped short.

"Goodness gracious!" he cried. "Who in the world is that?"

He pointed to a curious object slouching across the lawn; a short
hirsute man wearing a sailor's jersey and smoking a stump of a
blackened pipe. His tousled head was bare; he had very long arms and
great powerful hands protruded at the end of long sinewy wrists from
inadequate sleeves. A pair of bright eyes shone out of his dark shaggy
face, like a Dandy Dinmont's. His nose was large and red. He rolled as
he walked. Such a sight had never been seen before in the Deanery
garden.

"That's my man. Peggy's valet," said Oliver airily. "His name is
Chipmunk. A beauty, isn't he?"

"Like master, like man," murmured Doggie.

Oliver's quick ears caught the words intended only for Peggy. He
smiled brightly.

"If you knew what a compliment you were paying me, Doggie, you
wouldn't have said such a thing."

The man seeing the company stare at him, halted, took his pipe out of
his mouth, and scratched his head.

"But--er--forgive me, my dear Oliver," said the Dean. "No doubt he is
an excellent fellow--but don't you think he might smoke his pipe
somewhere else?"

"Of course he might," said Oliver. "And he jolly well shall." He put
his hand to his mouth, sea-fashion--they were about thirty yards
apart--and shouted: "Here, you! What the eternal blazes are you doing
here?"

"Please don't hurt the poor man's feelings," said the kindly Dean.

Oliver turned a blank look on his Uncle. "His what? Ain't got any. Not
that kind of feelings." He proceeded: "Now then, look lively! Clear
out! Skidoo!"

The valet touched his forehead in salute, and--"Where am I to go to,
Cap'en?"

"Go to----"

Oliver checked himself in time, and turned to the Dean.

"Where shall I tell him to go?" he asked sweetly.

"The kitchen garden would be the best place," replied the Dean.

"I think I'd better go and fix him up myself," said Oliver. "A little
conversation in his own language might be beneficial."

"But isn't he English?" asked Peggy.

"Born and bred in Wapping," said Oliver.

He marched off across the lawn; and, could they have heard it, the
friendly talk that he had with Chipmunk would have made the Saint and
the Divines, and even the Crusader, Sir Guy de Chevenix, who were
buried in the cathedral, turn in their tombs.

Doggie, watching the disappearing Chipmunk, Oliver's knuckles in his
neck, said:

"I think it monstrous of Oliver to bring such a disreputable creature
down here."

Said the Dean: "At any rate, it brings a certain excitement into our
quiet surroundings."

"They must be having the time of their lives in the Servants' Hall,"
said Peggy.



CHAPTER IV


After breakfast the next morning Doggie, attired in a green shot-silk
dressing-gown, entered his own particular room and sat down to think.
In its way it was a very beautiful room--high, spacious,
well-proportioned, facing south-east. The wall-paper, which he had
designed himself, was ivory-white with veinings of peacock-blue. Into
the ivory-silk curtains were woven peacocks in full pride. The
cushions were ivory and peacock-blue. The chairs, the writing-table,
the couch, the bookcases, were pure Sheraton and Hepplewhite.
Vellum-bound books filled the cases--Doggie was very particular about
his bindings. Delicate water-colours alone adorned the walls. On his
neatly arranged writing-table lay an ivory set--inkstand, pen-tray,
blotter and calendar. Bits of old embroidery harmonizing with the
peacock shades were spread here and there. A pretty collection of
eighteenth-century Italian ivory statuettes were grouped about the
room. A spinet, inlaid with ebony and ivory, formed a centre for the
arrangement of many other musical instruments--a viol, mandolins gay
with ribbons, a theorbo, flutes and clarinets. Through the curtains,
draped across an alcove, could be guessed the modern monstrosity of a
grand piano. One tall closed cabinet was devoted to his collection of
wall-papers. Another, open, to a collection of little dogs in china,
porcelain, faïence; thousands of them; he got them through dealers
from all over the world. He had the finest collection in existence,
and maintained a friendly and learned correspondence with the other
collector--an elderly, disillusioned Russian prince, who lived
somewhere near Nijni-Novgorod. On the spinet and on the writing-table
were great bowls of golden _rayon d'or_ roses.

Doggie sat down to think. An unwonted frown creased his brow. Several
problems distracted him. The morning sun streaming into the room
disclosed, beyond doubt, discolorations, stains and streaks on the
wall-paper. It would have to be renewed. Already he had decided to
design something to take its place. But last night Peggy had declared
her intention to turn this abode of bachelor comfort into the
drawing-room, and to hand over to his personal use some other
apartment, possibly the present drawing-room, which received all the
blaze and glare of the afternoon sun. What should he do? Live in the
sordidness of discoloured wall-paper for another year, or go through
the anxiety of artistic effort and manufacturers' stupidity and delay,
to say nothing of the expense, only to have the whole thing scrapped
before the wedding? Doggie had a foretaste of the dilemmas of
matrimony. He had a gnawing suspicion that the trim and perfect life
was difficult of attainment.

Then, meandering through this wilderness of dubiety, ran thoughts of
Oliver. Every one seemed to have gone crazy over him. Uncle Edward and
Aunt Sophia had hung on his lips while he lied unblushingly about his
adventures. Even Peggy had listened open-eyed and open-mouthed when he
had told a tale of shipwreck in the South Seas: how the schooner had
been caught in some beastly wind and the masts had been torn out and
the rudder carried away, and how it had struck a reef, and how
something had hit him on the head, and he knew no more till he woke up
on a beach and found that the unspeakable Chipmunk had swum with him
for a week--or whatever the time was--until they got to land. If
hulking, brainless dolts like Oliver, thought Doggie, like to fool
around in schooners and typhoons, they must take the consequences.
There was nothing to brag about. The higher man was the intellectual,
the æsthetic, the artistic being. What did Oliver know of Lydian modes
or Louis Treize decoration or Astec clay dogs? Nothing. He couldn't
even keep his socks from slopping about over his shoes. And there was
Peggy all over the fellow, although before dinner she had said she
couldn't bear the sight of him. Doggie was perturbed. On bidding him
good night, she had kissed him in the most perfunctory manner--merely
the cousinly peck of a dozen years ago--and had given no thought to
the fact that he was driving home in an open car without an overcoat.
He had felt distinctly chilly on his arrival, and had taken a dose of
ammoniated quinine. Was Peggy's indifference a sign that she had
ceased to care for him? That she was attracted by the buccaneering
Oliver?

Now suppose the engagement was broken off, he would be free to do as
he chose with the redecoration of the room. But suppose, as he
sincerely and devoutly hoped, it wasn't? Dilemma on dilemma. Added to
all this, Goliath, the miniature Belgian griffon, having probably
overeaten himself, had complicated pains inside, and the callous vet.
could or would not come round till the evening. In the meantime,
Goliath might die.

He was at this point of his reflections, when to his horror he
heard a familiar voice outside the door.

"All right, Peddle. Don't worry. I'll show myself in. Look after that
man of mine. Quite easy. Give him some beer in a bucket and leave him
to it."

Then the door burst open and Oliver, pipe in mouth and hat on one
side, came into the room.

"Hallo, Doggie! Thought I'd look you up. Hope I'm not disturbing you."

"Not at all," said Doggie. "Do sit down."

But Oliver walked about and looked at things.

"I like your water-colours. Did you collect them yourself?"

"Yes."

"I congratulate you on your taste. This is a beauty. Who is it by?"

The appreciation brought Doggie at once to his side. Oliver, the
connoisseur, was showing himself in a new and agreeable light. Doggie
took him delightedly round the pictures, expounding their merits and
their little histories. He found that Oliver, although unlearned, had
a true sense of light and colour and tone. He was just beginning to
like him, when the tactless fellow, stopping before the collection of
little dogs, spoiled everything.

"My holy aunt!" he cried--an objurgation which Doggie had abhorred
from boyhood--and he doubled with laughter in his horrid schoolboy
fashion--"My dear Doggie--is that your family? How many litters?"

"It's the finest collection of the kind in the world," replied Doggie
stiffly, "and is worth several thousand pounds."

Oliver heaved himself into a chair--that was Doggie's impression of
his method of sitting down--a Sheraton chair with delicate arms and
legs.

"Forgive me," he said, "but you're such a funny devil."--Doggie gaped.
The conception of himself as a funny devil was new.--"Pictures and
music I can understand. But what the deuce is the point of these dam
little dogs?"

But Doggie was hurt. "It would be useless to try to explain," said he.

Oliver took off his hat and sent it skimming on to the couch.

"Look here, old chap," he said, "I seem to have put my foot into it
again. I didn't mean to, really. Peggy gave me hell this morning for
not treating you as a man and a brother, and I came round to try to
put things right."

"It's very considerate of Peggy, I'm sure," said Marmaduke.

"Now look here, old Doggie----"

"I told you when we first met yesterday that I vehemently object to
being called Doggie."

"But why?" asked Oliver. "I've made inquiries, and find that all your
pals----"

"I haven't any pals, as you call them."

"Well, all our male contemporaries in the place who have the honour of
your acquaintance--they all call you Doggie, and you don't seem to
mind."

"I do mind," replied Marmaduke angrily, "but as I avoid their company
as much as possible, it doesn't very much matter."

Oliver stretched out his legs and put his hands behind his back--then
wriggled to his feet. "What a beast of a chair! Anyhow," he went on,
puffing at his pipe, "don't let us quarrel. I'll call you Marmaduke,
if you like, when I can remember--it's a beast of a name--like the
chair. I'm a rough sort of chap. I've had ten years' pretty rough
training. I've slept on boards. I've slept in the open without a cent
to hire a board. I've gone cold and I've gone hungry, and men have
knocked me about and I've knocked men about--and I've lost the
Durdlebury sense of social values. In the wilds if a man once gets the
name, say, of Duck-Eyed Joe, it sticks to him, and he accepts it and
answers to it, and signs 'Duck-Eyed Joe' on an IOU and honours the
signature."

"But I'm not in the wilds," said Marmaduke, "and haven't the slightest
intention of ever leading the unnatural and frightful life you
describe. So what you say doesn't apply to me."

"Quite so," replied Oliver. "That wasn't the moral of my discourse.
The habit of mind engendered in the wilds applies to me. Just as I
could never think of Duck-Eyed Joe as George Wilkinson, so you, James
Marmaduke Trevor, will live imperishably in my mind as Doggie. I was
making a sort of apology, old chap, for my habit of mind."

"If it is an apology----" said Marmaduke.

Oliver, laughing, clapped him boisterously on the shoulder. "Oh, you
solemn comic cuss!" He strode to a rose-bowl and knocked the ashes of
his pipe into the water--Doggie trembled lest he might next squirt
tobacco juice over the ivory curtains. "You don't give a fellow a
chance. Look here, tell me, as man to man, what are you going to do
with your life? I don't mean it in the high-brow sense of people who
live in unsuccessful plays and garden cities, but in the ordinary
common-sense way of the world. Here you are, young, strong, educated,
intelligent----"

"I'm not strong," said Doggie.

"Oh, shucks! A month's exercise would make you as strong as a mule.
Here you are--what the blazes are you going to do with yourself?"

"I don't admit that you have any right to question me," said Doggie,
lighting a cigarette.

"Peggy has given it to me. We had a heart to heart talk this morning,
I assure you. She called me a swaggering, hectoring barbarian. So I
told her what I'd do. I said I'd come here and squeak like a little
mouse and eat out of your hand. I also said I'd take you out with me
to the Islands and give you a taste for fresh air and salt water and
exercise. I'll teach you how to sail a schooner and how to go about
barefoot and swab decks. It's a life for a man out there, I tell you.
If you've nothing better to do than living here snug like a flea on a
dog's back, until you get married, you'd better come."

Doggie smiled pityingly, but said politely:

"Your offer is very kind, Oliver; but I don't think that kind of life
would suit me."

"Oh yes it would," said Oliver. "It would make you healthy,
wealthy--if you took a fancy to put some money into the pearl
fishery--and wise. I'd show you the world, make a man of you, for
Peggy's sake, and teach you how men talk to one another in a gale of
wind."

The door opened and Peddle appeared.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Oliver--but your man----"

"Yes? What about him? Is he misbehaving himself? Kissing the maids?"

"No, sir," said Peddle--"but none of them can get on with their work.
He has drunk two quart jugs of beer and wants a third."

"Well, give it to him."

"I shouldn't like to see the man intoxicated, sir," said Peddle.

"You couldn't. No one has or ever will."

"He is also standing on his head, sir, in the middle of the kitchen
table."

"It's his great parlour-trick. You just try to do it,
Peddle--especially after two quarts of beer. He's showing his
gratitude, poor chap--just like the juggler of Notre-Dame in the
story. And I'm sure everybody's enjoying themselves?"

"The maids are nearly in hysterics, sir."

"But they're quite happy?"

"Too happy, sir."

"Lord!" cried Oliver, "what a lot of stuffy owls you are! What do you
want me to do? What would you like me to do, Doggie? It's your house."

"I don't know," said Doggie. "I've had nothing to do with such people.
Perhaps you might go and speak to him."

"No, I won't do that. I tell you what, Peddle," said Oliver brightly.
"You lure him out into the stable yard with a great hunk of pie--he
adores pie--and tell him to sit there and eat it till I come. Tell him
I said so."

"I'll see what can be done, sir," said Peddle.

"I don't mean to be inhospitable," said Doggie, after the butler had
gone, "but why do you take this extraordinary person about with you?"

"I wanted him to see Durdlebury and Durdlebury to see him. Do it
good," replied Oliver. "Now, what about my proposition? Out there of
course you'll be my guest. Put yourself in charge of Chipmunk and me
for eight months, and you'll never regret it. What Chipmunk doesn't
know about ships and drink and hard living isn't knowledge. We'll let
you down easy--treat you kindly--word of honour."

Doggie being a man of intelligence realized that Oliver's offer arose
from a genuine desire to do him some kind of service. But if a
friendly bull out of the fullness of its affection invited you to
accompany him to the meadow and eat grass, what could you do but
courteously decline the invitation? This is what Doggie did. After a
further attempt at persuasion, Oliver grew impatient, and picking up
his hat stuck it on the side of his head. He was a simple-natured,
impulsive man. Peggy's spirited attack had caused him to realize that
he had treated Doggie with unprovoked rudeness; but then, Doggie was
such a little worm. Suddenly the great scheme for Doggie's
regeneration had entered his head, and generously he had rushed to
begin to put it into execution. The pair were his blood relations
after all. He saw his way to doing them a good turn. Peggy, with all
her go--exemplified by the manner in which she had gone for him--was
worth the trouble he proposed to take with Doggie. It really was a
handsome offer. Most fellows would have jumped at the prospect of
being shown round the Islands with an old hand who knew the whole
thing backwards, from company promoting to beach-combing. He had not
expected such a point-blank, bland refusal. It made him angry.

"I'm really most obliged to you, Oliver," said Doggie finally. "But
our ideals are so entirely different. You're primitive, you know. You
seem to find your happiness in defying the elements, whereas I find
mine in adopting the resources of civilization to circumvent them."

He smiled, pleased with his little epigram.

"Which means," said Oliver, "that you're afraid to roughen your hands
and spoil your complexion."

"If you like to put it that way--symbolically."

"Symbolically be hanged!" cried Oliver, losing his temper. "You're an
effeminate little rotter, and I'm through with you. Go on and wag your
tail and sit up and beg for biscuits----"

"Stop!" shouted Doggie, white with sudden anger which shook him from
head to foot. He marched to the door, his green silk dressing-gown
flapping round his legs, and threw it wide open. "This is my house.
I'm sorry to have to ask you to get out of it."

Oliver looked intently for a few seconds into the flaming little dark
eyes. Then he said gravely:

"I'm a beast to have said that. I take it all back. Good-bye!"

"Good day to you," said Doggie; and when the door was shut he went and
threw himself, shaken, on the couch, hating Oliver and all his works
more than ever. Go about barefoot and swab decks! It was Bedlam
madness. Besides being dangerous to health, it would be excruciating
discomfort. And to be insulted for not grasping at such martyrdom. It
was intolerable.

Doggie stayed away from the Deanery all that day. On the morrow he
heard, to his relief, that Oliver had returned to London with the
unedifying Chipmunk. He took Peggy for a drive in the Rolls-Royce, and
told her of Oliver's high-handed methods. She sympathized. She said,
however:

"Oliver's a rough diamond."

"He's one of Nature's non-gentlemen," said Doggie.

She laughed and patted his arm. "Clever lad!" she said.

So Doggie's wounded vanity was healed. He confided to her some of his
difficulties as to the peacock and ivory room.

"Bear with the old paper for my sake," she said. "It's something you
can do for me. In the meanwhile, you and I can put our heads together
and design a topping scheme of decoration. It's not too early to start
in right now, for it'll take months and months to get the house just
as we want."

"You're the best girl in the world," said Doggie; "and the way you
understand me is simply wonderful."

"Dear old thing," smiled Peggy; "you're no great conundrum."

Happiness once more settled on Doggie Trevor. For the next two or
three days he and Peggy tackled the serious problem of the
reorganization of Denby Hall. Peggy had the large ideas of a limited
though acute brain, stimulated by social ambitions. When she became
mistress of Denby Hall, she intended to reverse the invisible boundary
that included it in Durdlebury and excluded it from the County. It was
to be County--of the fine inner Arcanum of County--and only Durdlebury
by the grace of Peggy Trevor. No "durdling," as Oliver called it, for
her. Denby Hall was going to be the very latest thing of September,
1915, when she proposed, the honeymoon concluded, to take smart and
startling possession. Lots of Mrs. Trevor's rotten old stuffy
furniture would have to go. Marmaduke would have to revolutionize his
habits. As she would have all kinds of jolly people down to stay,
additions must be made to the house. Within a week after her
engagement she had devised all the improvements. Marmaduke's room,
with a great bay thrown out, would be the drawing-room. The present
drawing-room, nucleus of a new wing, would be a dancing-room, with
parquet flooring; when not used for tangos and the fashionable negroid
dances, it would be called the morning-room; beyond that there would
be a billiard-room. Above this first floor there could easily be built
a series of guest chambers. As for Marmaduke's library, or study, or
den, any old room would do. There were a couple of bedrooms
overlooking the stable yard which thrown into one would do
beautifully.

With feminine tact she dangled these splendours before Doggie's
infatuated eyes, instinctively choosing the opportunity of his
gratitude for soothing treatment. Doggie telegraphed for Sir Owen
Julius, R.A., Surveyor to the Cathedral, the only architect of his
acquaintance. The great man sent his partner, plain John Fox, who
undertook to prepare a design.

Mr. Fox came down to Durdlebury on the 28th of July. There had been a
lot of silly talk in the newspapers about Austria and Serbia, to which
Doggie had given little heed. There was always trouble in the Balkan
States. Recently they had gone to war. It had left Doggie quite cold.
They were all "Merry Widow," irresponsible people. They dressed in
queer uniforms and picturesque costumes, and thought themselves
tremendously important, and were always squabbling among themselves
and would go on doing it till the day of Doom. Now there was more
fuss. He had read in the _Morning Post_ that Sir Edward Grey had
proposed a Conference of the Great Powers. Only sensible thing to do,
thought Doggie. He dismissed the trivial matter from his mind. On the
morning of the 29th he learned that Austria had declared war on
Serbia. Still, what did it matter?

Doggie had held aloof from politics. He regarded them as somewhat
vulgar. Conservative by caste, he had once, when the opportunity was
almost forced on him, voted for the Conservative candidate of the
constituency. European politics on the grand scale did not arouse his
interest at all. England, save as the wise Mentor, had nothing to do
with them. Still, if Russia fought, France would have to join her
ally. It was not till he went to the Deanery that he began to
contemplate the possibility of a general European war. For the next
day or two he read his newspapers very carefully.

On Saturday, the 1st of August, Oliver suddenly reappeared, proposing
to stay over the Bank Holiday. He brought news and rumours of war from
the great city. He had found money very tight, Capital with a big C
impossible to obtain. Every one told him to come back when the present
European cloud had blown over. In the opinion of the judicious, it
would not blow over. There was going to be war, and England could not
stay out of it. The Sunday morning papers confirmed all he said.
Germany had declared war on Russia. France was involved. Would Great
Britain come in, or for ever lose her honour?

That warm beautiful Sunday afternoon they sat on the peaceful lawn
under the shadow of the great cathedral. Burford brought out the
tea-tray and Mrs. Conover poured out tea. Sir Archibald and Lady Bruce
and their daughter Dorothy were there. Doggie, impeccable in dark
purple. Nothing clouded the centuries-old serenity of the place. Yet
they asked the question that was asked on every quiet lawn, every
little scrap of shaded garden throughout the land that day: Would
England go to war?

And if she came in, as come in she must, what would be the result? All
had premonitions of strange shifting of destinies. As it was yesterday
so it was to-day in that gracious shrine of immutability. But every
one knew in his heart that as it was to-day so would it not be
to-morrow. The very word "war" seemed as out of place as the
suggestion of Hell in Paradise. Yet the throb of the War Drum came
over the broad land of France and over the sea and half over England,
and its echo fell upon the Deanery garden, flung by the flying
buttresses and piers and towers of the grey cathedral.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the morning of Wednesday, the 5th of August, it thundered all over
the Close. The ultimatum to Germany as to Belgium had expired the
night before. We were at war.

"Thank God," said the Dean at breakfast, "we needn't cast down our
eyes and slink by when we meet a Frenchman."



CHAPTER V


The first thing that brought the seriousness of the war home to Doggie
was a letter from John Fox. John Fox, a major in a Territorial
regiment, was mobilized. He regretted that he could not give his
personal attention to the proposed alterations at Denby Hall. Should
the plans be proceeded with in his absence from the office, or would
Mr. Trevor care to wait till the end of the war, which, from the
nature of things, could not last very long? Doggie trotted off to
Peggy. She was greatly annoyed.

"What awful rot!" she cried. "Fox, a major of artillery! I'd just as
soon trust you with a gun. Why doesn't he stick to his architecture?"

"He'd be shot or something if he refused to go," said Doggie. "But why
can't we turn it over to Sir Owen Julius?"

"That old archæological fossil?"

Peggy, womanlike, forgot that they had approached him in the first
place.

"He'd never begin to understand what we want. Fox hinted as much. Now
Fox is modern and up to date and sympathetic. If I can't have Fox, I
won't have Sir Owen. Why, he's older than Dad! He's decrepit. Can't we
get another architect?"

"Do you think, dear," said Doggie, "that, in the circumstances, it
would be a nice thing to do?"

She flashed a glance at him. She had woven no young girl's romantic
illusions around Marmaduke. Should necessity have arisen, she could
have furnished you with a merciless analysis of his character. But in
that analysis she would have frankly included a very fine sense of
honour. If he said a thing wasn't quite nice--well, it wasn't quite
nice.

"I suppose it wouldn't," she admitted. "We shall have to wait. But
it's a rotten nuisance all the same."

Hundreds of thousands of not very intelligent, but at the same time by
no means unpatriotic, people, like Peggy, at the beginning of the war
thought trivial disappointments rotten nuisances. We had all waxed too
fat during the opening years of the twentieth century, and, not having
a spiritual ideal in God's universe, we were in danger of perishing
from Fatty Degeneration of the Soul. As it was, it took a year or more
of war to cure us.

It took Peggy quite a month to appreciate the meaning of the
mobilization of Major Fox, R.F.A. A brigade of Territorial artillery
flowed over Durdlebury, and the sacred and sleepy meadows became a
mass of guns and horse-lines and men in khaki, and waggons and dingy
canvas tents--and the old quiet streets were thick with unaccustomed
soldiery. The Dean called on the Colonel and officers, and soon the
house was full of eager young men holding the King's commission.
Doggie admired their patriotism, but disliked their whole-hearted
embodiment of the military spirit. They seemed to have no ideas beyond
their new trade. The way they clanked about in their great boots and
spurs got on his nerves. He dreaded also lest Peggy should be affected
by the meretricious attraction of a uniform. There were fine hefty
fellows among the visitors at the Deanery, on whom Peggy looked with
natural admiration. Doggie bitterly confided to Goliath that it was
the "glamour of brawn." It never entered his head during those early
days that all the brawn of all the manhood of the nation would be
needed. We had our well-organized Army and Navy, composed of
peculiarly constituted men whose duty it was to fight; just as we had
our well-organized National Church, also composed of peculiarly
constituted men whose duty it was to preach. He regarded himself as
remote from one as from the other.

Oliver, who had made a sort of peace with Doggie and remained at the
Deanery, very quickly grew restless.

One day, walking with Peggy and Marmaduke in the garden, he said: "I
wish I could get hold of that confounded fellow, Chipmunk!"

Partly through deference to the good Dean's delicately hinted distaste
for that upsetter of decorous households, and partly to allow his
follower to attend to his own domestic affairs, he had left Chipmunk
in London. Fifteen years ago Chipmunk had parted from a wife somewhere
in the neighbourhood of the East India Docks. Both being illiterate,
neither had since communicated with the other. As he had left her
earning good money in a factory, his fifteen years' separation had
been relieved from anxiety as to her material welfare. A prudent,
although a beer-loving man, he had amassed considerable savings, and
it was the dual motive of sharing these with his wife and of
protecting his patron from the ever-lurking perils of London, that had
brought him across the seas. When Oliver had set him free in town, he
was going in quest of his wife. But as he had forgotten the name of
the street near the East India Docks where his wife lived, and the
name of the factory in which she worked, the successful issue of the
quest, in Oliver's opinion, seemed problematical. The simple Chipmunk,
however, was quite sanguine. He would run into her all right. As soon
as he had found her he would let the Captain know. Up to the present
he had not communicated with the Captain. He could give the Captain no
definite address, so the Captain could not communicate with him.
Chipmunk had disappeared into the unknown.

"Isn't he quite capable of taking care of himself?" asked Peggy.

"I'm not so sure," replied Oliver. "Besides, he's hanging me up. I'm
kind of responsible for him, and I've got sixty pounds of his money.
It's all I could do to persuade him not to stow the lot in his pocket,
so as to divide it with Mrs. Chipmunk as soon as he saw her. I must
find out what has become of the beggar before I move."

"I suppose," said Doggie, "you're anxious now to get back to the South
Seas?"

Oliver stared at him. "No, sonny, not till the war's over."

"Why, you wouldn't be in any great danger out there, would you?"

Oliver laughed. "You're the funniest duck that ever was, Doggie. I'll
never get to the end of you." And he strolled away.

"What does he mean?" asked the bewildered Doggie.

"I think," replied Peggy, smiling, "that he means he's going to
fight."

"Oh," said Doggie. Then after a pause he added, "He's just the sort of
chap for a soldier, isn't he?"

The next day Oliver's anxiety as to Chipmunk was relieved by the
appearance of the man himself, incredibly dirty and dusty and thirsty.
Having found no trace of his wife, and having been robbed of the money
he carried about him, he had tramped to Durdlebury, where he reported
himself to his master as if nothing out of the way had happened.

"You silly blighter," said Oliver. "Suppose I had let you go with your
other sixty pounds, you would have been pretty well in the soup,
wouldn't you?"

"Yes, Cap'en," said Chipmunk.

"And you're not going on any blethering idiot wild-goose chases after
wives and such-like truck again, are you?"

"No, Cap'en," said Chipmunk.

This was in the stable-yard, after Chipmunk had shaken some of the
dust out of his hair and clothes and had eaten and drunk voraciously.
He was now sitting on an upturned bucket and smoking his clay pipe
with an air of solid content. Oliver, lean and supple, his hands in
his pockets, looked humorously down upon him.

"And you've got to stick to me for the future, like a roseate leech."

"Yes, Cap'en."

"You're going to ride a horse."

"A wot?" roared Chipmunk.

"A thing on four legs, that kicks like hell."

"Wotever for? I ain't never ridden no 'osses."

"You're going to learn, you unmilitary-looking, worm-eaten scab.
You've got to be a ruddy soldier."

"Gorblime!" said Chipmunk, "that's the first I 'eard of it. A 'oss
soldier? You're not kiddin', are you, Cap'en?"

"Certainly not."

"Gorblime! Who would ha' thought it?" Then he spat lustily and sucked
at his pipe.

"You've nothing to say against it, have you?"

"No, Cap'en."

"All right. And look here, when we're in the army you must chuck
calling me Cap'en."

"What shall I have to call yer? Gineral?" Chipmunk asked simply.

"Mate, Bill, Joe--any old name."

"Ker-ist!" said Chipmunk.

"Do you know why we're going to enlist?"

"Can't say as 'ow I does, Cap'en."

"You chuckle-headed swab! Don't you know we're at war?"

"I did 'ear some talk about it in a pub one night," Chipmunk admitted.
"'Oo are we fighting? Dutchmen or Dagoes?"

"Dutchmen."

Chipmunk spat in his horny hands, rubbed them together and smiled. As
each individual hair on his face seemed to enter into the smile, the
result was sinister.

"Do you remember that Dutchman at Samoa, Cap'en?"

Oliver smiled back. He remembered the hulking, truculent German
merchant whom Chipmunk, having half strangled, threw into the sea. He
also remembered the amount of accomplished lying he had to practise in
order to save Chipmunk from the clutches of the law and get away with
the schooner.

"We leave here to-morrow," said Oliver. "In the meanwhile you'll have
to shave your ugly face."

For the first time Chipmunk was really staggered. He gaped at Oliver's
retiring figure. Even his limited and time-worn vocabulary failed him.
The desperate meaning of the war has flashed suddenly on millions of
men in millions of different ways. This is the way in which it flashed
on Chipmunk.

He sat on his bucket pondering over the awfulness of it and sucking
his pipe long after it had been smoked out. The Dean's car drove into
the yard and the chauffeur, stripping off his coat, prepared to clean
it down.

"Say, guv'nor," said Chipmunk hoarsely, "what do you think of this
'ere war?"

"Same as most people," replied the chauffeur tersely. He shared in the
general disapproval of Chipmunk.

"But see 'ere. Cap'en he tells me I must shave me face and be a 'oss
soldier. I never shaved me face in me life, and I dunno 'ow to do it,
just as I dunno 'ow to ride a 'oss. I'm a sailorman, I am, and
sailormen don't shave their faces and ride 'osses. That's why I arsked
yer what yer thought of this 'ere war."

The chauffeur struggled into his jeans and adjusted them before
replying.

"If you're a sailor, the place for you is the navy," he remarked in a
superior manner. "As for the cavalry, the Cap'en, as you call him,
ought to have more sense----"

Chipmunk rose and swung his long arms threateningly.

"Look 'ere, young feller, do you want to have your blinkin' 'ead
knocked orf? Where the Cap'en goes, I goes, and don't you make any
mistake about it!"

"I didn't say anything," the chauffeur expostulated.

"Then don't say it. See? Keep your blinkin' 'ead shut and mind your
own business."

And, scowling fiercely and thrusting his empty pipe into his trousers
pocket, Chipmunk rolled away.

A few hours later Oliver, entering his room to dress for dinner, found
him standing in the light of the window laboriously fitting studs into
a shirt. The devoted fellow having gone to report to his master, had
found Burford engaged in his accustomed task of laying out his
master's evening clothes--Oliver during his stay in London had
provided himself with these necessaries. A jealous snarl had sent
Burford flying. So intent was he on his work, that he did not hear
Oliver enter. Oliver stood and watched him. Chipmunk was swearing
wholesomely under his breath. Oliver saw him take up the tail of the
shirt, spit on it and begin to rub something.

"Ker-ist!" said Chipmunk.

"What in the thundering blazes are you doing there?" cried Oliver.

Chipmunk turned.

"Oh, my God!" said Oliver.

Then he sank on a chair and laughed and laughed, and the more he
looked at Chipmunk the more he laughed. And Chipmunk stood stolid,
holding the shirt of the awful, wet, thumb-marked front. But it was
not at the shirt that Oliver laughed.

"Good God!" he cried, "were you born like that?"

For Chipmunk, having gone to the barber's, was clean-shaven, and
revealed himself as one of the most comically ugly of the sons of men.

"Never mind," said Oliver, after a while, "you've made the sacrifice
for your country."

"And wot if I get the face-ache?"

"I'd get something that looked like a face before I'd talk of it,"
grinned Oliver.

At the family dinner-table, Doggie being present, he announced his
intentions. It was the duty of every able-bodied man to fight for the
Empire. Had not half a million just been called for? We should want a
jolly sight more than that before we got through with it. Anyway, he
was off to-morrow.

"To-morrow?" echoed the Dean.

Burford, who was handing him potatoes, arched his eyebrows in alarm.
He was fond of Oliver.

"With Chipmunk."

Burford uttered an unheard sigh of relief.

"We're going to enlist in King Edward's Horse. They're our kind.
Overseas men. Lots of 'em what you dear good people would call bad
eggs. There you make the mistake. Perhaps they mayn't be fresh enough
raw for a dainty palate--but for cooking, good hard cooking, by gosh!
nothing can touch 'em."

"You talk of enlisting, dear," said Mrs. Conover. "Does that mean as a
private soldier?"

"Yes--a trooper. Why not?"

"You're a gentleman, dear. And gentlemen in the Army are officers."

"Not now, my dear Sophia," said the Dean. "Gentlemen are crowding into
the ranks. They are setting a noble example."

They argued it out in their gentle old-fashioned way. The Dean quoted
examples of sons of family who had served as privates in the South
African War.

"And that to this," said he, "is but an eddy to a maelstrom."

"Come and join us, James Marmaduke," said Oliver across the table.
"Chipmunk and me. Three 'sworn brothers to France.'"

Doggie smiled easily. "I'm afraid I can't undertake to swear a
fraternal affection for Chipmunk. He and I would have neither habits
nor ideals in common."

Oliver turned to Peggy. "I wish," said he, with rare restraint, "he
wouldn't talk like a book on deportment."

"Marmaduke talks the language of civilization," laughed Peggy. "He's
not a savage like you."

"Don't you jolly well wish he was!" said Oliver.

Peggy flushed. "No, I don't!" she declared.

The Dean being called away on business immediately after dinner, the
young men were left alone in the dining-room when the ladies had
departed. Oliver poured himself out a glass of port and filled his
pipe--an inelegant proceeding of which Doggie disapproved. A pipe
alone was barbaric, a pipe with old port was criminal. He held his
peace however.

"James Marmaduke," said Oliver, after a while, "what are you going to
do?" Much as Marmaduke disliked the name of "Doggie," he winced under
the irony of the new appellation.

"I don't see that I'm called upon to do anything," he replied.

Oliver smoked and sipped his port. "I don't want to hurt your feelings
any more," said he gravely, "though sometimes I'd like to scrag you--I
suppose because you're so different from me. It was so when we were
children together. Now I've grown very fond of Peggy. Put on the right
track, she might turn into a very fine woman."

"I don't think we need discuss Peggy, Oliver," said Marmaduke.

"I do. She is sticking to you very loyally." Oliver was a bit of an
idealist. "The time may come when she'll be up the devil's own tree.
She'll develop a patriotic conscience. If she sticks to you while you
do nothing she'll be miserable. If she chucks you, as she probably
will, she'll be no happier. It's all up to you, James Doggie
Marmaduke, old son. You'll have to gird up your loins and take sword
and buckler and march away like the rest. I don't want Peggy to be
unhappy. I want her to marry a man. That's why I proposed to take you
out with me to Huaheine and try to make you one. But that's over. Now,
here's the real chance. Better take it sooner than later. You'll have
to be a soldier, Doggie."

His pipe not drawing, he was preparing to dig it with the point of a
dessert-knife, when Doggie interposed hurriedly.

"For goodness' sake, don't do that! It makes cold shivers run down my
back!"

Oliver looked at him oddly, put the extinct pipe in his dinner-jacket
pocket and rose.

"A flaw in the dainty and divine ordering of things makes you shiver
now, old Doggie. What will you do when you see a fellow digging out
another fellow's intestines with the point of a bayonet? A bigger flaw
there somehow!"

"Don't talk like that. You make me sick," said Doggie.



CHAPTER VI


During the next few months there happened terrible and marvellous
things, which are all set down in the myriad chronicles of the time;
which shook the world and brought the unknown phenomenon of change
into the Close of Durdlebury. Folks of strange habit and speech walked
in it, and, gazing at the Gothic splendour of the place, saw through
the mist of autumn and the mist of tears not Durdlebury but Louvain.
More than one of those grey houses flanking the cathedral and sharing
with it the continuity of its venerable life, was a house of mourning;
not for loss in the inevitable and not unkindly way of human destiny
as understood and accepted with long disciplined resignation--but for
loss sudden, awful, devastating; for the gallant lad who had left it
but a few weeks before, with a smile on his lips, and a new and
dancing light of manhood in his eyes, now with those eyes unclosed and
glazed staring at the pitiless Flanders sky. Not one of those houses
but was linked with a battlefield. Beyond the memory of man the reader
of the Litany had droned the accustomed invocation on behalf of the
Sovereign and the Royal Family, the Bishops, Priests and Deacons, the
Lords of the Council and all prisoners and captives, and the
congregation had lumped them all together in their responses with an
undifferentiating convention of fervour. What had prisoners and
captives, any more than the Lords of the Council, to do with their
lives, their hearts, their personal emotions? But now--Durdlebury men
were known to be prisoners in German hands, and after "all prisoners
and captives" there was a long and pregnant silence, in which was felt
the reverberation of war against pier and vaulted arch and groined
roof of the cathedral, which was broken too, now and then, by the
stifled sob of a woman, before the choir came in with the response so
new and significant in its appeal--"We beseech thee to hear us, O
Lord!"

And in every home the knitting-needles of women clicked, as they did
throughout the length and breadth of the land. And the young men left
shop and trade and counting-house. And young parsons fretted, and some
obtained the Bishop's permission to become Army chaplains, and others,
snapping their fingers (figuratively) under the Bishop's nose, threw
their cassocks to the nettles and put on the full (though in modern
times not very splendiferous) panoply of war. And in course of time
the brigade of artillery rolled away and new troops took their place;
and Marmaduke Trevor, Esquire, of Denby Hall, was called upon to
billet a couple of officers and twenty men.

Doggie was both patriotic and polite. Having a fragment of the British
Army in his house, he did his best to make them comfortable. By
January he had no doubt that the Empire was in peril, that it was
every man's duty to do his bit. He welcomed the new-comers with open
arms, having unconsciously abandoned his attitude of superiority over
mere brawn. Doggie saw the necessity of brawn. The more the better. It
was every patriotic Englishman's duty to encourage brawn. If the two
officers had allowed him, he would have fed his billeted men every two
hours on prime beefsteaks and burgundy. He threw himself heart and
soul into the reorganization of his household. Officers and men found
themselves in clover. The officers had champagne every night for
dinner. They thought Doggie a capital fellow.

"My dear chap," they would say, "you're spoiling us. I don't say we
don't like it and aren't grateful. We jolly well are. But we're
supposed to rough it--to lead the simple life--what? You're doing us
too well."

"Impossible!" Doggie would reply, filling up the speaker's glass.
"Don't I know what we owe to you fellows? In what other way can a
helpless, delicate crock like myself show his gratitude and in some
sort of little way serve his country?"

When the sympathetic and wine-filled guest would ask what was the
nature of his malady, he would tap his chest vaguely and reply:

"Constitutional. I've never been able to do things like other fellows.
The least thing bowls me out."

"Dam hard lines--especially just now."

"Yes, isn't it?" Doggie would answer. And once he found himself
adding, "I'm fed up with doing nothing."

Here can be noted a distinct stage in Doggie's development. He
realized the brutality of fact. When great German guns were yawning
open-mouthed at you, it was no use saying, "Take the nasty, horrid
things away, I don't like them." They wouldn't go unless you took
other big guns and fired at them. And more guns were required than
could be manned by the peculiarly constituted fellows who made up the
artillery of the original British Army. New fellows not at all
warlike, peaceful citizens who had never killed a cat in anger, were
being driven by patriotism and by conscience to man them. Against
Blood and Iron now supreme, the superior, æsthetic and artistic being
was of no avail. You might lament the fall in relative values of
collections of wall-papers and little china dogs, as much as you
liked; but you could not deny the fall; they had gone down with
something of an ignoble "wallop." Doggie began to set a high value on
guns and rifles and such-like deadly engines, and to inquire
petulantly why the Government were not providing them at greater
numbers and at greater speed. On his periodic visits to London he
wandered round by Trafalgar Square and Whitehall, to see for himself
how the recruiting was going on. At the Deanery he joined in ardent
discussions of the campaign in Flanders. On the walls of his peacock
and ivory room were maps stuck all over with little pins. When he told
the young officer that he was wearied of inaction, he spoke the truth.
He began to feel mightily aggrieved against Providence for keeping him
outside this tremendous national league of youth. He never questioned
his physical incapacity. It was as real a fact as the German guns. He
went about pitying himself and seeking pity.

The months passed. The regiment moved away from Durdlebury, and Doggie
was left alone in Denby Hall.

He felt solitary and restless. News came from Oliver that he had been
offered and had accepted an infantry commission, and that Chipmunk,
having none of the special qualities of a "'oss soldier," had, by
certain skilful wire-pullings, been transferred to his regiment, and
had once more become his devoted servant. "A month of this sort of
thing," he wrote, "would make our dear old Doggie sit up." Doggie
sighed. If only he had been blessed with Oliver's constitution!

One morning Briggins, his chauffeur, announced that he could stick it
no longer and was going to join up. Then Doggie remembered a talk he
had had with one of the young officers who had expressed astonishment
at his not being able to drive a car. "I shouldn't have the nerve," he
had replied. "My nerves are all wrong--and I shouldn't have the
strength to change tyres and things."... If his chauffeur went, he
would find it very difficult to get another. Who would drive the
Rolls-Royce?

"Why not learn to drive yourself, sir?" said Briggins. "Not the
Rolls-Royce. I would put it up or get rid of it, if I were you. If you
engage a second-rate man, as you'll have to, who isn't used to this
make of car, he'll do it in for you pretty quick. Get a smaller one in
its place and drive it yourself. I'll undertake to teach you enough
before I go."

So Doggie, following Briggins' advice, took lessons and, to his
amazement, found that he did not die of nervous collapse when a dog
crossed the road in front of the car and that the fitting of
detachable wheels did not require the strength of a Hercules. The
first time he took Peggy out in the two-seater he swelled with pride.

"I'm so glad to see you can do something!" she said.

Although she was kind and as mildly affectionate as ever, he had
noticed of late a curious reserve in her manner. Conversation did not
flow easily. There seemed to be something at the back of her mind. She
had fits of abstraction from which, when rallied, she roused herself
with an effort.

"It's the war," she would declare. "It's affecting everybody that
way."

Gradually Doggie began to realize that she spoke truly. Most people of
his acquaintance, when he was by, seemed to be thus afflicted. The
lack of interest they manifested in his delicacy of constitution was
almost impolite. At last he received an anonymous letter, "For little
Doggie Trevor, from the girls of Durdlebury," enclosing a white
feather.

The cruelty of it broke Doggie down. He sat in his peacock and ivory
room and nearly wept. Then he plucked up courage and went to Peggy.
She was rather white about the lips as she listened.

"I'm sorry," she said, "but I expected something of the sort to
happen."

"It's brutal and unjust."

"Yes, it's brutal," she admitted coldly.

"I thought you, at any rate, would sympathize with me," he cried.

She turned on him. "And what about me? Who sympathizes with me? Do you
ever give a moment's thought to what I've had to go through the last
few months?"

"I don't quite know what you mean," he stammered.

"I should have thought it was obvious. You can't be such an innocent
babe as to suppose people don't talk about you. They don't talk to you
because they don't like to be rude. They send you white feathers
instead. But they talk to me. 'Why isn't Marmaduke in khaki?' 'Why
isn't Doggie fighting?' 'I wonder how you can allow him to slack about
like that!'--I've had a pretty rough time fighting your battles, I can
tell you, and I deserve some credit. I want sympathy just as much as
you do."

"My dear," said Doggie, feeling very much humiliated, "I never knew. I
never thought. I do see now the unpleasant position you've been in.
People are brutes. But," he added eagerly, "you told them the real
reason?"

"What's that?" she asked, looking at him with cold eyes.

Then Doggie knew that the wide world was against him. "I'm not fit.
I've no constitution. I'm an impossibility."

"You thought you had nerves until you learned to drive the car. Then
you discovered that you hadn't. You fancy you've a weak heart. Perhaps
if you learned to walk thirty miles a day you would discover you
hadn't that either. And so with the rest of it."

"This is very painful," he said, going to the window and staring out.
"Very painful. You are of the same opinion as the young women who sent
me that abominable thing."

She had been on the strain for a long while and something inside her
had snapped. At his woebegone attitude she relented however, and came
up and touched his shoulder.

"A girl wants to feel some pride in the man she's going to marry. It's
horrible to have to be always defending him--especially when she's not
sure she's telling the truth in his defence."

He swung round horrified. "Do you think I'm shamming, so as to get out
of serving in the Army?"

"Not consciously. Unconsciously, I think you are. What does your
doctor say?"

Doggie was taken aback. He had no doctor. He had not consulted one for
years, having no cause for medical advice. The old family physician
who had attended his mother in her last illness and had prescribed
Gregory powders for him as a child, had retired from Durdlebury long
ago. There was only one person living familiar with his constitution,
and that was himself. He made confession of the surprising fact. Peggy
made a little gesture.

"That proves it. I don't believe you have anything wrong with you. The
nerves business made me sceptical. This is straight talking. It's
horrid, I know. But it's best to get through with it once and for
all."

Some men would have taken deep offence and, consigning Peggy to the
devil, have walked out of the room. But Doggie, a conscientious, even
though a futile human being, was gnawed for the first time by the
suspicion that Peggy might possibly be right. He desired to act
honourably.

"I'll do," said he, "whatever you think proper."

Peggy was swift to smite the malleable iron. To use the conventional
phrase might give an incorrect impression of red-hot martial ardour on
the part of Doggie.

"Good," she said, with the first smile of the day. "I'll hold you to
it. But it will be an honourable bargain. Get Dr. Murdoch to overhaul
you thoroughly, with a view to the Army. If he passes you, take a
commission. Dad says he can easily get you one through his old friend
General Gadsby at the War Office. If he doesn't, and you're unfit,
I'll stick to you through thick and thin, and make the young women of
Durdlebury wish they'd never been born."

She put out her hand. Doggie took it.

"Very well," said he, "I agree."

She laughed, and ran to the door.

"Where are you going?"

"To the telephone--to ring up Dr. Murdoch for an appointment."

"You're flabby," said Dr. Murdoch the next morning to an anxious
Doggie in pink pyjamas; "but that's merely a matter of unused muscles.
Physical training will set it right in no time. Otherwise, my dear
Trevor, you're in splendid health. I was afraid your family history
might be against you--the child of elderly parents, and so forth. But
nothing of the sort. Not only are you a first-class life for an
insurance company, but you're a first-class life for the Army--and
that's saying a good deal. There's not a flaw in your whole
constitution."

He put away his stethoscope and smiled at Doggie, who regarded him
blankly as the pronouncer of a doom. He went on to prescribe a course
of physical exercises, so many miles a day walking, such and such
back-breaking and contortional performances in his bathroom; if
possible, a skilfully graduated career in a gymnasium, but his words
fell on the ears of a Doggie in a dream; and when he had ended, Doggie
said:

"I'm afraid, Doctor, you'll have to write all that out for me."

"With pleasure," smiled the doctor, and gripped him by the hand. And
seeing Doggie wince, he said heartily: "Ah! I'll soon set that right
for you. I'll get you something--an india-rubber contrivance to
practise with for half an hour a day, and you'll develop a hand like a
gorilla's."

Dr. Murdoch grinned his way, in his little car, to his next patient.
Here was this young slacker, coddled from birth, absolutely
horse-strong and utterly confounded at being told so. He grinned and
chuckled so much that he nearly killed his most valuable old lady
patient, who was crossing the High Street.

But Doggie crept out of bed and put on a violet dressing-gown that
clashed horribly with his pink pyjamas, and wandered like a man in a
nightmare to his breakfast. But he could not eat. He swallowed a cup
of coffee and sought refuge in his own room. He was frightened.
Horribly frightened, caught in a net from which there was no
escape--not the tiniest break of a mesh. He had given his word--and in
justice to Doggie, be it said that he held his word sacred--he had
given his word to join the Army if he should be passed by Murdoch. He
had been passed--more than passed. He would have to join. He would
have to fight. He would have to live in a muddy trench, sleep in mud,
eat in mud, plough through mud, in the midst of falling shells and
other instruments of death. And he would be an officer, with all kinds
of strange and vulgar men under him, men like Chipmunk, for instance,
whom he would never understand. He was almost physically sick with
apprehension. He realized that he had never commanded a man in his
life. He had been mortally afraid of Briggins, his late chauffeur. He
had heard that men at the front lived on some solid horror called
bully-beef dug out of tins, and some liquid horror called cocoa, also
drunk out of tins; that men kept on their clothes, even their boots,
for weeks at a time; that rats ran over them while they tried to
sleep; that lice, hitherto associated in his mind with the most
revolting type of tramp, out there made no distinction of persons.
They were the common lot of the lowest Tommy and the finest gentleman.
And then the fighting. The noise of the horrid guns. The disgusting
sights of men shattered to bloody bits. The horrible stench. The
terror of having one's face shot half away and being an object of
revolt and horror to all beholders for the rest of life. Death.
Feverishly he ruffled his comely hair. Death. He was surprised that
the contemplation of it did not freeze the blood in his veins. Yes. He
put it clearly before him. He had given his word to Peggy that he
would go and expose himself to Death. Death. What did it mean? He had
been brought up in orthodox Church of England Christianity. His
flaccid mind had never questioned the truth of its dogmas. He
believed, in a general sort of way, that good people went to Heaven
and bad people went to Hell. His conscience was clear. He had never
done any harm to anybody. As far as he knew, he had broken none of the
Ten Commandments. In a technical sense he was a miserable sinner, and
so proclaimed himself once a week. But though, perhaps, he had done
nothing in his life to merit eternal bliss in Paradise, yet, on the
other hand, he had committed no action which would justify a kindly
and just Creator in consigning him to the eternal flames of Hell.
Somehow the thought of Death did not worry him. It faded from his
mind, being far less terrible than life under prospective conditions.
Discomfort, hunger, thirst, cold, fatigue, pain; above all the terror
of his fellows--these were the soul-racking anticipations of this new
life into which it was a matter of honour for him to plunge. And to an
essential gentleman like Doggie a matter of honour was a matter of
life. And so, dressed in his pink pyjamas and violet dressing-gown,
amid the peacock-blue and ivory hangings of his boudoir room, and
stared at by the countless unsympathetic eyes of his little china
dogs, Doggie Trevor passed through his first Gethsemane.

       *       *       *       *       *

His decision was greeted with joy at the Deanery. Peggy threw her arms
round his neck and gave him the very first real kiss he had ever
received. It revived him considerably. His Aunt Sophia also embraced
him. The Dean shook him warmly by the hand, and talked eloquent
patriotism. Doggie already felt a hero. He left the house in a glow,
but the drive home in the two-seater was cold and the pitch-dark night
presaged other nights of mercilessness in the future; and when Doggie
sat alone by his fire, sipping the hot milk which Peddle presented him
on a silver tray, the doubts and fears of the morning racked him
again. An ignoble possibility occurred to him. Murdoch might be wrong.
Murdoch might be prejudiced by local gossip. Would it not be better to
go up to London and obtain the opinion of a first-class man to whom he
was unknown? There was also another alternative. Flight. He might go
to America, and do nothing. To the South of France, and help in some
sort of way with hospitals for French wounded. He caught himself up
short as these thoughts passed through his mind, and he shuddered. He
took up the glass of hot milk and put it down again. Milk? He needed
something stronger. A glance in a mirror showed him his sleek hair
tousled into an upstanding wig. In a kind of horror of himself he went
to the dining-room and for the first time in his life drank a stiff
whisky and soda for the sake of the stimulant. Reaction came. He felt
a man once more. Rather suicide at once than such damnable dishonour.
According to the directions which the Dean, a man of affairs, had
given him, he sat down and wrote his application to the War Office for
a commission. Then--unique adventure!--he stole out of the barred and
bolted house, without thought of hat and overcoat (let the traducers
of alcohol mark it well), ran down the drive and posted the letter in
the box some few yards beyond his entrance gates.

The Dean had already posted his letter to his old friend General
Gadsby at the War Office.

So the die was cast. The Rubicon was crossed. The bridges were burnt.
The irrevocable step was taken. Dr. Murdoch turned up the next morning
with his prescription for physical training. And then Doggie trained
assiduously, monotonously, wearily. He grew appalled by the
senselessness of this apparently unnecessary exertion. Now and then
Peggy accompanied him on his prescribed walks; but the charm of her
company was discounted by the glaring superiority of her powers of
endurance. While he ached with fatigue, she pressed along as fresh as
Atalanta at the beginning of her race. When they parted by the Deanery
door, she would stand flushed, radiant in her youth and health, and
say:

"We've had a topping walk, old dear. Now isn't it a glorious thing to
feel oneself alive?"

But poor Doggie of the flabby muscles felt half dead.

       *       *       *       *       *

The fateful letter burdening Doggie with the King's commission arrived
a few weeks later: a second lieutenancy in a Fusilier battalion of the
New Army. Dates and instructions were given. The impress of the Royal
Arms at the head of the paper, with its grotesque perky lion and
unicorn, conveyed to Doggie a sense of the grip of some uncanny power.
The typewritten words scarcely mattered. The impress fascinated him.
There was no getting away from it. Those two pawing beasts held him in
their clutch. They headed a Death Warrant, from which there was no
appeal.

Doggie put his house in order, dismissed with bounty those of his
servants who would be no longer needed, and kept the Peddles, husband
and wife, to look after his interests. On his last night at home he
went wistfully through the familiar place, the drawing-room sacred to
his mother's memory, the dining-room so solid in its half-century of
comfort, his own peacock and ivory room so intensely himself, so
expressive of his every taste, every mood, every emotion. Those
strange old-world musical instruments--he could play them all with the
touch or breath of a master and a lover. The old Italian theorbo. He
took it up. How few to-day knew its melodious secret! He looked
around. All these daintinesses and prettinesses had a meaning. They
signified the magical little beauties of life--things which asserted a
range of spiritual truths, none the less real and consolatory because
vice and crime and ugliness and misery and war co-existed in ghastly
fact on other facets of the planet Earth. The sweetness here expressed
was as essential to the world's spiritual life as the sweet elements
of foodstuffs to its physical life. To the getting together of all
these articles of beauty he had devoted the years of his youth....
And--another point of view--was he not the guardian by inheritance--in
other words, by Divine Providence--of this beautiful English home, the
trustee of English comfort, of the sacred traditions of sweet English
life that had made England the only country, the only country, he
thought, that could call itself a Country and not a Compromise, in the
world?

And he was going to leave it all. All that it meant in beauty and
dignity and ease of life. For what?

For horror and filthiness and ugliness, for everything against which
his beautiful peacock and ivory room protested. Doggie's last night at
Denby Hall was a troubled one.

Aunt Sophia and Peggy accompanied him to London and stayed with him at
his stuffy little hotel off Bond Street, while Doggie got his kit
together. They bought everything in every West End shop that any
salesman assured them was essential for active service. Swords,
revolvers, field-glasses, pocket-knives (for gigantic pockets),
compasses, mess-tins, cooking-batteries, sleeping-bags, waterproofs,
boots innumerable, toilet accessories, drinking-cups, thermos flasks,
field stationery cases, periscopes, tinted glasses, Gieve waistcoats,
cholera belts, portable medicine cases, earplugs, tin-openers,
corkscrews, notebooks, pencils, luminous watches, electric torches,
pins, housewives, patent seat walking-sticks--everything that the man
of commercial instincts had devised for the prosecution of the war.

The amount of warlike equipment with which Doggie, with the aid of his
Aunt Sophia and Peggy, encumbered the narrow little passages of
Sturrocks's Hotel, must have weighed about a ton.

At last Doggie's uniforms--several suits--came home. He had devoted
enormous care to their fit. Attired in one he looked beautiful. Peggy
decreed a dinner at the Carlton. She and Doggie alone. Her mother
could get some stuffy old relation to spend the evening with her at
Sturrocks's. She wanted Doggie all to herself, so as to realize the
dream of many disgusting and humiliating months. And as she swept
through the palm court and up the broad stairs and wound through the
crowded tables of the restaurant with the khaki-clad Doggie by her
side, she felt proud and uplifted. Here was her soldier whom she had
made. Her very own man in khaki.

"Dear old thing," she whispered, pressing his arm as they trekked to
their table. "Don't you feel glorious? Don't you feel as if you could
face the universe?"

Peggy drank one glass of the quart of champagne. Doggie drank the
rest.

On getting into bed he wondered why this unprecedented quantity of
wine had not affected his sobriety. Its only effect had been to stifle
thought. He went to bed and slept happily, for Peggy's parting kiss
had been such as would conduce to any young man's felicity.

The next morning Aunt Sophia and Peggy saw him off to his depot, with
his ton of luggage. He leaned out of the carriage window and exchanged
hand kisses with Peggy until the curve of the line cut her off. Then
he settled down in his corner with the _Morning Post_. But he could
not concentrate his attention on the morning news. This strange
costume in which he was clothed seemed unreal, monstrous; no longer
the natty dress in which he had been proud to prink the night before,
but a nightmare, Nessus-like investiture, signifying some abominable
burning doom.

The train swept him into a world that was upside down.



CHAPTER VII


Those were proud days for Peggy. She went about Durdlebury with her
head in the air, and her step was as martial as though she herself
wore the King's uniform, and she regarded the other girls of the town
with a defiant eye. If only she could discover, she thought, the
sender of the abominable feather! In Timpany's drapery establishment
she raked the girls at the counter with a searching glance. At the
cathedral services she studied the demure faces of her contemporaries.
Now that Doggie was a soldier she held the anonymous exploit to be
cowardly and brutal. What did people know of the thousand and one
reasons that kept eligible young men out of the Army? What had they
known of Marmaduke? As soon as the illusion of his life had been
dispelled, he had marched away with as gallant a tread as anybody; and
though Doggie had kept to himself his shrinkings and his terrors, she
knew that what to the average hardily bred young man was a gay
adventure, was to him an ordeal of considerable difficulty. She longed
for his first leave, so that she could parade him before the town, in
the event of there being a lurking sceptic who still refused to
believe that he had joined the Army.

Conspicuous in the drawing-room, framed in silver, stood a large
full-length photograph of Doggie in his new uniform.

She wrote to him daily, chronicling the little doings of the town, at
times reviling it for its dullness. Dad, on numberless committees, was
scarcely ever in the house, except for hurried meals. Most of the
pleasant young clergy had gone. Many of the girls had gone too:
Dorothy Bruce to be a probationer in a V.A.D. hospital. If Durdlebury
were not such a rotten out-of-the-world place, the infirmary would be
full of wounded soldiers, and she could do her turn at nursing. As
things were, she could only knit socks for Tommies and a silk khaki
tie for her own boy. But when everybody was doing their bit, these
occupations were not enough to prevent her feeling a little slacker.
He would have to do the patriotic work for both of them, tell her all
about himself, and let her share everything with him in imagination.
She also expressed her affection for him in shy and slangy terms.

Doggie wrote regularly. His letters were as shy and conveyed less
information. The work was hard, the hours long, his accommodation
Spartan. They were in huts on Salisbury Plain. Sometimes he confessed
himself too tired to write more than a few lines. He had a bad cold in
the head. He was better. They had inoculated him against typhoid and
had allowed him two or three slack days. The first time he had
unaccountably fainted; but he had seen some of the men do the same,
and the doctor had assured him that it had nothing to do with
cowardice. He had gone for a route march and had returned a dusty lump
of fatigue. But after having shaken the dust out of his
moustache--Doggie had a playful turn of phrase now and then--and drunk
a quart of shandy-gaff, he had felt refreshed. Then it rained hard,
and they were all but washed out of the huts. It was a very strange
life--one which he never dreamed could have existed. "Fancy me," he
wrote, "glad to sleep on a drenched bed!" There was the riding-school.
Why hadn't he learned to ride as a boy? He had been told that the
horse was a noble animal and the friend of man. He was afraid he would
return to his dear Peggy with many of his young illusions shattered.
The horse was the most ignoble, malevolent beast that ever walked,
except the sergeant-major in the riding-school. Peggy was filled with
admiration for his philosophic endurance of hardships. It was real
courage. His letters contained simple statements of fact, but not a
word of complaint. On the other hand, they were not ebullient with
joy; but then, Peggy reflected, there was not much to be joyous about
in a ramshackle hut on Salisbury Plain. "Dear old thing," she would
write, "although you don't grouse, I know you must be having a pretty
thin time. But you're bucking up splendidly, and when you get your
leave I'll do a girl's very d----dest (don't be shocked; but I'm sure
you're learning far worse language in the Army) to make it up to you."
Her heart was very full of him.

Then there came a time when his letters grew rarer and shorter. At
last they ceased altogether. After a week's waiting she sent an
anxious telegram. The answer came back. "Quite well. Will write soon."
She waited. He did not write. One evening an unstamped envelope,
addressed to her in a feminine hand, which she recognized as that of
Marmaduke's anonymous correspondent, was found in the Deanery
letter-box. The envelope enclosed a copy of a cutting from the
"Gazette" of the morning paper, and a sentence was underlined and
adorned with exclamation marks at the sides.

    "R. Fusiliers. Tempy. 2nd Lieutenant J. Trevor resigns his
    commission."

The Colonel dealt with him as gently as he could in that final
interview. He put his hand in a fatherly way on Doggie's shoulder and
bade him not take it too much to heart. He had done his best; but he
was not cut out for an officer. These were merciless times. In matters
of life and death we could not afford weak links in the chain.
Soldiers in high command, with great reputations, had already been
scrapped. In Doggie's case there was no personal discredit. He had
always conducted himself like a gentleman and a man of honour, but he
had not the qualities necessary for the commanding of men. He must
send in his resignation.

"But what can I do, sir?" asked Doggie in a choking voice. "I am
disgraced for ever."

The Colonel reflected for a moment. He knew that Doggie's life had
been a little hell on earth from the first day he had joined. He was
very sorry for the poor little toy Pom in his pack of hounds. It was
scarcely the toy Pom's fault that he had failed. But the Great Hunt
could have no use for toy Poms. At last he took a sheet of regimental
notepaper and wrote:

    "DEAR TREVOR,--

    "I am full of admiration for the plucky way in which you have
    striven to overcome your physical disabilities, and I am only
    too sorry that they should have compelled the resignation of
    your commission and your severance from the regiment.

                                                 "Yours sincerely,
                                                     "L. G. CAIRD,
                                                         "Lt-Col."

He handed it to Doggie.

"That's all I can do for you, my poor boy," said he.

"Thank you, sir," said Doggie.

       *       *       *       *       *

Doggie took a room at the Savoy Hotel, and sat there most of the day,
the pulp of a man. He had gone to the Savoy, not daring to show his
face at the familiar Sturrocks's. At the Savoy he was but a number
unknown, unquestioned. He wore civilian clothes. Such of his uniforms
and martial paraphernalia as he had been allowed to retain in
camp--for one can't house a ton of kit in a hut--he had given to his
batman. His one desire now was to escape from the eyes of his
fellow-men. He felt that he bore upon him the stigma of his disgrace,
obvious to any casual glance. He was the man who had been turned out
of the army as a hopeless incompetent. Even worse than the
slacker--for the slacker might have latent the qualities that he
lacked. Even at the best and brightest, he could only be mistaken for
a slacker, once more the likely recipient of white feathers from any
damsel patriotically indiscreet. The Colonel's letter brought him
little consolation. It is true that he carried it about with him in
his pocket-book; but the gibing eyes of observers had not the X-ray
power to read it there. And he could not pin it on his hat. Besides,
he knew that the kindly Colonel had stretched a point of veracity. No
longer could he take refuge in his cherished delicacy of constitution.
It would be a lie.

Peggy, in her softest and most pitying mood, never guessed the nature
of Doggie's ordeal. Those letters so brave, sometimes so playful, had
been written with shaky hand, misty eyes, throbbing head, despairing
heart. Looking back, it seemed to him one blurred dream of pain. His
brother officers were no worse than those in any other Kitchener
regiment. Indeed, the Colonel was immensely proud of them and sang
their praises to any fellow-dugout who would listen to him at the
Naval and Military Club. But how were a crowd of young men, trained in
the rough and tumble of public schools, universities and sport, and
now throbbing under the stress of the new deadly game, to understand
poor Doggie Trevor? They had no time to take him seriously, save to
curse him when he did wrong, and in their leisure time he became
naturally a butt for their amusement.

"Surely I don't have to sleep in there?" he asked the subaltern who
was taking him round on the day of his arrival in camp, and showed him
his squalid little cubby-hole of a hut with its dirty boards, its
cheap table and chair, its narrow sleep-dispelling little bedstead.

"Yes, it's a beastly hole, isn't it? Until last month we were under
canvas."

"Sleeping on the bare ground?"

"Wallowing in the mud like pigs. Not one of us without a cold. Never
had a such filthy time in my life."

Doggie looked about him helplessly, while the comforter smiled grimly.
Already his disconsolate attitude towards the dingy hutments of the
camp and the layer of thick mud on his beautiful new boots had
diverted his companion.

"Couldn't I have this furnished at my own expense? A carpet and a
proper bed, and a few pictures----"

"I wouldn't try."

"Why not?"

"Some of it might get broken--not quite accidentally."

"But surely," gasped Doggie, "the soldiers would not be allowed to
come in here and touch my furniture?"

"It seems," said the subaltern, after a bewildered stare, "that you
have quite a lot to learn."

Doggie had. The subaltern reported a new kind of animal to the mess.
The mess saw to it that Doggie should be crammed with information--but
information wholly incorrect and misleading, which added to his many
difficulties. When his ton of kit arrived he held an unwilling
reception in the hut and found himself obliged to explain to gravely
curious men the use for which the various articles were designed.

"This, I suppose, is a new type of gas-mask?"

No. It was a patent cooker. Doggie politely showed how it worked. He
also demonstrated that a sleeping-bag was not a kit-sack of a size
unauthorized by the regulations, and that a huge steel-pointed
walking-stick had nothing to do with agriculture.

He was very weary of his visitors by the time they had gone. The next
day the Adjutant advised him to scrap the lot. So sorrowfully he sent
back most of his purchases to London.

Then the Imp of Mischance brought as a visitor to the mess, a
subaltern from another regiment who belonged to Doggie's part of the
country.

"Why--I'm blowed if it isn't Doggie Trevor!" he exclaimed carelessly.
"How d'ye do, Doggie?"

So thenceforward he was known in the regiment by the hated name.

There were rags in which, as he was often the victim, he was forced to
join. His fastidiousness loathed the coarse personal contact of arms
and legs and bodies. His undeveloped strength could not cope with the
muscle of his young brother barbarians. Aching with the day's fatigue,
he would plead, to no avail, to be left alone. Compared with these
feared and detested scraps, he considered, in after-times, battles to
be agreeable recreations.

Had he been otherwise competent, he might have won through the teasing
and the ragging of the mess. No one disliked him. He was
pleasant-mannered, good-natured, and appeared to bear no malice. True,
his ignorance not only of the ways of the army but of the ways of
their old hearty world, was colossal, his mode of expression rather
that of a precise old church dignitary than of a subaltern in a
regiment of Fusiliers, his habits, including a nervous shrinking from
untidiness and dirt, those of a dear old maid; but the mess thought,
honestly, that he could be knocked into their own social shape, and in
the process of knocking carried out their own traditions. They might
have succeeded if Doggie had discovered any reserve source of pride
from which to draw. But Doggie was hopeless at his work. The mechanism
of a rifle filled him with dismay. He could not help shutting his eyes
before he pulled the trigger. Inured all his life to lethargic action,
he found the smart crisp movements of drill almost impossible to
attain. The riding-school was a terror and a torture. Every second he
deemed himself in imminent peril of death. Said the sergeant-major:

"Now, Mr. Trevor, you're sitting on a 'orse and not a 'olly-bush."

And Doggie would wish the horse and the sergeant-major in hell.

Again, what notion could poor Doggie have of command? He had never
raised his mild tenor voice to damn anybody in his life. At first the
tone in which the officers ordered the men about shocked him. So
rough, so unmannerly, so unkind. He could not understand the cheery
lack of resentment with which the men obeyed. He could not get into
the way of military directness, could never check the polite "Do you
mind" that came instinctively to his lips. Now if you ask a private
soldier whether he minds doing a thing instead of telling him to do
it, his brain begins to get confused. As one defaulter, whose
confusion of brain had led him into trouble, observed to his mates:
"What can you do with a blighter who's a cross between a blinking
Archbishop and a ruddy dicky-bird?" What else, save show in divers and
ingenious ways that you mocked at his authority? Doggie had the
nervous dread of the men that he had anticipated. During his training
on parade, words of command stuck in his throat. When forced out, they
grotesquely mixed themselves together.

The Adjutant gave advice.

"Speak out, man. Bawl. You're dealing with soldiers at drill, not
saying sweet nothings to old ladies in a drawing-room."

And Doggie tried. Doggie tried very hard. He was mortified by his own
stupidity. Little points of drill and duty that the others of his own
standing seemed to pick up at once, almost by instinct, he could only
grasp after long and tedious toil. No one realized that his brain was
stupefied by the awful and unaccustomed physical fatigue.

And then came the inevitable end.

       *       *       *       *       *

So Doggie crept into the Savoy Hotel and hid himself there, wishing he
were dead. It was some time before he could write the terrible letter
to Peggy. He did so on the day when he saw that his resignation was
gazetted. He wrote after many anguished attempts:

    "DEAR PEGGY,--

    "I haven't written before about the dreadful thing that has
    happened, because I simply couldn't. I have resigned my
    commission. Not of my own free will, for, believe me, I would
    have gone through anything for your sake, to say nothing of the
    country and my own self-respect. To put it brutally, I have been
    thrown out for sheer incompetence.

    "I neither hope nor expect nor want you to continue your
    engagement to a disgraced man. I release you from every
    obligation your pity and generosity may think binding. I want
    you to forget me and marry a man who can do the work of this new
    world.

    "What I shall do I don't know. I have scarcely yet been able to
    think. Possibly I shall go abroad. At any rate I shan't return
    to Durdlebury. If women sent me white feathers before I joined,
    what would they send me now? It will always be my consolation to
    know that you once gave me your love, in spite of the pain of
    realizing that I have forfeited it by my unworthiness.

    "Please tell Uncle Edward that I feel keenly his position, for
    he was responsible for getting me the commission through General
    Gadsby. Give my love to my Aunt, if she will have it.

                                     "Yours always affectionately,
                                             J. MARMADUKE TREVOR."

By return of post came the answer:

    "DEAREST,--

    "We are all desperately disappointed. Perhaps we hurried on
    things too quickly and tried you too high all at once. I ought
    to have known. Oh, my poor dear boy, you must have had a
    dreadful time. Why didn't you tell me? The news in the 'Gazette'
    came upon me like a thunderbolt. I didn't know what to think.
    I'm afraid I thought the worst, the very horrid worst--that you
    had got tired of it and resigned of your own accord. How was one
    to know? Your letter was almost a relief.

    "In offering to release me from my engagement you are acting
    like the honourable gentleman you are. Of course, I can
    understand your feelings. But I should be a little beast to
    accept right away like that. If there are any feathers about, I
    should deserve to have them stuck on to me with tar. Don't think
    of going abroad or doing anything foolish, dear, like that, till
    you have seen me--that is to say, us, for Dad is bringing Mother
    and me up to town by the first train to-morrow. Dad feels sure
    that everything is not lost. He'll dig out General Gadsby and
    fix up something for you. In the meantime, get us rooms at the
    Savoy, though Mother is worried as to whether it's a respectable
    place for Deans to stay at. But I know you wouldn't like to meet
    us at Sturrocks's--otherwise you would have been there yourself.
    Meet our train. All love from

                                                          "PEGGY."

Doggie engaged the rooms, but he did not meet the train. He did not
even stay in the hotel to meet his relations. He could not meet them.
He could not meet the pity in their eyes. He read in Peggy's note a
desire to pet and soothe him and call him "Poor little Doggie," and he
writhed. He could not even take up an heroic attitude, and say to
Peggy: "When I have retrieved the past and can bring you an unsullied
reputation, I will return and claim you. Till then farewell." There
was no retrieving the past. Other men might fail at first, and then
make good; but he was not like them. His was the fall of Humpty
Dumpty. Final--irretrievable.

He packed up his things in a fright and, leaving no address at the
Savoy, drove to the Russell Hotel in Bloomsbury. But he wrote Peggy a
letter "to await arrival." If time had permitted he would have sent a
telegram, stating that he was off for Tobolsk or Tierra del Fuego, and
thereby prevented their useless journey; but they had already started
when he received Peggy's message.

Nothing could be done, he wrote, in effect, to her, nothing in the way
of redemption. He would not put her father to the risk of any other
such humiliation. He had learned, by the most bitter experience, that
the men who counted now in the world's respect and in woman's love
were men of a type to which, with all the goodwill in the world, he
could not make himself belong--he did not say to which he wished he
could belong with all the agony and yearning of his soul. Peggy must
forget him. The only thing he could do was to act up to her generous
estimate of him as an honourable gentleman. As such it was his duty to
withdraw for ever from her life. His exact words, however, were: "You
know how I have always hated slang, how it has jarred upon me, often
to your amusement, when you have used it. But I have learned in the
past months how expressive it may be. Through slang I've learned what
I am. I am a born 'rotter.' A girl like you can't possibly love and
marry a rotter. So the rotter, having a lingering sense of decency,
makes his bow and exits--God knows where."

Peggy, red-eyed, adrift, rudderless on a frightening sea, called her
father into her bedroom at the Savoy and showed him the letter. He
drew out and adjusted his round tortoise-shell-rimmed reading-glasses
and read it.

"That's a miraculously new Doggie," said he.

Peggy clutched the edges of his coat.

"I've never heard you call him that before."

"It has never been worth while," said the Dean.



CHAPTER VIII


At the Savoy, during the first stupefaction of his misery, Doggie had
not noticed particularly the prevalence of khaki. At the Russell it
dwelt insistent, like the mud on Salisbury Plain. Men that might have
been the twin brethren of his late brother officers were everywhere,
free, careless, efficient. The sight of them added the gnaw of envy to
his heartache. Even in his bedroom he could hear the jingle of their
spurs and their cheery voices as they clanked along the corridor. On
the third day after his migration he took a bold step and moved into
lodgings in Woburn Place. Here at least he could find quiet,
untroubled by heart-rending sights and sounds. He spent most of his
time in dull reading and dispirited walking. For he could walk now--so
much had his training done for him--and walk for many miles without
fatigue. For all the enjoyment he got out of it, he might as well have
marched round a prison yard. Indeed there were some who tramped the
prison yards with keener zest. They were buoyed up with the hope of
freedom, they could look forward to the ever-approaching day when they
should be thrown once more into the glad whirl of life. But the
miraculously new Doggie had no hope. He felt for ever imprisoned in
his shame. His failure preyed on his mind.

He dallied with thoughts of suicide. Why hadn't he salved, at any
rate, his service revolver? Then he remembered the ugly habits of the
unmanageable thing--how it always kicked its muzzle up in the air.
Would he have been able even to shoot himself with it? And he smiled
in self-derision. Drowning was not so difficult. Any fool could throw
himself into the water. With a view to the inspection of a suitable
spot, Doggie wandered, idly, in the dusk of one evening, to Waterloo
Bridge, and turning his back to the ceaseless traffic, leaned his
elbows on the parapet and stared in front of him. A few lights already
gleamed from Somerset House and the more dimly seen buildings of the
Temple. The dome of St. Paul's loomed a dark shadow through the mist.
The river stretched below very peaceful, very inviting. The parapet
would be easy to climb. He did not know whether he could dive in the
approved manner--hands joined over head. He had never learned to swim,
let alone dive. At any rate, he could fall off. In that art the
riding-school had proved him a past master. But the spot had its
disadvantages. It was too public. Perhaps other bridges might afford
more privacy. He would inspect them all. It would be something to do.
There was no hurry. As he was not wanted in this world, so he had no
assurance of being welcome in the next. He had a morbid vision of
avatar after avatar being kicked from sphere to sphere.

At this point of his reflections he became aware of a presence by his
side. He turned his head and found a soldier, an ordinary private,
very close to him, also leaning on the parapet.

"I thought I wasn't mistaken in Mr. Marmaduke Trevor."

Doggie started away, on the point of flight, dreading the possible
insolence of one of the men of his late regiment. But the voice of the
speaker rang in his ears with a strange familiarity, and the great
fleshy nose, the high cheek-bones, and the little grey eyes in the
weather-beaten face suggested vaguely some one of the long ago. His
dawning recognition amused the soldier.

"Yes, laddie. Ye're right. It's your old Phineas--Phineas McPhail,
Esq., M.A., defunct. Now 33702 Private P. McPhail redivivus."

He warmly wrung the hand of the semi-bewildered Doggie, who murmured:
"Very glad to meet you, I'm sure."

Phineas, gaunt and bony, took his arm.

"Would it not just be possible," he said, in his old half-pedantic,
half-ironic intonation, "to find a locality less exposed to the roar
of traffic and the rude jostling of pedestrians and the inclemency of
the elements, in which we can enjoy the amenities of a little refined
conversation?"

It was like a breath from the past. Doggie smiled.

"Which way are you going?"

"Your way, my dear Marmaduke, was ever mine, until I was swept, I
thought for ever, out of your path by a torrential spate of whisky."

He laughed, as though it had been a playful freak of destiny. Doggie
laughed, too. But for the words he had addressed to hotel and
lodging-house folk, he had spoken to no one for over a fortnight. The
instinctive craving for companionship made Phineas suddenly welcome.

"Yes. Let us have a talk," said he. "Come to my rooms, if you have the
time. There'll be some dinner."

"Will I come? Will I have dinner? Will I re-enter once more the
paradise of the affluent? Laddie, I will."

In the Strand they hailed a taxi and drove to Bloomsbury. On the way
Phineas asked:

"You mentioned your rooms. Are you residing permanently in London?"

"Yes," said Doggie.

"And Durdlebury?"

"I'm not going back."

"London's a place full of temptations for those without experience,"
Phineas observed sagely.

"I've not noticed any," Doggie replied. On which Phineas laughed and
slapped him on the knee.

"Man," said he, "when I first saw you I thought you had changed into a
disillusioned misanthropist. But I'm wrong. You haven't changed a
bit."

A few minutes later they reached Woburn Place. Doggie showed him into
the sitting-room on the drawing-room floor. A fire was burning in the
grate, for though it was only early autumn, the evening was cold. The
table was set for Doggie's dinner. Phineas looked round him in
surprise. The heterogeneous and tasteless furniture, the dreadful
Mid-Victorian prints on the walls--one was the "Return of the Guards
from the Crimea," representing the landing from the troop-ship,
repellent in its smug unreality, the coarse glass and well-used plate
on the table, the crumpled napkin in a ring (for Marmaduke who in his
mother's house had never been taught to dream that a napkin could
possibly be used for two consecutive meals!), the general air of
slipshod Philistinism--all came as a shock to Phineas, who had
expected to find in Marmaduke's "rooms" a replica of the fastidious
prettiness of the peacock and ivory room at Denby Hall. He scratched
his head, covered with a thick brown thatch.

"Laddie," said he gravely, "you must excuse me if I take a liberty;
but I canna fit you into this environment."

Doggie looked about him also. "Seems funny, doesn't it?"

"It cannot be that you've come down in the world?"

"To bed-rock," said Doggie.

"No?" said Phineas, with an air of concern. "Man, I'm awful sorry. I
know what the coming down feels like. And I, finding it not abhorrent
to a sophisticated and well-trained conscience, and thinking you could
well afford it, extracted a thousand pounds from your fortune. My dear
lad, if Phineas McPhail could return the money----"

Doggie broke in with a laugh. "Pray don't distress yourself, Phineas.
It's not a question of money. I've as much as ever I had. The last
thing in the world I've had to think of has been money."

"Then what in the holy names of Thunder and Beauty," cried Phineas,
throwing out one hand to an ancient saddle-bag sofa whose ends were
covered by flimsy rags, and the other to the decayed ormolu clock on
the mantelpiece, "what in the name of common sense are you doing in
this awful inelegant lodging-house?"

"I don't know," replied Doggie. "It's a fact," he continued after a
pause. "The scheme of decoration is revolting to every æsthetic sense
which I've spent my life in cultivating. Its futile pretentiousness is
the rasping irritation of every hour. Yet here I am. Quite
comfortable. And here I propose to stay."

Phineas McPhail, M.A., late of Glasgow and Cambridge, looked at Doggie
with his keen little grey eyes beneath bent and bristling eyebrows. In
the language of 33702 Private McPhail, he asked:

"What the blazes is it all about?"

"That's a long story," said Doggie, looking at his watch. "In the
meantime, I had better give some orders about dinner. And you would
like to wash."

He threw open a wing of the folding-doors, once in Georgian times
separating drawing-room from withdrawing-room, and now separating
living-room from bedroom, and switching on the light, invited McPhail
to follow.

"I think you'll find everything you want," said he.

Phineas McPhail, left alone to his ablutions, again looked round, and
he had more reason than ever to ask what it was all about. Marmaduke's
bedroom at Denby Hall had been a dream of satinwood and dull blue
silk. The furniture and hangings had been Mrs. Trevor's present to
Marmaduke on his sixteenth birthday. He remembered how he had been
bored to death by that stupendous ass of an old woman--for so he had
characterized her--during the process of selection and installation.
The present room, although far more luxurious than any that Phineas
McPhail had slept in for years, formed a striking contrast with that
remembered nest of effeminacy.

"I'll have to give it up," he said to himself. But just as he had put
the finishing touches to his hair an idea occurred to him. He flung
open the door.

"Laddie, I've got it. It's a woman."

But Doggie laughed and shook his head, and leaving McPhail, took his
turn in the bedroom. For the first time since his return to civil life
he ceased for a few moments to brood over his troubles. McPhail's
mystification amused him. McPhail's personality and address, viewed in
the light of the past, were full of interest. Obviously he was a man
who lived unashamed on low levels. Doggie wondered how he could have
regarded him for years with a respect almost amounting to veneration.
In a curious unformulated way Doggie felt that he had authority over
this man so much older than himself, who had once been his master. It
tickled into some kind of life his deadened self-esteem. Here at last
was a man with whom he could converse on sure ground. The khaki
uniform caused him no envy.

"The poet is not altogether incorrect," said McPhail, when they sat
down to dinner, "in pointing out the sweet uses of adversity. If it
had not been for the adversity of a wee bit operation, I should not
now be on sick furlough. And if I had not been on furlough I shouldn't
have the pleasure of this agreeable reconciliation. Here's to you,
laddie, and to our lasting friendship." He sipped his claret. "It's
not like the Lafitte in the old cellar--_Eheu fugaces anni et_--what
the plague is the Latin for vintages? But 'twill serve." He drank
again and smacked his lips. "It will even serve very satisfactorily.
Good wine at a perfect temperature is not the daily drink of the
British soldier."

"By the way," said Doggie, "you haven't told me why you became a
soldier."

"A series of vicissitudes dating from the hour I left your house,"
said Phineas, "vicissitudes the recital of which would wring your
heart, laddie, and make angels weep if their lachrymal glands were not
too busily engaged by the horrors of war, culminated four months ago
in an attack of fervid and penniless patriotism. No one seemed to want
me except my country. She clamoured for me on every hoarding and every
omnibus. A recruiting-sergeant in Trafalgar Square tapped me on the
arm, and said: 'Young man, your country wants you.' Said I with my
Scottish caution, 'Can you take your affidavit that you got the
information straight from the War Office?' 'I can,' said he. Then I
threw myself on his bosom and bade him take me to her. That's how I
became 33702 Private Phineas McPhail, A Company, 10th Wessex Rangers,
at the remuneration of one shilling and twopence per diem."

"Do you like it?" asked Doggie.

Phineas rubbed the side of his thick nose thoughtfully.

"There you come to the metaphysical conception of human happiness," he
replied. "In itself it is a vile life. To a man of thirty-five----"

"Good lord!" cried Doggie, "I always thought you were about fifty!"

"Your mother caught me young, laddie. To a man of thirty-five, a
graduate of ancient and honourable universities and a whilom candidate
for holy orders, it is a life that would seem to have no attraction
whatever. The hours are absurd, the work distasteful, and the mode of
living repulsive. But strange to say, it fully contents me. The secret
of happiness lies in the supple adaptability to conditions. When I
found that it was necessary to perform ridiculous antics with my legs
and arms, I entered into the comicality of the idea and performed them
with an indulgent zest which soon won me the precious encomiums of my
superiors in rank. When I found that the language of the canteen was
not that of the pulpit or the drawing-room, I quickly acquired the new
vocabulary and won the pleasant esteem of my equals. By means of this
faculty of adaptability I can suck enjoyment out of everything. But,
at the same time, mind you, keeping in reserve a little secret fount
of pleasure."

"What do you call a little secret fount of pleasure?" asked Doggie.

"I'll give you an illustration--and, if you're the man I consider you
to be, you'll take a humorous view of my frankness. At present I adapt
myself to a rough atmosphere of coarseness and lustiness, in which
nothing coarse or lusty I could do would produce the slightest ripple
of a convulsion: but I have my store of a cultivated mind and cheap
editions of the classics, my little secret fount of Castaly to drink
from whenever I so please. On the other hand, when I had the honour of
being responsible for your education, I adapted myself to a hot-house
atmosphere in which Respectability and the concomitant virtues of
Supineness and Sloth were cultivated like rare orchids; but in my
bedroom I kept a secret fount which had its source in some good Scots
distillery."

Whereupon he attacked his plateful of chicken with vehement gusto.

"You're a hedonist, Phineas," said Doggie, after a thoughtful pause.

"Man," said Phineas, laying down his knife and fork, "you've just hit
it. I am. I'm an accomplished hedonist. An early recognition of the
fact saved me from the Church."

"And the Church from you," said Doggie quietly.

Phineas shot a swift glance at him beneath his shaggy brown eyebrows.

"Ay," said he. "Though, mark you, if I had followed my original
vocation, the Bench of Bishops could not have surpassed me in the
unction in which I would have wallowed. If I had been born a bee in a
desert, laddie, I would have sucked honey out of a dead camel."

With easy and picturesque cynicism, and in a Glasgow accent which had
curiously broadened since his spell of Oriental ease at Denby Hall, he
developed his philosophy, illustrating it by incidents more or less
reputable in his later career. At first, possessor of the ill-gotten
thousand pounds and of considerable savings from a substantial salary,
he had enjoyed the short wild riot of the Prodigal's life. Paris saw
most of his money--the Paris which, under his auspices, Doggie never
knew. Plentiful claret set his tongue wagging in Rabelaisian
reminiscence. After Paris came husks. Not bad husks if you knew how to
cook them. Borrowed salt and pepper and a little stolen butter worked
wonders. But they were irritating to the stomach. He lay on the floor,
said he, and yelled for fatted calf; but there was no soft-headed
parent to supply it. Phineas McPhail must be a slave again and work
for his living. Then came private coaching, freelance journalism,
hunting for secretaryships: the commonplace story humorously told of
the wastrel's decline; then a gorgeous efflorescence in light green
and gold as the man outside a picture palace in Camberwell--and
lastly, the penniless patriot throwing himself into the arms of his
desirous country.

"Have you any whisky in the house, laddie?" he asked, after the dinner
things had been taken away.

"No," said Doggie, "but I could easily get you some."

"Pray don't," said McPhail. "If you had, I was going to ask you to be
kind enough not to let your excellent landlord, whom I recognize as a
butler of the old school, produce it. Butlers of the old school are
apt, like Peddle, to bring in a maddening tray of decanters, syphons,
and glasses. You may not believe me, but I haven't touched a drop of
whisky since I joined the army."

"Why?" asked Doggie.

McPhail looked at the long carefully preserved ash of one of Doggie's
excellent cigars.

"It's all a part of the doctrine of adaptability. In order to attain
happiness in the army, the first step is to avoid differences of
opinion with the civil and military police and non-commissioned
officers, and such-like sycophantic myrmidons of authority. Being a
man of academic education, it is with difficulty that I agree with
them when I'm sober. If I were drunk, my bonnie laddie"--he waved a
hand--"well--I don't get drunk. And as I have no use for whisky, as
merely an agreeable beverage, I have struck whisky out of my
hedonistic scheme of existence. But if you have any more of that
pleasant claret----"

Doggie rang the bell and gave the order. The landlord brought in
bottle and glasses.

"And now, my dear Marmaduke," said Phineas after an appreciative sip,
"now that I have told you the story of my life, may I, without
impertinent curiosity, again ask you what you meant when you said you
had come down to bed-rock?"

The sight of the man, smug, cynical, shameless, sprawling luxuriously
on the sofa, with his tunic unbuttoned, filled him with sudden fury:
such fury as Oliver's insult had aroused, such as had impelled him
during a vicious rag in the mess to clutch a man's hair and almost
pull it out by the roots.

"Yes, you may; and I'll tell you," he cried, starting to his feet.
"I've reached the bed-rock of myself--the bed-rock of humiliation and
disgrace. And it's all your fault. Instead of training me to be a man,
you pandered to my poor mother's weaknesses and brought me up like a
little toy dog--the infernal name still sticks to me wherever I go.
You made a helpless fool of me, and let me go out a helpless fool into
the world. And when you came across me I was thinking whether it
wouldn't be best to throw myself over the parapet. A month ago you
would have saluted me in the street and stood before me at attention
when I spoke to you----"

"Eh? What's that, laddie?" interrupted Phineas, sitting up. "You've
held a commission in the army?"

"Yes," said Doggie fiercely, "and I've been chucked. I've been thrown
out as a hopeless rotter. And who is most to blame--you or I? It's
you. You've brought me to this infernal place. I'm here in
hiding--hiding from my family and the decent folk I'm ashamed to meet.
And it's all your fault, and now you have it!"

"Laddie, laddie," said Phineas reproachfully, "the facts of my being a
guest beneath your roof and my humble military rank, render it
difficult for me to make an appropriate reply."

Doggie's rage had spent itself. These rare fits were short-lived and
left him somewhat unnerved.

"I'm sorry, Phineas. As you say, you're my guest. And as to your
uniform, God knows I honour every man who wears it."

"That's taking things in the right spirit," Phineas conceded graciously,
helping himself to another glass of wine. "And the right spirit is a
great healer of differences. I'll not go so far as to deny that there
is an element of justice in your apportionment of blame. There may, on
various occasions, have been some small dereliction of duty. But
you'll have been observing that in the recent exposition of my
philosophy I have not laboured the point of duty to disproportionate
exaggeration."

Doggie lit a cigarette. His fingers were still shaking. "I'm glad you
own up. It's a sign of grace."

"Ay," said Phineas, "no man is altogether bad. In spite of everything,
I've always entertained a warm affection for you, laddie, and when I
saw you staring at bogies round about the dome of St. Paul's Cathedral
my heart went out to you. You didn't look over-happy."

Doggie, always responsive to human kindness, was touched. He felt a
note of sincerity in McPhail's tone. Perhaps he had judged him
harshly, overlooking the plea in extenuation which Phineas had set
up--that in every man there must be some saving remnant of goodness.

"I wasn't happy, Phineas," he said; "I was as miserable an outcast as
could be found in London, and when a fellow's down and out, you must
forgive him for speaking more bitterly than he ought."

"Don't I know, laddie? Don't I know?" said Phineas sympathetically. He
reached for the cigar-box. "Do you mind if I take another? Perhaps
two--one to smoke afterwards, in memory of this meeting. It is a long
time since my lips touched a thing so gracious as a real Havana."

"Take a lot," said Doggie generously, "I don't really like cigars. I
only bought them because I thought they might be stronger than
cigarettes."

Phineas filled his pockets. "You can pay no greater compliment to a
man's honesty of purpose," said he, "than by taking him at his word.
And now," he continued, when he had carefully lit the cigar he had
first chosen, "let us review the entire situation. What about our good
friends at Durdlebury? What about your uncle, the Very Reverend the
Dean, against whom I bear no ill-will, though I do not say that his
ultimate treatment of me was not over-hasty--what about him? If you
call upon me to put my almost fantastically variegated experience of
life at your disposal, and advise you in this crisis, so I must ask
you to let me know the exact conditions in which you find yourself."

Doggie smiled once again, finding something diverting and yet
stimulating in the calm assurance of Private McPhail.

"I'm not aware that I've asked you for advice, Phineas."

"The fact that you're not aware of many things that you do is no proof
that you don't do them--and do them in a manner perfectly obvious to
another party," replied Phineas sententiously. "You're asking for
advice and consolation from any friendly human creature to whom you're
not ashamed to speak. You've had an awful sorrowful time, laddie."

Doggie roamed about the room, with McPhail's little grey eyes fixed on
him. Yes, Phineas was right. He would have given most of his
possessions to be able, these later days, to pour out his tortured
soul into sympathetic ears. But shame had kept him, still kept him,
would always keep him, from the ears of those he loved. Yes, Phineas
had said the diabolically right thing. He could not be ashamed to
speak to Phineas. And there was something good in Phineas which he had
noticed with surprise. How easy for him, in response to bitter
accusation, to cast the blame on his mother? He himself had given the
opening. How easy for him to point to his predecessor's short tenure
of office and plead the alternative of carrying out Mrs. Trevor's
theory of education or of resigning his position in favour of some
sycophant even more time-serving? But he had kept silent.... Doggie
stopped short and looked at Phineas with eyes dumbly questioning and
quivering lips.

Phineas rose and put his hands on the boy's shoulders, and said very
gently:

"Tell me all about it, laddie."

Then Doggie broke down, and with a gush of unminded tears found
expression for his stony despair. His story took a long time in the
telling; and Phineas interjecting an occasional sympathetic "Ay, ay,"
and a delicately hinted question, extracted from Doggie all there was
to tell, from the outbreak of war to their meeting on Waterloo Bridge.

"And now," cried he at last, a dismally tragic figure, his young face
distorted and reddened, his sleek hair ruffled from the back into
unsightly perpendicularities (an invariable sign of distracted
emotion) and his hands appealingly outstretched--"what the hell am I
going to do?"

"Laddie," said Phineas, standing on the hearthrug, his hands on his
hips, "if you had posed the question in the polite language of the
precincts of Durdlebury Cathedral, I might have been at a loss to
reply. But the manly invocation of hell shows me that your foot is
already on the upward path. If you had prefaced it by the adjective
that gives colour to all the aspirations of the British Army, it would
have been better. But I'm not reproaching you, laddie. _Poco à poco._
It is enough. It shows me you are not going to run away to a neutral
country and present the unedifying spectacle of a mangy little British
lion at the mercy of a menagerie of healthy hyenas and such-like
inferior though truculent beasties."

"My God!" cried Doggie, "haven't I thought of it till I'm half mad? It
would be just as you say--unendurable." He began to pace the room
again. "And I can't go to France. It would be just the same as
England. Every one would be looking white feathers at me. The only
thing I can do is to go out of the world. I'm not fit for it. Oh, I
don't mean suicide. I've not enough pluck. That's off. But I could go
and bury myself in the wilderness somewhere where no one would ever
find me."

"Laddie," said McPhail, "I misdoubt that you're going to settle down
in any wilderness. You haven't the faculty of adaptability of which I
have spoken to-night at some length. And your heart is young and not
coated with the holy varnish of callousness, which is a secret
preparation known only to those who have served a long apprenticeship
in a severe school of egotism."

"That's all very well," cried Doggie, "but what the----"

Phineas waved an interrupting hand. "You've got to go back, laddie.
You've got to whip all the moral courage in you and go back to
Durdlebury. The Dean, with his influence, and the letter you have
shown me from your Colonel, can easily get you some honourable
employment in either Service not so exacting as the one which you have
recently found yourself unable to perform."

Doggie threw a newly-lighted cigarette into the fire and turned
passionately on McPhail.

"I won't. You're talking drivelling rot. I can't. I'd sooner die than
go back there with my tail between my legs. I'd sooner enlist as a
private soldier."

"Enlist?" said Phineas, and he drew himself up straight and gaunt.
"Well, why not?"

"Enlist?" echoed Doggie in a dull tone.

"Have you never contemplated such a possibility?"

"Good God, no!" said Doggie.

"I have enlisted. And I am a man of ancient lineage as honourable, so
as not to enter into unproductive argument, as yours. And I am a
Master of Arts of the two Universities of Glasgow and Cambridge. Yet I
fail to find anything dishonourable in my present estate as 33702
Private Phineas McPhail in the British Army."

Doggie seemed not to hear him. He stared at him wildly.

"Enlist?" he repeated. "As a Tommy?"

"Even as a Tommy," said Phineas. He glanced at the ormolu clock. "It
is past one. The respectable widow woman near the Elephant and Castle
who has let me a bedroom will be worn by anxiety as to my non-return.
Marmaduke, my dear, dear laddie, I must leave you. If you will be
lunching here twelve hours hence, nothing will give me greater
pleasure than to join you. Laddie, do you think you could manage a
fried sole and a sweetbread?"

"Enlist?" said Doggie, following him out to the front door in a dream.

He opened the door. Phineas shook hands.

"Fried sole and a sweetbread at one-thirty?"

"Of course, with pleasure," said Doggie.

Phineas fumbled in his pockets.

"It's a long cry at this time of night from Bloomsbury to the Elephant
and Castle. You haven't the price of a taxi fare about you,
laddie--two or three pounds----?"

Doggie drew from his patent note-case a sheaf of one-pound and
ten-shilling treasury notes and handed them over to McPhail's vulture
clutch.

"Good night, laddie!"

"Good night!"

Phineas strode away into the blackness. Doggie shut the front door and
put up the chain and went back into his sitting-room. He wound his
fingers in his hair.

"Enlist? My God!"

He lit a cigarette and after a few puffs flung it into the grate. He
stared at the alternatives.

Flight, which was craven--a lifetime of self-contempt. Durdlebury,
which was impossible. Enlistment----?

Yet what was a man incapable yet able-bodied, honourable though
disgraced, to do?

His landlord found him at seven o'clock in the morning asleep in an
arm-chair.



CHAPTER IX


After a bath and a change and breakfast, Doggie went out for one of
his solitary walks. At Durdlebury such a night as the last would have
kept him in bed in a darkened room for most of the following day. But
he had spent many far, far worse on Salisbury Plain, and the
inexorable reveille had dragged him out into the raw dreadful morning,
heedless of his headache and yearning for slumber, until at last the
process of hardening had begun. To-day Doggie was as unfatigued a
young man as walked the streets of London, a fact which his mind was
too confusedly occupied to appreciate. Once more was he beset less by
the perplexities of the future than by a sense of certain impending
doom. For to Phineas McPhail's "Why not?" he had been able to give no
answer. He could give no answer now, as he marched with swinging step,
automatically, down Oxford Street and the Bayswater Road in the
direction of Kensington Gardens. He could give no answer as he stood
sightlessly staring at the Peter Pan statue.

A one-armed man in a khaki cap and hospital blue came and stood by his
side and looked in a pleased yet puzzled way at the exquisite poem in
marble. At last he spoke--in a rich Irish accent.

"I beg your pardon, sir, but could you be telling me the meaning of
it, at all?"

Doggie awoke and smiled.

"Do you like it?"

"I do," said the soldier.

"It is about Peter Pan. A kind of Fairy Tale. You can see the 'little
people' peeping out--I think you call them so in Ireland."

"We do that," said the soldier.

So Doggie sketched the outline of the immortal story of the Boy Who
Will Never Grow Old, and the Irishman listened with deep interest.

"Indeed," said he after a time, "it is good to come back to the true
things after the things out there." He waved his one arm in the vague
direction of the war.

"Why do you call them true things?" Doggie asked quickly.

They turned away, and Doggie found himself sitting on a bench by the
man's side.

"It's not me that can tell you that," said he, "and my wife and
children in Galway."

"Were you there at the outbreak of war?"

He was. A reservist called back to the colours after some years of
retirement from the army. He had served in India and South Africa, a
hard-bitten soldier, proud of the traditions of his old regiment.
There were scarcely any of them left--and that was all that was left
of him. He smiled cheerily. Doggie condoled with him on the loss of
his arm.

"Ah sure," he replied, "and it might keep me out of a fight when I go
into Ballinasloe."

"Who would you want to fight?" asked Doggie.

"The dirty Sinn Feiners that do be always shouting 'Freedom for
Ireland and to hell with freedom for the rest of the world.' If I
haven't lost my arm in a glorious cause, what have I lost it for? Can
you tell me that?"

Doggie agreed that he had fought for the greater freedom of humanity
and gave him a cigarette, and they went on talking. The Irishman had
been in the retreat from Mons, the first battle of Ypres, and he had
lost his arm in no battle at all; just a stray shell over the road as
they were marching back to billets. They discussed the war, the ethics
of it. Doggie still wanted to know why the realities of blood and mud
and destruction were not the true things. Gradually he found that the
Irishman meant that the true things were the spiritual, undying
things; that the grim realities would pass away; that from these dead
realities would arise the noble ideals of the future, which would be
symbolized in song and marble; that all he had endured and sacrificed
was but a part of the Great Sacrifice we were making for the Freedom
of the World. Being a man roughly educated on a Galway farm and in an
infantry regiment, he had great difficulty in co-ordinating his ideas;
but he had a curious power of vision that enabled him to pierce to the
heart of things, which he interpreted according to his untrained sense
of beauty.

They parted with expressions of mutual esteem. Doggie struck across
the Gardens with a view to returning home by Knightsbridge, Piccadilly
and Shaftesbury Avenue. He strode along, his thoughts filled with the
Irish soldier. Here was a man, maimed for life and quite content that
it should be so, who had reckoned all the horrors through which he had
passed as externals unworthy of the consideration of his unconquerable
soul; a man simple, unassuming, expansive only through his Celtic
temperament, which allowed him to talk easily to a stranger before
whom his English or Scotch comrade would have been dumb and gaping as
an oyster; obviously brave, sincere and loyal. Perhaps something even
higher. Perhaps, in essence, the very highest. The Poet-Warrior. The
term struck Doggie's brain with a thud, like the explosive fusion of
two elements.

During his walk to Kensington Gardens a poisonous current had run at
the back of his mind. Drifting on it, might he not escape? Was he not
of too fine a porcelain to mingle with the coarse and common pottery
of the ranks? Was it necessary to go into the thick of the coarse clay
vessels, just to be shattered? It was easy for Phineas to proclaim
that he found no derogation to his dignity as a man of birth and a
university graduate in identifying himself with his fellow privates.
Phineas had systematically brutalized himself into fitness for the
position. He had armed himself in brass--_æs triplex_. He smiled at
his own wit. But he, James Marmaduke Trevor, who had lived his life as
a clean gentleman, was in a category apart.

Now, he found that his talk with the Irishman had been an antidote to
the poison. He felt ashamed. Did he dare set himself up to be finer
clay than that common soldier? Spiritually, was he even of clay as
fine? In a Great Judgment of Souls which of the twain would be among
the Elect? The ultra-refined Mr. Marmaduke Trevor of Denby Hall, or
the ignorant poet-warrior of Ballinasloe? "Not Doggie Trevor," he said
between his teeth. And he went home in a chastened spirit.

Phineas McPhail appeared punctually at half-past one, and feasted
succulently on fried sole and sweetbread.

"Laddie," said he, "the man that can provide such viands is a Thing of
Beauty which, as the poet says, is a Joy for Ever. The light in his
window is a beacon to the hungry Tommy dragging himself through the
viscous wilderness of regulation stew."

"I'm afraid it won't be a beacon for very long," said Doggie.

"Eh?" queried Phineas sharply. "You'd surely not be thinking of
refusing an old friend a stray meal?"

Doggie coloured at the coarseness of the misunderstanding.

"How could I be such a brute? There won't be a light in the window
because I shan't be there. I'm going to enlist."

Phineas put his elbows on the table and regarded him earnestly.

"I would not take too seriously words spoken in the heat of midnight
revelry, even though the revel was conducted on the genteelest
principles. Have you thought of the matter in the cool and sober hours
of the morning?"

"Yes."

"It's an unco' hard life, laddie."

"The one I'm leading is a harder," said Doggie. "I've made up my
mind."

"Then I've one piece of advice to give you," said McPhail. "Sink the
name of Marmaduke, which would only stimulate the ignorant ribaldry of
the canteen, and adopt the name of James, which your godfathers and
godmothers, with miraculous foresight, considering their limitations
in the matter of common sense, have given you."

"That's a good idea," said Doggie.

"Also it would tend to the obliteration of class prejudices if you
gave up smoking Turkish cigarettes at ten shillings a hundred and
arrived in your platoon as an amateur of 'fags.'"

"I can't stand 'fags,'" said Doggie.

"You can. The human organism is so constituted that it can stand the
sweepings of the elephants' house in the Zoological Gardens. Try. This
time it's only 'fags.'"

Doggie took one from the crumpled paper packet which was handed to
him, and lit it. He made a wry face, never before having smoked
American tobacco.

"How do you like the flavour?" asked Phineas.

"I think I'd prefer the elephants' house," said Doggie, eyeing the
thing with disgust.

"You'll find it the flavour of the whole British Army," said McPhail.

       *       *       *       *       *

A few days later the Dean received a letter bearing the pencilled
address of a camp on the south coast, and written by 35792 Pvte. James
M. Trevor, A Company, 2-10th Wessex Rangers. It ran:

    "I hope you won't think me heartless for having left you so long
    without news of me; but until lately I had the same reasons for
    remaining in seclusion as when I last wrote. Even now I'm not
    asking for sympathy or reconsideration of my failure or desire
    in any way to take advantage of the generosity of you all.

    "I have enlisted in the 10th Wessex. Phineas McPhail, whom I met
    in London and whose character for good or evil I can better
    gauge now than formerly, is a private in the same battalion. I
    don't pretend to enjoy the life any more than I could enjoy
    living in a kraal of savages in Central Africa. But that is a
    matter of no account. I don't propose to return to Durdlebury
    till the end of the war. I left it as an officer and I'm not
    coming back as a private soldier. I enclose a cheque for £500.
    Perhaps Aunt Sophia will be so kind as to use the money--it
    ought to last some time--for the general upkeep, wages, etc., of
    Denby Hall. I feel sure she will not refuse me this favour. Give
    Peggy my love and tell her I hope she will accept the two-seater
    as a parting gift. It will make me happier to know that she is
    driving it.

    "I am keeping on as a _pied à terre_ in London the Bloomsbury
    rooms in which I have been living, and I've written to Peddle to
    see about making them more comfortable. Please ask anybody who
    might care to write to address me as 'James M.' and not as
    'Marmaduke.'"

The Dean read the letter--the family were at breakfast; then he took
off his tortoise-shell spectacles and wiped them.

"It's from Marmaduke at last," said he. "He has carried out my
prophecy and enlisted."

Peggy caught at her breath and shot out her hand for the letter, which
she read eagerly and then passed over to her mother. Mrs. Conover
began to cry.

"Oh, the poor boy! It will be worse than ever for him."

"It will," said Peggy. "But I think it splendid of him to try. How did
he bring himself to do it?"

"Breed tells," said the Dean. "That's what every one seems to have
forgotten. He's a thoroughbred Doggie. There's the old French proverb:
_Bon chien chasse de race._"

Peggy looked at him gratefully. "You're very comforting," she said.

"We must knit him some socks," observed Mrs. Conover. "I hear those
supplied to the army are very rough and ready."

"My dear," smiled the Dean, "Marmaduke's considerable income does not
cease because his pay in the army is one and twopence a day; and I
should think he would have the sense to provide himself with adequate
underclothing. Also, judging from the account of your shopping orgy in
London, he has already laid in a stock that would last out several
Antarctic winters."

The Dean tapped his egg gently.

"Then what can we do for the poor boy?" asked his wife.

The Dean scooped the top of his egg off with a vicious thrust.

"We can cut out slanderous tongues," said he.

There had been much calumniating cackle in the little town; nay, more:
cackle is of geese; there had been venom of the snakiest kind. The
Deanery, father and mother and daughter, each in their several ways,
had suffered greatly. It is hard to stand up against poisoned
ridicule.

"My dear," continued the Dean, "it will be our business to smite the
Philistines, hip and thigh. The reasons which guided Marmaduke in the
resignation of his commission are the concern of nobody. The fact
remains that Mr. Marmaduke Trevor resigned his commission in order
to----"

Peggy interrupted with a smile. "'In order to'--isn't that a bit
Jesuitical, daddy?"

"I have a great respect for the Jesuits, my dear," said the Dean,
holding out an impressive egg-spoon. "The fact remains, in the eyes of
the world, as I remarked, that Mr. Marmaduke Trevor of Denby Hall, a
man of fortune and high position in the county, resigned his
commission in order, for reasons best known to himself, to serve his
country more effectively in the humbler ranks of the army, and--my
dear, this egg is far too full for war time"--with a hazardous plunge
of his spoon he had made a yellow yelky horror of the egg-shell--"and
I'm going to proclaim the fact far and wide, and--indeed--rub it in."

"That'll be jolly decent of you, daddy," said his daughter. "It will
help a lot."

In the failure of Marmaduke to retain his commission the family honour
had not been concerned. The boy had done his best. They blamed not him
but the disastrous training that had unfitted him for the command of
men. They reproached themselves for their haste in throwing him
headlong into the fiercest element of the national struggle towards
efficiency. They could have found an easier school, in which he could
have learned to do his share creditably in the national work. Many
young men of their acquaintance, far more capable than Marmaduke, were
wearing the uniform of a less strenuous branch of the service. It had
been a blunder, a failure, but without loss of honour. But when
slanderous tongues attacked poor Doggie for running away with a yelp
from a little hardship; when a story or two of Doggie's career in the
regiment arrived in Durdlebury, highly flavoured in transit and more
and more poisoned as it went from mouth to mouth; when a legend was
spread abroad that he had bolted from Salisbury Plain and was run to
earth in a Turkish Bath in London, and was only saved from
court-martial by family influence, then the family honour of the
Conovers was wounded to its proud English depths. And they could say
nothing. They had only Doggie's word to go upon; they accepted it
unquestioningly, but they knew no details. Doggie had disappeared.
Naturally, they contradicted these evil rumours. The good folks of
Durdlebury expected them to do so, and listened with well-bred
incredulity. To the question, "Where is he now and what is he going to
do?" they could only answer, "We don't know." They were helpless.

Peggy had a bitter quarrel with one of her intimates, Nancy Murdoch,
daughter of the doctor who had proclaimed the soundness of Marmaduke's
constitution.

"He may have told you so, dear," said Nancy, "but how do you know?"

"Because whatever else he may be, he's not a liar," retorted Peggy.

Nancy gave the most delicate suspicion of a shrug to her pretty
shoulders.

That was the beginning of it. Peggy, naturally combative, armed for
the fight and defended Marmaduke.

"You talk as though you were still engaged to him," said Nancy.

"So I am," declared Peggy rashly.

"Then where's your engagement ring?"

"Where I choose to keep it."

The retort lacked originality and conviction.

"You can't send it back to him, because you don't know where he is.
And what did Mrs. Conover mean by telling mother that Mr. Trevor had
broken off the engagement?"

"She never told her any such thing," cried Peggy mendaciously. For
Mrs. Conover had committed the indiscretion under assurance of
silence.

"Pardon me," said Nancy, much on her dignity. "Of course I understand
your denying it. It isn't pleasant to be thrown over by any man--but
by a man like Doggie Trevor----"

"You're a spiteful beast, Nancy, and I'll never speak to you again.
You've neither womanly decency nor Christian feeling." And Peggy
marched out of the doctor's house.

As a result of the quarrel, however, she resumed the wearing of the
ring, which she flaunted defiantly with left hand deliberately
ungloved. Hitherto she had not been certain of the continuance of the
engagement. Marmaduke's repudiation was definite enough; but it had
been dictated by his sensitive honour. It lay with her to agree or
decline. She had passed through wearisome days of doubt. A physically
sound fighting man sent about his business as being unfit for war does
not appear a romantic figure in a girl's eyes. She was bitterly
disappointed with Doggie for the sudden withering of her hopes. Had he
fulfilled them she could have loved him wholeheartedly, after the
simple way of women; for her sex, exhilarated by the barbaric
convulsion of the land, clamoured for something heroic, something at
least intensely masculine, in which she could find feminine
exultation. She also felt resentment at his flight from the Savoy, his
silence and practical disappearance. Although not blaming him
unjustly, she failed to realize the spiritual piteousness of his
plight. If the war has done anything in this country, it has saved the
young women of the gentler classes, at any rate, from the abyss of
sordid and cynical materialism. Hesitating to announce the rupture of
the engagement, she allowed it to remain in a state of suspended
animation, and as a symbolic act, ceased to wear the ring. Nancy's
taunts had goaded her to a more heroic attitude. The first person to
whom she showed the newly-ringed hand was her mother.

"The engagement isn't off until I declare it's off. I'm going to play
the game."

"You know best, dear," said the gentle Mrs. Conover. "But it's all
very upsetting."

Then Doggie's letter brought comfort and gladness to the Deanery. It
reassured them as to his fate. It healed the wounded family honour. It
justified Peggy in playing the game.

She took the letter round to Dr. Murdoch's and thrust it into the hand
of an astonished Nancy, with whom since the quarrel she had not been
on speaking terms.

"This is in Marmaduke's handwriting. You recognize it. Just read the
top line when I've folded it. 'I have enlisted in the 10th Wessex.'
See?" She withdrew the letter. "Now, what could a man, let alone an
honourable gentleman, do more? Say you're sorry for having said
beastly things about him."

Nancy, who had regretted the loss of a lifelong friendship, professed
her sorrow.

"The least you can do then, is to go round and spread the news, and
say you've seen the letter with your own eyes."

To several others, on a triumphant round of visits, did she show the
vindicating sentence. Any soft young fool, she asserted, with the
directness and not unattractive truculence of her generation, can get
a commission and muddle through, but it took a man to enlist as a
private soldier.

"Everybody recognizes now, darling," said the reconciled Nancy a few
days later, "that Doggie is a top-hole, splendid chap. But I think I
ought to tell you that you're boring Durdlebury stiff."

Peggy laughed. It was good to be engaged to a man no longer under a
cloud.

"It will all come right, dear old thing," she wrote to Doggie. "It's a
cinch, as the Americans say. You'll soon get used to it--especially if
you can realize what it means to me. 'Saving face' has been an awful
business. Now it's all over. Of course, I'll accept the two-seater.
I've had lessons in driving since you went away--I had thoughts of
going out to France to drive Y.M.C.A. cars, but that's off for the
present. I'll love the two-seater. Swank won't be the word. But 'a
parting gift' is all rot. The engagement stands and all Durdlebury
knows it..." and so on, and so on. She set herself out, honestly,
loyally, to be the kindest girl in the world to Doggie. Mrs. Conover
happened to come into the drawing-room just as she was licking the
stamp. She thumped it on the envelope with her palm and, looking round
from the writing-desk against the wall, showed her mother a flushed
and smiling face.

"If anybody says I'm not good--the goodest thing the cathedral has
turned out for half a dozen centuries--I'll tear her horrid eyes out
from their sockets!"

"My dear!" cried her horrified mother.

       *       *       *       *       *

Doggie kept the letter unopened in his tunic pocket until he could
find solitude in which to read it. After morning parade he wandered to
the deserted trench at the end of the camp, where the stuffed sacks,
representing German defenders, were hung for bayonet practice. It was
a noon of grey mist through which the alignments of huts and tents
were barely visible. Instinctively avoiding the wet earth of the
parados, he went round, and, tired after the recent spell of physical
drill, sat down on the equally wet sandbags of the model parapet, a
pathetic, lonely little khaki figure isolated for the moment by the
kindly mist from an uncomprehending world.

He read Peggy's letter several times. He recognized her goodness, her
loyalty. The grateful tears even came to his eyes and he brushed them
away hurriedly with a swift look round. But his heart beat none the
faster. A long-faded memory of childhood came back to him in regained
colour. Some quarrel with Peggy. What it was all about he had entirely
forgotten; but he remembered her little flushed face and her angry
words: "Well, I'm a sport and you ain't!" He remembered also rebuking
her priggishly for unintelligible language and mincing away. He read
the letter again in the light of this flash of memory. The only
difference between it and the childish speech lay in the fact that
instead of a declaration of contrasts, she now uttered a declaration
of similitudes. They were both "sports." There she was wrong. Doggie
shook his head. In her sense of the word he was not a "sport." A sport
takes chances, plays the game with a smile on his lips. There was no
smile on his. He loathed the game with a sickening, shivering
loathing. He was engaged in it because a conglomeration of
irresistible forces had driven him into the _mêlée_. It never
occurred to Doggie that he was under orders of his own soul. This
simple yet stupendous fact never occurred to Peggy.

He sat on the wet sandbags and thought and thought. Though he
reproached himself for base ingratitude, the letter did not satisfy
him. It left his heart cold. What he sought in it he did not know. It
was something he could not find, something that was not there. The
sea-mist thickened around him. Peggy seemed very far away.... He was
still engaged to her--for it would be monstrous to persist in his
withdrawal. He must accept the situation which she decreed. He owed
that to her loyalty. But how to continue the correspondence? It was
hard enough to write from Salisbury Plain; from here it was well-nigh
impossible.

Thus was Doggie brought up against a New Problem. He struggled
desperately to defer its solution.



CHAPTER X


The regiments of the new armies have gathered into their rank and file
a mixed crowd transcending the dreams of Democracy. At one end of the
social scale are men of refined minds and gentle nurture, at the other
creatures from the slums, with slum minds and morals, and between them
the whole social gamut is run. Experience seems to show that neither
of the extreme elements tend, in the one case to elevate, or in the
other to debase the battalion. Leading the common life, sharing the
common hardships, striving towards common ideals, they inevitably,
irresistibly tend to merge themselves in the average. The highest in
the scale sink, the lowest rise. The process, as far as the change of
soul state is concerned, is infinitely more to the amelioration of the
lowest than to the degradation of the highest. The one, also, is more
real, the other more apparent. In the one case, it is merely the
shuffling-off of manners, of habits, of prejudices, and the assuming
of others horribly distasteful or humorously accepted, according to
temperament; in the other case, it is an enforced education. And all
the congeries of human atoms that make up the battalion, learn new and
precious lessons and acquire new virtues--patience, obedience,
courage, endurance.... But from the point of view of a decorous
tea-party in a cathedral town, the tone--or the standard of manners,
or whatever you would like by way of definition of that vague and
comforting word--the tone of the average is deplorably low. The
hooligan may be kicked for excessive foulness; but the rider of the
high horse is brutally dragged down into the mire. The curious part of
it all is that, the gutter element being eliminated altogether, the
corporate standard of the remaining majority is lower than the
standard of each individual.

By developing a philosophical disquisition on some such lines did
Phineas McPhail seek to initiate Doggie into the weird mysteries of
the new social life. Doggie heard with his ears, but thought in terms
of Durdlebury tea-parties. Nowhere in the mass could he find the
spiritual outlook of his Irish poet-warrior. The individuals that may
have had it kept it preciously to themselves. The outlook, as conveyed
in speech, was grossly materialistic. From the language of the canteen
he recoiled in disgust. He could not reconcile it with the nobler
attributes of the users. It was in vain for Phineas to plead that he
must accept the _lingua franca_ of the British Army like all other
things appertaining thereto. Doggie's stomach revolted against most of
the other things. The disregard (from his point of view) of personal
cleanliness universal in the ranks, filled him with dismay. Even on
Salisbury Plain he had managed to get a little hot water for his
morning tub. Here, save in the officers' quarters--curiously remote,
inaccessible paradise!--there was not such a thing as a tub in the
place, let alone hot water to fill it. The men never dreamed of such a
thing as a tub. As a matter of fact, they were scrupulously clean
according to the lights of the British Tommy; but the lights were not
those of Marmaduke Trevor. He had learned the supreme wisdom of
keeping lips closed on such matters and did not complain, but all his
fastidiousness rebelled. He hated the sluice of head and shoulders
with water from a bucket in the raw open air. His hands swelled,
blistered and cracked; and his nails, once so beautifully manicured,
grew rich black rims, and all the icy water in the buckets would not
remove the grime.

Now and then he went into the town and had a hot bath; but very few of
the others ever seemed to think of such a thing. The habit of the
British Army of going to bed in its day-shirt was peculiarly
repellent. Yet Doggie knew that to vary from the sacred ways of his
fellow-men was to bring disaster on his head.

Some of the men slept under canvas still. But Doggie, fortunately as
he reckoned (for he had begun to appreciate fine shades in misery),
was put with a dozen others in a ramshackle hut of which the woodwork
had warped and let in the breezes above, below, and all round the sides.
Doggie, though dismally cold, welcomed the air for obvious reasons.
They were fortunate, too, in having straw palliasses--recently
provided when it was discovered that sleeping on badly boarded floors
with fierce draughts blowing upwards along human spines was strangely
fatal to human bodies--but Doggie found his bed very hard lying. And
it smelt sour and sickly. For nights, in spite of fatigue, he could
not sleep. His mates sang and talked and bandied jests and sarcasms of
esoteric meaning. Some of the recruits from factories or farms
satirized their officers for peculiarities common to their social
caste and gave grotesque imitations of their mode of speech. Doggie
wondered, but held his peace. The deadly stupidity and weariness of it
all! And when the talk stopped and they settled to sleep, the snorings
and mutterings and coughings began and kept poor Doggie awake most of
the night. The irremediable, intimate propinquity with coarse humanity
oppressed him. He would have given worlds to go out, even into the
pouring rain, and walk about the camp or sleep under a hedge, so long
as he could be alone. And he would think longingly of his satinwood
bedroom, with its luxurious bed and lavender-scented sheets, and of
his beloved peacock and ivory room and its pictures and exquisite
furniture and the great fire roaring up the chimney, and devise
intricate tortures for the Kaiser who had dragged him down to this
squalor.

The meals--the rough cooking, the primitive service--the table manners
of his companions, offended his delicate senses. He missed napkins.
Never could he bring himself to wipe his mouth with the back of his
hand and the back of his hand on the seat of his trousers. Nor could
he watch with equanimity an honest soul pick his teeth with his little
finger. But Doggie knew that acquiescence was the way of happiness and
protest the way of woe.

At first he made few acquaintances beyond those with whom he was
intimately associated. It seemed more politic to obey his instincts
and remain unobtrusive in company and drift away inoffensively when
the chance occurred. One of the men with whom he talked occasionally
was a red-headed little cockney by the name of Shendish. For some
reason or the other--perhaps because his name conveyed a perfectly
wrong suggestion of the Hebraic--he was always called "Mo" Shendish.

"Don't yer wish yer was back, mate?" he asked one day, having waited
to speak till Doggie had addressed and stamped a letter which he was
writing at the end of the canteen table.

"Where?" said Doggie.

"'Ome, sweet 'ome. In the family castle, where gilded footmen 'ands
sausage and mash about on trays and quarts of beer all day long. I
do."

"You're a lucky chap to have a castle," said Doggie.

Mo Shendish grinned. He showed little yellow teeth beneath a little
red moustache.

"I ain't 'alf got one," said he. "It's in Mare Street, Hackney. I wish
I was there now."

He sighed, and in an abstracted way he took a half-smoked cigarette
from behind his ear and relit it.

"What were yer before yer joined? Yer look like a clerk." He
pronounced it as if it were spelt with a "u."

"Something of the sort," replied Doggie cautiously.

"One can always tell you eddicated blokes. Making your five quid a
week easy, I suppose?"

"About that," said Doggie. "What were you?"

"I was making my thirty bob a week regular. I was in the fish
business, I was. And now I'm serving my ruddy country at one and
twopence a day. Funny life, ain't it?"

"I can't say it's very enjoyable," said Doggie.

"Not the same as sitting in a snug orfis all day with a pen in your
lily-white 'and, and going 'ome to your 'igh tea in a top 'at. What
made you join up?"

"The force of circumstances," said Doggie.

"Same 'ere," said Mo; "only I couldn't put it into such fancy
language. First my pals went out one after the other. Then the gels
began to look saucy at me, and at last one particular bit of skirt
what I'd been walking out with took to promenading with a blighter in
khaki. It'd have been silly of me to go and knock his 'ead off, so I
enlisted. And it's all right now."

"Just the same sort of thing in my case," replied Doggie. "I'm glad
things are right with the young lady."

"First class. She's straight, she is, and no mistake abaht it. She's
a----"

He paused for a word to express the inexpressive she.

"--A paragon--a peach?"--Doggie corrected himself. Then, as the sudden
frown of perplexed suspicion was swiftly replaced by a grin of
content, he was struck by a bright idea.

"What's her name?"

"Aggie. What's yours?"

"Gladys," replied Doggie with miraculous readiness of invention.

"I've got her photograph," Shendish confided in a whisper, and laid
his hand on his tunic pocket. Then he looked round at the half-filled
canteen to see that he was unobserved. "You won't give me away if I
show it yer, will yer?"

Doggie swore secrecy. The photograph of Aggie, an angular,
square-browed damsel, who looked as though she could guide the most
recalcitrant of fishmongers into the paths of duty, was produced and
thrust into Doggie's hand. He inspected it with polite appreciation,
while his red-headed friend regarded him with fatuous anxiety.

"Charming! charming!" said Doggie in his pleasantest way. "What's her
colouring?"

"Fair hair and blue eyes," said Shendish.

The kindly question, half idle yet unconsciously tactful, was one of
those human things which cost so little but are worth so much. It gave
Doggie a devoted friend.

"Mo," said he, a day or two later, "you're such a decent chap. Why do
you use such abominable language?"

"Gawd knows," smiled Mo, unabashed. "I suppose it's friendly like." He
wrinkled his brow in thought for an instant. "That's where I think
you're making a mistake, old pal, if you don't mind my mentioning it.
I know what yer are, but the others don't. You're not friendly enough.
See what I mean? Supposin' you say as you would in a city restoorang
when you're 'aving yer lunch, 'Will yer kindly pass me the
salt?'--well, that's standoffish--they say 'Come off it! 'But if you
look about and say, 'Where's the b----y salt?' that's friendly. They
understand. They chuck it at you."

Said Doggie, "It's very--I mean b----y--difficult."

So he tried to be friendly; and if he met with no great positive
success, he at least escaped animosity. In his spare time he mooned
about by himself, shy, disgusted, and miserable. Once, when a group of
men were kicking a football about, the ball rolled his way. Instead of
kicking it back to the expectant players, he picked it up and advanced
to the nearest and handed it to him politely.

"Thanks, mate," said the astonished man, "but why didn't you kick it?"

He turned away without waiting for a reply. Doggie had not kicked it
because he had never kicked a football in his life and shrank from an
exhibition of incompetence.

At drill things were easier than on Salisbury Plain, his actions being
veiled in the obscurity of squad or platoon or company. Many others
besides himself were cursed by sergeants and rated by subalterns and
drastically entreated by captains. He had the consolation of community
in suffering. As a trembling officer he had been the only one, the
only one marked and labelled as a freak apart, the only one stuck in
the eternal pillory. Here were fools and incapables even more dull and
ineffective than he. A plough-boy fellow-recruit from Dorsetshire,
Pugsley by name, did not know right from left, and having mastered the
art of forming fours, could not get into his brain the reverse process
of forming front. He wept under the lash of the corporal's tongue; and
to Doggie these tears were healing dews of Heaven's distillation. By
degrees he learned the many arts of war as taught to the private
soldier in England. He could refrain from shutting his eyes when he
pressed the trigger of his rifle, but to the end of his career his
shooting was erratic. He could perform with the weapon the other
tricks of precision. Unencumbered he could march with the best. The
torture of the heavy pack nearly killed him; but in time, as his
muscles developed, he was able to slog along under the burden. He even
learned to dig. That was the worst and most back-breaking art of all.

Now and then Phineas McPhail and himself would get together and walk
into the little seaside town. It was out of the season and there was
little to look at save the deserted shops and the squall-fretted pier
and the maidens of the place who usually were in company with lads in
khaki. Sometimes a girl alone would give Doggie a glance of shy
invitation, for Doggie in his short slight way was not a bad-looking
fellow, carrying himself well and wearing his uniform with instinctive
grace. But the damsel ogled in vain.

On one such occasion Phineas burst into a guffaw.

"Why don't you talk to the poor body? She's a respectable girl enough.
Where's the harm?"

"Go 'square-pushing'?" said Doggie contemptuously, using the soldiers'
slang for walking about with a young woman. "No, thank you."

"And why not? I'm not counselling you, laddie, to plunge into a course
of sensual debauchery. But a wee bit gossip with a pretty innocent
girl----"

"My dear good chap," Doggie interrupted, "what on earth should I have
in common with her?"

"Youth."

"I feel as old as hell," said Doggie bitterly.

"You'll be feeling older soon," replied Phineas, "and able to look
down on hell with feelings of superiority."

Doggie walked on in silence for a few paces. Then he said:

"A thing I can't understand is this mania for picking up girls--just
to walk about the streets with them. It's so inane. It's a disease."

"Did you ever consider," said Phineas, "how in a station less exalted
than that which you used to adorn, the young of opposite sexes manage
to meet, select and marry? Man, the British Army's going to be a grand
education for you in sociology."

"Well, at any rate, you don't suppose I'm going to select and marry
out of the street?"

"You might do worse," said Phineas. Then, after a slight pause, he
asked: "Have you any news lately from Durdlebury?"

"Confound Durdlebury!" said Doggie.

Phineas checked him with one hand and waved the other towards a
hostelry on the other side of the street. "If you will give me the
money in advance, so as to evade the ungenerous spirit of the
no-treating law, you can stand me a quart of ale at the Crown and
Sceptre and join me in drinking to its confusion."

So they entered the saloon bar of the public-house. Doggie drank a
glass of beer while Phineas swallowed a couple of pints. Two or three
other soldiers were there, in whose artless talk McPhail joined
lustily. Doggie, unobtrusive at the end of the bar, maintained a
desultory and uncomfortable conversation with the barmaid, who was of
the florid and hearty type, about the weather.

Some days later, McPhail again made allusion to Durdlebury. Doggie
again confounded it.

"I don't want to hear of it or think of it," he exclaimed, in his
nervous way, "until this filthy horror is over. They want me to get
leave and go down and stay. They're making my life miserable with
kindness. I wish they'd let me alone. They don't understand a little
bit. I want to get through this thing alone, all by myself."

"I'm sorry I persuaded you to join a regiment in which you were
inflicted with the disadvantage of my society," said Phineas.

Doggie threw out an impatient arm. "Oh, you don't count," said he.

A few minutes afterwards, repenting his brusqueness, he tried to
explain to Phineas why he did not count. The others knew nothing about
him. Phineas knew everything.

"And you know everything about Phineas," said McPhail grimly. "Ay, ay,
laddie," he sighed, "I ken it all. When you're in Tophet, a
sympathetic Tophetuan with a wee drop of the milk of human kindness is
more comfort than a radiant angel who showers down upon you, from the
celestial Fortnum and Mason's, potted shrimps and caviare."

The sombreness cleared for a moment from Doggie's young brow.

"I never can make up my mind, Phineas," said he, "whether you're a
very wise man or an awful fraud."

"Give me the benefit of the doubt, laddie," replied McPhail. "It's the
grand theological principle of Christianity."

Time went on. The regiment was moved to the East Coast. On the journey
a Zeppelin raid paralysed the railway service. Doggie spent the night
under the lee of the bookstall at Waterloo Station. Men huddled up
near him, their heads on their kit-bags, slept and snored. Doggie
almost wept with pain and cold and hatred of the Kaiser. On the East
Coast much the same life as on the South, save that the wind, as if
Hun-sent, found its way more savagely to the skin.

Then suddenly came the news of a large draft for France, which
included both McPhail and Shendish. They went away on leave. The
gladness with which he welcomed their return showed Doggie how great a
part they played in his new life. In a day or two they would depart
God knew whither, and he would be left in dreadful loneliness. Through
him the two men, the sentimental Cockney fishmonger and the wastrel
Cambridge graduate, had become friends. He spent with them all his
leisure time.

Then one of the silly tragi-comedies of life occurred. McPhail got
drunk in the crowded bar of a little public-house in the village. It
was the last possible drink together of the draft and their pals. The
draft was to entrain before daybreak on the morrow. It was a foolish,
singing, shouting khaki throng. McPhail, who had borrowed ten pounds
from Doggie, in order to see him through the hardships of the Front,
established himself close by the bar and was drinking whisky. He was
also distributing surreptitious sixpences and shillings into eager
hands, which would convert them into alcohol for eager throats.
Doggie, anxious, stood by his side. The spirit from which McPhail had
for so long abstained, mounted to his unaccustomed brain. He began to
hector, and, master of picturesque speech, he compelled an admiring
audience. Doggie did not realize the extent of his drunkenness until,
vaunting himself as a Scot and therefore the salt of the army, he
picked a quarrel with a stolid Hampshire giant, who professed to have
no use for Phineas's fellow-countrymen. The men closed. Suddenly some
one shouted from the doorway:

"Be quiet, you fools! The A.P.M.'s coming down the road."

Now the Assistant Provost Marshal, if he heard hell's delight going on
in a tavern, would naturally make an inquisitorial appearance. The
combatants were separated. McPhail threw a shilling on the bar counter
and demanded another whisky. He was about to lift the glass to his
lips when Doggie, terrified as to what might happen, knocked the glass
out of his hand.

"Don't be an ass," he cried.

Phineas was very drunk. He gazed at his old pupil, took off his cap,
and, stretching over the bar, hung it on the handle of a beer-pull.
Then, staggering back, he pointed an accusing finger.

"He has the audacity to call me an ass. Little blinking Marmaduke
Doggie Trevor. Little Doggie Trevor, whom I trained up from infancy in
the way he shouldn't go----"

"Why Doggie Trevor?" some one shouted in inquiry.

"Never mind," replied Phineas with drunken impressiveness. "My old
friend Marmaduke has spilled my whisky and called me an ass. I call
him Doggie, little Doggie Trevor. You all bear witness he knocked the
drink out of my mouth. I'll never forgive him. He doesn't like being
called Doggie--and I've no--no pred'lex'n to be called an ass. I'll be
thinking I'm going just to strangle him."

He struck out his bony claws towards the shrinking Doggie; but stout
arms closed round him and a horny hand was clamped over his mouth, and
they got him through the bar and the back parlour into the yard, where
they pumped water on his head. And when the A.P.M. and his satellites
passed by, the quiet of The Whip in Hand was the holy peace of a
nunnery.

Doggie and Mo Shendish and a few other staunch souls got McPhail back
to quarters without much trouble. On parting, the delinquent,
semi-sobered, shook Doggie by the hand and smiled with an air of great
affection.

"I've been verra drunk, laddie. And I've been angry with you for the
first time in my life. But when you knocked the glass out of my hand I
thought you were in danger of losing your good manners in the army.
We'll have many a pow-wow together when you join me out there."

The matter would have drifted out of Doggie's mind as one of no
importance had not the detested appellation by which Phineas hailed
him struck the imagination of his comrades. It filled a long-felt
want, no nickname for Private J. M. Trevor having yet been invented.
Doggie Trevor he was and Doggie Trevor he remained for the rest of his
period of service. He resigned himself to the inevitable. The sting
had gone out of the name through his comrades' ignorance of its
origin. But he loathed it as much as ever; it sounded in his ears an
everlasting reproach.

In spite of the ill turn done in drunkenness, Doggie missed McPhail.
He missed Mo Shendish, his more constant companion, even more. Their
place was in some degree taken, or rather usurped, for it was without
Doggie's volition, by "Taffy" Jones, once clerk to a firm of outside
bookmakers. As Doggie had never seen a racecourse, had never made a
bet, and was entirely ignorant of the names even of famous Derby
winners, Taffy regarded him as an astonishing freak worth the
attention of a student of human nature. He began to cultivate Doggie's
virgin mind by aid of reminiscence, and of such racing news as was to
be found in the _Sportsman_. He was a garrulous person and Doggie a
good listener. To please him Doggie backed horses, through the old
firm, for small sums. The fact of his being a man of large independent
means both he and Phineas (to his credit) had kept a close secret, his
clerkly origin divined and promulgated by Mo Shendish being
unquestioningly accepted, so the bets proposed by Taffy were of a
modest nature. Once he brought off a forty to one chance. Taffy rushed
to him with the news, dancing with excitement. Doggie's stoical
indifference to the winning of twenty pounds, a year's army pay, gave
him cause for great wonder. As Doggie showed similar equanimity when
he lost, Taffy put him down as a born sportsman. He began to admire
him tremendously.

This friendship with Taffy is worth special record, for it was
indirectly the cause of a little revolution in Doggie's regimental
life. Taffy was an earnest though indifferent performer on the penny
whistle. It was his constant companion, the solace of his leisure
moments and one of the minor tortures of Doggie's existence. His
version of the _Marseillaise_ was peculiarly excruciating.

One day, when Taffy was playing it with dreadful variations of his own
to an admiring group in the Y.M.C.A. hut, Doggie, his nerves rasped to
the raw by the false notes and maddening intervals, snatched it out of
his hand and began to play himself. Hitherto, shrinking morbidly from
any form of notoriety, he had shown no sign of musical accomplishment.
But to-day the musician's impulse was irresistible. He played the
_Marseillaise_ as no one there had heard it on penny whistle before.
The hut recognized a master's touch, for Doggie was a fine executant
musician. When he stopped there was a roar: "Go on!" Doggie went on.
They kept him whistling till the hut was crowded.

Thenceforward he was penny-whistler, by excellence, to the battalion.
He whistled himself into quite a useful popularity.



CHAPTER XI


"We're all very proud of you, Marmaduke," said the Dean.

"I think you're just splendid," said Peggy.

They were sitting in Doggie's rooms in Woburn Place, Doggie having
been given his three days' leave before going to France. Once again
Durdlebury had come to Doggie and not Doggie to Durdlebury. Aunt
Sophia, however, somewhat ailing, had stayed at home.

Doggie stood awkwardly before them, conscious of swollen hands and
broken nails, shapeless ammunition boots and ill-fitting slacks;
morbidly conscious, too, of his original failure.

"You're about ten inches more round the chest than you were," said the
Dean admiringly.

"And the picture of health," cried Peggy.

"For anyone who has a sound constitution," answered Doggie, "it is
quite a healthy life."

"Now that you've got into the way, I'm sure you must really love it,"
said Peggy with an encouraging smile.

"It isn't so bad," he replied.

"What none of us can quite understand, my dear fellow," said the Dean,
"is your shying at Durdlebury. As we have written you, everybody's
singing your praises. Not a soul but would have given you a hearty
welcome."

"Besides," Peggy chimed in, "you needn't have made an exhibition of
yourself in the town if you didn't want to. The poor Peddles are
woefully disappointed."

"There's a war going on. They must bear up--like lots of other
people," replied Doggie.

"He's becoming quite cynical," Peggy laughed. "But, apart from the
Peddles, there's your own beautiful house waiting for you. It seems so
funny not to go to it, instead of moping in these fusty lodgings."

"Perhaps," said Doggie quietly, "if I went there I should never want
to come back."

"There's something to be said from that point of view," the Dean
admitted. "A solution of continuity is never quite without its
dangers. Even Oliver confessed as much."

"Oliver?"

"Yes, didn't Peggy tell you?"

"I didn't think Marmaduke would be interested," said Peggy quickly.
"He and Oliver have never been what you might call bosom friends."

"I shouldn't have minded about hearing of him," said Doggie. "Why
should I? What's he doing?"

The Dean gave information. Oliver, now a captain, had come home on
leave a month ago, and had spent some of it at the Deanery. He had
seen a good deal of fighting, and had one or two narrow escapes.

"Was he keen to get back?" asked Doggie.

The Dean smiled. "I instanced his case in my remark as to the dangers
of the solution of continuity."

"Oh, rubbish, daddy," cried his daughter, with a flush, "Oliver is as
keen as mustard." The Dean made a little gesture of submission. She
continued. "He doesn't like the beastliness out there for its own
sake, any more than Marmaduke will. But he simply loves his job. He
has improved tremendously. Once he thought he was the only man in the
country who had seen Life stark naked, and he put on frills
accordingly Now that he's just one of a million who have been up
against Life stripped to its skeleton, he's a bit subdued."

"I'm glad of that," said Doggie.

The Dean, urbanely indulgent, joined his fingertips together and
smiled. "Peggy is right," said he, "although I don't wholly approve of
her modern lack of reticence in metaphor. Oliver is coming out true
gold from the fire. He's a capital fellow. And he spoke of you, my
dear Marmaduke, in the kindest way in the world. He has a tremendous
admiration for your pluck."

"That's very good of him, I'm sure," said Doggie.

Presently the Dean--good, tactful man--discovered that he must go out
and have a prescription made up at a chemist's. That arch-Hun enemy,
the gout, against which he must never be unprepared. He would be back
in time for dinner. The engaged couple were left alone.

"Well?" said Peggy.

"Well, dear?" said Doggie.

Her lips invited. He responded. She drew him to the saddle-bag sofa,
and they sat down side by side.

"I quite understand, dear old thing," she said. "I know the
resignation and the rest of it hurt you awfully. It hurt me. But it's
no use grousing over spilt milk. You've already mopped it all up. It's
no disgrace to be a private. It's an honour. There are thousands of
gentlemen in the ranks. Besides--you'll work your way up and they'll
offer you another commission in no time."

"You're very good and sweet, dear," said Doggie, "to have such faith
in me. But I've had a year----"

"A year!" cried Peggy. "Good lord! so it is." She counted on her
fingers. "Not quite. But eleven months. It's eleven months since I've
seen you. Do you realize that? The war has put a stop to time. It is
just one endless day."

"One awful, endless day," Doggie acquiesced with a smile. "But I was
saying--I've had a year, or an endless day of eleven months, in which
to learn myself. And what I don't know about myself isn't knowledge."

Peggy interrupted with a laugh. "You must be a wonder. Dad's always
preaching about self-knowledge. Tell me all about it."

Doggie shook his head, at the same time passing his hand over it in a
familiar gesture.

Then Peggy cried:

"I knew there was something wrong with you. Why didn't you tell me?
You've had your hair cut--cut quite differently."

It was McPhail, careful godfather, who had taken him as a recruit to
the regimental barber and prescribed a transformation from the sleek
long hair brushed back over the head to a conventional military crop
with a rudiment of a side parting. On the crown a few bristles stood
up as if uncertain which way to go.

"It's advisable," Doggie replied, "for a Tommy's hair to be cut as
short as possible. The Germans are sheared like convicts."

Peggy regarded him open-eyed and puzzle-browed. He enlightened her no
further, but pursued the main proposition.

"I wouldn't take a commission," said he, "if the War Office went mad
and sank on its knees and beat its head in the dust before me."

"In Heaven's name, why not?"

"I've learned my place in the world," said Doggie.

Peggy shook him by the shoulder and turned on him her young eager
face.

"Your place in the world is that of a cultivated gentleman of old
family, Marmaduke Trevor of Denby Hall."

"That was the funny old world," said he, "that stood on its legs--legs
wide apart with its hands beneath the tails of its dress-coat, in
front of the drawing-room fire. The present world's standing on its
head. Everything's upside-down. It has no sort of use for Marmaduke
Trevor of Denby Hall. No more use than for Goliath. By the way, how is
the poor little beast getting on?"

Peggy laughed. "Oh, Goliath is perfectly assured of his position. He
has got it rammed into his mind that he drives the two-seater." She
returned to the attack. "Do you intend always to remain a private?"

"I do," said he. "Not even a corporal. You see, I've learned to be a
private of sorts, and that satisfies my ambition."

"Well, I give it up," said Peggy. "Though why you wouldn't let dad get
you a nice cushy job is a thing I can't understand. For the life of me
I can't."

"I've made my bed, and I must lie on it," he said quietly.

"I don't believe you've got such a thing as a bed."

Doggie smiled. "Oh yes, a bed of a sort." Then noting her puzzled
face, he said consolingly: "It'll all come right when the war's over."

"But when will that be? And who knows, my dear man, what may happen to
you?"

"If I'm knocked out, I'm knocked out, and there's an end of it,"
replied Doggie philosophically.

She put her hand on his. "But what's to become of me?"

"We needn't cry over my corpse yet," said Doggie.

The Dean, after awhile, returned with his bottle of medicine, which he
displayed with conscientious ostentation. They dined. Peggy again went
over the ground of the possible commission.

"I'm afraid she has set her heart on it, my boy," said the Dean.

Peggy cried a little on parting. This time Doggie was going, not to
the fringe, but to the heart of the Great Adventure. Into the thick of
the carnage. A year ago, she said, through her tears, she would have
thought herself much more fitted for it than Marmaduke.

"Perhaps you are still, dear," said Doggie, with his patient smile.

He saw them to the taxi which was to take them to the familiar
Sturrocks's. Before getting in, Peggy embraced him.

"Keep out of the way of shells and bullets as much as you can."

The Dean blew his nose, God-blessed him, and murmured something
incoherent about fighting for the glory of old England.

"Good luck," cried Peggy from the window.

She blew him a kiss. The taxi drove off, and Doggie went back into the
house with leaden feet. The meeting, which he had morbidly dreaded,
had brought him no comfort. It had not removed the invisible barrier
between Peggy and himself. But Peggy seemed so unconscious of it that
he began to wonder whether it only existed in his diseased
imagination. Though by his silences and reserves he had given her
cause for resentment and reproach, her attitude was nothing less than
angelic. He sat down moodily in an arm-chair, his hands deep in his
trousers pockets and his legs stretched out. The fault lay in himself,
he argued. What was the matter with him? He seemed to have lost all
human feeling, like the man with the stone heart in the old legend.
Otherwise, why had he felt no prick of jealousy at Peggy's admiring
comprehension of Oliver? Of course he loved her. Of course he wanted
to marry her when this nightmare was over. That went without saying.
But why couldn't he look to the glowing future? A poet had called a
lover's mistress "the lode-star of his one desire." That to him Peggy
ought to be. Lode-star. One desire. The words confused him. He had no
lode-star. His one desire was to be left alone. Without doubt he was
suffering from some process of moral petrifaction.

Doggie was no psychologist. He had never acquired the habit of turning
himself inside-out and gloating over the horrid spectacle. All his
life he had been a simple soul with simple motives and a simple though
possibly selfish standard to measure them. But now his soul was
knocked into a chaotic state of complexity, and his poor little
standards were no manner of use. He saw himself as in a glass darkly,
mystified by unknown change.

He rose, sighed, shook himself.

"I give it up," said he, and went to bed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Doggie went to France; a France hitherto undreamed of, either by him
or by any young Englishman; a France clean swept and garnished for
war; a France, save for the ubiquitous English soldiery, of silent
towns and empty villages and deserted roads; a France of smiling
fields and sorrowful faces of women and drawn patient faces of old
men--and even then the women and old men were rarely met by day, for
they were at work on the land, solitary figures on the landscape, with
vast spaces between them. In the quiet townships, English street signs
and placards conflicted with the sense of being in friendly provincial
France, and gave the impression of foreign domination. For beyond that
long grim line of eternal thunder, away over there in the distance,
which was called the Front, street signs and placards in yet another
alien tongue also outraged the serene genius of French urban life. Yet
our signs were a symbol of a mighty Empire's brotherhood, and the
dimmed eyes that beheld the _Place de la Fontaine_ transformed into
"Holborn Circus," and the _Grande Rue_ into "Piccadilly," smiled, and
the owners, with eager courtesy, directed the stray Tommy to "Regent
Street," which they had known all their life as the _Rue
Feuillemaisnil_--a word which Tommy could not pronounce, still less
remember. It was as much as Tommy could do to get hold of an
approximation to the name of the town. And besides these renamings,
other inscriptions flamed about the streets; alphabetical hieroglyphs,
in which the mystic letters H.Q. most often appeared; "This way to the
Y.M.C.A. hut"; in many humble windows the startling announcement,
"Washing done here." British motor-lorries and ambulances crowding the
little _place_ and aligned along the avenues. British faces, British
voices, everywhere. The blue uniform and blue helmet of a French
soldier seemed as incongruous though as welcome as in London.

And the straight endless roads, so French with their infinite border
of poplars, their patient little stones marking every hundred metres
until the tenth rose into the proud kilometre stone proclaiming the
distance to the next stately town, rang too with the sound of British
voices, and the tramp of British feet, and the clatter of British
transport, and the screech and whir of cars, revealing as they passed
the flash of red and gold of the British staff. Yet the finely
cultivated land remained to show that it was France; and the little
whitewashed villages; the curé, in shovel-hat and rusty cassock; the
children in blue or black blouses, who stared as the British troops
went by; the patient, elderly French Territorials in their old pre-war
uniforms, guarding unthreatened culverts or repairing the roads; the
helpful signs set up in happier days by the Touring Club of France.

Into this strange anomaly of a land came Doggie with his draft, still
half stupefied by the remorselessness of the stupendous machine in
which he had been caught, in spite of his many months of training in
England. He had loathed the East Coast camp. When he landed at
Boulogne in the dark and the pouring rain and hunched his pack with
the others who went off singing to the rest camp, he regretted East
Anglia.

"Give us a turn on the whistle, Doggie," said a corporal.

"I was sea-sick into it and threw it overboard," he growled, stumbling
over the rails of the quay.

"Oh, you holy young liar!" said the man next him.

But Doggie did not trouble to reply, his neighbour being only a
private like himself.

Then the draft joined its unit. In his youth Doggie had often wondered
at the meaning of the familiar inscription on every goods van in
France: "40 Hommes. 8 Chevaux." Now he ceased to wonder. He was one of
the forty men.... At the rail-head he began to march, and at last
joined the remnant of his battalion. They had been through hard
fighting, and were now in billets. Until he joined them he had not
realized the drain there had been on the reserves at home. Very many
familiar faces of officers were missing. New men had taken their
place. And very many of his old comrades had gone, some to Blighty,
some West of that Island of Desire; and those who remained had the
eyes of children who had passed through the Valley of the Shadow of
Death.

McPhail and Mo Shendish had passed through unscathed. In the
reconstruction of the regiment chance willed that the three of them
found themselves in the same platoon of A Company. Doggie almost
embraced them when they met.

"Laddie," said McPhail to him, as he was drinking a mahogany-coloured
liquid that was known by the name of tea, out of a tin mug, and eating
a hunk of bread and jam, "I don't know whether or not I'm pleased to
see you. You were safer in England. Once I misspent many months of my
life in shielding you from the dangers of France. But France is a much
more dangerous place nowadays, and I can't help you. You've come right
into the thick of it. Just listen to the hell's delight that's going
on over yonder."

The easterly wind brought them the roar streaked with stridence of the
artillery duel in progress on the nearest sector of the Front.

They were sitting in the cellar entrance to a house in a little town
which had already been somewhat mauled. Just opposite was a shuttered
house on the ground floor of which had been a hatter and hosier's
shop, and there still swung bravely on an iron rod the red brim of
what once had been a monstrous red hat. Next door, the façade of the
upper stories had been shelled away and the naked interiors gave the
impression of a pathetic doll's house. Women's garments still hung on
pegs. A cottage piano lurched forward drunkenly on three legs, with
the keyboard ripped open, the treble notes on the ground, the bass
incongruously in the air. In the attic, ironically secure, hung a
cheap German print of blowsy children feeding a pig. The wide
flagstoned street smelt sour. At various cavern doors sat groups of
the billeted soldiers. Now and then squads marched up and down,
monotonously clad in khaki and dun-coloured helmets. Officers, some
only recognizable by the Sam Browne belt, others spruce and
point-device, passed by. Here and there a shop was open, and the
elderly proprietor and his wife stood by the doorway to get the
afternoon air. Women and children straggled rarely through the
streets. The Boche had left the little town alone for some time; they
had other things to do with their heavy guns; and all the French
population, save those whose homes were reduced to nothingness, had
remained. They took no notice of the distant bombardment. It had grown
to be a phenomenon of nature like the wind and the rain.

But to Doggie it was new--just as the sight of the wrecked house
opposite, with its sturdy crownless hat-brim of a sign, was new. He
listened, as McPhail had bidden him, to the artillery duel with an odd
little spasm of his heart.

"What do you think of that, now?" asked McPhail grandly, as if it was
The Greatest Show on Earth run by him, the Proprietor.

"It's rather noisy," said Doggie, with a little ironical twist of his
lips that was growing habitual. "Do they keep it up at night?"

"They do."

"I don't think it's fair to interfere with one's sleep like that,"
said Doggie.

"You've got to adapt yourself to it," said McPhail sagely. "No doubt
you'll be remembering my theory of adaptability. Through that I've
made myself into a very brave man. When I wanted to run away--a very
natural desire, considering the scrupulous attention I've always paid
to my bodily well-being--I reflected on the preposterous obstacles put
in the way of flight by a bowelless military system, and adapted
myself to the static and dynamic conditions of the trenches."

"Gorblime!" said Mo Shendish, stretched out by his side, "just listen
to him!"

"I suppose you'll say you sucked honey out of the shells," remarked
Doggie.

"I'm no great hand at mixing metaphors----"

"What about drinks?" asked Mo.

"Nor drinks either," replied McPhail. "Both are bad for the brain. But
as to what you were saying, laddie, I'll not deny that I've derived
considerable interest and amusement from a bombardment. Yet it has its
sad aspect." He paused for a moment or two. "Man," he continued, "what
an awful waste of money!"

"I don't know what old Mac is jawing about," said Mo Shendish, "but
you can take it from me he's a holy terror with the bayonet. One
moment he's talking to a Boche through his hat and the next the Boche
is wriggling like a worm on a bent pin."

Mo winked at Phineas. The temptation to "tell the tale" to the
new-comer was too strong.

Doggie grew very serious. "You've been killing men--like that?"

"Thousands, laddie," replied Phineas, the picture of unboastful
veracity. "And so has Mo."

Mo Shendish, helmeted, browned, dried, toughened, a very different Mo
from the pallid ferret whom Aggie had driven into the ranks of war,
hunched himself up, his hands clasping his knees.

"I don't mind doing it, when you're so excited you don't know where
you are," said he, "but I don't like thinking of it afterwards."

As a matter of fact, he had only once got home with the bayonet and
the memory was unpleasant.

"But you've just thought of it," said Phineas.

"It was you, not me," said Mo. "That makes all the difference."

"It's astonishing," Phineas remarked sententiously, "how many people
not only refuse to catch pleasure as it flies, but spurn it when it
sits up and begs at them. Laddie," he turned to Doggie, "the more one
wallows in hedonism, the more one realizes its unplumbed depths."

A little girl of ten, neatly pigtailed but piteously shod, came near
and cast a child's envious eye on Doggie's bread and jam.

"Approach, my little one," Phineas cried in French words but with the
accent of Sauchiehall Street. "If I gave you a franc, what would you
do with it?"

"I should buy nourishment (_de la nourriture_) for _maman_."

"Lend me a franc, laddie," said McPhail, and when Doggie had slipped
the coin into his palm, he addressed the child in unintelligible
grandiloquence and sent her on her way mystified but rejoicing. _Ces
bons drôles d'Anglais!_

"Ah, laddie!" cried Phineas, stretching himself out comfortably by the
jamb of the door, "you've got to learn to savour the exquisite
pleasure of a genuinely kindly act."

"Hold on!" cried Mo. "It was Doggie's money you were flinging about."

McPhail withered him with a glance.

"You're an unphilosophical ignoramus," said he.



CHAPTER XII


Perhaps one of the greatest influences which transformed Doggie into a
fairly efficient though undistinguished infantryman was a morbid
social terror of his officers. It saved him from many a guard-room,
and from many a heart-to-heart talk wherein the zealous lieutenant
gets to know his men. He lived in dread lest military delinquency or
civil accomplishment should be the means of revealing the disgrace
which bit like an acid into his soul. His undisguisable air of
superior breeding could not fail to attract notice. Often his officers
asked him what he was in civil life. His reply, "A clerk, sir," had to
satisfy them. He had developed a curious self-protective faculty of
shutting himself up like a hedgehog at the approach of danger. Once a
breezy subaltern had selected him as his batman; but Doggie's
agonized, "It would be awfully good of you, sir, if you wouldn't mind
not thinking of it," and the appeal in his eyes, established the
freemasonry of caste and saved him from dreaded intimate relations.

"All right, if you'd rather not, Trevor," said the subaltern. "But why
doesn't a chap like you try for a commission?"

"I'm much happier as I am, sir," replied Doggie, and that was the end
of the matter.

But Phineas, when he heard of it--it was on the East Coast--began: "If
you still consider yourself too fine to clean another man's boots----"

Doggie, in one of his quick fits of anger, interrupted: "If you think
I'm just a dirty little snob, if you don't understand why I begged to
be let off, you're the thickest-headed fool in creation!"

"I'm nae that, laddie," replied Phineas, with his usual ironic
submissiveness. "Haven't I kept your secret all this time?"

Thus it was Doggie's fixed idea to lose himself in the locust swarm,
to be prominent neither for good nor evil, even in the little clot of
fifty, outwardly, almost identical locusts that formed his platoon. It
braced him to the performance of hideous tasks; it restrained him from
display of superior intellectual power or artistic capability. The
world upheaval had thrown him from his peacock and ivory room, with
its finest collection on earth of little china dogs, into a horrible
fetid hole in the ground in Northern France. It had thrown not the
average young Englishman of comfortable position, who had toyed with
æsthetic superficialities as an amusement, but a poor little
by-product of cloistered life who had been brought up from babyhood to
regard these things as the nervous texture of his very existence. He
was wrapped from head to heel in fine net, to every tiny mesh of which
he was acutely sensitive.

A hole in the ground in Northern France. The regiment, after its rest,
moved on and took its turn in the trenches. Four days on; four days
off. Four days on of misery inconceivable. Four days on, during which
the officers watched the men with the unwavering vigilance of kindly
cats:

"How are you getting along, Trevor?"

"Nicely, thank you, sir."

"Feet all right?"

"Yes, thank you, sir."

"Sure? If you want to grouse, grouse away. That's what I'm talking to
you for."

"I'm perfectly happy, sir."

"Darn sight more than I am!" laughed the subaltern, and with a cheery
nod in acknowledgment of Doggie's salute, splashed down the muddy
trench.

But Doggie was chilled to the bone, and he had no feeling in his feet,
which were under six inches of water, and his woollen gloves being wet
through were useless, and prevented his numbed hands from feeling the
sandbags with which he and the rest of the platoon were repairing the
parapet; for the Germans had just consecrated an hour's general hate
to the vicinity of the trench, and its exquisite symmetry, the pride
of the platoon commander, had been disturbed. There had also been a
few ghastly casualties. A shell had fallen and burst in the traverse
at the far end of the trench. Something that looked like half a man's
head and a bit of shoulder had dropped just in front of the dug-out
where Doggie and his section was sheltering. Doggie staring at it was
violently sick. In a stupefied way he found himself mingling with
others who were engaged in clearing up the horror. A murmur reached
him that it was Taffy Jones who had thus been dismembered.... The
bombardment over, he had taken his place with the rest in the
reparation of the parapet; and as he happened to be at an end of the
line, the officer had spoken to him. If he had been suffering tortures
unknown to Attila, and unimagined by his successors, he would have
answered just the same.

       *       *       *       *       *

But he lamented Taffy's death to Phineas, who listened
sympathetically. Such a cheery comrade, such a smart soldier, such a
kindly soul.

"Not a black spot in him," said Doggie.

"A year ago, laddie," said McPhail, "what would have been your opinion
of a bookmaker's clerk?"

"I know," replied Doggie. "But this isn't a year ago. Just look
round."

He laughed somewhat hysterically, for the fate of Taffy had unstrung
him for the time. Phineas contemplated the length of deep narrow
ditch, with its planks half swimming on filthy liquid, its wire
revetment holding up the oozing sides, the dingy parapet above which
it was death to put one's head, the grey free sky, the only thing free
along that awful row of parallel ditches that stretched from the
Belgian coast to Switzerland, the clay-covered, shapeless figures of
men, their fellows, almost undistinguishable even by features from
themselves.

"It has been borne upon me lately," said Phineas, "that patriotism is
an amazing virtue."

Doggie drew a foot out of the mud so as to find a less precarious
purchase higher up the slope.

"And I've been thinking, Phineas, whether it's really patriotism that
has brought you and me into this--what can we call it? Dante's Inferno
is child's play to it."

"Dante had no more imagination," said Phineas, "than a Free Kirk
precentor in Kirkcudbright."

"But is it patriotism?" Doggie persisted. "If I thought it was, I
should be happier. If we had orders to go over the top and attack and
I could shout 'England for ever!' and lose myself just in the thick of
it----"

"There's a brass hat coming down the trench," said Phineas, "and brass
hats have no use for rhapsodical privates."

They stood to attention as the staff officer passed by. Then Doggie
broke in impatiently:

"I wish to goodness you could understand what I'm trying to get at."

A smile illuminated the gaunt, unshaven, mud-caked face of Phineas
McPhail.

"Laddie," said he, "let England, as an abstraction, fend for itself.
But you've a bonny English soul within you, and for that you are
fighting. And so had poor Taffy Jones. And I have a bonny Scottish
thirst, the poignancy of which both of you have been happily spared. I
will leave you, laddie, to seek in slumber a surcease from martyrdom."

       *       *       *       *       *

Doggie had been out a long time. He had seen many places, much
fighting and endured manifold miseries. After one of the spells in the
trenches, the worst he had experienced, A Company was marched into new
billets some miles behind the lines, in the once prosperous village of
Frélus. They had slouched along dead tired, drooping under their
packs, sodden with mud and sleeplessness, silent, with not a note of a
song among them--but at the entrance to the village, quickened by a
word or two of exhortation from officers and sergeants, they pulled
themselves together and marched in, heads up, forward, in faultless
step. The C.O. was jealous of the honour of his men. He assumed that
his predecessors in the village had been a "rotten lot," and was
determined to show the inhabitants of Frélus what a crack English
regiment was really like. Frélus was an unimportant, unheard-of
village; but the opinion of a thousand Fréluses made up France's
opinion of the British Army. Doggie, although half stupefied with
fatigue, responded to the sentiment, like the rest. He was conscious
of making part of a gallant show. It was only when they halted and
stood easy that he lost count of things. The wide main street of the
village swam characterless before his eyes. He followed, not
directions, but directed men, with a sheep-like instinct, and found
himself stumbling through an archway down a narrow path. He had a dim
consciousness of lurching sideways and confusedly apologizing to a
woman who supported him back to equilibrium. Then the next thing he
saw was a barn full of fresh straw, and when somebody pointed to a
vacant strip, he fell down, with many others, and went to sleep.

The réveillé sounded a minute afterwards, though a whole night had
passed; and there was the blessed clean water to wash in--he had long
since ceased to be fastidious in his ablutions--and there was
breakfast, sizzling bacon and bread and jam. And there in front of the
kitchen, aiding with the hot water for the tea, moved a slim girl,
with dark, and as Doggie thought, tragic eyes.

       *       *       *       *       *

Kit inspection, feet inspection, all the duties of the day and dinner
were over. Most of the men returned to their billets to sleep. Some,
including Doggie, wandered about the village, taking the air, and
visiting the little modest cafés and talking with indifferent
success, so far as the interchange of articulate ideas was concerned,
with shy children. McPhail and Mo Shendish being among the sleepers,
Doggie mooned about by himself in his usual self-effacing way. There
was little to interest him in the long straggling village. He had
passed through a hundred such. Low whitewashed houses, interspersed
with perky balconied buildings given over to little shops on the
ground floor, with here and there a discreet iron gate shutting off
the doctor's or the attorney's villa, and bearing the oval plate
indicating the name and pursuit of the tenant; here and there, too,
long whitewashed walls enclosing a dairy or a timber-yard stretched on
each side of the great high road, and the village gradually dwindled
away at each end into the gently undulating country. There were just a
by-lane or two, one leading up to the little grey church and
presbytery and another to the little cemetery with its trim paths and
black and white wooden crosses and wirework pious offerings. At open
doors the British soldiers lounged at ease, and in the dim interiors
behind them the forms of the women of the house, blue-aproned, moved
to and fro. The early afternoon was warm, a westerly breeze deadened
the sound of the distant bombardment to an unheeded drone, and a holy
peace settled over the place.

Doggie, clean, refreshed, comfortably drowsy, having explored the
village, returned to his billet, and looking at it from the opposite
side of the way, for the first time realized its nature. The lane,
into which he had stumbled the night before, ran under an archway
supporting some kind of overhead chamber, and separated the
dwelling-house from a warehouse wall on which vast letters proclaimed
the fact that Veuve Morin et Fils carried on therein the business of
hay and corn dealers. Hence, Doggie reflected, the fresh, deep straw
on which he and his fortunate comrades had wallowed. The double gate
under the archway was held back by iron stanchions. The two-storied
house looked fairly large and comfortable. The front door stood wide
open, giving the view of a neat, stiff little hall or living-room. An
article of furniture caught his idle eye. He crossed the road in order
to have a nearer view. It was a huge polished mahogany cask standing
about three feet high and bound with shining brass bands, such as he
remembered having seen once in Brittany. He advanced still closer, and
suddenly the slim, dark girl appeared and stood in the doorway, and
looked frankly and somewhat rebukingly into his inquisitive eyes.
Doggie flushed as one caught in an unmannerly act. A crying fault of
the British Army is that it prescribes for the rank and file no form
of polite recognition of the existence of civilians. It is contrary to
Army Orders to salute or to take off their caps. They can only jerk
their heads and grin, an inelegant proceeding, which places them at a
disadvantage with the fair sex. Doggie, therefore, sketched a vague
salutation half-way between a salute and a bow, and began a profuse
apology. Mademoiselle must pardon his curiosity, but as a lover of old
things he had been struck by the beautiful _tonneau_.

An amused light came into her sombre eyes and a smile flickered round
her lips. Doggie noted instantly how pale she was, and how tiny, faint
little lines persisted at the corners of those lips in spite of the
smile.

"There is no reason for excuses, monsieur," she said. "The door was
open to the view of everybody."

"_Pourtant_," said Doggie, "_c'était un peu mal élevé_."

She laughed. "Pardon. But it's droll. First to find an English soldier
apologizing for looking into a house, and then to find him talking
French like a _poilu_."

Doggie said, with a little touch of national jealousy and a reversion
to Durdlebury punctilio: "I hope, mademoiselle, you have always found
the English soldier conduct himself like a gentleman."

"_Mais oui, mais oui!_" she cried, "they are all charming. _Ils sont
doux comme des moutons._ But this is a question of delicacy--somewhat
exaggerated."

"It's good of you, mademoiselle, to forgive me," said Doggie.

By all the rules of polite intercourse, either Doggie should have made
his bow and exit, or the maiden, exercising her prerogative, should
have given him the opportunity of a graceful withdrawal. But they
remained where they were, the girl framed by the doorway, the lithe
little figure in khaki and lichen-coloured helmet looking up at her
from the foot of the two front steps.

At last he said in some embarrassment: "That's a very beautiful cask
of yours."

She wavered for a few seconds. Then she said:

"You can enter, monsieur, and examine it, if you like."

Mademoiselle was very amiable, said Doggie. Mademoiselle moved aside
and Doggie entered, taking off his helmet and holding it under his arm
like an opera-hat. There was nothing much to see in the little
vestibule-parlour: a stiff tasselled chair or two, a great old
linen-press taking up most of one side of a wall, a cheap table
covered with a chenille tablecloth, and the resplendent old cask,
about which he lingered. He mentioned Brittany. Her tragic face
lighted up again. Monsieur was right. Her aunt, Madame Morin, was
Breton, and had brought the cask with her as part of her dowry,
together with the press and other furniture. Doggie alluded to the
vastly lettered inscription, "Veuve Morin et Fils." Madame Morin was,
in a sense, his hostess. And the sons?

"One is in Madagascar, and the other--alas, monsieur!"

And Doggie knew what that "alas!" meant.

"The Argonne," she said.

"And madame your aunt?"

She shrugged her thin though shapely shoulders. "It nearly killed her.
She is old and an invalid. She has been in bed for the last three
weeks."

"Then what becomes of the business?"

"It is I, monsieur, who am the business. And I know nothing about it."
She sighed. Then with her blue apron--otherwise she was dressed in
unrelieved black--she rubbed an imaginary speck from the brass banding
of the cask. "This, I suppose you know, was for the best brandy,
monsieur."

"And now?" he asked.

"A memory. A sentiment. A thing of beauty."

In a feminine way, which he understood, she herded him to the door, by
way of dismissal. Durdlebury helped him. A tiny French village has as
many slanderous tongues as an English cathedral city. He was preparing
to take polite leave, when she looked swiftly at him and made the
faintest gesture of a detaining hand.

"Now I remember. It was you who nearly fell into me last night, when
you were entering through the gate."

The dim recollection came back--the firm woman's arm round him for the
few tottering seconds.

"It seems I am always bound to be impolite, for I don't think I
thanked you," smiled Doggie.

"You were at the end of your tether." Then very gently, "_Pauvre
garçon!_"

"The _sales Boches_ had kept us awake for four nights," said Doggie.
"That was why."

"And you are rested now?"

He laughed. "Almost."

They were at the door. He looked out and drew back. A knot of men were
gathered by the gate of the yard. Apparently she had seen them too,
for a flush rose to her pale cheeks.

"Mademoiselle," said Doggie, "I should like to creep back to the barn
and sleep. If I pass my comrades they'll want to detain me."

"That would be a pity," she said demurely. "Come this way, monsieur."

She led him through a room and a passage to the kitchen. They shared a
pleasurable sense of adventure and secrecy. At the kitchen door she
paused and spoke to an old woman chopping up vegetables.

"Toinette, let monsieur pass." To Doggie she said: "Au revoir,
monsieur!" and disappeared.

The old woman looked at him at first with disfavour. She did not hold
with Tommies needlessly tramping over the clean flags of her kitchen.
But Doggie's polite apology for disturbing her and a youthful grace of
manner--he still held his tin hat under his arm--caused her features
to relax.

"You are English?"

With a smile, he indicated his uniform. "Why, yes, madame."

"How comes it, then, that you speak French?"

"Because I have always loved your beautiful France, madame."

"France--_ah! la pauvre France_!" She sighed, drew a wisp of what had
been a cornet of snuff from her pocket, opened it, dipped in a
tentative finger and thumb and, finding it empty, gazed at it with
disappointment, sighed again and, with the methodical hopelessness of
age, folded it up into the neatest of little squares and thrust it
back in her pocket. Then she went on with her vegetables.

Doggie took his leave and emerged into the yard.

He dozed pleasantly on the straw of the barn, but it was not the dead
sleep of the night. Bits of his recent little adventure fitted into
the semi-conscious intervals. He heard the girl's voice saying so
gently: "_Pauvre garçon!_" and it was very comforting.

He was finally aroused by Phineas and Mo Shendish, who, having slept
like tired dogs some distance off down the barn, now desired his
company for a stroll round the village. Doggie good-naturedly
assented. As they passed the house door he cast a quick glance. It was
open, but the slim figure in black with the blue apron was not visible
within. The shining cask, however, seemed to smile a friendly
greeting.

"If you believed the London papers," said Phineas, "you'd think that
the war-worn soldier coming from the trenches is met behind the lines
with luxurious Turkish baths, comfortable warm canteens, picture
palaces and theatrical entertainments. Can you perceive here any of
those amenities of modern warfare?"

They looked around them, and admitted they could not.

"Apparently," said Phineas, "the Colonel, good but limited man, has
missed all the proper places and dumps us in localities unrecognized
by the London Press."

"Put me on the pier at Brighton," sang Mo Shendish. "But I'd sooner
have Margit or Yarmouth any day. Brighton's too toffish for whelks.
My! and cockles! I wonder whether we shall ever eat 'em again." A
far-away, dreamy look crept into his eyes.

"Does your young lady like cockles?" Doggie asked sympathetically.

"Aggie? Funny thing, I was just thinking of her. She fair dotes on
'em. We had a day at Southend just before the war----"

He launched into anecdote. His companions listened, Phineas ironically
carrying out his theory of adaptability, Doggie with finer instinct.
It appeared there had been an altercation over right of choice with an
itinerant vendor in which, to Aggie's admiration, Mo had come off
triumphant.

"You see," he explained, "being in the fish trade myself, I could spot
the winners."

James Marmaduke Trevor, of Denby Hall, laughed and slapped him on the
back, and said indulgently: "Good old Mo!"

At the little school-house they stopped to gossip with some of their
friends who were billeted there, and they sang the praises of the
Veuve Morin's barn.

"I wonder you don't have the house full of orficers, if it's so
wonderful," said some one.

An omniscient corporal in the confidence of the quartermaster
explained that the landlady being ill in bed, and the place run by a
young girl, the house had been purposely missed. Doggie drew a breath
of relief at the news and attributed Madame Morin's malady to the
intervention of a kindly providence. Somehow he did not fancy officers
having the run of the house.

They strolled on and came to a forlorn little _Débit de Tabac_,
showing in its small window some clay pipes and a few fly-blown
picture post-cards. Now Doggie, in spite of his training in adversity,
had never resigned himself to "Woodbines," and other such brands
supplied to the British Army, and Egyptian and Turkish being beyond
his social pale, he had taken to smoking French Régie tobacco, of
which he laid in a stock whenever he had the chance. So now he entered
the shop, leaving Phineas and Mo outside. As they looked on French
cigarettes with sturdy British contempt, they were not interested in
Doggie's purchases. A wan girl of thirteen rose from behind the
counter.

"_Vous désirez, monsieur?_"

Doggie stated his desire. The girl was calculating the price of the
packets before wrapping them up, when his eyes fell upon a neat little
pile of cornets in a pigeon-hole at the back. They directly suggested
to him one of the great luminous ideas of his life. It was only
afterwards that he realized its effulgence. For the moment he was
merely concerned with the needs of a poor old woman who had sighed
lamentably over an empty paper of comfort.

"Do you sell snuff?"

"But yes, monsieur."

"Give me some of the best quality."

"How much does monsieur desire?"

"A lot," said Doggie.

And he bought a great package, enough to set the whole village
sneezing to the end of the war, and peering round the tiny shop and
espying in the recesses of a glass case a little olive-wood box
ornamented on the top with pansies and forget-me-nots, purchased that
also. He had just paid when his companions put their heads in the
doorway. Mo, pointing waggishly to Doggie, warned the little girl
against his depravity.

"Mauvy, mauvy!" said he.

"_Qu'est-ce qu'il dit?_" asked the child.

"He's the idiot of the regiment, whom I have to look after and feed
with pap," said Doggie, "and, being hungry, he is begging you not to
detain me."

"_Mon Dieu!_" cried the child.

Doggie, always courteous, went out with a "_Bon soir, mademoiselle_,"
and joined his friends.

"What were you jabbering to her about?" Mo asked suspiciously.

Doggie gave him the literal translation of his speech. Phineas burst
into loud laughter.

"Laddie," said he, "I've never heard you make a joke before. The idiot
of the regiment, and you're his keeper! Man, that's fine. What has
come over you to-day?"

"If he'd said a thing like that in Mare Street, Hackney, I'd have
knocked his blinking 'ead orf," declared Mo Shendish.

Doggie stopped and put his parcel-filled hands behind his back.

"Have a try now, Mo."

But Mo bade him fry his ugly face, and thus established harmony.

It was late that evening before Doggie could find an opportunity of
slipping, unobserved, through the open door into the house kitchen
dimly illuminated by an oil lamp.

"Madame," said he to Toinette, "I observed to-day that you had come to
the end of your snuff. Will you permit a little English soldier to
give you some? Also a little box to keep it in."

The old woman, spare, myriad-wrinkled beneath her peasant's _coiffe_,
yet looking as if carved out of weather-beaten oak, glanced from the
gift to the donor and from the donor to the gift.

"But, monsieur--monsieur--why?" she began quaveringly.

"You surely have some one--_là bas_--over yonder?" said Doggie with
a sweep of his hand.

"_Mais oui?_ How did you know? My grandson. _Mon petiot_----"

"It is he, my comrade, who sends the snuff to the _grand'mére_." And
Doggie bolted.



CHAPTER XIII


At breakfast next morning Doggie searched the courtyard in vain for
the slim figure of the girl. Yesterday she had stood just outside the
kitchen door. To-day her office was usurped by a hefty cook with the
sleeves of his grey shirt rolled up and his collar open and vast and
tight-hitched braces unromantically strapped all over him. Doggie felt
a pang of disappointment and abused the tea. Mo Shendish stared, and
asked what was wrong with it.

"Rotten," said Doggie.

"You can't expect yer slap-up City A.B.C. shops in France," said Mo.

Doggie, who was beginning to acquire a sense of rueful humour, smiled
and was appeased.

It was only in the afternoon that he saw the girl again. She was
standing in the doorway of the house, with her hand on her bosom, as
though she had just come out to breathe fresh air, when Doggie and his
two friends emerged from the yard. As their eyes met, she greeted him
with her sad little smile. Emboldened, he stepped forward.

"_Bon jour, mademoiselle._"

"_Bon jour, monsieur._"

"I hope madame your aunt is better to-day."

She seemed to derive some dry amusement from his solicitude.

"Alas, no, monsieur."

"Was that why I had not the pleasure of seeing you this morning?"

"Where?"

"Yesterday you filled our tea-kettles."

"But, monsieur," she replied primly, "I am not the _vivandière_ of
the regiment."

"That's a pity," laughed Doggie.

Then he became aware of the adjacent forms and staring eyes of Phineas
and Mo, who for the first time in their military career beheld him on
easy terms with a strange and prepossessing young woman. After a
second's thought he came to a diplomatic decision.

"Mademoiselle," said he, in his best Durdlebury manner, "may I dare to
present my two comrades, my best friends in the battalion, Monsieur
McPhail, Monsieur Shendish?"

She made them each a little formal bow, and then, somewhat
maliciously, addressing McPhail, as the bigger and the elder of the
two:

"I don't yet know the name of your friend."

Phineas put his great hand on Doggie's shoulder.

"James Marmaduke Trevor."

"Otherwise called Doggie, miss," said Mo.

She made a little graceful gesture of non-comprehension.

"_Non compree?_" asked Mo.

"No, monsieur."

Phineas explained, in his rasping and consciously translated French:

"It is a nickname of the regiment. Doggie."

The flushed and embarrassed subject of the discussion saw her lips
move silently to the word.

"But his name is Trevor. Monsieur Trevor," said Phineas.

She smiled again. And the strange thing about her smile was that it
was a matter of her lips and rarely of her eyes, which always
maintained the haunting sadness of their tragic depths.

"Monsieur Trevor," she repeated imitatively. "And yours, monsieur?"

"McPhail."

"Mac-Fêle; _c'est assez difficile_. And yours?"

Mo guessed. "Shendish," said he.

She repeated that also, whereat Mo grinned fatuously, showing his
little yellow teeth beneath his scrubby red moustache.

"My friends call me Mo," said he.

She grasped his meaning. "Mo," she said; and she said it so funnily
and softly, and with ever so little a touch of quizzicality, that the
sentimental warrior roared with delight.

"You've got it right fust time, miss."

From her two steps' height of vantage, she looked down on the three
upturned British faces--and her eyes went calmly from one to the
other.

She turned to Doggie. "One would say, monsieur, that you were the
Three Musketeers."

"Possibly, mademoiselle," laughed Doggie. He had not felt so
light-hearted for many months. "But we lack a d'Artagnan."

"When you find him, bring him to me," said the girl.

"Mademoiselle," said Phineas gallantly, "we would not be such
imbeciles."

At that moment the voice of Toinette came from within.

"Ma'amselle Jeanne! Ma'amselle Jeanne!"

"_Oui, oui, j'y viens_," she cried. "_Bon soir, messieurs_," and she
was gone.

Doggie looked into the empty vestibule and smiled at the friendly
brandy cask. Provided it is pronounced correctly, so as to rhyme with
the English "Anne," it is a very pretty name. Doggie thought she
looked like Jeanne--a Jeanne d'Arc of this modern war.

"Yon's a very fascinating lassie," Phineas remarked soberly, as they
started on their stroll. "Did you happen to observe that all the time
she was talking so prettily she was looking at ghosts behind us?"

"Do you think so?" asked Doggie, startled.

"Man, I know it," replied Phineas.

"Ghosts be blowed!" cried Mo Shendish. "She's a bit of orl right, she is.
What I call class. Doesn't chuck 'erself at yer 'ead, like some of 'em,
and, on the other 'and, has none of yer blooming stand-orfishness. See
what I mean?" He clutched them each by an arm--he was between them.
"Look 'ere. How do you think I could pick up this blinking
lingo--quick?"

"Make violent love to Toinette and ask her to teach you. There's
nothing like it," said Doggie.

"Who's Toinette?"

"The nice old lady in the kitchen."

Mo flung his arm away. "Oh, go and boil yourself!" said he.

       *       *       *       *       *

But the making of love to the old woman in the kitchen led to
possibilities of which Mo Shendish never dreamed. They never dawned on
Doggie until he found himself at it that evening.

It was dusk. The men were lounging and smoking about the courtyard.
Doggie, who had long since exchanged poor Taffy Jones's imperfect
penny whistle for a scientific musical instrument ordered from Bond
Street, was playing, with his sensitive skill, the airs they loved. He
had just finished "Annie Laurie"--"Man," Phineas used to declare,
"when Doggie Trevor plays 'Annie Laurie,' he has the power to take
your heart by the strings and drag it out through your eyes"--he had
just come to the end of this popular and gizzard-piercing tune and
received his meed of applause, when Toinette came out of the kitchen,
two great zinc crocks in her hands, and crossed to the pump in the
corner of the yard. Three or four would-be pumpers, among them Doggie,
went to her aid.

"All right, mother, we'll see to it," said one of them.

So they pumped and filled the crocks, and one man got hold of one and
Doggie got hold of another, and they carried them to the kitchen
steps.

"_Merci, monsieur_," said Toinette to the first; and he went away with
a friendly nod. But to Doggie she said, "_Entrez, monsieur_." And
monsieur carried the two crocks over the threshold and Toinette shut
the door behind him. And there, sitting over some needlework in a
corner of the kitchen by a lamp, sat Jeanne.

She looked up rather startled, frowned for the brief part of a second,
and regarded him inquiringly.

"I brought in monsieur to show him the photograph of _mon petiot_, the
comrade who sent me the snuff," explained Toinette, rummaging in a
cupboard.

"May I stay and look at it?" asked Doggie, buttoning up his tunic.

"_Mais parfaitement, monsieur_," said Jeanne. "It is Toinette's
kitchen."

"_Bien sûr_," said the old woman, turning with the photograph, that
of a solid young infantryman. Doggie made polite remarks. Toinette put
on a pair of silver-rimmed spectacles and scanned the picture. Then
she handed it to Jeanne.

"Don't you think there is a great deal of resemblance?"

Jeanne directed a comparing glance at Doggie and smiled.

"Like two little soldiers in a pod," she said.

Toinette talked of her _petiot_ who was at St. Mihiel. It was far
away, very far. She sighed as though he were fighting remote in the
Caucasus.

Presently came the sharp ring of a bell. Jeanne put aside her work and
rose.

"It is my aunt who has awakened."

But Toinette was already at the door. "I will go up, Ma'amselle
Jeanne. Do not derange yourself."

She bustled away. Once more the pair found themselves alone together.

"If you don't continue your sewing, mademoiselle," said Doggie, "I
shall think that I am disturbing you, and must bid you good night."

Jeanne sat down and resumed her work. A sensation, more like laughter
than anything else, fluttered round Doggie's heart.

"_Voulez-vous vous asseoir, Monsieur--Trevor?_"

"_Vous êtes bien aimable, Mademoiselle Jeanne_," said Doggie, sitting
down on a straight-backed chair by the oilcloth-covered kitchen table
which was between them.

"May I move the lamp slightly?" he asked, for it hid her from his
view.

He moved it somewhat to her left. It threw shadows over her features,
accentuating their appealing sadness. He watched her, and thought of
McPhail's words about the ghosts. He noted too, as the needle went in
and out of the fabric, that her hands, though roughened by coarse
work, were finely made, with long fingers and delicate wrists. He
broke a silence that grew embarrassing.

"You seem to have suffered greatly, Mademoiselle Jeanne," he said
softly.

Her lips quivered. "_Mais oui, monsieur._"

"Monsieur Trevor," he said.

She put her hands and needlework in her lap and looked at him full.

"And you too have suffered?"

"I? Oh no."

"But, yes. I have seen too much of it not to know. I see in the eyes.
Your two comrades to-day--they are good fellows--but they have not
suffered. You are different."

"Not a bit," he declared. "We're just little indistinguishable bits of
the conglomerate Tommy."

"And I, monsieur, have the honour to say that you are different."

This was very flattering. More--it was sweet unction, grateful to many
a bruise.

"How?" said he.

"You do not belong to their world. Your Tommies are wonderful in their
kindness and chivalry--until I met them I had never seen an Englishman
in my life--I had imbecile ideas--I thought they would be without
manners--_un peu insultants_. I found I could walk among them, without
fear, as if I were a princess. It is true."

"It is because you have the air of a princess," said Doggie; "a sad
little disguised princess of a fairy-tale, who is recognized by all
the wild boars and rabbits in the wood."

She glanced aside. "There isn't a woman in Frélus who is differently
treated. I am only an ignorant girl, half bourgeoise, half peasant,
monsieur, but I have my woman's knowledge--and I know there is a
difference between you and the others. You are a son of good family.
It is evident. You have a delicacy of mind and of feeling. You were
not born to be a soldier."

"Mademoiselle Jeanne," cried Doggie, "do I appear as bad as that? Do
you take me for an _embusqué manqué_?"

Now an _embusqué_ is a slacker who lies in the safe ambush of a soft
job. And an _embusqué manqué_ is a slacker who fortuitously has
failed to win the fungus wreath of slackerdom.

She flushed deep red.

"_Je ne suis pas malhonnête, monsieur._"

Doggie spread himself elbow-wise over the table. The girl's visible
register of moods was fascinating.

"Pardon, Mademoiselle Jeanne. You are quite right. But it's not a
question of what I was born to be--but what I was trained to be. I
wasn't trained to be a soldier. But I do my best."

She looked at him waveringly.

"Forgive me, mademoiselle."

"But you flash out on the point of honour."

Doggie laughed. "Which shows that I have the essential of the
soldier."

Doggie's manner was not without charm. She relented.

"You know very well what I mean," she said rebukingly. "And you don't
deserve that I should tell it to you. It was my intention to say that
you have sacrificed many things to make yourself a simple soldier."

"Only a few idle habits," said Doggie.

"You joined, like the rest, as a volunteer."

"Of course."

"You abandoned everything to fight for your country?"

Under the spell of her dark eyes Doggie spoke according to Phineas
after the going West of Taffy Jones, "I think, Mademoiselle Jeanne, it
was rather to fight for my soul."

She resumed her sewing. "That's what I meant long ago," she remarked
with the first draw of the needle. "No one could fight for his soul
without passing through suffering." She went on sewing. Doggie,
shrinking from a reply that might have sounded fatuous, remained
silent; but he realized a wonderful faculty of comprehension in
Jeanne.

After awhile he said: "Where did you learn all your wisdom,
Mademoiselle Jeanne?"

"At the convent, I suppose. My father gave me a good education."

"An English poet has said, 'Knowledge comes, but Wisdom
lingers'"--Doggie had rather a fight to express the meaning exactly in
French--"You don't gather wisdom in convents."

"It is true. Since then I have seen many things."

She stared across the room, not at Doggie, and he thought again of the
ghosts.

"Tell me some of them, Mademoiselle Jeanne," he said in a low voice.

She shot a swift glance at him and met his honest brown eyes.

"I saw my father murdered in front of me," she said in a harsh voice.

"My God!" said Doggie.

"It was on the Retreat. We lived in Cambrai, my father and mother and
I. He was a lawyer. When we heard the Germans were coming, my father,
somewhat of an invalid, decided to fly. He had heard of what they had
already done in Belgium. We tried to go by train. _Pas moyen._ We took
to the road, with many others. We could not get a horse--we had
postponed our flight till too late. Only a handcart, with a few
necessaries and precious things. And we walked until we nearly died of
heat and dust and grief. For our hearts were very heavy, monsieur. The
roads, too, were full of the English in retreat. I shall not tell you
what I saw of the wounded by the roadside. I sometimes see them now in
my dreams. And we were helpless. We thought we would leave the main
roads, and at last we got lost and found ourselves in a little wood.
We sat down to rest and to eat. It was cool and pleasant, and I
laughed, to cheer my parents, for they knew how I loved to eat under
the freshness of the trees." She shivered. "I hope I shall never have
to eat a meal in a wood again. We had scarcely begun when a body of
cavalry, with strange pointed helmets, rode along the path and, seeing
us, halted. My mother, half dead with terror, cried out, '_Mon Dieu,
ce sont des Uhlans!_' The leader, I suppose an officer, called out
something in German. My father replied. I do not understand German, so
I did not know and shall never know what they said. But my father
protested in anger and stood in front of the horse making gestures.
And then the officer took out his revolver and shot him through the
heart, and he fell dead. And the murderer turned his horse's head
round and he laughed. He laughed, monsieur."

"Damn him!" said Doggie, in English. "Damn him!"

He gazed deep into Jeanne's dark tearless eyes. She continued in the
same even voice:

"My mother became mad. She was a peasant, a Bretonne, where the blood
is fierce, and she screamed and clung to the bridle of the horse. And
he rode her down and the horse trampled on her. Then he pointed at me,
who was supporting the body of my father, and three men dismounted.
But suddenly he heard something, gave an order, and the men mounted
again, and they all rode away laughing and jeering, and the last man,
in bad French, shouted at me a foul insult. And I was there, Monsieur
Trevor, with my father dead and my mother stunned and bruised and
bleeding."

Doggie, sensitive, quivered to the girl's tragedy: he said, with tense
face:

"God give me strength to kill every German I see!"

She nodded slowly. "No German is a human being. If I were God, I would
exterminate the accursed race like wolves."

"You are right," said Doggie. A short silence fell. He asked: "What
happened then?"

"_Mon Dieu_, I almost forget. I was overwhelmed with grief and horror.
Some hours afterwards a small body of English infantry came--many of
them had bloodstained bandages. An officer who spoke a little French
questioned me. I told him what had happened. He spoke with another
officer, and because I recognized the word 'Uhlans,' I knew they were
anxious about the patrol. They asked me the way to some place--I
forget where. But I was lost. They looked at a map. Meanwhile my
mother had recovered consciousness. I gave her a little wine from the
bottle we had opened for our repast. I happened to look at the officer
and saw him pass his tongue over his cracked lips. All the men had
thrown themselves down by the side of the road. I handed him the
bottle and the little tin cup. To my surprise, he did not drink. He
said: 'Mademoiselle, this is war, and we are all in very great peril.
My men are dying of thirst, and if you have any more of the wine, give
it to them and they will do their utmost to conduct your mother and
yourself to a place of safety.' Alas! there were only three bottles in
our little basket of provisions. Naturally I gave it all--together
with the food. He called a sergeant, who took the provisions and
distributed them, while I was tending my mother. But I noticed that
the two officers took neither bite nor sup. It was only afterwards,
Monsieur Trevor, that I realized I had seen your great English
gentlemen.... Then they dug a little grave, for my father.... It was
soon finished ... the danger was grave ... and some soldiers took a
rope and pulled the handcart, with my mother lying on top of our
little possessions, and I walked with them, until the whole of my life
was blotted out with fatigue. We got on to the Route Nationale again
and mingled again with the Retreat. And in the night, as we were still
marching, there was a halt. I went to my mother. She was cold,
monsieur, cold and stiff. She was dead."

She paused tragically. After a few moments she continued:

"I fainted. I do not know what happened till I recovered consciousness
at dawn. I found myself wrapped in one of our blankets, lying under
the handcart. It was the market-square of a little town. And there
were many--old men and women and children, refugees like me. I rose
and found a paper--a leaf torn from a notebook--fixed to the handcart.
It was from the officer, bidding me farewell. Military necessity
forced him to go on with his men--but he had kept his word, and
brought me to a place of safety.... That is how I first met the
English, Monsieur Trevor. They had carried me, I suppose, on the
handcart, all night, they who were broken with weariness. I owe them
my life and my reason."

"And your mother?"

"How should I know? _Elle est restée là-bas_," she replied simply.

She went on with her sewing. Doggie wondered how her hand could be so
steady. There was a long silence. What words, save vain imprecations
on the accursed race, were adequate? Presently her glance rested for a
second or two on his sensitive face.

"Why do you not smoke, Monsieur Trevor?"

"May I?"

"Of course. It calms the nerves. I ought not to have saddened you with
my griefs."

Doggie took out his pink packet and lit a cigarette.

"You are very understanding, Mademoiselle Jeanne. But it does a
selfish man like me good to be saddened by a story like yours. I have
not had much opportunity in my life of feeling for another's
suffering. And since the war--I am _abruti_."

"You? Do you think if I had not found you just the reverse, I should
have told you all this?"

"You have paid me a great compliment, Mademoiselle Jeanne." Then,
after awhile, he asked, "From the market-square of the little town you
found means to come here?"

"Alas, no!" she said, putting her work in her lap again. "I made my
way, with my handcart--it was easy--to our original destination, a
little farm belonging to the eldest brother of my father. The Farm of
La Folette. He lived there alone, a widower, with his farm-servants.
He had no children. We thought we were safe. Alas! news came that the
Germans were always advancing. We had time to fly. All the farm-hands
fled, except Père Grigou, who loved him. But my uncle was obstinate.
To a Frenchman, the soil he possesses is his flesh and his blood. He
would die rather than leave it. And my uncle had the murder of my
father and mother on his brain. He told Père Grigou to take me away,
but I stayed with him. It was Père Grigou who forced us to hide. That
lasted two days. There was a well in the farm, and one night Père
Grigou tied up my money and my mother's jewellery and my father's
papers, _enfin_, all the precious things we had, in a packet of
waterproof and sank it with a long string down the well, so that the
Germans could not find it. It was foolish, but he insisted. One day my
uncle and Père Grigou went out of the little copse where we had been
hiding, in order to reconnoitre, for he thought the Germans might be
going away; and my uncle, who would not listen to me, took his gun.
Presently I heard a shot--and then another. You can guess what it
meant. And soon Père Grigou came, white and shaking with terror. '_Il
en a tué un, et on l'a tué!_'"

"My God!" said Doggie again.

"It was terrible," she said. "But they were in their right."

"And then?"

"We lay hidden until it was dark--how they did not find us I don't
know--and then we escaped across country. I thought of coming here to
my Aunt Morin, which is not far from La Folette, but I reflected that
soon the Boches would be here also. And we went on. We got to a high
road--and once more I was among troops and refugees. I met some kind
folks in a carriage, a Monsieur and Madame Tarride, and they took me
in. And so I got to Paris, where I had the hospitality of a friend of
the Convent who was married."

"And Père Grigou?"

"He insisted on going back to bury my uncle. Nothing could move him.
He had not parted from him all his life. They were foster-brothers.
Where he is now, who knows?" She paused, looked again at her ghosts,
and continued: "That is all, Monsieur Trevor. The Germans passed
through here and repassed on their retreat, and, as soon as it was
safe, I came to help my aunt, who was _souffrante_, and had lost her
son. Also because I could not live on charity on my friend, for,
_voyez-vous_, I was without a sou--all my money having been hidden in
the well by Père Grigou."

Doggie leant his elbows on the table.

"And you have come through all that, Mademoiselle Jeanne, just as you
are----?"

"How, just as I am?"

"So gentle and kind and comprehending?"

Her cheek flushed. "I am not the only Frenchwoman who has passed
through such things and kept herself proud. But the struggle has been
very hard."

Doggie rose and clenched his fists and rubbed his head from front to
back in his old indecisive way, and began to swear incoherently in
English. She smiled sadly.

"_Ah, mon pauvre ami!_"

He wheeled round: "Why do you call me '_mon pauvre ami_'?"

"Because I see that you would like to help me and you can't."

"Jeanne," cried Doggie, bending half over the table which was between
them.

She rose too, startled, on quick defensive. He said, in reply to her
glance:

"Why shouldn't I call you Jeanne?"

"You haven't the right."

"What if I gain it?"

"How?"

"I don't know," said Doggie.

The door burst suddenly open and the anxious face of Mo Shendish
appeared.

"'Ere, you silly cuckoo, don't yer know you're on guard to-night?
You've just got about thirty seconds."

"Good lord!" cried Doggie, "I forgot. _Bon soir, mademoiselle. Service
militaire_," and he rushed out.

Mo lingered, with a grin, and jerked a backward thumb.

"If it weren't for old Mo, miss, I don't know what would happen to our
friend Doggie. I got to look after him like a baby, I 'ave. He's on to
relieve guard, and if old Mac--that's McPhail"--she nodded recognition
of the name--"and I hadn't remembered, miss, he'd 'ave been in what
yer might call a 'ole. Compree?"

"_Oui._ Yes," she said. "_Garde. Sentinelle._"

"Sentinel. Sentry. Right."

"He--was--late," she said, picking out her few English words from
memory.

"Yuss," grinned Mo.

"He--guard--house?"

"Bless you, miss, you talk English as well as I do," cried the
admiring Mo. "Yuss. When his turn comes, up and down in the street, by
the gate." He saw her puzzled look. "Roo. Port," said he.

"_Ah! oui, je comprends_," smiled Jeanne. "_Merci, monsieur, et bon
soir._"

"Good night, miss," said Mo.

Some time later he disturbed Phineas, by whose side he slept, from his
initial preparation for slumber.

"Mac! Is there any book I could learn this blinking lingo from?"

"Try Ovid--'Art of Love,'" replied Phineas sleepily.



CHAPTER XIV


The spell of night sentry duty had always been Doggie's black hour. To
most of the other military routine he had grown hardened or deadened.
In the depths of his heart he hated the life as much as ever. He had
schooled himself to go through it with the dull fatalism of a convict.
It was no use railing at inexorable laws, irremediable conditions. The
only alternative to the acceptance of his position was military
punishment, which was far worse--to say nothing of the outrage to his
pride. It was pride that kept the little ironical smile on his lips
while his nerves were almost breaking with strain. The first time he
came under fire he was physically sick--not from fear, for he stood it
better than most, keeping an eye on his captain, whose function it was
to show an unconcerned face--but from sheer nervous reaction against
the hideous noise, the stench, the ghastly upheaval of the earth, the
sight of mangled men. When the bombardment was over, if he had been
alone, he would have sat down and cried. Never had he grown accustomed
to the foulness of the trenches. The sounder his physical condition,
the more did his delicately trained senses revolt. It was only when
fierce animal cravings dulled these senses that he could throw himself
down anywhere and sleep, that he could swallow anything in the way of
food or drink. The rats nearly drove him crazy.... Yet, what had once
been to him a torture, the indecent, nerve-rasping publicity of the
soldier's life, had now become a compensation. It was not so much in
companionship, like his friendly intercourse with Phineas and Mo, that
he found an anodyne, but in the consciousness of being magnetically
affected by the crowd of his fellows. They offered him protection
against himself. Whatever pangs of self-pity he felt, whatever wan
little pleadings for the bit of fine porcelain compelled to a rough
usage which vessels of coarser clay could disregard came lingeringly
into his mind, he dared not express them to a living soul around. On
the contrary, he set himself assiduously to cultivate the earthenware
habit of spirit; not to feel, not to think, only to endure. To a
humorously incredulous Jeanne he proclaimed himself _abruti_. Finally,
the ceaseless grind of the military machine left him little time to
think.

But in the solitary sleepless hours of sentry duty there was nothing
to do but think; nothing wherewith to while away the time but an orgy
of introspection. First came the almost paralysing sense of
responsibility. He must keep, not only awake, but alert to the
slightest sound, the slightest movement. Lives of men depended on his
vigilance. A man can't screw himself up to this beautifully emotional
pitch for very long and be an efficient sentry. If he did, he would
challenge mice and shoot at cloud-shadows and bring the deuce of a
commotion about his ears. And this Doggie, who did not lack ordinary
intelligence, realized. So he strove to think of other things. And the
other things all focussed down upon his Doggie self. And he never knew
what to make of his Doggie self at all. For he would curse the things
that he once loved as being the cause of his inexpiable shame, and at
the same time yearn for them with an agony of longing.

And he would force himself to think of Peggy and her unswerving
loyalty. Of her weekly parcel of dainty food, which had arrived that
morning. Of the joy of Phineas and the disappointment of the
unsophisticated Mo over the _pâté de foie gras_. But his mind
wandered back to his Doggie self and its humiliations and its needs
and its yearnings. He welcomed enemy flares and star-shells and
excursions and alarms. They kept him from thinking, enabled him to
pass the time. But in the dead, lonely, silent dark, the hours were
like centuries. He dreaded them.

       *       *       *       *       *

To-night they fled like minutes. It was a pitch-black night, spitting
fine rain. It was one of Doggie's private grievances that it
invariably rained when he was on sentry duty. One of Heaven's little
ways of strafing him for Doggieism. But to-night he did not heed it.
Often the passage of transport had been a distraction for which he had
longed and which, when it came, was warmly welcome. But to-night,
during his spell, the roadway of the village was as still as death,
and he loved the stillness and the blackness. Once he had welcomed
familiar approaching steps. Now he resented them.

"Who goes there?"

"Rounds."

And the officer, recognized, flashing an electric torch, passed on.
The diminuendo of his footsteps was agreeable to Doggie's ear. The
rain dripped monotonously off his helmet on to his sodden shoulders,
but Doggie did not mind. Now and then he strained an eye upwards to
that part of the living-house that was above the gateway. Little
streaks of light came downwards through the shutter slats. Now it
required no great intellectual effort to surmise that the light
proceeded, not from the bedroom of the invalid Madame Morin, who would
naturally have the best bedroom situated in the comfortable main block
of the house, but from that of somebody else. Madame Morin was
therefore ruled out. So was Toinette--ridiculous to think of her
keeping all night vigil. There remained only Jeanne.

It was supremely silly of him to march with super-martiality of tread
up the pavement; but then, it is often the way of young men to do
supremely silly things.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next day was fuss and bustle, from the private soldier's point of
view. They were marching back to the trenches that night, and a crack
company must take over with flawless equipment and in flawless bodily
health. In the afternoon Doggie had a breathing spell of leisure. He
walked boldly into the kitchen.

"Madame," said he to Toinette, "I suppose you know that we are leaving
to-night?"

The old woman sighed. "It is always like that. They come, they make
friends, they go, and they never return."

"You mustn't make the little soldier weep, _grand'mère_," said
Doggie.

"No. It is the _grand'mères_ who weep," replied Toinette.

"I'll come back all right," said he. "Where is Mademoiselle Jeanne?"

"She is upstairs, monsieur."

"If she had gone out, I should have been disappointed," smiled Doggie.

"You desire to see her, monsieur?"

"To thank her before I go for her kindness to me."

The old face wrinkled into a smile.

"It was not then for the _beaux yeux_ of the _grand'mère_ that you
entered?"

"_Si, si!_ Of course it was," he protested. "But one, nevertheless,
must be polite to mademoiselle."

"_Aïe! aïe!_" said the old woman, bustling out: "I'll call her."

Presently Jeanne came in alone, calm, cool, and in her plain black
dress, looking like a sweet Fate. From the top of her dark brown hair
to her trim, stout shoes, she gave the impression of being exquisitely
ordered, bodily and spiritually.

"It was good of you to come," he cried, and they shook hands
instinctively, scarcely realizing it was for the first time. But he
was sensitive to the frank grip of her long and slender fingers.

"Toinette said you wished to see me."

"We are going to-night. I had to come and bid you _au revoir_!"

"Is the company returning?"

"So I hear the quartermaster says. Are you glad?"

"Yes, I am glad. One doesn't like to lose friends."

"You regard me as a friend, Jeanne?"

"_Pour sûr_," she replied simply.

"Then you don't mind my calling you Jeanne?" said he.

"What does it matter? There are graver questions at stake in the
world."

She crossed the kitchen and opened the yard door which Doggie had
closed behind him. Meeting a query in his glance, she said:

"I like the fresh air, and I don't like secrecy."

She leaned against the edge of the table and Doggie, emboldened,
seated himself on the corner by her side, and they looked out into the
little flagged courtyard in which the men, some in grey shirt-sleeves,
some in tunics, were lounging about among the little piles of
accoutrements and packs. Here and there a man was shaving by the aid
of a bit of mirror supported on a handcart. Jests and laughter were
flung in the quiet afternoon air. A little group were feeding pigeons
which, at the sight of crumbs, had swarmed iridescent from the tall
_colombier_ in the far corner near the gabled barn. As Jeanne did not
speak, at last Doggie bent forward and, looking into her eyes, found
them moist with tears.

"What is the matter, Jeanne?" he asked in a low voice.

"The war, _mon ami_," she replied, turning her face towards him, "the
haunting tragedy of the war. I don't know how to express what I mean.
If all those brave fellows there went about with serious faces, I
should not be affected. _Mais, voyez-vous, leur gaieté fait peur._"

_Their laughter frightened her._ Doggie, with his quick
responsiveness, understood. She had put into a phrase the haunting
tragedy of the war. The eternal laughter of youth quenched in a gurgle
of the throat.

He said admiringly: "You are a wonderful woman, Jeanne."

Her delicate shoulders moved, ever so little. "A woman? I suppose I
am. The day before we fled from Cambrai it was my _jour de fête_. I
was eighteen."

Doggie drew in his breath with a little gasp. He had thought she was
older than he.

"I am twenty-seven," he said.

She looked at him calmly and critically. "Yes. Now I see. Until now I
should have given you more. But the war ages people. Isn't it true?"

"I suppose so," said Doggie. Then he had a brilliant idea. "But when
the war is over, we'll remain the same age for ever and ever."

"Do you think so?"

"I'm sure of it. We'll still both be in our twenties. Let us suppose
the war puts ten years of experience and suffering, and what not, on
to our lives. We'll only then be in our thirties--and nothing possibly
can happen to make us grow any older. At seventy we shall still be
thirty."

"You are consoling," she admitted. "But what if the war had added
thirty years to one's life? What if I felt now an old woman of fifty?
But yes, it is quite true. I have the feelings and the disregard of
convention of a woman of fifty. If there had been no war, do you think
I could have gone among an English army--_sans gêne_--like an old
matron? Do you think a _jeune fille française bien élevée_ could
have talked to you alone as I have done the past two days? Absurd. The
explanation is the war."

Doggie laughed. "_Vive la guerre!_" said he.

"_Mais non!_ Be serious. We must come to an understanding."

In her preoccupation she forgot the rules laid down for the guidance
of _jeunes filles bien élevées_, and unthinkingly perched herself
full on the kitchen table on the corner of which Doggie sat in a
one-legged way. Doggie gasped again. All her assumed age fell from her
like a garment. Youth proclaimed itself in her attitude and the supple
lines of her figure. She was but a girl after all, a girl with a
steadfast soul that had been tried in unutterable fires; but a girl
appealing, desirable. He felt mighty protective.

"An understanding? All right," said he.

"I don't want you to go away and think ill of me--that I am one of
those women--_les affranchies_ I think they call them--who think
themselves above social laws. I am not. I am _bourgeoise_ to my
finger-tips, and I reverence all the old maxims and prejudices in
which I was born. But conditions are different. It is just like the
priests who have been called into the ranks. To look at them from the
outside, you would never dream they were priests--but their hearts and
their souls are untouched."

She was so earnest, in her pathetic youthfulness, to put herself right
with him, so unlike the English girls of his acquaintance, who would
have taken this chance companionship as a matter of course, that his
face lost the smile and became grave, and he met her sad eyes.

"That was very bravely said, Jeanne. To me you will be always the most
wonderful woman I have ever known."

"What caused you to speak to me the first day?" she asked, after a
pause.

"I explained to you--to apologize for staring rudely into your house."

"It was not because you said to yourself, 'Here is a pretty girl
looking at me. I'll go and talk to her'?"

Doggie threw his leg over the corner of the table and stood on
indignant feet.

"Jeanne! How could you----?" he cried.

She leaned back, her open palms on the table. The rare light came into
her eyes.

"That's what I wanted to know. Now we understand each other, Monsieur
Trevor."

"I wish you wouldn't call me Monsieur Trevor," said he.

"What else can I call you? I know no other name."

Now he had in his pocket a letter from Peggy, received that morning,
beginning "My dearest Marmaduke." Peggy seemed far away, and the name
still farther. He was deliberating whether he should say "_Appelez-moi
James_" or "_Appelez-moi Jacques_," and inclining to the latter as
being more picturesque and intimate, when she went on:

"_Tenez_, what is it your comrades call you? 'Doggie'?"

"Say that again."

"Dog-gie."

He had never dreamed that the hated appellation could sound so
adorable. Well--no one except his officers called him by any other
name, and it came with a visible charm from her lips. It brought about
the most fascinating flash of the tips of her white teeth. He laughed.

"_A la guerre comme à la guerre._ If you call me that, you belong to
the regiment. And I promise you, it is a fine regiment."

"_Eh bien_, Monsieur Dog-gie----"

"There's no monsieur about it," he declared, very happily. "Tommies
are not _messieurs_."

"I know one who is," said Jeanne.

So they talked in a young and foolish way, and Jeanne for a while
forgot the tragedies that had gone and the tragedies that might come;
and Doggie forgot both the peacock and ivory room and the fetid hole
into which he would have to creep when the night's march was over.
They talked of simple things. Of Toinette, who had been with Aunt
Morin ever since she could remember.

"You have won her heart with your snuff."

"She has won mine with her discretion."

"Oh-h!" said Jeanne, shocked.

And so on and so forth, as they sat side by side on the kitchen table,
swinging their feet. After a while they drifted to graver questions.

"What will happen to you, Jeanne, if your aunt dies?"

"_Mon Dieu!_" said Jeanne----

"But you will inherit the property, and the business?"

By no means. Aunt Morin had still a son, who was already very old. He
must be forty-six. He had expatriated himself many years ago and was
in Madagascar. The son who was killed was her Benjamin, the child of
her old age. But all her little fortune would go to the colonial
Gaspard, whom Jeanne had never seen.

But the Farm of La Folette?

"It has been taken and retaken by Germans and French and English, _mon
pauvre ami_, until there is no farm left. You ought to understand
that."

It was a thing that Doggie most perfectly understood: a patch of
hideous wilderness, of poisoned, shell-scarred, ditch-defiled, barren,
loathsome earth.

And her other relations? Only an uncle, her father's youngest brother,
a curé in Douai in enemy occupation. She had not heard of him since
the flight from Cambrai.

"But what is going to become of you?"

"So long as one keeps a brave heart what, does it matter? I am strong.
I have a good enough education. I can earn my living. Oh, don't make
any mistake. I have no pity for myself. Those who waste efforts in
pitying themselves are not of the stuff to make France victorious."

"I am afraid I have done a lot of self-pitying, Jeanne."

"Don't do it any more," she said gently.

"I won't," said he.

"If you keep to the soul you have gained, you can't," said Jeanne.

"_Toujours la sagesse._"

"You are laughing at me."

"God forbid," said Doggie.

Phineas and Mo came strolling towards the kitchen door.

"My two friends, to pay their visit of adieu," said he.

Jeanne slid from the table and welcomed the newcomers in her calm,
dignified way. Once more Doggie found himself regarding her as his
senior in age and wisdom and conduct of life. The pathetic girlishness
which she had revealed to him had gone. The age-investing ghosts had
returned.

Mo grinned, interjected a British Army French word now and then, and
manifested delight when Jeanne understood. Phineas talked laboriously,
endeavouring to expound his responsibility for Doggie's welfare. He
had been his tutor. He used the word "_tuteur_."

"That's a guardian, you silly ass," cried Doggie. "He means
'_instituteur_.' Go on. Or, rather, don't go on. The lady isn't
interested."

"_Mais si_," said Jeanne, catching at the last English word. "It
interests me greatly."

"_Merci, mademoiselle_," said Phineas grandly. "I only wish to explain
to you that while I live you need have no fear for Doggie. I will
protect him with my body from shells and promise to bring him safe
back to you. And so will Monsieur Shendish."

"What's that?" asked Mo.

Phineas translated.

"_Oui, oui, oui!_" said Mo, nodding vigorously.

A spot of colour burned on Jeanne's pale cheek, and Doggie grew red
under his tanned skin. He cursed Phineas below his breath, and
exchanged a significant glance with Mo. Jeanne said, in her even
voice:

"I hope all the Three Musketeers will come back safe."

Mo extended a grimy hand. "Well, good-bye, miss! McPhail here and I
must be going."

She shook hands with both, wishing them _bonne chance_, and they
strolled away. Doggie lingered.

"You mustn't mind what McPhail says. He's only an old imbecile."

"You have two comrades who love you. That is the principal thing."

"I think they do, each in his way. As for Mo----"

"Mo?" She laughed. "He is delicious."

"Well----" said he reluctantly, after a pause, "good-bye, Jeanne."

"_Au revoir_--Dog-gie."

"If I shouldn't come back--I mean if we were billeted somewhere
else--I should like to write to you."

"Well--Mademoiselle Bossière, chez Madame Morin, Frélus. That is the
address."

"And will you write too?"

Without waiting for a reply, he scribbled what was necessary on a
sheet torn from a notebook and gave it to her. Their hands met.

"_Au revoir_, Jeanne."

"_Au revoir_, Dog-gie. But I shall see you again to-night."

"Where?"

"It is my secret. _Bonne chance._"

She smiled and turned to leave the kitchen. Doggie clattered into the
yard.

"Been doin' a fine bit o' coartin', Doggie," said Private Appleyard
from Taunton, who was sitting on a box near by and writing a letter on
his knees.

"Not so much of your courting, Spud," replied Doggie cheerfully. "Who
are you writing to? Your best girl?"

"I be writin' to my own lawful mizzus," replied Spud Appleyard.

"Then give her my love. Doggie Trevor's love," said Doggie, and
marched away through the groups of men.

At the entrance to the barn he fell in with Phineas and Mo.

"Laddie," said the former, "although I meant it at the time as a
testimony of my affection, I've been thinking that what I said to the
young leddy may not have been over-tactful."

"It was taking it too much for granted," explained Mo, "that you and
her were sort of keeping company."

"You're a pair of idiots," said Doggie, sitting down between them, and
taking out his pink packet of Caporal. "Have a cigarette?"

"Not if I wos dying of----Look 'ere," said Mo, with the light on his
face of the earnest seeker after Truth. "If a chap ain't got no food,
he's dying of 'unger. If he ain't got no drink, he's dying of thirst.
What the 'ell is he dying of if he ain't got no tobakker?"

"Army Service Corps," said Phineas, pulling out his pipe.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was dark when A Company marched away. Doggie had seen nothing more
of Jeanne. He was just a little disappointed; for she had promised. He
could not associate her with light words. Yet perhaps she had kept her
promise. She had said "_Je vous verrai._" She had not undertaken to
exhibit herself to him. He derived comfort from the thought. There
was, indeed, something delicate and subtle and enchanting in the
notion. As on the previous day, the fine weather had changed with the
night and a fine rain was falling. Doggie, an indistinguishable
pack-laden ant in the middle of the four-abreast ribbon of similar
pack-laden ants, tramped on in silence, thinking his own thoughts. A
regiment going back to the trenches in the night is, from the point of
view of the pomp and circumstance of glorious war, a very lugubrious
procession. The sight of it would have hurt an old-time poet. An
experienced regiment has no lovely illusions. It knows what it is
going to, and the knowledge makes it serious. It would much rather be
in bed or on snug straw than plodding through the rain to four days
and nights of eternal mud and stinking high-explosive shell. It sets
its teeth and is a very stern, silent, ugly conglomeration of men.

"---- (_the adjective_) night," growled Doggie's right-hand neighbour.

"---- (_the adjective_)" Doggie responded mechanically.

But to Doggie it was less "----" (_adjective as before_) than usual.
Jeanne's denunciation of self-pity had struck deep. Compared with her
calamities, half of which would have been the stock-in-trade of a
Greek dramatist wherewith to wring tears from mankind for a couple of
thousand years, what were his own piffling grievances? As for the
"----" night, instead of a drizzle he would have welcomed a
waterspout. Something that really mattered.... Let the heavens or the
Hun rain molten lead. Something that would put him on an equality with
Jeanne.... Jeanne, with her dark haunting eyes and mobile lips, and
her slim young figure and her splendid courage. A girl apart from the
girls he had known, apart from the women he had known, the women whom
he had imagined--and he had not imagined many--his training had
atrophied such imaginings of youth. Jeanne. Again her name conjured up
visions of the Great Jeanne of Domrémy. If only he could have seen
her once again!

At the north end of the village the road took a sharp twist, skirting
a bit of rising ground. There was just a glimmer of a warning light
which streamed athwart the turning ribbon of laden ants. And as Doggie
wheeled through the dim ray he heard a voice that rang out clear:

"_Bonne chance!_"

He looked up swiftly. Caught the shadow of a shadow. But it was
enough. It was Jeanne. She had kept her promise. The men responded
incoherently, waving their hands, and Doggie's shout of "_Merci!_" was
lost. But though he knew, with a wonderful throbbing knowledge, that
Jeanne's cry was meant for him alone, he was thrilled by his comrades'
instant response to Jeanne's voice. Not a man but he knew that it was
Jeanne. But no matter. The company paid homage to Jeanne. Jeanne who
had come out in the rain and the wind and the dark, and had waited,
waited, to redeem her promise. "_C'est mon secret._"

He ploughed on. Left, right! Thud, thud! Left, right! Jeanne, Jeanne!



CHAPTER XV


In the village of Frélus life went on as before. The same men, though
a different regiment, filled its streets and its houses; for by what
signs could the inhabitants distinguish one horde of English
infantrymen from another? Once a Highland battalion had been billeted
on them, and for the first day or so they derived some excitement from
the novelty of the costume; the historic Franco-Scottish tradition
still lingered, and they welcomed the old allies of France with
especial kindliness; but they found that the habits and customs of the
men in kilts were identical, in their French eyes, with those of the
men in trousers. It is true the Scotch had bagpipes. The village
turned out to listen to them in whole-eyed and whole-eared wonder. And
the memory of the skirling music remained indelible. Otherwise there
was little difference. And when a Midland regiment succeeded a South
Coast regiment, where was the difference at all? They might be the
same men.

Jeanne, standing by the kitchen door, watching the familiar scene in
the courtyard, could scarcely believe there had been a change. Now and
again she caught herself wondering why she could not pick out any one
of her Three Musketeers. There were two or three soldiers, as usual,
helping Toinette with her crocks at the well. There she was, herself,
moving among them, as courteously treated as though she were a
princess. Perhaps these men, whom she heard had come from
manufacturing centres, were a trifle rougher in their manners than her
late guests; but the intention of civility and rude chivalry was no
less sincere. They came and asked for odds and ends very politely. To
all intents and purposes they were the same set of men. Why was not
Doggie among them? It seemed very strange.

After a while she made some sort of an acquaintance with a sergeant
who had a few words of French and appeared anxious to improve his
knowledge of the language. He explained that he had been a teacher in
what corresponded to the French _Ecoles Normales_. He came from
Birmingham, which he gave her to understand was a glorified Lille. She
found him very earnest, very self-centred in his worship of
efficiency. As he had striven for his class of boys, so now was he
striving for his platoon of men. In a dogmatic way he expounded to her
ideals severely practical. In their few casual conversations he
interested her. The English, from the first terrible day of their
association with her, had commanded her deep admiration. But until
lately--in the most recent past--her sex, her national aloofness and
her ignorance of English, had restrained her from familiar talk with
the British Army. But now she keenly desired to understand this
strange, imperturbable, kindly race. She put many questions to the
sergeant--always at the kitchen door, in full view of the courtyard,
for she never thought of admitting him into the house--and his
answers, even when he managed to make himself intelligible, puzzled
her exceedingly. One of his remarks led her to ask for what he was
fighting, beyond his apparently fixed idea of the efficiency of the
men under his control. What was the spiritual idea at the back of him?

"The democratization of the world and the universal brotherhood of
mankind."

"When the British Lion shall lie down with the German Lamb?"

He flashed a suspicious glance. Strenuous schoolmasters in primary
schools have little time for the cultivation of a sense of humour.

"Something of the sort must be the ultimate result of the war."

"But in the meantime you have got to change the German wolf into the
_petit mouton_. How are you going to do it?"

"By British efficiency. By proving to him that we are superior to him
in every way. We'll teach him that it doesn't pay to be a wolf."

"And do you think he will like being transformed into a lamb, while
you remain a lion?"

"I don't suppose so, but we'll give him his chance to try to become a
lion too."

Jeanne shook her head. "No, monsieur, wolf he is and wolf he will
remain. A wolf with venomous teeth. The civilized world must see that
the teeth are always drawn."

"I'm speaking of fifty years hence," said the sergeant.

"And I of three hundred years hence."

"You're mistaken, mademoiselle."

Jeanne shook her head. "No. I'm not mistaken. Tell me. Why do you want
to become brother to the Boche?"

"I'm not going to be his brother till the war's over," said the
sergeant stolidly. "At present I am devoting all my faculties to
killing as many of him as I can."

She smiled. "Sufficient for the day is the good thereof. Go on killing
them, monsieur. The more you kill the fewer there will be for your
children and your grandchildren to lie down with."

She left him and tried to puzzle out his philosophy. For the ordinary
French philosophy of the war is very simple. They have no
high-falutin, altruistic ideas of improving the Boche. They don't care
a tinker's curse what happens to the unholy brood beyond the Rhine, so
long as they are beaten, humiliated, subjected: so long as there is no
chance of their ever deflowering again with their brutality the sacred
soil of France. The French mind cannot conceive the idea of this
beautiful brotherhood; but, on the contrary, rejects it as something
loathsome, something bordering on spiritual defilement....

No; Jeanne could not accept the theory that we were waging war for the
ultimate chastening and beatification of Germany. She preferred
Doggie's reason for fighting. For his soul. There was something which
she could grip. And having gripped it, it was something around which
her imagination could weave a web of noble fancy. After all, when she
came to think of it, every one of the Allies must be fighting for his
soul. For his soul's sake had not her father died? Although she knew
no word of German, it was obvious that the Uhlan officer had murdered
him because he had refused to betray his country. And her uncle. To
fight for his soul, had he not gone out with his heroic but futile
sporting gun? And this pragmatical sergeant? What else had led him
from his schoolroom to the battlefield? Why couldn't he be honest
about it, like Doggie?

She missed Doggie. He ought to be there, as she had often seen him
unobserved, talking with his friends or going about his military
duties, or playing the flageolet with the magical touch of the
musician. She knew far more of Doggie than he was aware of ... And at
night she prayed for the little English soldier who was facing Death.

She had much time to think of him during the hours when she sat by the
bedside of Aunt Morin, who talked incessantly of François-Marie who
was killed on the Argonne, and Gaspard who, as a _territorial_, was no
doubt defending Madagascar from invasion. And it was pleasant to think
of him, because he was a new distraction from tragical memories. He
seemed to lay the ghosts ... He was different from all the Englishmen
she had met. The young officers who had helped her in her flight, had
very much the same charm of breeding, very much the same intonation of
voice; instinctively she knew him to be of the same social caste; but
they, and the officers whom she saw about the street and in the
courtyard, when duty called them there, had the military air of
command. And this her little English soldier had not. Of course, he
was only a private, and privates are trained to obedience. She knew
that perfectly well. But why was he not commanding instead of obeying?
There was a reason for it. She had seen it in his eyes. She wished she
had made him talk more about himself. Perhaps she had been
unsympathetic and selfish. He assumed, she reflected, a certain
_crânerie_ with his fellows--and _crânerie_ is "swagger" bereft of
vulgarity--we have no word to connote its conception in a French
mind--and she admired it; but her swift intuition pierced the
assumption. She divined a world of hesitancies behind the Musketeer
swing of the shoulders. He was so gentle, so sensitive, so quick to
understand. And yet so proud. And yet again so unconfessedly
dependent. Her woman's protective instinct responded to a mute appeal.

"But, Ma'amselle Jeanne, you are wet through, you are perished with
cold. What folly have you been committing?" Toinette scolded, when she
returned after wishing Doggie the last "_bonne chance_."

"The folly of putting my Frenchwoman's heart (_mon coeur de
Française_) into the hands of a brave little soldier to fight with
him in the trenches."

"_Mon Dieu, ma'amselle_, you had better go straight to bed, and I will
bring you a _bon tilleul_, which will calm your nerves and produce a
good perspiration."

So Toinette put Jeanne to bed and administered the infallible infusion
of lime leaves, and Jeanne was never the worse for her adventure. But
the next day she wondered a little why she had undertaken it. She had
a vague idea that it paid a little debt of sympathy.

An evening or two afterwards Jeanne was sewing in the kitchen when
Toinette, sitting in the arm-chair by the extinct fire, fished out of
her pocket the little olive-wood box with the pansies and
forget-me-nots on the lid, and took a long pinch of snuff. She did it
with somewhat of an air which caused Jeanne to smile.

"_Dites donc_, Toinette, you are insupportable with your snuff-box.
One would say a marquise of the old school."

"Ah, Ma'amselle Jeanne," said the old woman, "you must not laugh at
me. I was just thinking that, if anything happened to the _petit
monsieur_, I couldn't have the heart to go on putting his snuff up my
old nose."

"Nothing will happen to him," said Jeanne.

The old woman sighed and re-engulfed the snuff-box. "Who knows? From
one minute to another who knows whether the little ones who are dear
to us are alive or dead?"

"And this _petit monsieur_ is dear to you, Toinette?" Jeanne asked, in
her even voice, without looking up from her sewing.

"Since he resembles my _petiot_."

"He will come back," said Jeanne.

"I hope so," said the old woman mournfully.

In spite of manifold duties, Jeanne found the days curiously long. She
slept badly. The tramp of the sentry below her window over the archway
brought her no sense of comfort, as it had done for months before the
coming of Doggie. All the less did it produce the queer little thrill
of happiness which was hers when, looking down through the shutter
slats she had identified in the darkness, on a change of guard, the
little English soldier to whom she had spoken so intimately. And when
he had challenged the rounds, she had recognized his voice.... If she
had obeyed an imbecile and unmaidenly impulse, she would have drawn
open the shutter and revealed herself. But apart from maidenly
shrinkings, familiarity with war had made her realize the sacred
duties of a sentry, and she had remained in discreet seclusion, awake
until his spell was over. But now the rhythmical beat of the heavy
boots kept her from sleeping and would have irritated her nerves
intolerably had not her sound common sense told her that the stout
fellow who wore them was protecting her from the Hun, together with a
million or so of his fellow-countrymen.

She found herself counting the days to Doggie's return.

"At last, it is to-morrow!" she said to Toinette.

"What is it to-morrow?" asked the old woman.

"The return of our regiment," replied Jeanne.

"That is good. We have a regiment now," said Toinette ironically.

The Midland company marched away--as so many had marched away before;
but Jeanne did not go to the little embankment at the turn of the road
to wish anyone good luck. She stood at the house door, as she had
always done, to watch them pass in the darkness; for there is always
something in the sight of men going into battle which gives you a lump
in the throat. For Jeanne it had almost grown into a religious
practice.

The sergeant had told her that the new-comers would arrive at dawn.
She slept a little; awoke with a start as day began to break; dressed
swiftly, and went downstairs to wait. And then her ear caught the
rumble and the tramp of the approaching battalion. Presently transport
rolled by, and squads of men, haggard in the grey light, bending
double under their packs, staggered along to their billets. And then
came a rusty crew, among whom she recognized McPhail's tall gaunt
figure. She stood by the gateway, bareheaded, in her black dress and
blue apron, defying the sharp morning air, and watched them pass
through. She saw Mo Shendish, his eyes on the heels of the man in
front. She recognized nearly all. But the man she looked for was not
there.

He could not have passed without her seeing him; but as soon as the
gateway was clear, she ran into the courtyard and fled across it to
cut off the men. There was no Doggie. Blank disappointment was
succeeded by sudden terror.

Phineas saw her coming. He stumbled up to her, dropped his pack at her
feet, and spread out both his hands. She lost sight of the horde of
weary clay-covered men around her. She cried:

"Where is he?"

"I don't know."

"He is dead?"

"No one knows."

"But you must know, you!" cried Jeanne, with a new fear in her eyes
which Phineas could not bear to meet. "You promised to bring him
back."

"It was not my fault," said Phineas. "He was out last night--no, the
night before, this is morning--repairing barbed wire. I was not with
him."

"_Mais, mon Dieu_, why not?"

"Because the duties of soldiers are arranged for them by their
officers, mademoiselle."

"It is true. Pardon. But continue."

"A party went out to repair wire. It was quite dark. Suddenly a German
rifle-shot gave the alarm. The enemy threw up star-shells and the
front trenches on each side opened fire. The wiring party, of course,
lay flat on the ground. One of them was wounded. When it was all
over--it didn't last long--our men got back, bringing the wounded
man."

"He is severely wounded? Speak," cried Jeanne.

"The wounded man was not Doggie. Doggie went out with the party, but
he did not come back. That's why I said no one knows where he is."

She stiffened. "He is lying out there. He is dead."

"Shendish and I and Corporal Wilson over there, who was with the
party, got permission to go out and search. We searched all round
where the repair had been going on. But we could not find him."

"_Merci!_ I ought not to have reproached you," she said steadily.
"_C'est un grand malheur._"

"You are right. Life for me is no longer of much value."

She looked at him in her penetrating way.

"I believe you," she said. "For the moment, _au revoir_. You must be
worn out with fatigue."

She left him and walked through the straggling men, who made
respectful way for her. All knew of her friendship with Doggie Trevor
and all realized the nature of this interview. They liked Doggie
because he was good-natured and plucky, and never complained and would
play the whistle on march as long as breath enough remained in his
body. As his uncle, the Dean, had said, breed told. In a curious,
half-grudging way they recognized the fact. They laughed at his
singular inefficiency in the multitudinous arts of the handy-man,
proficiency in which is expected from the modern private, but they
knew that he would go on till he dropped. And knowing that, they saved
him from many a reprimand which his absurd efforts in the arts
aforesaid would have brought upon him. And now that Doggie was gone,
they deplored his loss. But so many had gone. So many had been
deplored. Human nature is only capable of a certain amount of
deploring while retaining its sanity. The men let the pale French
girl, who was Doggie Trevor's friend, pass by in respectful
silence--and that, for them, was their final tribute to Doggie Trevor.

Jeanne passed into the kitchen. Toinette drew a sharp breath at the
sight of her face.

"_Quoi? Il n'est pas là?_"

"No," said Jeanne. "He is wounded." It was impossible to explain to
Toinette.

"Badly?"

"They don't know."

"_Oh, là, là!_" sighed Toinette. "That always happens. That is what
I told you."

"We have no time to think of such things," said Jeanne.

The regimental cooks came up for the hot water, and soon the hungry,
weary, nerve-racked men were served with the morning meal. And Jeanne
stood in the courtyard in front of the kitchen door and helped with
the filling of the tea-kettles, as though no little English soldier
called "Dog-gie" had ever existed in the regiment.

The first pale shaft of sunlight fell upon the kitchen side of the
courtyard, and in it Jeanne stood illuminated. It touched the shades
of gold in her dark brown hair, and lit up her pale face and great
unsmiling eyes. But her lips smiled valiantly.

"What do yer think, Mac," said Mo Shendish, squatting on the
flagstones, "do you think she was really sweet on him?"

"Man," replied Phineas, similarly engaged, "all I know is that she has
added him to her collection of ghosts. It's not an over-braw company
for a lassie to live with."

And then, soon afterwards, the trench-broken men stumbled into the
barn to sleep, and all was quiet again, and Jeanne went about her
daily tasks with the familiar hand of death once more closing icily
around her heart.



CHAPTER XVI


The sick-room was very hot, and Aunt Morin very querulous. Jeanne
opened a window, but Aunt Morin complained of currents of air. Did
Jeanne want to kill her? So Jeanne closed the window. The internal
malady from which Aunt Morin suffered, and from which it was unlikely
that she would recover, caused her considerable pain from time to
time; and on these occasions she grew fractious and hard to bear with.
The retired septuagenarian village doctor who had taken the modest
practice of his son, now far away with the Army, advised an operation.
But Aunt Morin, with her peasant's prejudice, declined flatly. She
knew what happened in those hospitals where they cut people up just
for the pleasure of looking at their insides. She was not going to let
a lot of butchers amuse themselves with her old carcass. _Oh non!_
When it pleased the _bon Dieu_ to take her, she was ready: the _bon
Dieu_ required no assistance from _ces messieurs_. And even if she had
consented, how to take her to Paris, and once there, how to get the
operation performed, with all the hospitals full and all the surgeons
at the Front? The old doctor shrugged his shoulders and kept life in
her as best he might.

To-day, in the close room, she told a long story of the doctor's
neglect. The medicine he gave her was water and nothing else--water
with nothing in it. And to ask people to pay for that! She would not
pay. What would Jeanne advise?

"_Oui, ma tante_," said Jeanne.

"_Oui, ma tante?_ But you are not listening to what I say. At the
least one can be polite."

"I am listening, _ma tante_."

"You should be grateful to those who lodge and nourish you."

"I am grateful, _ma tante_," said Jeanne patiently.

Aunt Morin complained of being robbed on all sides. The doctor,
Toinette, Jeanne, the English soldiers--the last the worst of all.
Besides not paying sufficiently for what they had, they were so
wasteful in the things they took for nothing. If they begged for a few
faggots to make a fire, they walked away with the whole woodstack. She
knew them. But all soldiers were the same. They thought that in time
of war civilians had no rights. One of these days she would get up and
come downstairs and see for herself the robbery that was going on.

The windows were tightly sealed. The sunlight hurting Aunt Morin's
eyes, the outside shutters were half closed. The room felt like a
stuffy, overheated, overcrowded sepulchre. An enormous oak press, part
of her Breton dowry, took up most of the side of one wall. This, and a
great handsome chest, a couple of tables, a stiff arm-chair, were all
too big for the moderately sized apartment. Coloured prints of sacred
subjects, tilted at violent angles, seemed eager to occupy as much
air-space as possible. And in the middle of the floor sprawled the
vast oaken bed, with its heavy green brocade curtains falling tentwise
from a great tarnished gilt crown in the ceiling.

Jeanne said nothing. What was the good? She shifted the invalid's hot
pillow and gave her a drink of tisane, moving about the
over-furnished, airless room in her calm and efficient way. Her face
showed no sign of trouble, but an iron band clamped her forehead above
her burning eyes. She could perform her nurse's duties, but it was
beyond her power to concentrate her mind on the sick woman's unending
litany of grievances. Far away beyond that darkened room, beyond that
fretful voice, she saw vividly a hot waste, hideous with holes and
rusted wire and shapes of horror; and in the middle of it lay huddled
up a little khaki-clad figure with the sun blazing fiercely in his
unblinking eyes. And his very body was beyond the reach of man, even
of the most lion-hearted.

"_Mais qu'as-tu, ma fille?_" asked Aunt Morin. "You do not speak. When
people are ill they need to be amused."

"I am sorry, _ma tante_, but I am not feeling very well to-day. It
will pass."

"I hope so. Young people have no business not to feel well. Otherwise
what is the good of youth?"

"It is true," Jeanne assented.

But what, she thought, was indeed the good of youth, in these terrible
days of war? Her own was but a panorama of death.... And now one more
figure, this time one of youth too, had joined it.

Toinette came in.

"Ma'amselle Jeanne, there are two English officers downstairs who wish
to speak to you."

"What do they want?" Jeanne asked wearily.

"They do not say. They just ask for Ma'amselle Bossière."

"They never leave one in peace, _ces gens-là_," grumbled Aunt Morin.
"If they want more concessions in price, do not let them frighten you.
Go to Monsieur le Maire to have it arranged with justice. These people
would eat the skin off your back. Remember, Jeanne."

"_Bien, ma tante_," said Jeanne.

She went downstairs, conscious of gripping herself in order to discuss
with the officers whatever business of billeting was in hand. For she
had dealt with all such matters since her arrival in Frélus. She
reached the front door and saw a dusty car with a military chauffeur
at the wheel and two officers, standing on the pavement at the foot of
the steps. One she recognized as the commander of the company to which
her billeted men belonged. The other was a stranger, a lieutenant,
with a different badge on his cap. They were talking and laughing
together, like old friends newly met, which by one of the myriad
coincidences of the war was really the case. On the appearance of
Jeanne they drew themselves up and saluted politely.

"Mademoiselle Bossière?"

"_Oui, monsieur._" Then, "Will you enter, messieurs?"

They entered the vestibule where the great cask gleamed in its
polished mahogany and brass. She bade them be seated.

"Mademoiselle, Captain Willoughby tells me that you had billeted here
last week a soldier by the name of Trevor," said the stranger, in
excellent French, taking out notebook and pencil.

Jeanne's lips grew white. She had not suspected their errand.

"_Oui, monsieur._"

"Did you have much talk with him?"

"Much, monsieur."

"Pardon my indiscretion, mademoiselle--it is military service, and I
am an Intelligence officer--but did you tell him about your private
affairs?"

"Very intimately," said Jeanne.

The Intelligence officer made a note or two and smiled pleasantly--but
Jeanne could have struck him for daring to smile. "You had every
reason for thinking him a man of honour?"

"What's the good of asking her that, Smithers?" Captain Willoughby
interrupted in English. "Haven't I given you my word? The man's a
mysterious little devil, but any fool can see that he's a gentleman."

"What do you say?" Jeanne asked tensely.

"_Je parle français très peu_," replied Captain Willoughby with an
air of regret.

Smithers explained. "Monsieur le Capitaine says that he guarantees the
honesty of the soldier, Trevor."

Jeanne flashed, rigid. "Who could doubt it, monsieur? He was a
gentleman, a _fils de famille_, of the English aristocracy."

"Excuse me for a moment," said Smithers.

He went out. Jeanne, uncomprehending, sat silent. Captain Willoughby,
cursing an idiot education, composed in his head a polite French
sentence concerning the weather, but before he had finished Smithers
reappeared with a strange twisted packet in his hand. He held it out
to Jeanne.

"Mademoiselle, do you recognize this?"

She looked at it dully for a moment; then suddenly sprang to her feet
and clenched her hands and stared open-mouthed. She nodded. She could
not speak. Her brain swam. They had come to her about Doggie, who was
dead, and they showed her Père Grigou's packet. What was the
connection between the two?

Willoughby rose impulsively. "For God's sake, Smithers, let her down
easy. She'll be fainting all over the place in a minute."

"If this is your property, mademoiselle," said Smithers, laying the
packet on the chenille-covered table, "you have to thank your friend
Trevor for restoring it to you."

She put up both hands to her reeling head.

"But he is dead, monsieur!"

"Not a bit of it. He's just as much alive as you or I."

Jeanne swayed, tried to laugh, threw herself half on a chair, half
over the great cask, and broke down in a passion of tears.

The two men looked at each other uncomfortably.

"For exquisite tact," said Willoughby, "commend me to an Intelligence
officer."

"But how the deuce was I to know?" Smithers muttered with an injured
air. "My instructions were to find out the truth of a cock-and-bull
story--for that's what it seemed to come to. And a girl in
billets--well--how was I to know what she was like?"

"Anyhow, here we've got hysterics," said Willoughby.

"But who told her the fellow was dead?"

"Why, his pals. I thought so myself. When a man's missing where's one
to suppose him to be--having supper at the Savoy?"

"Well, I give women up," said Smithers. "I thought she'd be glad."

"I believe you're a married man?"

"Yes, of course."

"Well, I ain't," said Willoughby, and in a couple of strides he stood
close to Jeanne. He laid a gentle hand on her heaving shoulders.

"_Pas tué! Soolmong blessé_," he shouted.

She sprang, as it were, to attention, like a frightened recruit.

"He is wounded?"

"Not very seriously, mademoiselle." Smithers, casting an indignant
glance at his superior officer's complacent smile, reassumed mastery
of the situation. "A Boche sniper got him in the leg. It will put him
out of service for a month or two. But there is no danger."

"_Grâce à  Dieu!_" said Jeanne.

She leaned for a while against the cask, her hands behind her, looking
away from the two men. And the two young men stood, somewhat
embarrassed, looking away from her and from each other. At last she
said, with an obvious striving for the even note in her voice:

"I ask your pardon, messieurs, but sometimes sudden happiness is more
overwhelming than misfortune. I am now quite at your service."

"My God! she's a wonder," murmured Willoughby, who was fair,
unmarried, and impressionable. "Go on with your dirty work."

Smithers, conscious of linguistic superiority--in civil life he had
been concerned with the wine trade in Bordeaux--proceeded to carry out
his instructions. He turned over a leaf in his notebook and poised a
ready pencil.

"I must ask you, mademoiselle, some formal questions."

"Perfectly, monsieur," said Jeanne.

"Where was this packet when last you saw it?"

She made her statement, calmly.

"Can you tell me its contents?"

"Not all, monsieur. I, as a young girl, was not in the full confidence
of my parents. But I remember my uncle saying there were about twenty
thousand francs in notes, some gold--I know not how much--some
jewellery of my mother's--oh, a big handful!--rings--one a hoop of
emeralds and diamonds--a brooch with a black pearl belonging to my
great-grandmother----"

"It is enough, mademoiselle," said Smithers, jotting down notes.
"Anything else besides money and jewellery?"

"There were papers of my father, share certificates, bonds--_que
sais-je, moi_?"

Smithers opened the packet, which had already been examined.

"You're a witness, sir, to the identification of the property."

"No," said Willoughby, "I'm just a baby captain of infantry, and
wonder why the brainy Intelligence department doesn't hand the girl
her belongings and decently clear out."

"I've got to make my report, sir," said Smithers stiffly.

So the schedule was produced and the notes were solemnly counted,
twenty-one thousand five hundred francs, and the gold four hundred
francs, and the jewels were identified, and the bonds, of which Jeanne
knew nothing, were checked by a list in her father's handwriting, and
Jeanne signed a paper with Smithers's fountain-pen, and Willoughby
witnessed her signature, and thus she entered into possession of her
heritage.

The officers were about to depart, but Jeanne detained them.

"Messieurs, you must pardon me, but I am quite bewildered. As far as I
can understand, Monsieur Trevor rescued the packet from the well at my
uncle's farm of La Folette, and got wounded in doing so."

"That is quite so," said Smithers.

"But, monsieur, they tell me he was with a party in front of his
trench mending wire. How did he reach the well of La Folette? I don't
comprehend at all."

Smithers turned to Willoughby.

"Yes. How the dickens did he know the exact spot to go for?"

"We had taken over a new sector, and I was getting the topography
right with a map. Trevor was near by doing nothing, and as he's a man
of education, I asked him to help me. There was the site of the farm
marked by name, and the ruined well away over to the left in No Man's
Land. I remember the beggar calling out 'La Folette!' in a startled
voice, and when I asked him what was the matter, he said 'Nothing,
sir!'"

Smithers translated, and continued: "You see, mademoiselle, this is
what happened, as far as I am concerned. I belong to the Lancashire
Fusiliers. Our battalion is in the trenches farther up the line than
our friends. Well, just before dawn yesterday morning a man rolled
over the parapet into our trench, and promptly fainted. He had been
wounded in the leg, and was half dead from loss of blood. Under his
tunic was this package. We identified him and his regiment, and fixed
him up and took him to the dressing-station. But things looked very
suspicious. Here was a man who didn't belong to us with a little
fortune in loot on his person. As soon as he was fit to be
interrogated, the C.O. took him in hand. He told the C.O. about you
and your story. He regarded the nearness of the well as something to
do with Destiny, and resolved to get you back your property--if it was
still there. The opportunity occurred when the wiring party was
alarmed. He crept out to the ruins by the well, fished out the packet,
and a sniper got him. He managed to get back to our lines, having lost
his way a bit, and tumbled into our trench."

"But he was in danger of death all the time," said Jeanne, losing the
steadiness of her voice.

"He was. Every second. It was one of the most dare-devil,
scatter-brained things I've ever heard of. And I've heard of many,
mademoiselle. The only pity is that instead of being rewarded, he will
be punished."

"Punished?" cried Jeanne.

"Not very severely," laughed Smithers. "Captain Willoughby will see to
that. But reflect, mademoiselle. His military duty was to remain with
his comrades, not to go and risk his life to get your property.
Anyhow, it is clear that he was not out for loot.... Of course, they
sent me here as Intelligence officer, to get corroboration of his
story." He paused for a moment. Then he added: "Mademoiselle, I must
congratulate you on the restoration of your fortune and the possession
of a very brave friend."

For the first time the red spots burned on Jeanne's pale face.

"_Je vous remercie infiniment, monsieur._"

"_Il sera_ all right," said Willoughby.

The officers saluted and went their ways. Jeanne took up her packet
and mounted to her little room in a dream. Then she sat down on her
bed, the unopened packet by her side, and strove to realize it all.
But the only articulate thought came to her in the words which she
repeated over and over again:

"_Il a fait cela pour moi! Il a fait cela pour moi!_"

He had done that for her. It was incredible, fantastic, thrillingly
true, like the fairy-tales of her childhood. The little sensitive
English soldier, whom his comrades protected, whom she herself in a
feminine way longed to protect, had done this for her. In a shy,
almost reverent way, she opened out the waterproof covering, as though
to reassure herself of the reality of things. For the first time since
she left Cambrai a smile came into her eyes, together with grateful
tears.

"_Il a fait cela pour moi! Il a fait cela pour moi!_"

       *       *       *       *       *

A while later she relieved Toinette's guard in the sick-room.

"_Eh bien?_ And the two officers?" queried Aunt Morin, after Toinette
had gone. "They have stayed a long time. What did they want?"

Jeanne was young. She had eaten the bread of dependence, which Aunt
Morin, by reason of racial instinct and the stress of sorrow and
infirmity, had contrived to render very bitter. She could not repress
an exultant note in her voice. Doggie, too, accounted for something;
for much.

"They came to bring good news, _ma tante_. The English have found all
the money and the jewels and the share certificates that Père Grigou
hid in the well of La Folette."

"_Mon Dieu!_ It is true?"

"_Oui, ma tante._"

"And they have restored them to you?"

"Yes."

"It is extraordinary. It is truly extraordinary. At last these English
seem to be good for something. And they found that and gave it to you
without taking anything?"

"Without taking anything," said Jeanne.

Aunt Morin reflected for a few moments, then she stretched out a thin
hand.

"_Ma petite Jeanne chérie_, you are rich now."

"I don't know exactly," replied Jeanne, with a mingling of truth and
caution. "I have enough for the present."

"How did it all happen?"

"It was part of a military operation," said Jeanne.

Perhaps later she might tell Aunt Morin about Doggie. But now the
thing was too sacred. Aunt Morin would question, question maddeningly,
until the rainbow of her fairy-tale was unwoven. The salient fact of
the recovery of her fortune should be enough for Aunt Morin. It was.
The old woman of the pain-pinched features looked at her wistfully
from sunken grey eyes.

"And now that you are rich, my little Jeanne, you will not leave your
poor old aunt, who loves you so much, to die alone?"

"_Ah, mais non! mais non! mais non!_" cried Jeanne indignantly. "What
do you think I am made of?"

"Ah!" breathed Aunt Morin, comforted.

"Also," said Jeanne, in the matter-of-fact French way, "_Si tu veux_,
I will henceforward pay for my lodging and nourishment."

"You are very good, my little Jeanne," said Aunt Morin. "That will be
a great help, for, _vois-tu_, we are very poor."

"_Oui, ma tante._ It is the war."

"Ah, the war, the war; this awful war! One has nothing left."

Jeanne smiled. Aunt Morin had a very comfortably invested fortune
left, for the late Monsieur Morin, corn, hay and seed merchant, had
been a very astute person. It would make little difference to the
comfort of Aunt Morin, or to the prospects of Cousin Gaspard in
Madagascar, whether the present business of Veuve Morin et Fils went
on or not. Of this Aunt Morin, in lighter moods, had boasted many
times.

"Every one must do what they can," said Jeanne.

"Perfectly," said Aunt Morin. "You are a young girl who well
understands things. And now--it is not good for young people to stay
in a sick-room--one needs the fresh air. _Va te distraire, ma petite._
I am quite comfortable."

So Jeanne went out to distract a self already distraught with great
wonder, great pride and great fear.

He had done that for her. The wonder of it bewildered her, the pride
of it thrilled her. But he was wounded. Fear smothered her joy. They
had said there was no danger. But soldiers always made light of
wounds. It was their way in this horrible war, in the intimate midst
of which she had her being. If a man was not dead, he was alive, and
thereby accounted lucky. In their gay optimism they had given him a
month or two of absence from the regiment. But even in a month or
two--where would the regiment be? Far, far away from Frélus. Would
she ever see Doggie again?

To distract herself she went down the village street, bareheaded, and
up the lane that led to the little church. The church was empty, cool,
and smelt of the hill-side. Before the tinsel-crowned, mild-faced
image of the Virgin were spread the poor votive offerings of the
village. And Jeanne sank on her knees, and bowed her head, and,
without special prayer or formula of devotion, gave herself into the
hands of the Mother of Sorrows.

She walked back comforted, vaguely conscious of a strengthening of
soul. In the vast cataclysm of things her own hopes and fears and
destiny mattered very little. If she never saw Doggie again, if Doggie
recovered and returned to the war and was killed, her own grief
mattered very little. She was but a stray straw, and mattered very
little. But what mattered infinitely, what shone with an immortal
flame, though it were never so tiny, was the Wonderful Spiritual
Something that had guided Doggie through the jaws of death.

       *       *       *       *       *

That evening she had a long talk in the kitchen with Phineas. The news
of Doggie's safety had been given out by Willoughby, without any
details. Mo Shendish had leaped about her like a fox-terrier, and she
had laughed, with difficulty restraining her tears. But to Phineas
alone she told her whole story. He listened in bewilderment. And the
greater the bewilderment, the worse his crude translations of English
into French. She wound up a long, eager speech by saying:

"He has done this for me. Why?"

"Love," replied Phineas bluntly.

"It is more than love," said Jeanne, thinking of the Wonderful
Spiritual Something.

"If you could understand English," said Phineas, "I would enter into
the metaphysics of the subject with pleasure, but in French it is
beyond me."

Jeanne smiled, and turned to the matter-of-fact.

"He will go to England now that he is wounded?"

"He's on the way now," said Phineas.

"Has he many friends there? I ask, because he talks so little of
himself. He is so modest."

"Oh, many friends. You see, mademoiselle," said Phineas, with a view
to setting her mind at rest, "Doggie's an important person in his part
of the country. He was brought up in luxury. I know, because I lived
with him as his tutor for seven years. His father and mother are dead,
and he could go on living in luxury now, if he liked."

"He is then, rich--Doggie?"

"He has a fine house of his own in the country, with many servants and
automobiles, and--wait"--he made a swift arithmetical calculation--"and
an income of eighty thousand francs a year."

"_Comment?_" cried Jeanne sharply, with a little frown.

Phineas McPhail was enjoying himself, basking in the sunshine of
Doggie's wealth. Also, when conversation in French resolved itself
into the statement of simple facts, he could get along famously. So
the temptation of the glib phrase outran his discretion.

"Doggie has a fortune of about two million francs."

"_Il doit faire un beau mariage_," said Jeanne, with stony calm.

Phineas suddenly became aware of pitfalls and summoned his craft and
astuteness and knowledge of affairs. He smiled, as he thought,
encouragingly.

"The only fine marriage is with the person one loves."

"Not always, monsieur," said Jeanne, who had watched the gathering of
the sagacities with her deep eyes. "In any case"--she rose and held
out her hand--"our friend will be well looked after in England."

"Like a prince," said Phineas.

He strode away greatly pleased with himself, and went and found Mo
Shendish.

"Man," said he, "have you ever reflected that the dispensing of
happiness is the cheapest form of human diversion?"

"What've you been doin' now?" asked Mo.

"I've just left a lassie tottering over with blissful dreams."

"Gorblime!" said Mo, "and to think that if I could sling the lingo, I
might've done the same!"

But Phineas had knocked all the dreams out of Jeanne. The British
happy-go-lucky ways of marriage are not those of the French
_bourgeoisie_, and Jeanne had no notion of British happy-go-lucky
ways. Phineas had knocked the dream out of Jeanne by kicking Doggie
out of her sphere. And there was a girl in England in Doggie's sphere
whom he was to marry. She knew it. A man does not gather his
sagacities in order to answer crookedly a direct challenge, unless
there is some necessity.

Well. She would never see Doggie again. He would pass out of her life.
His destiny called him, if he survived the slaughter of the war, to
the shadowy girl in England. Yet he had done _that_ for her. For no
other woman could he ever in this life do _that_ again. It was past
love. Her brain boggled at an elusive spiritual idea. She was very
young, flung cleanly trained from the convent into the war's terrific
tragedy, wherein maiden romantic fancies were scorched in the tender
bud. Only her honest traditions of marriage remained. Of love she knew
nothing. She leaped beyond it, seeking, seeking. She would never see
him again. There she met the Absolute. But he had done _that_ for
her--that which, she knew not why, but she knew--he would do for no
other woman. The Splendour of it would be her everlasting possession.

She undressed that night, proud, dry-eyed, heroical, and went to bed,
and listened to the rhythmic tramp of the sentry across the gateway
below her window, and suddenly a lump rose in her throat and she fell
to crying miserably.



CHAPTER XVII


"How are you feeling, Trevor?"

"Nicely, thank you, Sister."

"Glad to be in Blighty again?"

Doggie smiled.

"Good old Blighty!"

"Leg hurting you?"

"A bit, Sister," he replied with a little grimace.

"It's bound to be stiff after the long journey, but we'll soon fix it
up for you."

"I'm sure you will," he said politely.

The nurse moved on. Doggie drew the cool clean sheet around his
shoulders and gave himself up to the luxury of bed--real bed. The
morning sunlight poured through the open windows, attended by a
delicious odour which after a while he recognized as the scent of the
sea. Where he was he had no notion. He had absorbed so much of Tommy's
philosophy as not to care. He had arrived with a convoy the night
before, after much travel in ambulances by land and sea. If he had
been a walking case, he might have taken more interest in things; but
the sniper's bullet in his thigh had touched the bone, and in spite of
being carried most tenderly about like a baby, he had suffered great
pain and longed for nothing and thought of nothing but a permanent
resting-place. Now, apparently, he had found one, and looking about
him he felt peculiarly content. He seemed to have seen no cleaner,
whiter, brighter place in the world than this airy ward, swept by the
sea-breeze. He counted seven beds besides his own. On a table running
down the ward stood a vase of sweet-peas and a bowl of roses. He
thought there was never in the world so clean and cool a figure as the
grey-clad nurse in her spotless white apron, cuffs and cap.

When she passed near him again, he summoned her. She came to his
bedside.

"What do you call this particular region of fairyland?"

She stared at him for a moment, adjusting things in her mind; for his
name and style were 35792 Private Trevor, J. M., but his voice and
phrase were those of her own social class. Then she smiled, and told
him. The corner of fairyland was a private auxiliary hospital in a
Lancashire seaside town.

"Lancashire," said Doggie, knitting his brow in a puzzled way, "but
why have they sent me to Lancashire? I belong to a West Country
regiment, and all my friends are in the South."

"What's he grousing about, Sister?" suddenly asked the occupant of the
next bed. "He's the sort of chap that doesn't know when he's in luck
and when he isn't. I'm in the Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry, I am,
and when I was hit before, they sent me to a military hospital in
Inverness. That'd teach you, my lad. This for me every time. You ought
to have something to grouse at."

"I'm not grousing, you idiot!" said Doggie.

"'Ere--who's he calling an idjit?" cried the Duke of Cornwall's Light
Infantryman, raising himself on his elbow.

The nurse intervened; explained that no one could be said to grumble
at a hospital when he called it fairyland. Trevor's question was that
of one in search of information. He did not realize that in assigning
men to the various hospitals in the United Kingdom, the authorities
could not possibly take into account an individual man's local
association.

"Oh well, if it's only his blooming ignorance----"

"That's just it, mate," smiled Doggie, "my blooming ignorance."

"That's all right," said the nurse. "Now you're friends."

"He had no right to call me an idjit," said the Duke of Cornwall's
Light Infantryman. He was an aggressive, red-visaged man with bristly
black hair and stubbly black moustache.

"If you'll agree that he wasn't grousing, Penworthy, I'm sure Trevor
will apologize for calling you an idiot."

And into the nurse's eyes crept the queer smile of the woman learned
in the ways of children.

"Didn't I say he wasn't grousing? It was only his ignorance?"

Doggie responded. "I meant no offence, mate, in what I said."

The other growled an acceptance, whereupon the nurse smiled an ironic
benediction and moved away.

"Where did you get it?" asked Penworthy.

Doggie gave the information and, in his turn, made the polite
counter-inquiry.

Penworthy's bit of shrapnel, which had broken a rib or two, had been
acquired just north of Albert. When he left, he said, we were putting
it over in great quantities.

"That's where the great push is going to be in a few days."

"Aren't you sorry you're out of it?"

"Me?" The Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantryman shook his head. "I take
things as I finds 'em, and I finds this quite good enough."

So they chatted and, in the soldier's way, became friends. Later, the
surgeon arrived and probed Doggie's wound and hurt him exquisitely, so
that the perspiration stood out on his forehead, and his jaws ached
afterwards from his clenching of them. While his leg was being dressed
he reflected that, a couple of years ago, if anyone had inflicted a
twentieth part of such torture on him he would have yelled the house
down. He remembered, with an inward grin, the anguished precautions on
which he had insisted whenever he sat down in the chair of his
expensive London dentist.

"It must have hurt like fun," said the nurse, busily engaged with the
gauze dressing.

"It's all in the day's work," replied Doggie.

The nurse pinned the bandage and settled him comfortably in bed.

"No one will worry you till dinner-time. You'd better try to have a
sleep."

So Doggie nodded and smiled and curled up as best he could and slept
the heavy sleep of the tired young animal. It was only when he awoke,
physically rested and comparatively free from pain, that his mind,
hitherto confused, began to work clearly, to straighten out the three
days' tangle. Yes, just three days. A fact almost impossible to
realize. Till now it had seemed an eternity.

He lay with his arms crossed under his head and stared at the blue
sky--a soft, comforting English sky. The ward was silent. Only two
beds were occupied, one by a man asleep, the other by a man reading a
novel. His other room-mates, including his neighbour Penworthy, were
so far convalescent as to be up and away, presumably by the
life-giving sea, whose rhythmic murmur he could hear. For the first
time since he awoke to find himself bandaged up in a strange dug-out,
and surrounded by strange faces, did the chaos of his ideas resolve
itself into anything like definite memories. Yet many of them were
still vague.

He had been out there, with the wiring party, in the dark. He had been
glad, he remembered, to escape from the prison of the trench into the
open air. He was having some difficulty with a recalcitrant bit of
wire that refused to come straight and jabbed him diabolically in
unexpected places, when a shot rang out and German flares went up and
everybody lay flat on the ground, while bullets spat about them. As he
lay on his stomach, a flare lit up the ruined well of the farm of La
Folette. And the well and his nose and his heels were in a bee-line.
The realization of the fact was the inception of a fascinating idea.
He remembered that quite clearly. Of course his discovery, two days
before, of the spot where Jeanne's fortune lay hidden, when Captain
Willoughby, with map and periscope, had called him into consultation,
had set his heart beating and his imagination working. But not till
that moment of stark opportunity had he dreamed of the mad adventure
which he undertook. There in front of him, at the very farthest three
hundred yards away, in bee-line with nose and heels--that was the
peculiar and particular arresting fact--lay Jeanne's fortune. In
thinking of it he lost count of shots and star-shells, and heard no
orders and saw no dim forms creeping back to the safety of the trench.
And then all was darkness and silence.

Doggie lay on his back and stared at the English sky and wondered how
he did it. His attitude was that of a man who cannot reconcile his
sober self with the idiot hero of a drunken freak. And yet, at the
time, the journey to the ruined well seemed the simplest thing in the
world. The thought of Jeanne's delight shone uppermost in his mind....
Oh! he was forgetting the star, which hung low beneath a canopy of
cloud, the extreme point of the famous feet, nose and well bee-line.
He made for it, now and then walking low, now and then crawling. He
did not mind his clothes and hands being torn by the unseen refuse of
No Man's Land. His chief sensation was one of utter loneliness,
mingled with exultance at freedom. He did not remember feeling afraid:
which was odd, because when the star-shells had gone up and the German
trenches had opened fire on the wiring party, his blood had turned to
water and his heart had sunk into his boots and he had been deucedly
frightened.

Heaven must have guided him straight to the well. He had known all
along that he merely would have to stick his hand down to find the
rope ... and he felt no surprise when the rope actually came in
contact with his groping fingers; no surprise when he pulled and
pulled and fished up the packet. It had all been preordained. That was
the funny part of the business which Doggie now could not understand.
But he remembered that when he had buttoned his tunic over the
precious packet, he had been possessed of an insane desire to sing and
dance. He repressed his desire to sing, but he leaped about and
started to run. Then the star in which he trusted must have betrayed
him. It must have shed upon him a ray just strong enough to make him a
visible object; for, suddenly, _ping!_ something hit him violently on
the leg and bowled him over like a rabbit into a providential
shell-hole. And there he lay quaking for a long time, while the lunacy
of his adventure coarsely and unsentimentally revealed itself.

As to the rest, he was in a state of befogged memory. Only one
incident in that endless, cruel crawl home remained as a landmark in
his mind. He had paused to take breath, almost ready to give up the
impossible flight--it seemed as though he were dragging behind him a
ton of red-hot iron--when he became conscious of a stench violent in
his nostrils. He put out a hand. It encountered a horrible, once human
face, and his fingers touched a round recognizable cap. Horror drove
him away from the dead German and inspired him with the strength of
despair.... Then all was fog and dark again until he recovered
consciousness in the strange dug-out.

There the doctor had said to him: "You must have a cast-iron
constitution, my lad."

The memory caused a flicker round his lips. It wasn't everybody who
could crawl on his belly for nearly a quarter of a mile with a bullet
through his leg, and come up smiling at the end of it. A cast-iron
constitution! If he had only known it fifteen, even ten years ago,
what a different life he might have led. The great disgrace would
never have come upon him.

And Jeanne? What of Jeanne? After he had told his story, they had
given him to understand that an officer would be sent to Frélus to
corroborate it, and, if he found it true, that Jeanne would enter into
possession of her packet. And that was all he knew, for they had
bundled him out of the front trenches as quickly as possible; and once
out he had become a case, a stretcher case, and although he had been
treated, as a case, with almost superhuman tenderness, not a soul
regarded him as a human being with a personality or a history--not
even with a military history. And this same military history had
vaguely worried him all the time, and now that he could think clearly,
worried him with a very definite worry. In leaving his firing-party he
had been guilty of a crime. Every misdemeanour in the Army is termed a
crime--from murder to appearing buttonless on parade. Was it
desertion? If so, he might be shot. He had not thought of that when he
started on his quest. It had seemed so simple to account for half an
hour's absence by saying that he had lost his way in the dark. But
now, that plausible excuse was invalid....

Doggie thought terribly hard that quiet, sea-scented morning. After
all, it did not very much matter what they did to him. Sticking him up
against a wall and shooting him was a remote possibility; he was in
the British and not the German Army. Field punishments of unpleasant
kinds were only inflicted on people convicted of unpleasant
delinquencies. If he were a sergeant or a corporal, he doubtless would
be broken. But such is the fortunate position of a private, that he
cannot be degraded to an inferior rank. At the worst they might give
him cells when he recovered. Well, he could stick it. It didn't
matter. What really mattered was Jeanne. Was she in undisputed
possession of her packet? When it was a question of practical warfare,
Doggie had blind faith in his officers--a faith perhaps even more
childlike than that of his fellow-privates, for officers were the men
who had come through the ordeal in which he had so lamentably failed;
but when it came to administrative affairs, he was more critical. He
had suffered during his military career from more than one subaltern
on whose arid consciousness the brain-wave never beat. He had never
met even a field officer before whom, in the realm of intellect, he
had stood in awe. If any one of those dimly envisaged and still more
dimly remembered officers of the Lancashire Fusiliers had ordered him
to stand on his head on top of the parapet, he would have obeyed in
cheerful confidence; but he was not at all certain that, in the effort
to deliver the packet to Jeanne, they would not make an unholy mess of
things. He saw stacks of dirty yellowish bits of paper, with A.F. No.
something or the other, floating between Frélus and the Lancashire
Battalion H.Q. and the Brigade H.Q. and the Divisional H.Q., and so on
through the majesty of G.H.Q. to the awful War Office itself. In
pessimistic mood he thought that if Jeanne recovered her property
within a year, she would be lucky.

What a wonderful creature was Jeanne! He shut his eyes to the blue sky
and pictured her as she stood in the light, on the ragged escarpment,
with her garments beaten by wind and rain. And he remembered the weary
thud, thud of railway and steamer, which had resolved itself, like the
rhythmic tramp of feet that night, into the ceaseless refrain: "Jeanne!
Jeanne!"

He opened his eyes again and frowned at the blue English sky. It had
no business to proclaim simple serenity when his mind was in such a
state of complex tangle. It was all very well to think of
Jeanne--Jeanne, whom it was unlikely that Fate would ever allow him to
see again, even supposing the war ended during his lifetime; but there
was Peggy--Peggy, his future wife, who had stuck to him loyally
through good and evil repute. Yes, there was Peggy--not the faintest
shadow of doubt about it. Doggie kept on frowning at the blue sky.
Blighty was a very desirable country, but in it you were compelled to
think. And enforced thought was an infernal nuisance. The beastly
trenches had their good points after all. There you were not called
upon to think of anything; the less you thought, the better for your
job; you just ate your bully-beef and drank your tea and cursed
whizz-bangs and killed a rat or two, and thanked God you were alive.

Now that he came to look at it in proper perspective, it wasn't at all
a bad life. When had he been worried to death, as he was now? And
there were his friends: the humorous, genial, deboshed, yet
ever-kindly Phineas; dear old Mo Shendish, whose material feet were
hankering after the vulgar pavement of Mare Street, Hackney, but whose
spiritual tread rang on golden floors dimly imagined by the Seer of
Patmos; Barrett, the D. C. M., the miniature Hercules, who, according
to legend, though, modestly, he would never own to it, seized two
Boches by the neck and knocked their heads together till they died,
and who, musically inclined, would sit at his, Doggie's, feet while he
played on his penny whistle all the sentimental tunes he had ever
heard of; Sergeant Ballinghall, a tower of a man, a champion amateur
heavy-weight boxer, with a voice compared with which a megaphone
sounded like a maiden's prayer, and a Bardolphian nose and an eagle
eye and the heart of a broody hen, who had not only given him boxing
lessons, but had pulled him through difficult places innumerable ...
and scores of others. He wondered what they were doing. He also was
foolish enough to wonder whether they missed him, forgetting for the
moment that if a regiment took seriously to missing their comrades
sent to Kingdom Come or Blighty, they would be more like weeping
willows than destroyers of Huns.

All the same, he knew that he would always live in the hearts of two
or three of them, and the knowledge brought him considerable comfort.
It was strange to realize how the tentacles of his being stretched out
gropingly towards these (from the old Durdlebury point of view)
impossible friends. They had grafted themselves on to his life. Or was
that a correct way of putting it? Had they not, rather, all grafted
themselves on to a common stock of life, so that the one common sap
ran through all their veins?

It took him a long time to get this idea formulated, fixed and
accepted. But Doggie was not one to boggle at the truth, as he saw it.
And this was the truth. He, James Marmaduke Trevor of Denby Hall, was
a Tommy of the Tommies. He had lived the Tommy life intensely. He was
living it now. And the extraordinary part of it was that he didn't
want to be anything else but a Tommy. From the social or gregarious
point of view his life for the past year had been one of unclouded
happiness. The realization of it, now that he was clearly sizing up
the ramshackle thing which he called his existence, hit him like the
butt-end of a rifle. Hardship, cold, hunger, fatigue, stench, rats,
the dread of inefficiency--all these had been factors of misery which
he could never eliminate from his soldier's equation; but such free,
joyous, intimate companionship with real human beings he had never
enjoyed since he was born. He longed to be back among them, doing the
same old weary, dreary, things, eating the same old Robinson Crusoe
kind of food, crouching with them in the same old beastly hole in the
ground, while the Boche let loose hell on the trench. Mo Shendish's
grin and his "'Ere, get in aht of the rain," and his grip on his
shoulder, dragging him a few inches farther into shelter, were a
spiritual compensation transcending physical discomfitures and perils.

"It's all dam funny," he said half aloud.

But this was England, and although he was hedged about, protected and
restricted by War Office Regulation Red Tape twisted round to the
strength of steel cables, yet he was in command of telegraphs, of
telephones, and, in a secondary degree, of the railway system of the
United Kingdom.

He found himself deprecating the compulsory facilities of
communication in the civilized world. The Deanery must be informed of
his home-coming.

As soon as he could secure the services of a nurse he wrote out three
telegrams: one addressed "Conover, The Deanery, Durdlebury"; one to
Peddle at Denby Hall, and one to Jeanne. The one to Jeanne was the
longest, and was "Reply paid."

"This is going to cost a small fortune, young man," said the nurse.

Doggie smiled as he drew out a £1 treasury note from his soldier's
pocket-book, the pathetic object containing a form of Will on the
right-hand flap and on the left the directions for the making of the
Will, concluding with the world-famous typical signature of Thomas
Atkins.

"It's a bust, Sister," said he. "I've been saving up for it for
months."

Then, duty accomplished, he reconciled himself to the corner of
fairyland in which he had awoke that morning. Things must take their
course, and while they were taking it, why worry? So long as they
didn't commit the outrage of giving him bully-beef for dinner, the
present coolness and comfort sufficed for his happiness.



CHAPTER XVIII


The replies to the telegrams were satisfactory. Peggy, adjuring him to
write a full account of himself, announced her intention of coming up
to see him as soon as he could guarantee his fitness to receive visitors.
Jeanne wired: "_Paquet reçu. Mille remerciements._" The news cheered
him exceedingly. It was worth a hole in the leg. Henceforward Jeanne
would be independent of Aunt Morin, of whose generous affection, in
spite of Jeanne's loyal reticence, he had formed but a poor opinion.
Now the old lady could die whenever she liked, and so much the better
for Jeanne. Jeanne would then be freed from the unhealthy sick-room,
from dreary little Frélus, and from enforced consorting with the
riff-raff (namely, all other regiments except his own) of the British
Army. Even as it was, he did not enjoy thinking of her as
hail-fellow-well-met with his own fellow-privates--perhaps with the
exception of Phineas and Mo, who were in a different position, having
been formally admitted into a peculiar intimacy. Of course, if Doggie
had possessed a more analytical mind, he would have been greatly
surprised to discover that these feelings arose from a healthy,
barbaric sense of ownership of Jeanne; that Mo and Phineas were in a
special position because they humbly recognized this fact of ownership
and adopted a respectful attitude towards his property, and that of
all other predatory men in uniform he was distrustful and jealous. But
Doggie was a simple soul and went through a great many elementary
emotions, just as Monsieur Jourdain spoke prose, _sans le savoir_.
Without knowing it, he would have gone to the ends of the earth for
Jeanne, have clubbed over the head any fellow-savage who should seek
to rob him of Jeanne. It did not occur to him that savage instinct had
already sent him into the jaws of death, solely in order to establish
his primitive man's ownership of Jeanne. When he came to reflect, in
his Doggie-ish way, on the motives of his exploit, he was somewhat
baffled. Jeanne, with her tragic face, and her tragic history, and her
steadfast soul shining out of her eyes, was the most wonderful woman
he had ever met. She personified the heroic womanhood of France. The
foul invader had robbed her of her family and her patrimony. The dead
were dead, and could not be restored; but the material wealth,
God--who else?--had given him this miraculous chance to recover; and
he had recovered it. National pride helped to confuse issues. He, an
Englishman, had saved this heroic daughter of France from poverty....

If only he could have won back to his own trench, and, later, when the
company returned to Frélus, he could have handed her the packet and
seen the light come into those wonderful eyes!

       *       *       *       *       *

Anyhow, she had received it. She sent him a thousand thanks. How did
she look, what did she say when she cut the string and undid the seals
and found her little fortune?

Translate Jeanne into a princess, the dirty waterproof package into a
golden casket, himself into a knight disguised as a squire of low
degree, and what more could you want for a first-class fairy-tale? The
idea struck Doggie at the moment of "lights out," and he laughed
aloud.

"It doesn't take much to amuse some people," growled his neighbour,
Penworthy.

"Sign of a happy disposition," said Doggie.

"What've you got to be happy about?"

"I was thinking how alive we are, and how dead you and I might be,"
said Doggie.

"Well, I don't think it funny thinking how one might be dead," replied
Penworthy. "It gives me the creeps. It's all very well for you. You'll
stump around for the rest of your life like a gentleman on a wooden
leg. Chaps like you have all the luck; but as soon as I get out of
this, I'll be passed fit for active service ... and not so much of
your larfing at not being dead. See?"

"All right, mate," said Doggie. "Good night."

Penworthy made no immediate reply; but presently he broke out:

"What d'you mean by talking like that? I'd hate being dead."

A voice from the far end of the room luridly requested that the
conversation should cease. Silence reigned.

       *       *       *       *       *

A letter from Jeanne. The envelope bore a French stamp with the
Frélus postmark, and the address was in a bold feminine hand. From
whom could it be but Jeanne? His heart gave a ridiculous leap and he
tore the envelope open as he had never torn open envelope of Peggy's.
But at the first two words the leap seemed to be one in mid-air, and
his heart went down, down, down like an aeroplane done in, and arrived
with a hideous bump upon rocks.

"_Cher Monsieur_"

_Cher Monsieur_ from Jeanne--Jeanne who had called him "Dog-gie" in
accents that had rendered adorable the once execrated syllables. _Cher
Monsieur!_

And the following, in formal French--it might have been a convent
exercise in composition--is what she said:

    "The military authorities have remitted into my possession the
    package which you so heroically rescued from the well of the
    farm of La Folette. It contains all that my father was able to
    save of his fortune, and on consultation with Maître Pépineau
    here, it appears that I have sufficient to live modestly for the
    rest of my life. For the marvellous devotion of you, monsieur,
    an English gentleman, to the poor interests of an obscure young
    French girl, I can never be sufficiently grateful. There will
    never be a prayer of mine, until I die, in which you will not be
    mentioned. To me it will be always a symbolic act of your
    chivalrous England in the aid of my beloved France. That you
    have been wounded in this noble and selfless enterprise, is to
    me a subject both of pride and terrifying dismay. I am moved to
    the depths of my being. But I have been assured, and your
    telegram confirms the assurance, that your wound is not
    dangerous. If you had been killed while rendering me this
    wonderful service, or incapacitated so that you could no longer
    strike a blow for your country and mine, I should never have
    forgiven myself. I should have felt that I had robbed France of
    a heroic defender. I pray God that you may soon recover, and in
    fighting once more against our common enemy, you may win the
    glory that no English soldier can deserve more than you. Forgive
    me if I express badly the emotions which overwhelm me. It is
    impossible that we shall meet again. One of the few English
    novels I have tried to read, _à coups de dictionnaire_, was
    _Ships that Pass in the Night_. In spite of the great thing that
    you have done for me, it is inevitable that we should be such
    passing vessels. It is life. If, as I shall ceaselessly pray,
    you survive this terrible war, you will follow your destiny as
    an Englishman of high position, and I that which God marks out
    for me.

    "I ask you to accept again the expression of my imperishable
    gratitude. Adieu.

                                                "JEANNE BOSSIÈRE."

The more often Doggie read this perfectly phrased epistle, the greater
waxed his puzzledom. The gratitude was all there; more than enough. It
was gratitude and nothing else. He had longed for a human story
telling just how the thing had happened, just how Jeanne had felt. He
had wanted her to say: "Get well soon and come back, and I'll tell you
all about it." But instead of that she dwelt on the difference of
their social status, loftily announced that they would never meet
again and that they would follow different destinies, and bade him the
_adieu_ which in French is the final leave-taking. All of which to
Doggie, the unsophisticated, would have seemed ridiculous, had it not
been so tragic. He couldn't reconcile the beautiful letter, written in
faultless handwriting and impeccable French, with the rain-swept girl
on the escarpment. What did she mean? What had come over her?

But the ways of Jeannes are not the ways of Doggies. How was he to
know of the boastings of Phineas McPhail, and the hopelessness with
which they filled Jeanne's heart? How was he to know that she had sat
up most of the night in her little room over the gateway, drafting and
redrafting this precious composition, until, having reduced it to
soul-devastating correctitude, and, with aching eyes and head, made a
fair and faultless copy, she had once more cried herself into
miserable slumber?

At once Doggie called for pad and pencil, and began to write:

    "MY DEAR JEANNE,--

    "I don't understand. What fly has stung you? (_Quelle mouche
    vous a piquée?_) Of course we shall meet again. Do you suppose
    I am going to let you go out of my life?"

(He sucked his pencil. Jeanne must be spoken to severely.)

    "What rubbish are you talking about my social position? My
    father was an English parson (_pasteur anglais_) and yours a
    French lawyer. If I have a little money of my own, so have you.
    And we are not ships and we have not passed in the night. And
    that we should not meet again is not Life. It is absurdity. We
    are going to meet as soon as wounds and war will let me, and I
    am not your '_Cher Monsieur_,' but your '_Cher Dog-gie_,'
    and----"

"Here is a letter for you, brought by hand," said the nurse, bustling
to his bedside.

It was from Peggy.

"Oh, lord!" said Doggie.

Peggy was there. She had arrived from Durdlebury all alone, the night
before, and was putting up at an hotel. The venerable idiot, with red
crosses and bits of tin all over her, who seemed to run the hospital,
wouldn't let her in to see him till the regulation visiting hour of
three o'clock. That she, Peggy, was a Dean's daughter, who had
travelled hundreds of miles to see the man she was engaged to, did not
seem to impress the venerable idiot in the least. Till three o'clock
then. With love from Peggy.

"The lady, I believe, is waiting for an answer," said the nurse.

"Oh, my hat!" said Doggie below his breath.

To write the answer, he had to strip from the pad the page on which he
had begun the letter to Jeanne. He wrote: "Dearest Peggy." Then the
pencil-point's impress through the thin paper stared at him. Almost
every word was decipherable. Recklessly he tore the pad in half and on
a virgin page scribbled his message to Peggy. The nurse departed with
it. He took up the flimsy sheet containing his interrupted letter to
Jeanne and glanced at it in dismay. For the first time it struck him
that such words, to a girl even of the lowest intelligence, could only
have one interpretation. Doggie said, "Oh, lord!" and "Oh, my hat!"
and Oh all sorts of unprintable things that he had learned in the
army. And he put to himself the essential question: What the Hades was
he playing at?

Obviously, the first thing to do was to destroy the letter to Jeanne
and the tell-tale impress. This he forthwith did. He tore the sheets
into the tiniest fragments, stretched out his arm to put the handful
on the table by the bed, missed his aim and dropped it on the floor.
Whereby he incurred the just wrath of the hard-worked nurse.

Again he took up Jeanne's letter. After all, what was wrong with it?
He must look at things from her point of view. What had really
happened? Let him set out the facts judicially. They had struck up a
day or two's friendship. She had told him, as she might have told any
decent soul, her sad and romantic story. The English during the great
retreat had rendered her unforgettable services. She was a girl of a
generously responsive nature. She would pay her debt of gratitude to
the English soldier. Her fine _vale_ on the memorable night of rain
was part payment of her debt to England. Yes. Let him get things in
the right perspective.... She had made friends with him because he was
one of the few private soldiers who could speak her language. It was
but natural that she should tell him of the sunken packet. It was one
of the most vital facts of her life. But just an outside fact: nothing
to do with any shy mysterious workings of her woman's soul. She might
have told the story to any man in the company without derogation from
her womanly dignity. And any man Jack of them, having Jeanne's
confidence, having the knowledge of the situation of the ruined well,
having the God-sent opportunity of recovering the treasure, would, of
absolute certainty, have done exactly what he, Doggie, had done.
Supposing Mo Shendish had been the privileged person, instead of
himself. What, by way of thanks, could Jeanne have written? A letter
practically identical.

Practically. A very comfortable sort of word; but Doggie's cultivated
mind disliked it. It was a slovenly word, a makeshift for the hard
broom of clean thought. This infernal "practically" begged the whole
question. Jeanne would not have sentimentalized to Mo Shendish about
ships passing in the night. No, she wouldn't, in spite of all his
efforts to persuade himself that she would. Well, perhaps dear old Mo
was a rough, uneducated sort of chap. He could not have established
with Jeanne such delicate relations of friendship as exist between
social equals. Obviously the finer shades of her letter would have
varied according to the personality of the recipient. Jeanne and
himself, owing to the abnormal conditions of war, had suddenly become
very intimate friends. The war, as she imagined, must part them for
ever. She bade him a touching and dignified farewell, and that was the
end of the matter. It had all been an idyllic episode; beginning,
middle, and end; neatly rounded off; a thing done, and done
with--except as a strange romantic memory. It was all over. As long as
he remained in the army, a condition for which, as a private soldier,
he was not responsible, how could he see Jeanne again? By the time he
rejoined, the regiment would be many miles away from Frélus. This, in
her clear, steady way, she realized. Her letter must be final.

It had to be final. Was not Peggy coming at three o'clock?

Again Doggie thought, somewhat wistfully, of the old care-free, full
physical life, and again he murmured:

"It's all dam funny!"

       *       *       *       *       *

Peggy stood for a moment at the door scanning the ward; then
perceiving him, she marched down with a defiant glance at nurses and
blue-uniformed comrades and men in bed and other strangers, swung a
chair and established herself by his bedside.

"You dear old thing, I couldn't bear to think of you lying here
alone," she said, with the hurry that seeks to cover shyness. "I had
to come. Mother's gone _fut_ and can't travel, and Dad's running all
the parsons' shows in the district. Otherwise one of them would have
come too."

"It's awfully good of you, Peggy," he said, with a smile, for fair and
flushed she was pleasant to look upon. "But it must have been a
fiendish journey."

"Rotten!" said Peggy. "But that's a trifle. You're the all-important
thing. Tell me straight. You're not badly hurt, are you?"

"Lord, no," he replied cheerfully. "Just the fleshy part of the leg--a
clean bullet-wound. Bone touched; but they say I'll be fit quite
soon."

"Sure? They're not going to cut off your leg or do anything horrid?"

He laughed. "Sure," said he.

"That's all right."

There was a pause. Now that they had met they seemed to have little to
say. She looked around. Presently she remarked:

"Everything looks quite fresh and clean."

"It's perfect."

"Rather public, though," said Peggy.

"Publicity is the paradoxical condition of the private's life,"
laughed Doggie.

Another pause.

"Well, how are you feeling?"

"First-rate," said Doggie. "It's nothing to fuss over. I hope to be
out again in a month or two."

"Out where?"

"In France--with the regiment."

Peggy drew a little breath of astonishment and sat up on her chair.
His surprising statement seemed to have broken up the atmosphere of
restraint.

"Do you mean to say you _want_ to go back to the trenches?"

Conscientious Doggie knitted his brows. A fervent "Yes" would proclaim
him a modern Paladin, eager to slay Huns. Now, as a patriotic
Englishman he loved Huns to be slain, but as the survivor of James
Marmaduke Trevor, dilettante expert on the theorbo and the viol da
gamba and owner of the peacock and ivory room in Denby Hall, to say
nothing of the collector of little china dogs, he could not honestly
declare that he enjoyed the various processes of slaying them.

"I can't explain," he replied, after a while. "When I was out, I
thought I hated every minute of it. Now I look back, I find I've had
quite a good time. I've not once really been sick or sorry. For
instance, I've often thought myself beastly miserable with wet and mud
and east wind--but I've never had even a cold in the head. I never
knew how good it was to feel fit. And there are other things. When I
left Durdlebury, I hadn't a man friend in the world. Now I have a lot
of wonderful pals who would go through hell for one another--and for
me."

"Tommies?"

"Of course--Tommies."

"You mean gentlemen in the ranks?"

"Not a bit of it. Or yes. All are gentlemen in the ranks. All sorts
and conditions of men. The man whom I honour and love more than anyone
else, comes from a fish-shop in Hackney. That's the fascinating part
of it. Do understand me, Peggy," he continued, after a short silence,
during which she regarded him almost uncomprehendingly. "I don't say
I'm yearning to sleep in a filthy dug out or to wallow in the ground
under shell-fire, or anything of that sort. That's beastly. There's
only one other word for it, which begins with the same letter, and the
superior kind of private doesn't use it in ladies' society.... But
while I'm lying here I wonder what all the other fellows are
doing--they're such good chaps--real, true, clean men--out there you
seem to get to essentials--all the rest is leather and prunella--and I
want to be back among them again. Why should I be in clover while
they're in choking dust--a lot of it composed of desiccated Boches?"

"How horrid!" cried Peggy, with a little shiver.

"Of course it's horrid. But they've got to stick it, haven't they? And
then there's another thing. Out there one hasn't any worries."

Peggy pricked up her ears. "Worries? What kind of worries?"

Doggie became conscious of indiscretion. He temporized.

"Oh, all kinds. Every man with a sort of trained intellect must have
them. You remember John Stuart Mill's problem: 'Which would you sooner
be--a contented hog, or a discontented philosopher?' At the Front you
have all the joys of the contented hog."

Instinctively he stretched out his hand for a cigarette. She bent
forward, gripped a matchbox, and lit the cigarette for him.

Doggie thanked her politely; but in a dim way he felt conscious of
something lacking in her little act of helpfulness. It had been
performed with the unsmiling perfunctoriness of the nurse; an act of
duty, not of tenderness. As she blew out the match, which she did with
an odd air of deliberation, her face wore the same expression of
hardness it had done on that memorable day when she had refused him
her sympathy over the white feather incident.

"I can't understand your wanting to go back at all. Surely you've done
your bit," she said.

"No one has done his bit who's alive and able to carry on," replied
Doggie.

Peggy reflected. Yes. There was some truth in that. But she thought it
rather hard lines on the wounded to be sent back as soon as they were
patched up. Most of them hated the prospect. That was why she couldn't
understand Doggie's desire.

"Anyhow, it's jolly noble of you, dear old thing," she declared with
rather a spasmodic change of manner, "and I'm very proud of you."

"For God's sake, don't go imagining me a hero," cried Doggie in alarm,
"for I'm not. I hate the fighting like poison. The only reason I don't
run away is because I can't. It would be far more dangerous than
standing still. It would mean an officer's bullet through my head at
once."

"Any man who is wounded in the defence of his country is a hero," said
Peggy defiantly.

"Rot!" said Doggie.

"And all this time you haven't told me how you got it. How did you?"

Doggie squirmed. The inevitable and dreaded question had come at last.

"I just got sniped when I was out, at night, with a wiring party," he
said hurriedly.

"But that's no description at all," she objected.

"I'm afraid it's all I can give," Doggie replied. Then, by way of
salve to a sensitive conscience, he added: "There was nothing brave or
heroic about it, at all--just a silly accident. It was as safe as
tying up hollyhocks in a garden. Only an idiot Boche let off his gun
on spec and got me. Don't let us talk about it."

But Peggy was insistent. "I'm not such a fool as not to know what
mending barbed wire at night means. And whatever you may say, you got
wounded in the service of your country."

It was on Doggie's agitated lips to shout a true "I didn't!" For that
was the devil of it. Had he been so wounded, he could have purred
contentedly while accepting the genuine hero's meed of homage and
consolation. But he had left his country's service to enter that of
Jeanne. In her service he had been shot through the leg. He had no
business to be wounded at all. Jeanne saw that very clearly. To have
exposed himself to the risk of his exploit was contrary to all his
country's interests. His wound had robbed her of a fighting man, not a
particularly valuable warrior, but a soldier in the firing line all
the same. If every man went off like that on private missions of his
own and got properly potted, there would be the end of the Army. It
was horrible to be an interesting hero under false pretences.

Of course he might have been George Washingtonian enough to shout: "I
cannot tell a lie. I didn't." But that would have meant relating the
whole story of Jeanne. And would Peggy have understood the story of
Jeanne? Could Peggy, in her plain-sailing, breezy British way, have
appreciated all the subtleties of his relations with Jeanne? She would
ask pointed, probably barbed, questions about Jeanne. She would tear
the whole romance to shreds. Jeanne stood too exquisite a symbol for
him to permit the sacrilege of Peggy's ruthless vivisection. For
vivisect she would, without shadow of doubt. His long and innocent
familiarity with womankind in Durdlebury had led him instinctively to
the conclusion formulated by one of the world's greatest cynics in his
advice to a young man: "If you care for happiness, never speak to a
woman about another woman."

Doggie felt uncomfortable as he looked into Peggy's clear blue eyes;
not conscience-stricken at the realization of himself as a scoundrelly
Don Juan--that never entered his ingenuous mind; but he hated his
enforced departure from veracity. The one virtue that had dragged the
toy Pom successfully along the Rough Road of the soldier's life was
his uncompromising attitude to Truth. It cost him a sharp struggle
with his soul to reply to Peggy:

"All right. Have it so if it pleases you, my dear. But it was an idiot
fluke all the same."

"I wonder if you know how you've changed," she said, after a while.

"For better or worse?"

"The obvious thing to say would be 'for the better.' But I wonder. Do
you mind if I'm frank?"

"Not a bit."

"There's something hard about you, Marmaduke."

Doggie wrinkled lips and brow in a curious smile. "I'll be frank too.
You see, I've been living among men, instead of a pack of old women."

"I suppose that's it," Peggy said thoughtfully.

"It's a dud sort of place, Durdlebury," said he.

"Dud?"

He laughed. "It never goes off."

"You used to say, in your letters, that you longed for it."

"Perhaps I do now--in a way. I don't know."

"I bet you'll settle down there after the war, just as though nothing
had happened."

"I wonder," said Doggie.

"Of course you will. Do you remember our plans for the reconstruction
of Denby Hall, which were knocked on the head? All that'll have to be
gone into again."

"That doesn't mean that we need curl ourselves up there for ever like
caterpillars in a cabbage."

She arched her eyebrows. "What would you like to do?"

"I think I'll want to go round and round the world till I'm dizzy."

At this amazing pronouncement from Marmaduke Trevor, Peggy gasped. It
also astonished Doggie himself. He had not progressed so far on the
road to self-emancipation as to dream of a rupture of his engagement.
His marriage was as much a decree of destiny as had been his
enlistment when he walked to Peter Pan's statue in Kensington Gardens.
But the war had made the prospect a distant one. In the vague future
he would marry and settle down. But now Peggy brought it into alarming
nearness, thereby causing him considerable agitation. To go back to
vegetation in Durdlebury, even with so desirable a companion cabbage
as Peggy, just when he was beginning to conjecture what there might be
of joy and thrill in life--the thought dismayed him; and the sudden
dismay found expression in his rhetorical outburst.

"Oh, if you want to travel for a year or two, I'm all for it," cried
Peggy. "I can't say I've seen much of the world. But we'll soon get
sick of it, and yearn for home. There'll be lots of things to do.
We'll take up our position as county people--no more of the stuffy old
women you're so down on--and you'll get into Parliament and sit on
committees, and so on, and altogether we'll have a topping time."

Doggie had an odd sensation that a stranger spoke through Peggy's
familiar lips. Well, perhaps, not a stranger, but a half-forgotten
dead and gone acquaintance.

"Don't you think the war will change things--if it hasn't changed them
already?"

"Not a bit," Peggy replied. "Dad's always talking learnedly about
social reconstruction, whatever that means. But if people have got
money and position and all that sort of thing, who's going to take it
away from them? You don't suppose we're all going to turn socialists
and pool the wealth of the country, and everybody's going to live in a
garden-city and wear sandals and eat nuts?"

"Of course not," said Doggie.

"Well, how are people like ourselves going to feel any difference in
what you call social conditions?"

Doggie lit another cigarette, chiefly in order to gain time for
thought; but an odd instinct made him secure the matchbox before he
picked out the cigarette. Superficially, Peggy's proposition was
incontrovertible. Unless there happened some social cataclysm,
involving a newly democratized world in ghastly chaos, which after all
was a remote possibility, the externals of gentle life would undergo
very slight modification. Yet there was something fundamentally wrong
in Peggy's conception of post-war existence. Something wrong in
essentials. Now, a critical attitude towards Peggy, whose presence was
a proof of her splendid loyalty, seemed hateful. But there was
something wrong all the same. Something wrong in Peggy herself that
put her into opposition. In one aspect, she was the pre-war Peggy,
with her cut-and-dried little social ambitions and her definite
projects of attainment; but in another she was not. The pre-war Peggy
had swiftly turned into the patriotic English girl who had hounded him
into the army. He found himself face to face with an amorphous,
characterless sort of Peggy whom he did not know. It was perplexing,
baffling. Before he could formulate an idea, she went on:

"You silly old thing, what change is there likely to be? What change
is there now, after all? There's a scarcity of men. Naturally. They're
out fighting. But when they come home on leave, life goes on just the
same as before--tennis parties, little dances, dinners. Of course,
lots of people are hard hit. Did I tell you that Jack Paunceby was
killed--the only son? The war's awful and dreadful, I know--but if we
don't go through with it cheerfully, what's the good of us?"

"I think I'm pretty cheerful," said Doggie.

"Oh, you're not grousing and you're making the best of it. You're
perfectly splendid. But you're philosophizing such a lot over it. The
only thing before us is to do in Germany, Prussian militarism, and so
on, and then there'll be peace, and we'll all be happy again."

"Have you met many men who say that?" he asked.

"Heaps. Oliver was only talking about it the other day."

"Oliver?"

At his quick challenge he could not help noticing a little cloud, as
of vexation, pass over her face.

"Yes, Oliver," she replied, with an unnecessary air of defiance. "He
has been over here on short leave. Went back a fortnight ago. He's as
cheerful as cheerful can be. Jollier than ever he was. I took him out
in the dear old two-seater and he insisted on driving to show how they
drove at the Front--and it's only because the Almighty must have kept
a special eye on a Dean's daughter that I'm here to tell the tale."

"You saw a lot of him, I suppose?" said Doggie.

A flush rose on Peggy's cheek. "Of course. He was staying at the
Deanery most of his time. I wrote to you about it. I've made a point
of telling you everything. I even told you about the two-seater."

"So you did," said Doggie. "I remember." He smiled. "Your description
made me laugh. Oliver's a major now, isn't he?"

"Yes. And just before he got his majority they gave him the Military
Cross."

"He must be an awful swell," said Doggie.

She replied with some heat. "He hasn't changed the least little bit in
the world."

Doggie shook his head. "No one can go through it, really go through
it, and come back the same."

"You don't insinuate that Oliver hasn't really gone through it?"

"Of course not, Peggy dear. They don't throw M.C.'s about like Iron
Crosses. In order to get it Oliver must have looked into the jaws of
hell. They all do. But no man is the same afterwards. Oliver has what
the French call _panache_----"

"What's _panache_?"

"The real heroic swagger--something spiritual about it. Oliver's not
going to let you notice the change in him."

"We went to the Alhambra, and he laughed as if such a thing as war had
never been heard of."

"Naturally," said Doggie. "All that's part of the _panache_."

"You're talking through your hat, Marmaduke," she exclaimed with some
irritation. "Oliver's a straight, clean, English soldier."

"I've been doing my best to tell you so," said Doggie.

"But you seem to be criticizing him because he's concealing something
behind what you call his _panache_."

"Not criticizing, dear. Only stating. I think I'm more Oliverian than
you."

"I'm not Oliverian," cried Peggy, with burning cheeks. "And I don't
see why we should discuss him like this. All I said was that Oliver,
who has made himself a distinguished man and will be even more
distinguished, and, at any rate, knows what he's talking about,
doesn't worry his head with social reconstruction and all that sort of
rot. I've come here to talk about you, not about Oliver. Let us leave
him out of the question."

"Willingly," said Doggie. "I never had any reason to love Oliver; but
I must do him justice. I only wanted to show you that he must be a
bigger man than you imagine."

"I'm glad to hear you say so," cried Peggy, with a flash of the eyes.
"I hope it's true."

"The war's such a whacking big thing, you see," he said with a
conciliatory smile. "No one can prophesy exactly what's going to come
out of it. But the whole of human society ... the world, the whole of
civilization, is being stirred up like a Christmas pudding. The war's
bound to change the trend of all human thought. There must be an
entire rearrangement of social values."

"I'm sorry; but I don't see it," said Peggy.

Doggie again wrinkled his brow and looked at her, and she returned his
glance stonily.

"You think I'm mulish."

She had interpreted Doggie's thought, but he raised a hand in protest.

"No, no."

"Yes, yes. Every man looks at a woman like that when he thinks her a
mule or an idiot. We get to learn it in our cradles. But in spite of
your superior wisdom, I know I'm right. After the war there won't be a
bit of change, really. A duke will be a duke, and a costermonger a
costermonger."

"These are extreme cases. The duke may remain a duke, but he won't be
such a little tin god on wheels. He'll find himself in the position of
a democratic country gentleman. And the costermonger will rise to the
political position of an important tradesman. But between the two
there'll be any old sort of flux."

"Did you learn all this horrible, rank socialism in France?"

"Perhaps, but it seems so obvious."

"It's only because you've been living among Tommies, who've got these
stupid ideas into their heads. If you had been living among your
social equals----"

"In Durdlebury?"

She flashed rebellion. "Yes. In Durdlebury. Why not?"

"I'm afraid, Peggy dear," he said, with his patient, pleasant smile,
"you are rather sheltered from the war in Durdlebury."

She cried out indignantly.

"Indeed we're not. The newspapers come to Durdlebury, don't they? And
everybody's doing something. We have the war all around us. We've even
succeeded in getting wounded soldiers in the Cottage Hospital. Nancy
Murdoch is a V.A.D. and scrubs floors. Cissy James is driving a
Y.M.C.A. motor-car in Calais. Jane Brown-Gore is nursing in Salonika.
We read all their letters. Personally, I can't do much, because mother
has crocked up and I've got to run the Deanery. But I'm slaving from
morning to night. Only last week I got up a concert for the wounded.
Alone I did it--and it takes some doing in Durdlebury, now that you're
away and the Musical Association has perished of inanition. Old Dr.
Flint's no earthly good, since Tom, the eldest son--you remember--was
killed in Mesopotamia. So I did it all, and it was a great success. We
netted four hundred and seventy pounds. And whenever I can get a
chance, I go round the hospital and talk and read to the men and write
their letters, and hear of everything. I don't think you've any right
to say we're out of touch with the war. In a sort of way, I know as
much about it as you do."

Doggie in some perplexity scratched his head, a thing which he would
never have done at Durdlebury. With humorous intent he asked:

"Do you know as much as Oliver?"

"Oliver's a field officer," she replied tartly, and Doggie felt
snubbed. "But I'm sure he agrees with everything I say." She paused
and, in a different tone, went on: "Don't you think it's rather rotten
to have this piffling argument when I've come all this long way to see
you?"

"Forgive me, Peggy," he said penitently; "I appreciate your coming
more than I can say."

She was not appeased. "And yet you don't give me credit for playing
the game."

"What game?" he asked with a smile.

"Surely you ought to know."

He reached out his hand and took hers. "Am I worth it, Peggy?"

Her lips twitched and tears stood in her eyes.

"I don't know what you mean?"

"Neither do I quite," he replied simply. "But it seems that I'm a
Tommy through and through, and that I'll never get Tommy out of my
soul."

"That's nothing to be ashamed of," she declared stoutly.

"Of course not. But it makes one see all sorts of things in a
different light."

"Oh, don't worry your head about that," she said, with pathetic
misunderstanding. "We'll put you all right as soon as we get you back
to Durdlebury. I suppose you won't refuse to come this time."

"Yes, I'll come this time," said Doggie.

So he promised, and the talk drifted on to casual lines. She gave him
the mild chronicle of the sleepy town, described plays which she had
seen on her rare visits to London, sketched out a programme for his
all too short visit to the Deanery.

"And in the meanwhile," she remarked, "try to get these morbid ideas
out of your silly old head."

Time came for parting. She rose and shook hands.

"Don't think I've said anything in depreciation of Tommies. I
understand them thoroughly. They're wonderful fellows. Good-bye, old
boy. Get well soon."

She kissed her hand to him at the door, and was gone.

It was now that Doggie began to hate himself. For all the time that
Peggy had been running on, eager to convince him that his imputation
of aloofness from the war was undeserved, the voice of one who,
knowing its splendours and its terrors, had pierced to the heart of
its mysteries, ran in his ears.

"_Leur gaieté fait peur._"



CHAPTER XIX


The X-rays showed the tiniest splinter of bone in Doggie's thigh. The
surgeon fished it up and the clean wound healed rapidly. The gloomy
Penworthy's prognostication had not come true. Doggie would not stump
about at ease on a wooden leg; but in all probability would soon find
himself back in the firing line--a prospect which brought great cheer
to Penworthy. Also to Doggie. For, in spite of the charm of the pretty
hospital, the health-giving sea air, the long rest for body and
nerves, life seemed flat and unprofitable.

He had written a gay, irreproachable letter to Jeanne, to which
Jeanne, doubtless thinking it the last word of the episode, had not
replied. Loyalty to Peggy forbade further thought of Jeanne. He must
henceforward think of Peggy and her sturdy faithfulness as hard as he
could. But the more he thought, the more remote did Peggy seem. Of
course the publicity of the interview had invested it with a certain
constraint, knocked out of it any approach to sentimentality or
romance. They had not even kissed. They had spent most of the time
arguing from different points of view. They had been near to
quarrelling. It was outrageous of him to criticize her; yet how could
he help it? The mere fact of striving to exalt her was a criticism.

Indeed they were far apart. Into the sensitive soul of Doggie the war
in all its meaning had paused. The soul of Peggy had remained
untouched. To her, in her sheltered corner of England, it was a
ghastly accident, like a railway collision blocking the traffic on her
favourite line. For the men of her own class who took part in it, it
was a brave adventure; for the common soldier a sad but patriotic
necessity. If circumstances had allowed her to go forth into the
war-world as nurse or canteen helper at a London terminus, or motor
driver in France, her horizon would have broadened. But the contact
with realities into which her dilettante little war activities brought
her was too slight to make the deep impression. In her heart, as far
as she revealed herself to Doggie, she resented the war because it
interfered with her own definitely marked out scheme of existence. The
war over, she would regard it politely as a thing that had never been,
and would forthwith set to work upon her aforesaid interrupted plan.
And towards a comprehension of this apparent serenity the perplexed
mind of Doggie groped with ill-success. All his old values had been
kicked into higgledy-piggledy confusion. All hers remained steadfast.

So Doggie reflected with some grimness that there are rougher roads
than those which lead to the trenches.

A letter from Phineas did not restore equanimity. It ran:

    "MY DEAR LADDIE,--

    "Our unsophisticated friend, Mo, and myself are writing this
    letter together and he bids me begin it by saying that he hopes
    it finds you as it leaves us at present, in a muck of dust and
    perspiration. Where we are now I must not tell, for (in the
    opinion of the Censor) you would reveal it to the very Reverend
    the Dean of Durdlebury, who would naturally telegraph the
    information to the Kaiser. But the Division is far, far from the
    idyllic land of your dreams, and there is bloody fighting ahead
    of us. And though the hearts of Mo and me go out to you, laddie,
    and though we miss you sore, yet Mo says he's blistering glad
    you're out of it and safe in your perishing bed with a Blighty
    one. And such, in more academic phraseology, are the sentiments
    of your old friend Phineas.

    "Ah, laddie! it was a bad day when we marched from the old
    billets; for the word had gone round that we weren't going back.
    I had taken the liberty of telling the lassie ye ken of
    something about your private position and your worldly affairs,
    of which it seems you had left her entirely ignorant. Of course,
    with my native Scottish caution, and my knowledge of human
    nature gained in the academies of prosperity and the ragged
    schools of adversity, I did not touch on certain matters of a
    delicate nature. That is no business of mine. If there is
    discretion in this world in which you can trust blindly, it is
    that of Phineas McPhail. I just told her of Denby Hall and your
    fortune, which I fairly accurately computed at a couple of
    million francs. For I thought it was right she should know that
    you weren't just a scallywag private soldier like the rest of
    us. And I am bound to say that the lassie was considerably
    impressed. In further conversation I told her something of your
    early life, and, though not over desirous of blackening my
    character in her bonnie eyes, I let her know what kind of an
    injudicious upbringing you had been compelled to undergo. '_Il a
    été élevé_,' said I, '_dans_----' What the blazes was the
    French for cotton-wool? The war has a pernicious effect on one's
    memory--I sometimes even forget the elementary sensations of
    inebriety. '_Dans la ouate_,' she said. And I remembered the
    word. '_Oui, dans la ouate_,' said I. And she looked at me,
    laddie, or, rather, through me, out of her great dark eyes--you
    mind the way she treats your substance as a shadow and looks
    through it at the shadows that to her are substances--and she
    said below her breath--I don't think she meant me to hear
    it--'_Et c'est lui qui a fait cela pour moi_.'

    "Mo, in his materialistic way, is clamorous that I should tell
    you about the chicken; the which, being symbolical, I proceed to
    do. It was our last day. She invited us to lunch in the kitchen
    and shut the door so that none of the hungry varlets of the
    company should stick in their unmannerly noses and whine for
    scraps. And there, laddie, was an omelette and cutlets and a
    chicken and a _fromage à la crême_ such as in the days of my
    vanity I have never eaten, cooked by the old body whose soul you
    won with a pinch of snuff. The poor lassie could scarcely eat;
    but Mo saw that there was nothing left. The bones on his plate
    looked as if a dog had been at them for a week. And there was
    vintage Haut Sauterne which ran down one's throat like scented
    gold. 'Man,' said I to Mo, 'if you lap it up like that you'll be
    as drunk as Noah.' So he cast a frightened glance at
    mademoiselle and sipped like a young lady at a christening
    party. Then she brings out cherries and plums and peaches and
    opens a half-bottle of champagne and fills all our glasses, and
    Toinette had a glass; and she rises in the pale, dignified,
    Greek tragedy way she has, and she makes a wee bit speech.
    '_Messieurs_,' she said, 'perhaps you may wonder why I have
    invited you. But I think you understand. It is the only way I
    had of sharing with Doggie's friends the fortune that he had so
    heroically brought me. It is but a little tribute of my
    gratitude to Doggie. You are his friends and I wish well that
    you would be mine--_très franchement, très loyalement_.' She
    put out her hand and we shook it. And old Mo said, 'Miss, I'd go
    to hell for you!' Whereupon the little red spot you may have
    seen for yourself, came into her pale cheek, and a soft look
    like a flitting moonbeam crept into her eyes. Laddie, if I'm
    waxing too poetical, just consider that Mademoiselle Jeanne
    Bossière is not the ordinary woman the British private soldier
    is in the habit of consorting with. Then she took up her glass.
    '_Je vais porter un toast--Vive l'Angleterre!_' And although a
    Scotsman, I drank it as if it applied to me. And then she cried,
    '_Vive la France!_' And old Toinette cried, '_Vive la France!_'

    "And they looked transfigured, and I fairly itched to sing the
    Marseillaise, though I knew I couldn't. Then she chinked glasses
    with us.

    "'_Bonne chance, mes amis!_'

    "And then she made a sign to the auld wife, who added the few
    remaining drops to our glasses. 'To Doggie!' said mademoiselle.
    We drank the toast, laddie. Old Mo began in his cracked voice,
    'For he's a jolly good fellow.' I kicked him and told him to
    shut up. But mademoiselle said:

    "'I've heard of that. It is a ceremony. I like it. Continue.'

    "So Mo and I held up our glasses and, in indifferent song,
    proclaimed you what the Army, developing certain rudimentary
    germs, has made you, and mademoiselle too held up her glass and
    threw back her head and joined us in the hip, hip, hoorays. It
    would have done your heart good, laddie, to have been there to
    see. But we did you proud.

    "When we emerged from the festival, the prettiest which, in the
    course of a variegated career, I have ever attended, Mo says:

    "'If I hadn't a gel at home----'

    "'If you hadn't got a girl at home,' said I, 'you'd be the next
    damnedest fool in the army to Phineas McPhail!'

    "We marched out just before dusk, and there she was by the front
    door; and though she stood proud and upright, and smiled with
    her lips and blew us kisses with both hands, to which the boys
    all responded with a cheer, there were tears streaming down her
    cheeks--and the tears, laddie, were not for Mo, or me, or any
    one of us ugly beggars that passed her by.

    "I also have good news for you, in that I hear from the
    thunderous, though excellent, Sergeant Ballinghall, there is a
    probability that when you rejoin, the C.O. will be afflicted
    with a grievous lapse of memory and that he will be persuaded
    that you received your wound during the attack on the wiring
    party.

    "As I said before, laddie, we're all like the Scots wha' hae wi'
    Wallace bled and are going to our gory bed or to victory.
    Possibly both. But I will remain steadfast to my philosophy, and
    if I am condemned to the said sanguinolent couch, I will do my
    best to derive from it the utmost enjoyment possible. All kinds
    of poets and such-like lusty loons have shed their last drop of
    ink in the effort to describe the pleasures of life--but it will
    be reserved for the disembodied spirit of Phineas McPhail to
    write the great Philosophic poem of the world's history, which
    will be entitled 'The Pleasures of Death.' While you're doing
    nothing, laddie, you might bestir yourself and find an
    enlightened publisher who would be willing to give me an
    ante-mortem advance, in respect of royalties accruing to my
    ghost.

    "Mo, to whom I have read the last paragraph, says he always knew
    that eddication affected the brain. With which incontrovertible
    proposition and our joint love, I now conclude this epistle.

                                                 "Yours, PHINEAS."

"Of all the blazing imbeciles!" Doggie cried aloud. Why the
unprintable unprintableness couldn't Phineas mind his own business?
Why had he given his silly accident of fortune away in this childish
manner? Why had he told Jeanne of his cotton-wool upbringing? His
feet, even that of his wounded leg, tingled to kick Phineas. Of course
Jeanne, knowing him now to be such a gilded ass, would have nothing
more to do with him. It explained her letter. He damned Phineas to all
eternity, in terms compared with which the curse of Saint Ernulphus
enunciated by the late Mr. Shandy was a fantastic benediction. "If I
had a dog," quoth my Uncle Toby, "I would not curse him so." But if
Uncle Toby had heard Doggie of the Twentieth Century Armies who also
swore terribly in Flanders, for dog he would have substituted
rattlesnake or German officer.

Yet such is the quiddity of the English Tommy, that through this
devastating anathema ran a streak of love which at the end turned the
whole thing into forlorn derision. And as soon as he could laugh, he
saw things in a clear light. Both of his two friends were, in their
respective ways, in love with his wonderful Jeanne. Both of them were
steel-true to him. It was just part of their loyalty to foment this
impossible romance between Jeanne and himself. If the three of them
were now at Frélus, the two idiots would be playing gooseberry with
the smirking conscientiousness of a pair of schoolgirls. So Doggie
forgave the indiscretion. After all, what did it matter?

It mattered, however, to this extent, that he read the letter over and
over again until he knew it by heart and could picture to himself
every phase of the banquet and every fleeting look on Jeanne's face.

"All this," he declared at last, "is utterly ridiculous." And he tore
up Phineas's letter and, during his convalescence, devoted himself to
the study of European politics, a subject which he had scandalously
neglected during his elegantly leisured youth.

       *       *       *       *       *

The day of his discharge came in due course. A suit of khaki took the
place of the hospital blue. He received his papers, the seven days'
sick furlough and his railway warrant, shook hands with nurses and
comrades and sped to Durdlebury in the third-class carriage of the
Tommy.

Peggy, in the two-seater, was waiting for him in the station yard. He
exchanged greetings from afar, grinned, waved a hand and jumped in
beside her.

"How jolly of you to meet me!"

"Where's your luggage?"

"Luggage?"

It seemed to be a new word. He had not heard it for many months. He
laughed.

"Haven't got any, thank God! If you knew what it was to hunch a
horrible canvas sausage of kit about, you'd appreciate feeling free."

"It's a mercy you've got Peddle," said Peggy. "He has been at the
Deanery fixing things up for you for the last two days."

"I wonder if I shall be able to live up to Peddle," said Doggie.

"Who's going to start the car?" she asked.

"Oh, lord!" he cried, and bolted out and turned the crank. "I'm
awfully sorry," he added, when, the engine running, he resumed his
place. "I had forgotten all about these pretty things. Out there a car
is a sacred chariot set apart for gods in brass hats, and the ordinary
Tommy looks on them with awe and reverence."

"Can't you forget you're a Tommy for a few days?" she said, as soon as
the car had cleared the station gates and was safely under way.

He noted a touch of irritation. "All right, Peggy dear," said he.
"I'll do what I can."

"Oliver's here, with his man Chipmunk," she remarked, her eyes on the
road.

"Oliver? On leave again? How has he managed it?"

"You'd better ask him," she replied tartly. "All I know is that he
turned up yesterday, and he's staying with us. That's why I don't want
you to ram the fact of your being a Tommy down everybody's throat."

He laughed at the queer little social problem that seemed to be
worrying her. "I think you'll find blood is thicker than military
etiquette. After all, Oliver's my first cousin. If he can't get on
with me, he can get out." To change the conversation, he added after a
pause: "The little car's running splendidly."

They swept through the familiar old-world streets, which, now that the
early frenzy of mobilizing Territorials and training of new armies was
over, had resumed more or less their pre-war appearance. The sleepy
meadows by the river, once ground into black slush by guns and
ammunition waggons and horses, were now green again and idle, and the
troops once billeted on the citizens had marched heaven knows
whither--many to heaven itself--or whatever Paradise is reserved for
the great-hearted English fighting man who has given his life for
England. Only here and there a stray soldier on leave, or one of the
convalescents from the cottage hospital, struck an incongruous note of
war. They drew up at the door of the Deanery under the shadow of the
great cathedral.

"Thank God that is out of reach of the Boche," said Doggie, regarding
it with a new sense of its beauty and spiritual significance. "To
think of it like Rheims or Arras--I've seen Arras--seen a shell burst
among the still standing ruins. Oh, Peggy"--he gripped her arm--"you
dear people haven't the remotest conception of what it all is--what
France has suffered. Imagine this mass of wonder all one horrible
stone pie, without a trace of what it once had been."

"I suppose we're jolly lucky," she replied.

The door was opened by the old butler, who had been on the alert for
the arrival.

"You run in," said Peggy, "I'll take the car round to the yard."

So Doggie, with a smile and a word of greeting, entered the Deanery.
His uncle appeared in the hall, florid, white-haired, benevolent, and
extended both hands to the home-come warrior.

"My dear boy, how glad I am to see you. Welcome back. And how's the
wound? We've thought night and day of you. If I could have spared the
time, I should have run up north, but I've not a minute to call my
own. We're doing our share of war work here, my boy. Come into the
drawing-room."

He put his hand affectionately on Doggie's arm and, opening the
drawing-room door, pushed him in and stood, in his kind, courtly way,
until the young man had passed the threshold. Mrs. Conover, feeble
from illness, rose and kissed him, and gave him much the same greeting
as her husband. Then a tall, lean figure in uniform, who had remained
in the background by the fireplace, advanced with outstretched hand.

"Hello, old chap!"

Doggie took the hand in an honest grip.

"Hello, Oliver!"

"How goes it?"

"Splendid," said Doggie. "You all right?"

"Top-hole," said Oliver. He clapped his cousin on the shoulder. "My
hat! you do look fit." He turned to the Dean. "Uncle Edward, isn't he
a hundred times the man he was?"

"I told you, my boy, you would see a difference," said the Dean.

Peggy ran in, having delivered the two-seater to the care of
myrmidons.

"Now that the affecting meeting is over, let us have tea. Oliver, ring
the bell."

The tea came. It appeared to Doggie, handing round the three-tiered
silver cake-stand, that he had returned to some forgotten former
incarnation. The delicate china cup in his hand seemed too frail for
the material usages of life and he feared lest he should break it with
rough handling. Old habit, however, prevailed, and no one noticed his
sense of awkwardness. The talk lay chiefly between Oliver and himself.
They exchanged experiences as to dates and localities. They bandied
about the names of places which will be inscribed in letters of blood
in history for all time, as though they were popular golf-courses.
Both had known Ypres and Plug Street, and the famous wall at Arras,
where the British and German trenches were but five yards apart.
Oliver's division had gone down to the Somme in July for the great
push.

"I ought to be there now," said Oliver. "I feel a hulking slacker and
fraud, being home on sick leave. But the M.O. said I had just escaped
shell-shock by the skin of my nerves, and they packed me home for a
fortnight to rest up--while the regiment, what there's left of it,
went into reserve."

"Did you get badly cut up?" asked Doggie.

"Rather. We broke through all right. Then machine guns which we had
overlooked got us in the back."

"My lot's down there now," said Doggie.

"You're well out of it, old chap," laughed Oliver.

For the first time in his life Doggie began really to like Oliver. The
old-time swashbuckling swagger had gone--the swagger of one who would
say: "I am the only live man in this comatose crowd. I am the
dare-devil buccaneer who defies the thunder and sleeps on boards while
the rest of you are lying soft in feather-beds." His direct, cavalier
way he still retained; but the army, with the omnipotent might of its
inherited traditions, had moulded him to its pattern; even as it had
moulded Doggie. And Doggie, who had learned many of the lessons in
human psychology which the army teaches, knew that Oliver's genial,
familiar talk was not all due to his appreciation of their social
equality in the bosom of their own family, but that he would have
treated much the same any Tommy into whose companionship he had been
casually thrown. The Tommy would have said "sir" very scrupulously,
which on Doggie's part would have been an idiotic thing to do; but
they would have got on famously together, bound by the freemasonry of
fighting men who had cursed the same foe for the same reasons. So
Oliver stood out before Doggie's eyes in a new light, that of the
typical officer trusted and beloved by his men, and his heart went out
to him.

"I've brought Chipmunk over," said Oliver. "You remember the freak?
The poor devil hasn't had a day's leave for a couple of years. Didn't
want it. Why should he go and waste money in a country where he didn't
know a human being? But this time I've fixed it up for him and his
leave is coterminous with mine. He has been my servant all through. If
they took him away from me, he'd be quite capable of strangling the
C.O. He's a funny beggar."

"And what kind of a soldier?" the Dean asked politely.

"There's not a finer one in all the armies of the earth," said Oliver.

After much further talk the dressing-gong boomed softly through the
house.

"You've got the green room, Marmaduke," said Peggy. "The one with the
Chippendale stuff you used to covet so much."

"I haven't got much to change into," laughed Doggie.

"You'll find Peddle up there waiting for you," she replied.

And when Doggie entered the green room there he found Peddle, who
welcomed him with tears of joy and a display of all the finikin
luxuries of the toilet and adornment which he had left behind at Denby
Hall. There were pots of pomade and face-cream, and nail-polish;
bottles of hair-wash and tooth-wash; little boxes and brushes for the
moustache, half a dozen gleaming razors, an array of brushes and combs
and manicure-set in tortoise-shell with his crest in silver, bottles
of scent with spray attachments; the onyx bowl of bath salts beside
the hip-bath ready to be filled from the ewers of hot and cold
water--the Deanery, old-fashioned house, had but one family bath-room;
the deep purple silk dressing-gown over the foot-rail of the bed, the
silk pyjamas in a lighter shade spread out over the pillow, the silk
underwear and soft-fronted shirt fitted with his ruby and diamond
sleeve-links, hung up before the fire to air; the dinner jacket suit
laid out on the glass-topped Chippendale table, with black tie and
delicate handkerchief; the silk socks carefully tucked inside out, the
glossy pumps with the silver shoe-horn laid across them.

"My God! Peddle," cried Doggie, scratching his closely cropped head.
"What the devil's all this?"

Peddle, grey, bent, uncomprehending, regarded him blankly.

"All what, sir?"

"I only want to wash my hands," said Doggie.

"But aren't you going to dress for dinner, sir?"

"A private soldier's not allowed to wear mufti, Peddle. They'd dock me
of a week's pay if they found out."

"Who's to find out, sir?"

"There's Mr. Oliver--he's a Major."

"Lord, Mr. Marmaduke, I don't think he'd mind. Miss Peggy gave me my
orders, sir, and I think you can leave things to her."

"All right, Peddle," he laughed. "If it's Miss Peggy's decree, I'll
change. I've got all I want."

"Are you sure you can manage, sir?" Peddle asked anxiously, for time
was when Doggie couldn't stick his legs into his trousers unless
Peddle held them out for him.

"Quite," said Doggie.

"It seems rather roughing it here, Mr. Marmaduke, after what you've
been accustomed to at the Hall."

"That's so," said Doggie. "And it's martyrdom compared with what it is
in the trenches. There we always have a major-general to lace up our
boots, and a field-marshal's always hovering round to light our
cigarettes."

Peddle, who had never known him to jest, or his father before him,
went out in a muddled frame of mind, leaving Doggie to struggle into
his dress trousers as best he might.



CHAPTER XX


When Doggie, in dinner suit, went downstairs, he found Peggy alone in
the drawing-room. She gave him the kiss of one accustomed to kiss him
from childhood, and sat down again on the fender-stool.

"Now you look more like a Christian gentleman," she laughed. "Confess.
It's much more comfortable than your wretched private's uniform."

"I'm not quite so sure," he said, somewhat ruefully, indicating his
dinner jacket tightly constricted beneath the arms. "Already I've had
to slit my waistcoat down the back. Poor old Peddle will have an
apoplectic fit when he sees it. I've grown a bit since these elegant
rags were made for me."

"_Il faut souffrir pour être beau_," said Peggy.

"If my being _beau_ pleases you, Peggy, I'll suffer gladly. I've been
in tighter places." He threw himself down in the corner of the sofa
and joggled up and down like a child. "After all," he said, "it's
jolly to sit on something squashy again, and to see a pretty girl in a
pretty frock."

"I'm glad you like this frock."

"New?"

She nodded. "Dad said it was too much of a Vanity Fair of a vanity for
war-time. You don't think so, do you?"

"It's charming," said Doggie. "A treat for tired eyes."

"That's just what I told dad. What's the good of women dressing in
sacks tied round the middle with a bit of string? When men come home
from the Front they want to see their womenfolk looking pretty and
dainty. That's what they've come over for. It's part of the cure. It's
the first time you've been a real dear, Marmaduke. 'A treat for tired
eyes.' I'll rub it into dad hard."

Oliver came in--in khaki. Doggie jumped up and pointed to him.

"Look here, Peggy. It's the guard-room for me."

Oliver laughed. "Where the dinner kit I bought when I came home is
now, God only can tell." He turned to Peggy. "I did change, you know."

"That's the pull of being a beastly Major," said Doggie. "They have
heaps of suits. On the march, there are motor-lorries full of them.
It's the scandal of the army. The wretched Tommy has but one suit to
his name. That's why, sir, I've taken the liberty of appearing before
you in outgrown mufti."

"All right, my man," said Oliver. "We'll hush it up and say no more
about it."

Then the Dean and Mrs. Conover entered and soon they went in to
dinner. It was for Doggie the most pleasant of meals. He had the
superbly healthy man's whole-hearted or whole-stomached appreciation
of unaccustomed good food and drink: so much so, that when the Dean,
after agonies of thwarted mastication, said gently to his wife: "My
dear, don't you think you might speak a word in season to Peck"--Peck
being the butcher--"and forbid him, under the Defence of the Realm
Act, if you like, to deliver to us in the evening as lamb that which
was in the morning a lusty sheep?" he stared at the good old man as
though he were Vitellius in person. Tough? It was like milk-fatted
baby. He was already devouring, like Oliver, his second helping. Then
the Dean, pledging him and Oliver in champagne, apologized: "I'm
sorry, my dear boys, the 1904 has run out and there's no more to be
got. But the 1906, though not having the quality, is quite drinkable."

Drinkable! It was laughing, dancing joy that went down his throat.

So much for gross delights. There were others--finer. The charm to the
eye of the table with its exquisite napery and china and glass and
silver and flowers. The almost intoxicating atmosphere of peace and
gentle living. The full, loving welcome shining from the eyes of the
kind old Dean, his uncle by marriage, and of the faded, delicate lady,
his own flesh and blood, his mother's sister. And Peggy, pretty,
flushed, bright-eyed, radiant in her new dress. And there was
Oliver....

Most of all he appreciated Oliver's comrade-like attitude. It was a
recognition of him as a man and a soldier. In the course of dinner
talk Oliver said:

"J.M.T. and I have looked Death in the face many a time--and really
he's a poor raw-head and bloody-bones sort of Bogey; don't you think
so, old chap?"

"It all depends on whether you've got a funk-hole handy," he replied.

But that was mere lightness of speech. Oliver's inclusion of him in
his remark shook him to the depths of his sensitive nature. The man
who despises the petty feelings and frailties of mankind is doomed to
remain in awful ignorance of that which there is of beauty and pathos
in the lives of his fellow-creatures. After all, what did it matter
what Oliver thought of him? Who was Oliver? His cousin--accident of
birth--the black sheep of the family; now a major in a different
regiment and a different division. What was Oliver to him or he to
Oliver? He had "made good" in the eyes of one whose judgment had been
forged keen and absolute by heroic sorrows. What did anyone else
matter? But to Doggie the supreme joy of the evening was the knowledge
that he had made good in the eyes of Oliver. Oliver wore on his tunic
the white mauve and white ribbon of the Military Cross. Honour where
honour was due. But he, Doggie, had been wounded (no matter how) and
Oliver frankly put them both on the same plane of achievement, thus
wiping away, with generous hand, all hated memories of the past.

When the ladies had left the room, history repeated itself, in that
the Dean was called away on business and the cousins were left alone
together over their wine. Said Doggie:

"Do you remember the last time we sat at this table?"

"Perfectly," replied Oliver, holding up a glass of the old Deanery
port to the light. "You were horrified at my attempting to clean out
my pipe with a dessert knife."

Doggie laughed. "After all, it was a filthy thing to do."

"I quite agree with you. Since then I've learned manners."

"You also made me squirm at the idea of scooping out Boches' insides
with bayonets."

"And you've learned not to squirm, so we're quits."

"You thought me a rotten ass in those days, didn't you?"

Oliver looked at him squarely.

"I don't think it would hurt you now if I said that I did." He
laughed, stretched himself on his chair, thrusting both hands into his
trouser pockets. "In many ways, it's a jolly good old war, you
know--for those that pull through. It has taught us both a lot,
Marmaduke."

Doggie wrinkled his forehead in his half-humorous way.

"I wish it would teach people not to call me by that silly name."

"I have always abominated it, as you may have observed," said Oliver.
"But in our present polite relations, old chap, what else is there?"

"You ought to know----"

Oliver stared at him. "You don't mean----?"

"Yes, I do."

"But you used to loathe it and I went on calling you 'Doggie' because
I knew you loathed it. I never dreamed of using it now."

"I can't help it," replied Doggie. "The name got into the army and has
stuck to me right through, and now those I love and trust most in the
world, and who love and trust me, call me 'Doggie,' and I don't seem
to be able to answer to any other name. So, although I'm only a Tommy
and you're a devil of a swell of a second-in-command, yet if you want
to be friendly--well----"

Oliver leaned forward quickly. "Of course I want to be friends,
Doggie, old chap. As for major and private--when you pass me in the
street you've dam well got to salute me, and that's all there is to
it--but otherwise it's all rot. And now we've got to the
heart-to-heart stage, don't you think you're a bit of a fool?"

"I know it," said Doggie cheerfully. "The army has drummed that into
me, at any rate."

"I mean in staying in the ranks. Why don't you apply for the Cadet
Corps and so get through to a commission again?"

Doggie's brow grew dark. "I had all that out with Peggy long ago--when
things were perhaps somewhat different with me. I was sore all over. I
dare say you can understand. But now there are other reasons, much
stronger reasons. The only real happiness I've had in my life has been
as a Tommy. I'm not talking through my hat. The only real friends I've
ever made in my life are Tommies. I've found real things as a Tommy
and I'm not going to start all over again to find them in another
capacity."

"You wouldn't have to start all over again," Oliver objected.

"Oh yes, I should. Don't run away with the idea that I've been turned
by a miracle into a brawny hero. I'm not anything of the sort. To have
to lead men into action would be a holy terror. The old dread of
seeking new paths still acts, you see. I'm the same Doggie that
wouldn't go out to Huaheine with you. Only now I'm a private and I'm
used to it. I love it and I'm not going to change to the end of the
whole gory business. Of course Peggy doesn't like it," he added after
a sip of wine. "But I can't help that. It's a matter of temperament
and conscience--in a way, a matter of honour."

"What has honour got to do with it?" asked Oliver.

"I'll try to explain. It's somehow this way. When I came to my senses
after being chucked for incompetence--that was the worst hell I ever
went through in my life--and I enlisted, I swore that I would stick it
as a Tommy without anybody's sympathy, least of all that of the folks
here. And then I swore I'd make good to myself as a Tommy. I was just
beginning to feel happier when that infernal Boche sniper knocked me
out for a time. So, Peggy or no Peggy, I'm going through with it. I
suppose I'm telling you all this because I should like you to know."

He passed his hand, in the familiar gesture, from back to front of his
short-cropped hair. Oliver smiled at the reminiscence of the old
disturbed Doggie; but he said very gravely:

"I'm glad you've told me, old man. I appreciate it very much. I've
been through the ranks myself and know what it is--the bad and the
good. Many a man has found his soul that way----"

"Good God!" cried Doggie, starting to his feet. "Do you say that too?"

"Who else said it?"

The quick question caused the blood to rush to Doggie's face. Oliver's
keen, half-mocking gaze held him. He cursed himself for an impulsive
idiot. The true answer to the question would be a confession of
Jeanne. The scene in the kitchen of Frélus swam before his eyes. He
dropped into his chair again with a laugh.

"Oh, some one out there--in another heart-to-heart talk. As a matter
of fact, I think I said it myself. It's odd you should have used the
same words. Anyhow, you're the only other person who has hit on the
truth as far as I'm concerned. Finding one's soul is a bit
high-falutin--but that's about the size of it."

"Peggy hasn't hit on the truth, then?" Oliver asked, with curious
earnestness, the shade of mockery gone.

"The war has scarcely touched her yet, you see," said Doggie. He rose,
shrinking from discussion. "Shall we go in?"

In the drawing-room they played bridge till the ladies' bedtime. The
Dean coming in, played the last rubber.

"I hope you'll be able to sleep in a common or garden bed, Marmaduke,"
said Peggy, and kissed him a perfunctory good night.

"I have heard," remarked the Dean, "that it takes quite a time to grow
accustomed to the little amenities of civilization."

"That's quite true, Uncle Edward," laughed Doggie. "I'm terrified at
the thought of the silk pyjamas Peddle has prescribed for me."

"Why?" Peggy asked bluntly.

Oliver interposed laughing, his hand on Doggie's shoulder.

"Tommy's accustomed to go to bed in his day-shirt."

"How perfectly disgusting!" cried Peggy, and swept from the room.

Oliver dropped his hand and looked somewhat abashed.

"I'm afraid I've been and gone and done it. I'm sorry. I'm still a
barbarian South Sea Islander."

"I wish I were a young man," said the Dean, moving from the door and
inviting them to sit, "and could take part in these strange hardships.
This question of night attire, for instance, has never struck me
before. The whole thing is of amazing interest. Ah! what it is to be
old! If I were young, I should be with you, cloth or no cloth, in the
trenches. I hope both of you know that I vehemently dissent from those
bishops who prohibit the younger clergy from taking their place in the
fighting line. If God's archangels and angels themselves took up the
sword against the Powers of Darkness, surely a stalwart young curate
of the Church of England would find his vocation in warring with rifle
and bayonet against the proclaimed enemies of God and mankind?"

"The influence of the twenty thousand or so of priests fighting in the
French Army is said to be enormous," Oliver remarked.

The Dean sighed. "I'm afraid we're losing a big chance."

"Why don't you take up the Fiery Cross, Uncle Edward, and run a new
Crusade?"

The Dean sighed. Five-and-thirty years ago, when he had set all
Durdlebury by the ears, he might have preached glorious heresy and
heroic schism; but now the immutability of the great grey fabric had
become part of his being.

"I've done my best, my boy," he replied, "with the result that I am
held in high disfavour."

"But that doesn't matter a little bit."

"Not a little bit," said the Dean. "A man can only do his duty
according to the dictates of his conscience. I have publicly deplored
the attitude of the Church of England. I have written to _The Times_.
I have published a pamphlet--I sent you each a copy--which has brought
a hornets' nest about my ears. I have warned those in high places that
what they are doing is not in the best interests of the Church. But
they won't listen."

Oliver lit a pipe. "I'm afraid, Uncle Edward," he said, "that though I
come of a clerical family, I know no more of religion than a Hun
bishop; but it has always struck me that the Church's job is to look
after the people, whereas, as far as I can make out, the Church is now
squealing because the people won't look after the Church."

The Dean rose. "I won't go as far as that," said he with a smile. "But
there is, I fear, some justification for such a criticism from the
laity. As soon as the war began the Church should have gathered the
people together and said, 'Onward, Christian soldiers. Go and fight
like--er----'"

"Like hell," suggested Oliver, greatly daring.

"Or words to that effect," smiled the old Dean. He looked at his
watch. "Dear, dear! past eleven. I wish I could sit up talking to you
boys. But I start my day's work at eight o'clock. If you want
anything, you've only got to ring. Good night. It is one of the
proudest days of my life to have you both here together."

His courtly charm seemed to linger in the room after he had left.

"He's a dear old chap," said Oliver.

"One of the best," said Doggie.

"It's rather pathetic," said Oliver. "In his heart he would like to
play the devil with the bishops and kick every able-bodied parson into
the trenches--and there are thousands of them that don't need any
kicking and, on the contrary, have been kicked back; but he has become
half-petrified in the atmosphere of this place. It's lovely to come to
as a sort of funk-hole of peace--but my holy aunt!--What the blazes
are you laughing at?"

"I'm only thinking of a beast of a boy here who used to say that,"
replied Doggie.

"Oh!" said Oliver, and he grinned. "Anyway, I was only going to remark
that if I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life here, I'd
paint the town vermilion for a week and then cut my throat."

"I quite agree with you," said Doggie.

"What are you going to do when the war's over?"

"Who knows what he's going to do? What are you going to do? Fly back
to your little Robinson Crusoe Durdlebury of a Pacific Island? I don't
think so."

Oliver stuck his pipe on the mantelpiece and his hands on his hips and
made a stride towards Doggie.

"Damn you, Doggie! Damn you to little bits! How the Hades did you
guess what I've scarcely told myself, much less another human being?"

"You yourself said it was a good old war and it has taught us a lot of
things."

"It has," said Oliver. "But I never expected to hear Huaheine called
Durdlebury by you, Doggie. Oh, Lord! I must have another drink.
Where's your glass? Say when?"

They parted for the night the best of friends.

Doggie, in spite of the silk pyjamas and the soft bed and the blazing
fire in his room--he stripped back the light-excluding curtains
forgetful of Defence of the Realm Acts, and opened all the windows
wide, to the horror of Peddle in the morning--slept like an
unperturbed dormouse. When Peddle woke him, he lay drowsily while the
old butler filled his bath and fiddled about with drawers. At last
aroused, he cried out:

"What the dickens are you doing?"

Peddle turned with an injured air. "I am matching your ties and socks
for your bottle-green suit, sir."

Doggie leaped out of bed. "You dear old idiot, I can't go about the
streets in bottle-green suits. I've got to wear my uniform." He looked
around the room. "Where the devil is it?"

Peddle's injured air deepened almost into resentment.

"Where the devil----!" Never had Mr. Marmaduke, or his father, the
Canon, used such language. He drew himself up.

"I have given orders, sir, for the uniform suit you wore yesterday to
be sent to the cleaners."

"Oh, hell!" said Doggie. And Peddle, unaccustomed to the vernacular of
the British Army, paled with horror. "Oh, hell!" said Doggie. "Look
here, Peddle, just you get on a bicycle, or a motor-car, or an express
train at once and retrieve that uniform. Don't you understand? I'm a
private soldier. I've got to wear uniform all the time, and I'll have
to stay in this beastly bed until you get it for me."

Peddle fled. The picture that he left on Doggie's mind was that of the
faithful steward with dismayed, uplifted hands, retiring from the room
in one of the great scenes of Hogarth's "Rake's Progress." The
similitude made him laugh--for Doggie always had a saving sense of
humour--but he was very angry with Peddle, while he stamped around the
room in his silk pyjamas. What the deuce was he going to do? Even if
he committed the military crime (and there was a far more serious
crime already against him) of appearing in public in mufti, did that
old ass think he was going to swagger about Durdlebury in bottle-green
suits, as though he were ashamed of the King's uniform? He dipped his
shaving-brush into the hot water. Then he threw it, anyhow, across the
room. Instead of shaving, he would be gloating over the idea of
cutting that old fool, Peddle's, throat, and therefore would slash his
own face to bits.

Things, however, were not done at lightning speed in the Deanery of
Durdlebury. The first steps had not even been taken to send the
uniform to the cleaners, and soon Peddle reappeared carrying it over
his arm and the heavy pair of munition boots in his hand.

"These too, sir?" he asked, exhibiting the latter resignedly and
casting a sad glance at the neat pair of brown shoes exquisitely
polished and beautifully treed which he had put out for his master's
wear.

"These too," said Doggie. "And where's my grey flannel shirt?"

This time Peddle triumphed. "I've given that away, sir, to the
gardener's boy."

"Well, you can just go and buy me half a dozen more like it," said
Doggie.

He dismissed the old man, dressed and went downstairs. The Dean had
breakfasted at seven. Peggy and Oliver were not yet down for the nine
o'clock meal. Doggie strolled about the garden and sauntered round to
the stable-yard. There he encountered Chipmunk in his shirt-sleeves,
sitting on a packing case and polishing Oliver's leggings. He raised
an ugly, clean-shaven mug and scowled beneath his bushy eyebrows at
the new-comer.

"Morning, mate!" said Doggie pleasantly.

"Morning," said Chipmunk, resuming his work.

Doggie turned over a stable bucket and sat down on it and lit a
cigarette.

"Glad to be back?"

Chipmunk poised the cloth on which he had poured some brown dressing.
"Not if I has to be worried with private soljers," he replied. "I came
'ere to get away from 'em."

"What's wrong with private soldiers? They're good enough for you,
aren't they?" asked Doggie with a laugh.

"Naow," snarled Chipmunk. "Especially when they ought to be orficers.
Go to 'ell!"

Doggie, who had suffered much in the army, but had never before been
taunted with being a dilettante gentleman private, still less been
consigned to hell on that account, leapt to his feet shaken by one of
his rare sudden gusts of anger.

"If you don't say I'm as good a private soldier as any in your rotten,
mangy regiment, I'll knock your blinking head off!"

An insult to a soldier's regiment can only be wiped out in blood.
Chipmunk threw cloth and legging to the winds and, springing from his
seat like a monkey, went for Doggie.

"You just try."

Doggie tried, and had not Chipmunk's head been very firmly secured to
his shoulders, he would have succeeded. Chipmunk went down as if he
had been bombed. It was his unguarded and unscientific rush that did
it. Doggie regarded his prostrate figure in gratified surprise.

"What's all this about?" cried a sharp, imperious voice.

Doggie instinctively stood at attention and saluted, and Chipmunk,
picking himself up in a dazed sort of way, did likewise.

"You two men shake hands and make friends at once," Oliver commanded.

"Yes, sir," said Doggie. He extended his hand, and Chipmunk, with the
nautical shamble, which in moments of stress defied a couple of years'
military discipline, advanced and shook it. Oliver strode hurriedly
away.

"I'm sorry I said that about the regiment, mate. I didn't mean it,"
said Doggie.

Chipmunk looked uncertainly into Doggie's eyes for what Doggie felt to
be a very long time. Chipmunk's dull brain was slowly realizing the
situation. The man opposite to him was his master's cousin. When he
had last seen him, he had no title to be called a man at all. His
vocabulary volcanically rich, but otherwise limited, had not been able
to express him in adequate terms of contempt and derision. Now behold
him masquerading as a private. Wounded. But any fool could get
wounded. Behold him further coming down from the social heights
whereon his master dwelt, to take a rise out of him, Chipmunk. In
self-defence he had taken the obvious course. He had told him to go to
hell. Then the important things had happened. Not the effeminate
gentleman but some one very much like the common Tommy of his
acquaintance had responded. And he had further responded with the
familiar vigour but unwonted science of the rank and file. He had also
stood at attention and saluted and obeyed like any common Tommy, when
the Major appeared. The last fact appealed to him, perhaps, as much as
the one more invested in violence.

"'Ere," said he at last, jerking his head and rubbing his jaw, "how
the 'ell did you do it?"

"We'll get some gloves and I'll show you," said Doggie.

So peace and firm friendship were made. Doggie went into the house and
in the dining-room found Oliver in convulsive laughter.

"Oh, my holy aunt! You'll be the death of me, Doggie. 'Yes, sir!'" He
mimicked him. "The perfect Tommy. After doing in old Chipmunk.
Chipmunk with the strength of a gorilla and the courage of a lion. I
just happened round to see him go down. How the blazes did you manage
it, Doggie?"

"That's what Chipmunk's just asked me," Doggie replied. "I belong to a
regiment where boxing is taught. Really a good regiment," he grinned.
"There's a sergeant-instructor, a chap called Ballinghall----"

"Not Joe Ballinghall, the well-known amateur heavy-weight?"

"That's him right enough," said Doggie.

"My dear old chap," said Oliver, "this is the funniest war that ever
was."

Peggy sailed in full of apologies and began to pour out coffee.

"Do help yourselves. I'm so sorry to have kept you poor hungry things
waiting."

"We've filled up the time amazingly," cried Oliver, waving a silver
dish-cover. "What do you think? Doggie's had a fight with Chipmunk and
knocked him out."

Peggy splashed the milk over the brim of Doggie's cup and into the
saucer. There came a sudden flush on her cheek and a sudden hard look
into her eyes.

"Fighting? Do you mean to say you've been fighting with a common man
like Chipmunk?"

"We're the best of friends now," said Doggie. "We understand each
other."

"I can't quite see the necessity," said Peggy.

"I'm afraid it's rather hard to explain," he replied with a rueful
knitting of the brows, for he realized her disgust at the vulgar
brawl.

"I think the less said the better," she remarked acidly.

The meal proceeded in ominous gloom, and as soon as Peggy had finished
she left the room.

"It seems, old chap, that I can never do right," said Oliver. "Long
ago, when I used to crab you, she gave it to me in the neck; and now
when I try to boost you, you seem to get it."

"I'm afraid I've got on Peggy's nerves," said Doggie. "You see, we've
only met once before during the last two years, and I suppose I've
changed."

"There's no doubt about that, old son," said Oliver. "But all the
same, Peggy has stood by you like a brick, hasn't she?"

"That's the devil of it," replied Doggie, rubbing up his hair.

"Why the devil of it?" Oliver asked quickly.

"Oh, I don't know," replied Doggie. "As you have once or twice
observed, it's a funny old war."

He rose, went to the door.

"Where are you off to?" asked Oliver.

"I'm going to Denby Hall to take a look round."

"Like me to come with you? We can borrow the two-seater."

Doggie advanced a pace. "You're an awfully good sort, Oliver," he
said, touched, "but would you mind--I feel rather a beast----"

"All right, you silly old ass," cried Oliver cheerily. "You want, of
course, to root about there by yourself. Go ahead."

"If you'll take a spin with me this afternoon, or to-morrow----" said
Doggie in his sensitive way.

"Oh, clear out!" laughed Oliver.

And Doggie cleared.



CHAPTER XXI


"All right, Peddle, I can find my way about," said Doggie, dismissing
the old butler and his wife after a little colloquy in the hall.

"Everything's in perfect order, sir, just as it was when you left; and
there are the keys," said Mrs. Peddle.

The Peddles retired. Doggie eyed the heavy bunch of keys with an air
of distaste. For two years he had not seen a key. What on earth could
be the good of all this locking and unlocking? He stuffed the bunch in
his tunic pocket and looked around him. It seemed difficult to realize
that everything he saw was his own. Those trees visible from the hall
windows were his own, and the land on which they grew. This spacious,
beautiful house was his own. He had only to wave a hand, as it were,
and it would be filled with serving men and serving maids ready to do
his bidding. His foot was on his native heath, and his name was James
Marmaduke Trevor.

Did he ever actually live here, have his being here? Was he ever part
and parcel of it all--the Oriental rugs, the soft stair-carpet on the
noble oak staircase leading to the gallery, the oil paintings, the
impressive statuary, the solid, historical, oak hall furniture? Were
it not so acutely remembered, he would have felt like a man accustomed
all his life to barns and tents and hedgerows and fetid holes in the
ground, who had wandered into some ill-guarded palace. He entered the
drawing-room. The faithful Peddles, with pathetic zeal to give him a
true home-coming, had set it out fresh and clean and polished; the
windows were like crystal, and flowers welcomed him from every
available vase. And so in the dining-room. The Chippendale
dining-table gleamed like a sombre translucent pool. On the sideboard,
amid the array of shining silver, the very best old Waterford
decanters filled with whisky and brandy, and old cut-glass goblets
invited him to refreshment. The precious mezzotint portraits, mostly
of his own collecting, regarded him urbanely from the walls. _The
Times_ and the _Morning Post_ were laid out on the little table by his
accustomed chair near the massive marble mantelpiece.

"The dear old idiots," said Doggie, and he sat down for a moment and
unfolded the newspapers and strewed them around, to give the
impression that he had read and enjoyed them.

And then he went into his own private and particular den, the peacock
and ivory room, which had been the supreme expression of himself and
for which he had ached during many nights of misery. He looked round
and his heart sank. He seemed to come face to face with the
ineffectual, effeminate creature who had brought upon him the disgrace
of his man's life. But for the creator and sybarite enjoyer of this
sickening boudoir, he would now be in honoured command of men. He
conceived a sudden violent hatred of the room. The only thing in the
place worth a man's consideration, save a few water-colours, was the
honest grand piano, which, because it did not æsthetically harmonize
with his squeaky, pot-bellied theorbos and tinkling spinet, he had
hidden in an alcove behind a curtain. He turned an eye of disgust on
the vellum backs of his books in the closed Chippendale cases, on the
drawers containing his collection of wall-papers, on the footling
peacocks, on the curtains and cushions, on the veined ivory paper
which, beginning to fade two years ago, now looked mean and
meaningless. It was an abominable room. It ought to be smelling of
musk or pastilles or joss-sticks. It might have done so, for once he
had tried something of the sort, and did not renew the experiment only
because the smell happened to make him sick.

There was one feature of the room at which for a long time he avoided
looking: but wherever he turned, it impressed itself on his
consciousness as the miserable genius of the despicable place. And
that was his collection of little china dogs.

At last he planted himself in front of the great glass cabinet, whence
thousands of little dogs looked at him out of little black dots of
eyes. There were dogs of all nationalities, all breeds, all twisted
enormities of human invention. There were monstrous dogs of China and
Japan; Aztec dogs; dogs in Sèvres and Dresden and Chelsea; sixpenny
dogs from Austria and Switzerland; everything in the way of a little
dog that man had made. He stood in front of it with almost a doggish
snarl on his lips. He had spent hundreds and hundreds of pounds over
these futile dogs. Yet never a flesh and blood, real, lusty _canis
futilis_ had he possessed. He used to dislike real dogs. The shivering
rat, Goliath, could scarcely be called a dog. He had wasted his heart
over these contemptible counterfeits. To add to his collection,
catalogue it, describe it, correspond about it with the semi-imbecile
Russian prince, his only rival collector, had once ranked with his
history of wall-papers as the serious and absorbing pursuit of his
life.

Then suddenly Doggie's hatred reached the crisis of ferocity. He saw
red. He seized the first instrument of destruction that came to his
hand, a little gilt Louis XV music stool, and bashed the cabinet full
in front. The glass flew into a thousand splinters. He bashed again.
The woodwork of the cabinet, stoutly resisting, worked hideous damage
on the gilt stool. But Doggie went on bashing till the cabinet sank in
ruins and the little dogs, headless, tailless, rent in twain, strewed
the floor. Then Doggie stamped on them with his heavy munition boots
until dogs and glass were reduced to powder and the Aubusson carpet
was cut to pieces.

"Damn the whole infernal place!" cried Doggie, and he heaved a
mandolin tied up with disgusting peacock-blue ribbons at the bookcase,
and fled from the room.

He stood for a while in the hall, shaken with his anger; then mounted
the staircase and went into his own bedroom with the satinwood
furniture and nattier blue hangings. God! what a bedchamber for a man!
He would have liked to throw bombs into the nest of effeminacy. But
his mother had arranged it, so in a way it was immune from his
iconoclastic rage. He went down to the dining-room, helped himself to
a whisky and soda from the sideboard, and sat down in the arm-chair
amidst the scattered newspapers and held his head in his hands and
thought.

The house was hateful; all its associations were hateful. If he lived
there until he was ninety, the abhorred ghost of the pre-war little
Doggie Trevor would always haunt every nook and cranny of the place,
mouthing the quarter of a century's shame that had culminated in the
Great Disgrace. At last he brought his hand down with a bang on the
arm of his chair. He would never live in this House of Dishonour
again. Never. He would sell it.

"By God!" he cried, starting to his feet, as the inspiration came.

He would sell it, as it stood, lock, stock and barrel, with everything
in it. He would wipe out at one stroke the whole of his unedifying
history. Denby Hall gone, what could tie him to Durdlebury? He would
be freed, for ever, from the petrification of the grey, cramping
little city. If Peggy didn't like it, that was Peggy's affair. In
material things he was master of his destiny. Peggy would have to
follow him in his career, whatever it was, not he Peggy. He saw
clearly that which had been mapped out for him, the silly little
social ambitions, the useless existence, little Doggie Trevor for ever
trailing obediently behind the lady of Denby Hall. Doggie threw
himself back in his chair and laughed. No one had ever heard him laugh
like that. After a while he was even surprised at himself.

He was perfectly ready to marry Peggy. It was almost a preordained
thing. A rupture of the engagement was unthinkable. Her undeviating
loyalty bound him by every fibre of gratitude and honour. But it was
essential that Peggy should know whom and what she was marrying. The
Doggie trailing in her wake no longer existed. If she were prepared to
follow the new Doggie, well and good. If not, there would be conflict.
For that he was prepared.

He strode, this time contemptuously, into his wrecked peacock and
ivory room, where his telephone (blatant and hideous thing) was
ingeniously concealed behind a screen, and rang up Spooner and
Smithson, the leading firm of auctioneers and estate agents in the
town. At the mention of his name, Mr. Spooner, the senior partner,
came to the telephone.

"Yes, I'm back, Mr. Spooner, and I'm quite well," said Doggie. "I want
to see you on very important business. When can you fix it up? Any
time? Can you come along now to Denby Hall?"

Mr. Spooner would be pleased to wait upon Mr. Trevor immediately. He
would start at once. Doggie went out and sat on the front doorstep and
smoked cigarettes till he came.

"Mr. Spooner," said he, as soon as the elderly auctioneer descended
from his little car, "I'm going to sell the whole of the Denby Hall
estate, and, with the exception of a few odds and ends, family relics
and so forth, which I'll pick out, all the contents of the
house--furniture, pictures, sheets, towels and kitchen clutter. I've
only got six days' leave, and I want all the worries, as far as I am
concerned, settled and done with before I go. So you'll have to buck
up, Mr. Spooner. If you say you can't do it, I'll put the business by
telephone into the hands of a London agent."

It took Mr. Spooner nearly a quarter of an hour to recover his breath,
gain a grasp of the situation and assemble his business wits.

"Of course I'll carry out your instructions, Mr. Trevor," he said at
last. "You can safely leave the matter in our hands. But, although it
is against my business interests, pray let me beg you to reconsider
your decision. It is such a beautiful home, your grandfather, the
Bishop's, before you."

"He bought it pretty cheap, didn't he, somewhere in the 'seventies?"

"I forget the price he paid for it, but I could look it up. Of course
we were the agents."

"And then it was let to some dismal people until my father died and my
mother took it over. I'm sorry I can't get sentimental about it, as if
it were an ancestral hall, Mr. Spooner. I want to get rid of the
place, because I hate the sight of it."

"It would be presumptuous of me to say anything more," answered the
old-fashioned country auctioneer.

"Say what you like, Mr. Spooner," laughed Doggie in his disarming way.
"We're old friends. But send in your people this afternoon to start on
inventories and measuring up, or whatever they do, and I'll look round
to-morrow and select the bits I may want to keep. You'll see after the
storing of them, won't you?"

"Of course, Mr. Trevor."

Mr. Spooner drove away in his little car, a much dazed man.

Like the rest of Durdlebury and the circumjacent county, he had
assumed that when the war was over Mr. James Marmaduke Trevor would
lead his bride from the Deanery into Denby Hall, where the latter, in
her own words, would proceed to make things hum.

"My dear," said he to his wife at luncheon, "you could have knocked me
over with a feather. What he's doing it for, goodness knows. I can
only assume that he has grown so accustomed to the destruction of
property in France, that he has got bitten by the fever."

"Perhaps Peggy Conover has turned him down," suggested his wife, who,
much younger than he, employed more modern turns of speech. "And I
shouldn't wonder if she has. Since the war girls aren't on the look
out for pretty monkeys."

"If Miss Conover thinks she has got hold of a pretty monkey in that
young man, she is very much mistaken," replied Mr. Spooner.

Meanwhile Doggie summoned Peddle to the hall. He knew that his
announcement would be a blow to the old man; but this was a world of
blows; and after all, one could not organize one's life to suit the
sentiments of old family idiots of retainers, served they never so
faithfully.

"Peddle," said he, "I'm sorry to say I'm going to sell Denby Hall.
Messrs. Spooner and Smithson's people are coming in this afternoon. So
give them every facility. Also tea, or beer, or whisky, or whatever
they want. About what's going to happen to you and Mrs. Peddle, don't
worry a bit. I'll look after that. You've been jolly good friends of
mine all my life, and I'll see that everything's as right as rain."

He turned, before the amazed old butler could reply, and marched away.
Peddle gaped at his retreating figure. If those were the ways which
Mr. Marmaduke had learned in the army, the lower sank the army in
Peddle's estimation. To sell Denby Hall over his head! Why, the place
and all about it was _his_! So deeply are squatters' rights implanted
in the human instinct.

Doggie marched along the familiar high road, strangely exhilarated.
What was to be his future he neither knew nor cared. At any rate, it
would not lie in Durdlebury. He had cut out Durdlebury for ever from
his scheme of existence. If he got through the war, he and Peggy would
go out somewhere into the great world where there was man's work to
do. Parliament! Peggy had suggested it as a sort of country
gentleman's hobby that would keep him amused during the London
seasons--so might prospective bride have talked to prospective husband
fifty years ago. Parliament! God help him and God help Peggy if ever
he got into Parliament. He would speak the most unpopular truths about
the race of politicians if ever he got into Parliament. Peggy would
wish that neither of them had ever been born. He held the trenches'
views on politicians. No fear. No muddy politics as an elegant
amusement for him. He laughed as he had laughed in the dining-room at
Denby Hall.

He would have a bad quarter of an hour with Peggy. Naturally. She
would say, and with every right: "What about me? Am I not to be
considered?" Yes, of course she would be considered. The position his
fortune assured him would always be hers. He had no notion of asking
her to share a log cabin in the wilds of Canada, or to bury herself in
Oliver's dud island of Huaheine. The great world would be before them.
"But give me some sort of an idea of what you propose to do," she
would with perfect propriety demand. And there Doggie was stuck. He
had not the ghost of a programme. All he had was faith in the war,
faith in the British spirit and genius that would bring it to a
perfect end, in which there would be unimagined opportunities for a
man to fling himself into a new life, and new conditions, and begin
the new work of a new civilization.

"If she'll only understand," said he, "that I can't go back to those
blasted little dogs, all will be well."

Not quite all. Although his future was as nebulous as the planetary
system in the Milky Way, at the back of his mind was a vague conviction
that it would be connected somehow with the welfare of those men whom
he had learned to know and love: the men to whom reading was little
pleasure, writing a school-child's laborious task, the glories of the
earth as interpreted through art a sealed book; the men whose daily
speech was foul metaphor; the men, hemi-demi-semi-educated, whose
crude socialistic opinions the open lessons of history and the eternal
facts of human nature derisively refuted; the men who had sweated and
slaved in factory and in field to no other purpose than to obey the
biological laws of the perpetuation of the species; yet the men with
the sweet minds of children, the gushing tenderness of women, the
hearts of lions; the men compared to whom the rotten squealing heroes
of Homer were a horde of cowardly savages. They were _men_, these
comrades of his, swift with all that there can be of divine glory in
men.

And when they came home and the high gods sounded the false trumpet of
peace?

There would be men's work in England for all the Doggies in England to
do.

Again, if Peggy could understand this, all would be well. If she
missed the point altogether, and tauntingly advised him to go and join
his friends the Socialists at once--then--he shoved his cap to the
back of his head and wrinkled his forehead--then----

"Everything will be in the soup," said he.

These reflections brought him to the Deanery. The nearest way of
entrance was the stable-yard gate, which was always open. He strode
in, waved a hand to Chipmunk who was sitting on the ground with his
back against the garage, smoking a pipe, and entered the house by the
French window of the dining-room. Where should he find Peggy? His
whole mind was set on the immediate interview. Obviously the
drawing-room was the first place of search. He opened the drawing-room
door, the hinges and lock oily, noiseless, perfectly ordained, like
everything in the perfectly ordained English Deanery, and strode in.

His entrance was so swift, so protected from sound, that the pair had
no time to start apart before he was there, with his amazed eyes full
upon them. Peggy's hands were on Oliver's shoulders, tears were
streaming down her face, as her head was thrown back from him, and
Oliver's arm was around her. Her back was to the door. Oliver withdrew
his arm and retired a pace or two.

"Lord Almighty," he whispered, "here's Doggie!"

Then Peggy, realizing what had happened, wheeled round and stared
tragically at Doggie, who, preoccupied with the search for her, had
not removed his cap. He drew himself up.

"I beg your pardon," he said with imperturbable irony, and turned.

Oliver rushed across the room.

"Stop, you silly fool!"

He slammed the open door, caught Doggie by the arm and dragged him
away from the threshold. His blue eyes blazed and the lips beneath the
short-cropped moustache quivered.

"It's all my fault, Doggie. I'm a beast and a cad and anything you
like to call me. But for things you said last night--well--no, hang it
all, there's no excuse. Everything's on me. Peggy's as true as gold."

Peggy, red-eyed, pale-cheeked, stood a little way back, silent, on the
defensive. Doggie, looking from one to the other, said quietly:

"A triangular explanation is scarcely decent. Perhaps you might let me
have a word or two with Peggy."

"Yes. It would be best," she whispered.

"I'll be in the dining-room if you want me," said Oliver, and went
out.

Doggie took her hand and, very gently, led her to a chair.

"Let us sit down. There," said he, "now we can talk more comfortably.
First, before we touch on this situation, let me say something to you.
It may ease things."

Peggy, humiliated, did not look at him. She nodded.

"All right."

"I made up my mind this morning to sell Denby Hall and its contents.
I've given old Spooner instructions."

She glanced at him involuntarily. "Sell Denby Hall?"

"Yes, dear. You see, I have made up my mind definitely, if I'm spared,
not to live in Durdlebury after the war."

"What were you thinking of doing?" she asked, in a low voice.

"That would depend on after-war circumstances. Anyhow, I was coming to
you, when I entered the room, with my decision. I knew, of course,
that it wouldn't please you--that you would have something to say to
it--perhaps something very serious."

"What do you mean by something very serious?"

"Our little contract, dear," said Doggie, "was based on the
understanding that you would not be uprooted from the place in which
are all your life's associations. If I broke that understanding it
would leave you a free agent to determine the contract, as the lawyers
say. So perhaps, Peggy dear, we might dismiss--well--other
considerations, and just discuss this."

Peggy twisted a rag of handkerchief and wavered for a moment. Then she
broke out, with fresh tears on her cheek.

"You're a dear of dears to put it that way. Only you could do it. I've
been a brute, old boy; but I couldn't help it. I _did_ try to play the
game."

"You did, Peggy dear. You've been wonderful."

"And although it didn't look like it, I was trying to play the game
when you came in. I really was. And so was he." She rose and threw the
handkerchief away from her. "I'm not going to step out of the
engagement by the side door you've left open for me, you dear old
simple thing. It stands if you like. We're all honourable people, and
Oliver"--she drew a sharp little breath--"Oliver will go out of our
lives."

Doggie smiled--he had risen--and taking her hands, kissed them.

"I've never known what a splendid Peggy it is, until I lose her. Look
here, dear, here's the whole thing in a nutshell. While I've been
morbidly occupied with myself and my grievances and my disgrace and my
efforts to pull through, and have gradually developed into a sort of
half-breed between a Tommy and a gentleman with every mortal thing in
me warped and changed, you've stuck to the original rotten ass you
lashed into the semblance of a man, in this very room, goodness knows
how many months, or years, or centuries ago. In my infernal
selfishness, I've treated you awfully badly."

"No, you haven't," she decided stoutly.

"Yes, I have. The ordinary girl would have told a living experiment
like me to go hang long before this. But you didn't. And now you see a
totally different sort of Doggie and you're making yourself miserable
because he's a queer, unsympathetic, unfamiliar stranger."

"All that may be so," she said, meeting his eyes bravely. "But if the
unfamiliar Doggie still cares for me, it doesn't matter."

Here was a delicate situation. Two very tender-skinned vanities
opposed to each other. The smart of seeing one's affianced bride in
the arms of another man hurts grievously sore. It's a primitive sex
affair, independent of love in its modern sense. If the savage's
abandoned squaw runs off with another fellow, he pursues him with
clubs and tomahawks until he has avenged the insult. Having known ME,
to decline to Spotted Crocodile! So the finest flower of civilization
cannot surrender the lady who once was his to the more favoured male
without a primitive pang. On the other hand, Doggie knew very well
that he did not love Peggy, that he had never loved Peggy. But how in
common decency could a man tell a girl, who had wasted a couple of
years of her life over him, that he had never loved her? Instead of
replying to her questions, he walked about the room in a worried way.

"I take it," said Peggy incisively, after a while, "that you don't
care for me any longer."

He turned and halted at the challenge. He snapped his fingers. What
was the good of all this beating of the bush?

"Look here, Peggy, let's face it out. If you'll confess that you and
Oliver are in love with each other, I'll confess to a girl in France."

"Oh?" said Peggy, with a swift change to coolness. "There's a girl in
France, is there? How long has this been going on?"

"The last four days in billets before I got wounded," said Doggie.

"What is she like?"

Then Doggie suddenly laughed out loud and took her by the shoulders in
a grasp rougher than she had ever dreamed to lie in the strength or
nature of Marmaduke Trevor, and kissed her the heartiest, honestest
kiss she had ever had from man, and rushed out of the room.

Presently he returned, dragging with him the disconsolate Major.

"Here," said he, "fix it up between you. I've told Peggy about a girl
in France and she wants to know what she's like."

Peggy, shaken by the rude grip and the kiss, flashed and cried
rebelliously:

"I'm not quite so sure that I want to fix it up with Oliver."

"Oh yes, you do," cried Oliver.

He snatched up Doggie's cap and jammed it on Doggie's head and cried:

"Doggie, you're the best and truest and finest of dear old chaps in
the whole wide world."

Doggie settled his cap, grinned, and moved to the door.

"Anything else, sir?"

Oliver roared, delighted: "No, Private Trevor, you can go."

"Very good, sir."

Doggie saluted smartly and went out. He passed through the French
window of the dining-room into the mellow autumn sunshine. Found
himself standing in front of Chipmunk, who still smoked the pipe of
elegant leisure by the door of the garage.

"This is a dam good old world all the same. Isn't it?" said he.

"If it was always like this, it would have its points," replied the
unworried Chipmunk.

Doggie had an inspiration. He looked at his watch. It was nearly one
o'clock.

"Hungry?"

"Always 'ungry. Specially about dinner-time."

"Come along of me to the Downshire Arms and have a bite of dinner."

Chipmunk rose slowly to his feet, and put his pipe into his tunic
pocket, and jerked a slow thumb backwards.

"Ain't yer having yer meals 'ere?"

"Only now and then, as sort of treats," said Doggie. "Come along."

"Ker-ist!" said Chipmunk. "Can yer wait a bit until I've cleaned me
buttons?"

"Oh, bust your old buttons!" laughed Doggie. "I'm hungry."

So the pair of privates marched through the old city to the Downshire
Arms, the select, old-world hotel of Durdlebury, where Doggie was
known since babyhood; and there, sitting at a window table with
Chipmunk, he gave Durdlebury the great sensation of its life. If the
Dean himself, clad in tights and spangles, had juggled for pence by
the west door of the cathedral, tongues could scarcely have wagged
faster. But Doggie worried his head about gossip not one jot. He was
in joyous mood and ordered a gargantuan feast for Chipmunk and bottles
of the strongest old Burgundy, such as he thought would get a grip on
Chipmunk's whiskyfied throat; and under the genial influence of food
and drink, Chipmunk told him tales of far lands and strange
adventures; and when they emerged much later into the quiet streets,
it was the great good fortune of Chipmunk's life that there was not
the ghost of an Assistant Provost-Marshal in Durdlebury.

"Doggie, old man," said Oliver afterwards, "my wonder and reverence
for you increases hour by hour. You are the only man in the whole
world who has ever made Chipmunk drunk."

"You see," said Doggie modestly, "I don't think he ever really loved
anyone who fed him before."



CHAPTER XXII


Doggie, the lightest-hearted private in the British Army, danced, in a
metaphorical sense, back to London, where he stayed for the rest of
his leave at his rooms in Woburn Place; took his wholesome fill of
theatres and music-halls, going to those parts of the house where
Tommies congregate; and bought an old Crown Derby dinner service as a
wedding present for Peggy and Oliver, a tortoise-shell-fitted
dressing-case for Peggy, and for Oliver a magnificent gold watch that
was an encyclopædia of current information. He had never felt so
happy in his life, so enchanted with the grimly smiling old world.
Were it not for the Boche, it could hold its own as a brave place with
any planet going. He blessed Oliver, who, in turn, had blessed him as
though he had displayed heroic magnanimity. He blessed Peggy, who,
flushed with love and happiness and gratitude, had shown him, for the
first time, what a really adorable young woman she could be. He
thanked Heaven for making three people happy, instead of three people
miserable.

He marched along the wet pavements with a new light in his eyes, with
a new exhilarating breath in his nostrils. He was free. The war over,
he could do exactly what he liked. An untrammelled future lay before
him. During the war he could hop about trenches and shell-holes with
the freedom of a bird....

Those awful duty letters to Peggy! Only now he fully realized their
never-ending strain. Now he could write to her spontaneously, whenever
the mood suited, write to her from his heart: "Dear old Peggy, I'm so
glad you're happy. Oliver's a splendid chap. Et cetera, et cetera, et
cetera." He had lost a dreaded bride; but he had found a dear and
devoted friend. Nay, more: he had found two devoted friends. When he
drew up his account with humanity, he found himself passing rich in
love.

His furlough expired, he reported at his depot, and was put on light
duty. He went about it the cheeriest soul alive, and laughed at the
memory of his former miseries as a recruit. This camp life in England,
after the mud and blood of France--like the African gentleman in Mr.
Addison's "Cato," he blessed his stars and thought it luxury. He was
not sorry that the exigencies of service prevented him from being
present at the wedding of Oliver and Peggy. For it was the most sudden
of phenomena, like the fight of two rams, as Shakespeare hath it. In
war-time people marry in haste; and often, dear God, they have not the
leisure to repent. Since the beginning of the war there are many, many
women twice widowed.... But that is by the way. Doggie was grateful to
an ungrateful military system. If he had attended--in the capacity of
best man, so please you--so violent and unreasoning had Oliver's
affection become, Durdlebury would have gaped and whispered behind its
hand and made things uncomfortable for everybody. Doggie from the
security of his regiment wished them joy by letter and telegram, and
sent them the wedding presents aforesaid.

Then for a season there were three happy people, at least, in this
war-wilderness of suffering. The newly wedded pair went off for a
honeymoon, whose promise of indefinite length was eventually cut short
by an unromantic War Office. Oliver returned to his regiment in France
and Peggy to the Deanery, where she sat among her wedding presents and
her hopes for the future.

"I never realized, my dear," said the Dean to his wife, "what a
remarkably pretty girl Peggy has grown into."

"It's because she has got the man she loves," said Mrs. Conover.

"Do you think that's the reason?"

"I've known the plainest of women become quite good-looking. In the
early days of our married life"--she smiled--"even I was not quite
unattractive."

The old Dean bent down--she was sitting and he standing--and lifted
her chin with his forefinger.

"You, my dear, have always been by far the most beautiful woman of my
acquaintance."

"We're talking of Peggy," smiled Mrs. Conover.

"Ah!" said the Dean. "So we were. I was saying that the child's
happiness was reflected in her face----"

"I rather thought I said it, dear," replied Mrs. Conover.

"It doesn't matter," said her husband, who was first a man and then a
dean. He waved a hand in benign dismissal of the argument. "It's a
great mercy," said he, "that she has married the man she loves instead
of--well ... Marmaduke has turned out a capital fellow, and a credit
to the family--but I never was quite easy in my mind over the
engagement.... And yet," he continued, after a turn or two about the
room, "I'm rather conscience-stricken about Marmaduke, poor chap. He
has taken it like a brick. Yes, my dear, like a brick. Like a
gentleman. But all the same, no man likes to see another fellow walk
off with his sweetheart."

"I don't think Marmaduke was ever so bucked in his life," said Mrs.
Conover placidly.

"So----?"

The Dean gasped. His wife's smile playing ironically among her
wrinkles was rather beautiful.

"Peggy's word, Edward, not mine. The modern vocabulary. It means----"

"Oh, I know what the hideous word means. It was your using it that
caused a shiver down my spine. But why bucked?"

"It appears there's a girl in France."

"Oho!" said the Dean. "Who is she?"

"That's what Peggy, even now, would give a good deal to find out."

For Doggie had told Peggy nothing more about the girl in France.
Jeanne was his own precious secret. That it was shared by Phineas and
Mo didn't matter. To discuss her with Peggy, besides being irrelevant,
in the circumstances, was quite another affair. Indeed, when he had
avowed the girl in France, it was not so much a confession as a
gallant desire to help Peggy out of her predicament. For, after all,
what was Jeanne but a beloved war-wraith that had passed through his
life and disappeared?

"The development of Marmaduke," said the Dean, "is not the least
extraordinary phenomenon of the war."

       *       *       *       *       *

Now that Doggie had gained his freedom, Jeanne ceased to be a wraith.
She became once again a wonderful thing of flesh and blood towards
whom all his young, fresh instinct yearned tremendously. One day it
struck his ingenuous mind that, if Jeanne were willing, there could be
no possible reason why he should not marry her. Who was to say him
nay? Convention? He had put all the conventions of his life under the
auctioneer's hammer. The family? He pictured a meeting between Jeanne
and the kind and courteous old Dean. It could not be other than an
episode of beauty. All he had to do was to seek out Jeanne and begin
his wooing in earnest. The simplest adventure in the world for a
well-to-do and unattached young man--if only that young man had not
been a private soldier on active service.

That was the rub. Doggie passed his hand over his hair ruefully. How
on earth could he get to Frélus again? Not till the end of the war,
at any rate, which might be years hence. There was nothing for it but
a resumption of intimacy by letter. So he wrote to Jeanne the letter
which loyalty to Peggy had made him destroy weeks ago. But no answer
came. Then he wrote another, telling her of Peggy and his freedom, and
his love and his hopes, and to that there came no reply.

A prepaid telegram produced no result.

Doggie began to despair. What had happened to Jeanne? Why did she
persist in ruling him out of her existence? Was it because, in spite
of her gratitude, she wanted none of his love? He sat on the railing
on the sea front of the south coast town where he was quartered, and
looked across the Channel in dismayed apprehension. He was a fool.
What could there possibly be in little Doggie Trevor to inspire a
romantic passion in any woman's heart? Take Peggy's case. As soon as a
real, genuine fellow like Oliver came along, Peggy's heart flew out to
him like needle to magnet. Even had he been of Oliver's Paladin mould,
what right had he to expect Jeanne to give him all the wonder of
herself after a four days' acquaintance? Being what he was, just
little Doggie Trevor, the assumption was an impertinence. She had
sheltered herself from it behind a barrier of silence.

A girl, a thing of low-cut blouse, truncated skirts and cheap silk
stockings, who had been leaning unnoticed for some time on the rails
by his side, spoke.

"You seem to be pretty lonely."

Doggie swerved round. "Yes, I am, darned lonely."

"Come for a walk, or take me to the pictures."

"And then?" asked Doggie, swinging to his feet.

"If we get on all right, we can fix up something for to-morrow."

She was pretty, with a fair, frizzy, insolent prettiness. She might
have been any age from fourteen to four-and-twenty.

Doggie smiled, tempted to while away a dark hour. But he said,
honestly:

"I'm afraid I should be a dull companion."

"What's the matter?" she laughed. "Lost your best girl?"

"Something like it." He waved a hand across the sea. "Over there."

"French? Oh!" She drew herself up. "Aren't English girls good enough
for you?"

"When they're sympathetic, they're delightful," said he.

"Oh, you make me tired! Good-bye," she snapped, and stalked away.

After a few yards she glanced over her shoulder to see whether he was
following. But Doggie remained by the railings.

Presently he shrugged his shoulders and went off to a picture palace
by himself and thought wistfully of Jeanne.

       *       *       *       *       *

And Jeanne? Well, Jeanne was no longer at Frélus; for there came a
morning when Aunt Morin was found dead in her bed. The old doctor came
and spread out his thin hands and said "_Eh bien_" and "_Que
voulez-vous?_" and "It was bound to happen sooner or later," and
murmured learned words. The old curé came and a neighbour or two, and
candles were put round the coffin and the _pompes funèbres_ draped
the front steps and entrance and vestibule in heavy black. And as soon
as was possible Aunt Morin was laid to rest in the little cemetery
adjoining the church, and Jeanne went back to the house with Toinette,
alone in the wide world. And because there had been a death in the
place the billeted soldiers went about the courtyard very quietly.

Since Phineas and Mo and Doggie's regiment had gone away, she had
devoted, with a new passionate zeal, all the time she could spare from
the sick woman to the comforts of the men. No longer restrained by the
tightly drawn purse-strings of Aunt Morin, but with money of her own
to spend--and money restored to her by these men's dear and heroic
comrade--she could give them unexpected treats of rich coffee and
milk, fresh eggs, fruit.... She mended and darned for them and
suborned old women to help her. She conspired with the Town Major to
render the granary more habitable; and the Town Major, who had not to
issue a return for a centime's expense, received all her suggestions
with courteous enthusiasm. Toinette taking good care to impress upon
every British soldier who could understand her, the fact that to
mademoiselle personally and individually he was indebted for all these
luxuries, the fame of Jeanne began to spread through that sector of
the front behind which lay Frélus. Concurrently spread the story of
Doggie Trevor's exploit. Jeanne became a legendary figure, save to
those thrice fortunate who were billeted on _Veuve Morin et Fils,
Marchands des Foins en Gros et Détail_, and these, according to their
several stolid British ways, bowed down and worshipped before the slim
French girl with the tragic eyes, and when they departed, confirmed
the legend and made things nasty for the sceptically superior private.

So, on the day of the funeral of Aunt Morin, the whole of the billet
sent in a wreath to the house, and the whole of the billet attended
the service in the little church, and they marched back and drew up by
the front door--a guard of honour extending a little distance down the
road. The other men billeted in the village hung around, together with
the remnant of the inhabitants, old men, women and children, but kept
quite clear of the guarded path through which Jeanne was to pass. One
or two officers looked on curiously. But they stood in the background.
It was none of their business. If the men, in their free time, chose
to put themselves on parade, without arms, of course, so much the
better for the army.

Then Jeanne and the old curé, in his time-scarred shovel-hat and his
rusty soutane, followed by Toinette, turned round the corner of the
lane and emerged into the main street. A sergeant gave a word of
command. The guard stood at attention. Jeanne and her companions
proceeded up the street, unaware of the unusual, until they entered
between the first two files. Then for the first time the tears welled
into Jeanne's eyes. She could only stretch out her hands and cry
somewhat wildly to the bronzed statues on each side of her, "_Merci,
mes amis, merci, merci_," and flee into the house.

The next day Maître Pépineau, the notary, summoned her to his
_cabinet_. Maître Pépineau was very old. His partner had gone off to
the war. "One of the necessities of the present situation," he would
say, "is that I should go on living in spite of myself; for if I died,
the whole of the affairs of Frélus would be in the soup." Now, a
fortnight back, Maître Pépineau and four neighbours--the four
witnesses required by French law when there is only one notary to draw
up the _instrument public_--had visited Aunt Morin; so Jeanne knew
that she had made a fresh will.

"_Mon enfant_," said the old man, unfolding the document, "in a
previous will your aunt had left you a little heritage out of the half
of her fortune which she was free to dispose of by the code. You
having come into possession of your own money, she has revoked that
will and left everything to her only surviving son, Gaspard Morin, in
Madagascar."

"It is only just and right," said Jeanne.

"The unfortunate part of the matter," said Maître Pépineau, "is that
Madame Morin has appointed official trustees to carry on the estate
until Monsieur Gaspard Morin can make his own arrangements. The result
is that you have no _locus standi_ as a resident in the house. I
pointed this out to her. But you know, in spite of her good qualities,
she was obstinate.... It pains me greatly, my dear child, to have to
state your position."

"I am then," said Jeanne, "_sans-asile_--homeless?"

"As far as the house of Monsieur Gaspard Morin is concerned--yes."

"And my English soldiers?" asked Jeanne.

"Alas, my child," replied the old man, "you will find them
everywhere."

Which was cold consolation. For however much inspired by patriotic
gratitude a French girl may be, she cannot settle down in a strange
place where British troops are billeted and proceed straightway to
minister to their comfort. Misunderstandings are apt to arise even in
the best regulated British regiments. In the house of Aunt Morin, in
Frélus, her position was unassailable. Anywhere else ...

"So, my good Toinette," said Jeanne, after having explained the
situation to the indignant old woman, "I can only go back to my friend
in Paris and reconstitute my life. If you will accompany me----?"

But no. Toinette had the peasant's awful dread of Paris. She had heard
about Paris: there were thieves, ruffians that they called _apaches_,
who murdered you if you went outside your door.

"The _apaches_," laughed Jeanne, "were swept away into the army on the
outbreak of war, and they've nearly all been killed, fighting like
heroes."

"There are the old ones left, who are worse than the young," retorted
Toinette.

No. Mademoiselle could teach her nothing about Paris. You could not
even cross a street without risk of life, so many were the omnibuses
and automobiles. In every shop you were a stranger to be robbed. There
was no air in Paris. You could not sleep for the noise. And then--to
live in a city of a hundred million people and not know a living soul!
It was a mad-house matter. Again no. It grieved her to part from
mademoiselle, but she had made her little economies--a difficult
achievement, considering how regardful of her pence Madame had
been--and she would return to her Breton town, which forty years ago
she had left to enter the service of Madame Morin.

"But after forty years, Toinette, who in Paimpol will remember you?"

"It is I who remember Paimpol," said Toinette. She remained for a few
moments in thought. Then she said: "_C'est drôle, tout de même._ I
haven't seen the sea for forty years, and now I can't sleep of nights
thinking of it. The first man I loved was a fisherman of Paimpol. We
were to be married after he returned from an Iceland voyage, with a
_gros bénéfice_. When the time came for his return, I would stand on
the shore and watch and watch the sea. But he never came. The sea
swallowed him up. And then--you can understand quite well--the child
was born dead. And I thought I would never want to look at the sea
again. So I came here to your Aunt Morin, the daughter of Doctor
Kersadec, your grandfather, and I married Jules Dagnant, the foreman
of the carters of the hay ... and he died a long time ago ... and now
I have forgotten him and I want to go and look at the sea where my man
was drowned."

"But your grandson, who is fighting in the Argonne?"

"What difference can it make to him whether I am in Frélus or
Paimpol?"

"That's true," said Jeanne.

Toinette bustled about the kitchen. Folks had to eat, whatever
happened. But she went on talking, Madame Morin. One must not speak
evil of the dead. They have their work cut out to extricate themselves
from Purgatory. But all the same--after forty years' faithful
service--and not to mention in the will--_même pour une Bretonne,
c'était raide_. Jeanne agreed. She had no reason to love her Aunt
Morin. Her father's people came from Agen on the confines of Gascony;
he had been a man of great gestures and vehement speech; her mother,
gentle, reserved, _un pen dévote_. Jeanne drew her character from
both sources; but her sympathies were rather southern than northern.
For some reason or the other, perhaps for his expansive ways--who
knows?--Aunt Morin had held the late Monsieur Bossière in
detestation. She had no love for Jeanne, and Jeanne, who before her
good fortune had expected nothing from Aunt Morin, regarded the will
with feelings of indifference. Except as far as it concerned Toinette.
Forty years' faithful service deserved recognition. But what was the
use of talking about it?

"So we must separate, Toinette?"

"Alas, yes, mademoiselle--unless mademoiselle would come with me to
Paimpol."

Jeanne laughed. What should she do in Paimpol? There wasn't even a
fisherman left there to fall in love with.

"Mademoiselle," said Toinette later, "do you think you will meet the
little English soldier, Monsieur Trevor, in Paris?"

"_Dans la guerre on ne se revoit jamais_," said Jeanne.

But there was more of personal decision than of fatalism in her tone.

So Jeanne waited for a day or two until the regiment marched away, and
then, with heavy heart, set out for Paris. She wrote, indeed, to
Phineas, and weeks afterwards Phineas, who was in the thick of the
Somme fighting, wrote to Doggie telling him of her departure from
Frélus; but regretted that as he had lost her letter he could not
give him her Paris address.

And in the meantime the house of Gaspard Morin was shuttered and
locked and sealed; and the bureaucratically minded old Postmaster of
Frélus, who had received no instructions from Jeanne to forward her
correspondence, handed Doggie's letters and telegrams to the aged
postman, a superannuated herdsman, who stuck them into the letter-box
of the deserted house and went away conscious of duty perfectly
accomplished.

Then, at last, Doggie, fit again for active service, went out with a
draft to France, and joined Phineas and Mo, almost the only survivors
of the cheery, familiar crowd that he had loved, and the grimness of
battles such as he had never conceived possible took him in its
inexorable grip, and he lost sense of everything save that he was the
least important thing on God's earth struggling desperately for animal
existence.

Yet there were rare times of relief from stress, when he could
gropingly string together the facts of a pre-Somme existence. And then
he would curse Phineas lustily for losing the precious letter.

"Man," Phineas once replied, "don't you see that you're breaking a
heart which, in spite of its apparent rugosity and callosity, is as
tender as a new-made mother's? Tell me to do it, and I'll desert and
make my way to Paris and----"

"And the military police will see that you make your way to hell via a
stone wall. And serve you right. Don't be a blithering fool," said
Doggie.

"Then I don't know what I can do for you, laddie, except die of
remorse at your feet."

"We're all going to die of rheumatic fever," said Doggie, shivering in
his sodden uniform. "Blast this rain!"

Phineas thrust his hand beneath his clothing and produced a long,
amorphous and repulsive substance, like a painted tallow candle
overcome by intense heat, from which he gravely bit an inch or two.

"What's that?" asked Doggie.

"It's a stick of peppermint," said Phineas. "I've still an aunt in
Galashiels who remembers my existence."

Doggie stuck out his hand like a monkey in the Zoo.

"You selfish beast!" he said.



CHAPTER XXIII


The fighting went on and, to Doggie, the inhabitants of the outside
world became almost as phantasmagorical as Phineas's providential aunt
in Galashiels. Immediate existence held him. In an historic battle Mo
Shendish fell with a machine bullet through his heart. Doggie,
staggering with the rest of the company to the attack over the muddy,
shell-torn ground, saw him go down a few yards away. It was not till
later that he knew he had gone West with many other great souls.
Doggie and Phineas mourned for him as a brother. Without him France
was a muddier and a bloodier place and the outside world more unreal
than ever.

Then to Doggie came a heart-broken letter from the Dean. Oliver had
gone the same road as Mo. Peggy was frantic with grief. Vividly Doggie
saw the peaceful deanery on which all the calamity of all the war had
crashed with sudden violence.

"Why I should thank God we parted as friends, I don't quite know,"
said Doggie, "but I do."

"I suppose, laddie," said Phineas, "it's good to feel that smiling
eyes and hearty hands will greet us when we too pass over the Border.
My God, man," he added reflectively, after a pause, "have you ever
considered what a goodly company it will be? When you come to look at
it that way, it makes Death quite a trivial affair."

"I suppose it does to us while we're here," said Doggie. "We've seen
such a lot of it. But to those who haven't--my poor Peggy--it's the
end of her universe."

Yes, it was all very well to take death philosophically, or
fatalistically, or callously, or whatever you liked to call it, out
there, where such an attitude was the only stand against raving
madness; but at home, beneath the grey mass of the cathedral, folks
met Death as a strange and cruel horror. The new glory of life that
Peggy had found, he had blackened out in an instant. Doggie looked
again at the old man's letter--his handwriting was growing shaky--and
forgot for a while the familiar things around him, and lived with
Peggy in her sorrow.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then, as far as Doggie's sorely tried division was affected, came the
end of the great autumn fighting. He found himself well behind the
lines in reserve, and so continued during the cold dreary winter months.
And the more the weeks that crept by and the more remote seemed
Jeanne, the more Doggie hungered for the sight of her. But all this
period of his life was but a dun-coloured monotony, with but few
happenings to distinguish week from week. Most of the company that had
marched with him into Frélus were dead or wounded. Nearly all the
officers had gone. Captain Willoughby, who had interrogated Jeanne with
regard to the restored packet, and, on Doggie's return, had informed
him with a friendly smile that they were a damned sight too busy then
to worry about defaulters of the likes of him, but that he was going
to be court-martialled and shot as soon as peace was declared, when
they would have time to think of serious matters--Captain Willoughby
had gone to Blighty with a leg so mauled that never would he command
again a company in the field. Sergeant Ballinghall, who had taught
Doggie to use his fists, had retired, minus a hand, into civil life. A
scientific and sporting helper at Roehampton, he informed Doggie by
letter, was busily engaged on the invention of a boxing-glove which
would enable him to carry on his pugilistic career. "So, in future
times," said he, "if any of your friends among the nobility and gentry
want lessons in the noble art, don't forget your old friend
Ballinghall." Whereat--incidentally--Doggie wondered. Never, for a
fraction of a second, during their common military association, had
Ballinghall given him to understand that he regarded him otherwise
than as a mere Tommy without any pretensions to gentility. There had
been times when Ballinghall had cursed him--perhaps justifiably and
perhaps lovingly--as though he had been the scum of the earth. Doggie
would no more have dared address him in terms of familiarity than he
would have dared slap the Brigadier-General on the back. And now the
honest warrior sought Doggie's patronage. Of the original crowd in
England who had transformed Doggie's military existence by making him
penny-whistler to the company, only Phineas and himself were left.
There were others, of course, good and gallant fellows, with whom he
became bound in the rough intimacy of the army; but the first friends,
those under whose protecting kindliness his manhood had developed,
were the dearest. And their ghosts remained dear.

At last the division was moved up and there was more fighting.

One day, after a successful raid, Doggie tumbled back with the rest of
the men into the trench and, looking about, missed Phineas. Presently
the word went round that "Mac" had been hit, and later the rumour was
confirmed by the passage down the trench of Phineas on a stretcher,
his weather-battered face a ghastly ivory.

"I'm alive all right, laddie," he gasped, contorting his lips into a
smile. "I've got it clean through the chest like a gentleman. But it
gars me greet I canna look after you any longer."

He made an attempt at waving a hand, and the stretcher-bearers carried
him away out of the army for ever.

Thereafter Doggie felt the loneliest thing on earth, like Wordsworth's
cloud, or the Last Man in Tom Hood's grim poem. For was he not the
last man of the original company, as he had joined it, hundreds of
years ago, in England? It was only then that he realized fully the
merits of the wastrel Phineas McPhail. Not once or twice, but a
thousand times had the man's vigilant affection, veiled under cynical
humour, saved him from despair. Not once but a thousand times had the
gaunt, tireless Scotchman saved him from physical exhaustion. At every
turn of his career, since his enlistment, Phineas had been there,
watchful, helpful, devoted. There he had been, always ready and
willing to be cursed. To curse him had been the great comfort of
Doggie's life. Whom could he curse now? Not a soul--no one, at any
rate, against whom he could launch an anathema with any real heart in
it. Than curse vainly and superficially, far better not to curse at
all. He missed Phineas beyond all his conception of the blankness of
bereavement. Like himself, Phineas had found salvation in the army.
Doggie realized how he had striven in his own queer way to redeem the
villainy of his tutorship. No woman could have been more gentle, more
unselfish.

"What the devil am I going to do?" said Doggie.

Meanwhile Phineas, lying in a London hospital with a bullet through
his body, thought much and earnestly of his friend, and one morning
Peggy got a letter.

    "DEAR MADAM,--

    "Time was when I could not have addressed you without incurring
    your not unjustifiable disapproval. But I take the liberty of
    doing so now, trusting to your generous acquiescence in the
    proposition that the war has purged many offences. If this has
    not happened, to some extent, in my case, I do not see how it
    has been possible for me to have regained and retained the trust
    and friendship of so sensitive and honourable a gentleman as Mr.
    Marmaduke Trevor.

    "If I ask you to come and see me here, where I am lying severely
    wounded, it is not with an intention to solicit a favour for
    myself personally--although I'll not deny that the sight of a
    kind and familiar face would be a boon to a lonely and
    friendless man--but with a deep desire to advance Mr. Trevor's
    happiness. Lest you may imagine I am committing an unpardonable
    impertinence and thereby totally misunderstand me, I may say
    that this happiness can only be achieved by the aid of powerful
    friends both in London and Paris.

    "It is only because the lad is the one thing dear to me left in
    the world, that I venture to intrude on your privacy at such a
    time.

                                                "I am, dear Madam,
                                           "Yours very faithfully,
                                                "PHINEAS MCPHAIL."

Peggy came down to breakfast, and having dutifully kissed her parents,
announced her intention of going to London by the eleven o'clock
train.

"Why, how can you, my dear?" asked Mrs. Conover.

"I've nothing particular to do here for the next few days."

"But your father and I have. Neither of us can start off to London at
a moment's notice."

Peggy replied with a wan smile: "But, dearest mother, you forget. I'm
an old, old married woman."

"Besides, my dear," said the Dean, "Peggy has often gone away by
herself."

"But never to London," said Mrs. Conover.

"Anyhow, I've got to go." Peggy turned to the old butler. "Ring up
Sturrocks's and tell them I'm coming."

"Yes, miss," said Burford.

"He's as bad as you are, mother," said Peggy.

So she went up to London and stayed the night at Sturrocks's alone,
for the first time in her life. She half ate a lonely, execrable war
dinner in the stuffy, old-fashioned dining-room, served ceremoniously
by the ancient head waiter, the friend of her childhood, who, in view
of her recent widowhood, addressed her in the muffled tones of the
sympathetic undertaker. Peggy nearly cried. She wished she had chosen
another hotel. But where else could she have gone? She had stayed at
few hotels in London: once at the Savoy; once at Claridge's; every
other time at Sturrocks's. The Savoy? Its vastness had frightened her.
And Claridge's? No; that was sanctified for ever. Oliver in his lordly
way had snapped his fingers at Sturrocks's. Only the best was good
enough for Peggy. Now only Sturrocks's remained.

She sought her room immediately after the dreary meal and sat before
the fire--it was a damp, chill February night--and thought miserable
and aching thoughts. It happened to be the same room which she had
occupied, oh--thousands of years ago--on the night when Doggie,
point-device in new Savile Row uniform, had taken her to dinner at the
Carlton. And she had sat, in the same imitation Charles the Second
brocaded chair, looking into the same generous, old-fashioned fire,
thinking--thinking. And she remembered clenching her fist and
apostrophizing the fire and crying out aloud: "Oh, my God! if only he
makes good!"

Oceans of years lay between then and now. Doggie had made good; every
man who came home wounded must have made good. Poor old Doggie. But
how in the name of all that was meant by the word Love she could ever
have contemplated--as she had contemplated, with an obstinate,
virginal loyalty--marriage with Doggie, she could not understand.

She undressed, brought the straight-backed chair close to the fire,
and, in her dainty nightgown, part of her trousseau, sat elbow on
knee, face in thin, clutching hands, slippered feet on fender,
thinking, thinking once again. Thinking now of the gates of Paradise
that had opened to her for a few brief weeks. Of the man who never had
to make good, being the wonder of wonders of men, the delicious
companion, the incomparable lover, the all-compelling revealer, the
great, gay, scarcely, to her woman's limited power of vision,
comprehended heroic soldier. Of the terrifying meaninglessness of
life, now that her God of Very God, in human form, had been swept, in
an instant, off the earth into the Unknown.

Yet was life meaningless after all? There must be some significance,
some inner truth veiled in mystery, behind even the casually accepted
and never probed religion to which she had been born and in which she
had found poor refuge. For, like many of her thoughtless,
unquestioning class, she had looked at Christ through stained-glass
windows, and now the windows were darkened.... For the first time in
her life, her soul groped intensely towards eternal verities. The fire
burned low and she shivered. She became again the bit of human flotsam
cruelly buffeted by the waves, forgotten of God. Yet, after she had
risen and crept into bed and while she was staring into the darkness,
her heart became filled with a vast pity for the thousands and
thousands of women, her sisters, who at that moment were staring,
hopeless, like her, into the unrelenting night.

She did not fall asleep till early morning. She rose late. About
half-past eleven as she was preparing to walk abroad on a dreary
shopping excursion--the hospital visiting hour was in the afternoon--a
telegram arrived from the Dean.

    "Just heard that Marmaduke is severely wounded."

       *       *       *       *       *

She scarcely recognized the young private tutor of Denby Hall in the
elderly man with the deeply furrowed face, who smiled as she
approached his bed. She had brought him flowers, cigarettes of the
exquisite kind that Doggie used to smoke, chocolates....

She sat down by his bedside.

"All this is more than gracious, Mrs. Manningtree," said Phineas. "To
a _vieux routier_ like me, it is a wee bit overwhelming."

"It's very little to do for Doggie's best friend."

Phineas's eyes twinkled. "If you call him Doggie, like that, maybe it
won't be so difficult for me to talk to you."

"Why should it be difficult at all?" she asked. "We both love him."

"Ay," said Phineas. "He's a lovable lad, and it is because others
besides you and me find him lovable, that I took the liberty of
writing to you."

"The girl in France?"

"Eh?" He put out a bony hand, and regarded her in some disappointment.
"Has he told you? Perhaps you know all about it."

"I know nothing except that--'a girl in France,' was all he told me.
But--first about yourself. How badly are you wounded--and what can we
do for you?"

She dragged from a reluctant Phineas the history of his wound and
obtained confirmation of his statement from a nurse who happened to
pass up the gangway of the pleasant ward and lingered by the bedside.
McPhail was doing splendidly. Of course, a man with a hole through his
body must be expected to go back to the regime of babyhood. So long as
he behaved himself like a well-conducted baby all would be well. Peggy
drew the nurse a few yards away.

"I've just heard that his dearest friend out there, a boy whom he
loves dearly and has been through the whole thing with him in the same
company--it's odd, but he was his private tutor years ago--both
gentlemen, you know--in fact, I'm here just to talk about the boy----"
Peggy grew somewhat incoherent. "Well--I've just heard that the boy
has been seriously wounded. Shall I tell him?"

"I think it would be better to wait for a few days. Any shock like
that sends up their temperatures. We hate temperatures, and we're
getting his down so nicely."

"All right," said Peggy, and she went back smiling to Phineas. "She
says you're getting on amazingly, Mr. McPhail."

Said Phineas: "I'm grateful to you, Mrs. Manningtree, for concerning
yourself about my entirely unimportant carcass. Now, as Virgil says,
'_paullo majora canemus_.'"

"You have me there, Mr. McPhail," said Peggy.

"Let us sing of somewhat greater things. That is the bald translation.
Let us talk of Doggie--if so be it is agreeable to you."

"Carry on," said Peggy.

"Well," said Phineas, "to begin at the beginning, we marched into a
place called Frélus----"

In his pedantic way he began to tell her the story of Jeanne, so far
as he knew it. He told her of the girl standing in the night wind and
rain on the bluff by the turning of the road. He told her of Doggie's
insane adventure across No Man's Land to the farm of La Folette. Tears
rolled down Peggy's cheeks. She cried, incredulous:

"Doggie did that? Doggie?"

"It was child's play to what he had to do at Guedecourt."

But Peggy waved away the vague heroism of Guedecourt.

"Doggie did that? For a woman?"

The whole elaborate structure of her conception of Doggie tumbled down
like a house of cards.

"Ay," said Phineas.

"He did that"--Phineas had given an imaginative and picturesque
account of the episode--"for this girl Jeanne?"

"It is a strange coincidence, Mrs. Manningtree," replied Phineas, with
a flicker of his lips elusively suggestive of unctuousness, "that
almost those identical words were used by Mademoiselle Bossière in my
presence. '_Il a fait cela pour moi!_' But--you will pardon me for
saying it--with a difference of intonation, which, as a woman, no
doubt you will be able to divine and appreciate."

"I know," said Peggy. She bent forward and picked with finger and
thumb at the fluff of the blanket. Then she said, intent on the fluff:
"If a man had done a thing like that for me, I should have crawled
after him to the ends of the earth." Presently she looked up with a
flash of the eyes. "Why isn't this girl doing it?"

"You must listen to the end of the story," said Phineas. "I may tell
you that I always regarded myself, with my Scots caution, as a model
of tact and discretion; but after many conversations with Doggie, I'm
beginning to have my doubts. I also imagined that I was very careful
of my personal belongings; but facts have convicted me of criminal
laxity."

Peggy smiled. "That sounds like a confession, Mr. McPhail."

"Maybe it's in the nature of one," he assented. "But by your leave,
Mrs. Manningtree, I'll resume my narrative."

He continued the story of Jeanne: how she had learned through him of
Doggie's wealth and position and early upbringing; of the memorable
dinner-party with poor Mo; of Doggie's sensitive interpretation of her
French _bourgeoise_ attitude; and finally the loss of the letter
containing her address in Paris.

After he had finished, Peggy sat for a long while thinking. This
romance in Doggie's life had moved her as she thought she could never
be moved since the death of Oliver. Her thoughts winged themselves
back to an afternoon, remote almost as her socked and sashed
childhood, when Doggie, immaculately attired in grey and pearl
harmonies, had declared, with his little effeminate drawl, that tennis
made one so terribly hot. The scene in the Deanery garden flashed
before her. It was succeeded by a scene in the Deanery drawing-room
when, to herself indignant, he had pleaded his delicacy of
constitution. And the same Doggie, besides braving death a thousand
times in the ordinary execution of his soldier's duties, had performed
this queer deed of heroism for a girl. Then his return to
Durdlebury----

"I'm afraid," she said suddenly, "I was dreadfully unkind to him when
he came home the last time. I didn't understand. Did he tell you?"

Phineas stretched out a hand and with the tips of his fingers touched
her sleeve.

"Mrs. Manningtree," he said softly, "don't you know that Doggie's a
very wonderful gentleman?"

Again her eyes grew moist. "Yes. I know. Of course he never would have
mentioned it.... I thought, Mr. McPhail, he had deteriorated--God
forgive me! I thought he had coarsened and got into the ways of an
ordinary Tommy--and I was snobbish and uncomprehending and horrible.
It seems as if I am making a confession now."

"Ay. Why not? If it were not for the soul's health, the ancient Church
wouldn't have instituted the practice."

She regarded him shrewdly for a second. "You've changed too."

"Maybe," said Phineas. "It's an ill war that blows nobody good. And
I'm not complaining of this one. But you were talking of your
miscomprehension of Doggie."

"I behaved very badly to him," she said, picking again at the
blanket. "I misjudged him altogether--because I was ignorant of
everything--everything that matters in life. But I've learned better
since then."

"Ay," remarked Phineas gravely.

"Mr. McPhail," she said, after a pause, "it wasn't those rotten ideas
that prevented me from marrying him----"

"I know, my dear little lady," said Phineas, grasping the plucking
hand. "You just loved the other man as you never could have loved
Doggie, and there's an end to't. Love just happens. It's the holiest
thing in the world."

She turned her hand, so as to meet his in a mutual clasp, and withdrew
it.

"You're very kind--and sympathetic--and understanding----" Her voice
broke. "I seem to have been going about misjudging everybody and
everything. I'm beginning to see a little bit--a little bit farther--I
can't express myself----"

"Never mind, Mrs. Manningtree," said Phineas soothingly, "if you
cannot express yourself in words. Leave that to the politicians and
the philosophers and the theologians, and other such windy expositors
of the useless. But you can express yourself in deeds."

"How?"

"Find Jeanne for Doggie."

Peggy bent forward with a queer light in her eyes.

"Does she love him--really love him as he deserves to be loved?"

"It is not often, Mrs. Manningtree, that I commit myself to a definite
statement. But, to my certain knowledge, these two are breaking their
hearts for each other. Couldn't you find her, before the poor laddie
is killed?"

"He's not killed yet, thank God!" said Peggy, with an odd thrill in
her voice.

He was alive. Only severely wounded. He would be coming home soon,
carried, according to convoy, to any unfriendly hospital
dumping-ground in the United Kingdom. If only she could bring this
French girl to him! She yearned to make reparation for the past, to
act according to the new knowledge that love and sorrow had brought
her.

"But how can I find her--just a girl--an unknown Mademoiselle
Bossière--among the millions of Paris?"

"I've been racking my brains all the morning," replied Phineas, "to
recall the address, and out of the darkness there emerges just two
words, _Port Royal_. If you know Paris, does that help you at all?"

"I don't know Paris," replied Peggy humbly. "I don't know anything.
I'm utterly ignorant."

"I beg entirely to differ from you, Mrs. Manningtree," said Phineas.
"You have come through much heavy travail to a correct appreciation of
the meaning of human love between man and woman, and so you have in
you the wisdom of all the ages."

"Yes, yes," said Peggy, becoming practical. "But _Port Royal_?"

"The clue to the labyrinth," replied Phineas.



CHAPTER XXIV


The Dean of an English cathedral is a personage.

He has power. He can stand with folded arms at its door and forbid
entrance to anyone, save, perhaps, the King in person. He can tell not
only the Bishop of the Diocese, but the very Archbishop of the
Province, to run away and play. Having power and using it benignly and
graciously, he can exert its subtler form known as influence. In the
course of his distinguished career he is bound to make many queer
friends in high places.

"My dear Field-Marshal, could you do me a little favour...?"

"My dear Ambassador, my daughter, etc., etc...."

Deans, discreet, dignified gentlemen, who would not demand the
impossible, can generally get what they ask for.

When Peggy returned to Durdlebury and put Doggie's case before her
father, and with unusual fervour roused him from his first
stupefaction at the idea of her mad project, he said mildly:

"Let me understand clearly what you want to do. You want to go to
Paris by yourself, discover a girl called Jeanne Bossière, concerning
whose address you know nothing but two words--Port Royal--of course
there is a Boulevard Port Royal somewhere south of the Luxembourg
Gardens----"

"Then we've found her," cried Peggy. "We only want the number."

"Please don't interrupt," said the Dean. "You confuse me, my dear. You
want to find this girl and re-establish communication between her and
Marmaduke, and--er--generally play Fairy Godmother."

"If you like to put it that way," said Peggy.

"Are you quite certain you would be acting wisely? From Marmaduke's
point of view----"

"Don't call him Marmaduke"--she bent forward and touched his knee
caressingly--"Marmaduke could never have risked his life for a woman.
It was Doggie who did it. She thinks of him as Doggie. Every one
thinks of him now and loves him as Doggie. It was Oliver's name for
him, don't you see? And he has stuck it out and made it a sort of
title of honour and affection--and it was as Doggie that Oliver
learned to love him, and in his last letter to Oliver he signed
himself 'Your devoted Doggie.'"

"My dear," smiled the Dean, and quoted: "'What's in a name? A
rose----'"

"Would be unendurable if it were called a bug-squash. The poetry would
be knocked out of it."

The Dean said indulgently: "So the name Doggie connotes something
poetic and romantic?"

"You ask the girl Jeanne."

The Dean tapped the back of his daughter's hand that rested on his
knee.

"There's no fool like an old fool, my dear. Do you know why?"

She shook her head.

"Because the old fool has learned to understand the young fool,
whereas the young fool doesn't understand anybody."

She laughed and threw herself on her knees by his side.

"Daddy, you're immense!"

He took the tribute complacently. "What was I saying before you
interrupted me? Oh yes. About the wisdom of your proposed action. Are
you sure they want each other?"

"As sure as I'm sitting here," said Peggy.

"Then, my dear," said he, "I'll do what I can."

Whether he wrote to Field-Marshals and Ambassadors or to lesser
luminaries, Peggy did not know. The Dean observed an old-world
punctilio about such matters. At the first reply or two to his letters
he frowned; at the second or two he smiled in the way any elderly
gentleman may smile when he finds himself recognized by
high-and-mightiness as a person of importance.

"I think, my dear," said he at last, "I've arranged everything for
you."

       *       *       *       *       *

So it came to pass that while Doggie, with a shattered shoulder and a
touched left lung, was being transported from a base hospital in
France to a hospital in England, Peggy, armed with all kinds of
passports and recommendations, and a very fixed, personal sanctified
idea, was crossing the Channel on her way to Paris and Jeanne.

       *       *       *       *       *

And, after all, it was no wild-goose chase, but a very simple matter.
An urbane, elderly person at the British Embassy performed certain
telephonic gymnastics. At the end:

"_Merci, merci. Adieu!_"

He turned to her.

"A representative from the Prefecture of Police will wait on you at
your hotel at ten o'clock to-morrow morning."

The official called, took notes, and confidently assured her that he
would obtain the address of Mademoiselle Jeanne Bossière within
twelve hours.

"But how, monsieur, are you going to do it?" asked Peggy.

"Madame," said he, "in spite of the war, the telegraphic, telephonic,
and municipal systems of France work in perfect order--to say nothing
of that of the police. Frélus, I think, is the name of the place she
started from?"

At eight o'clock in the evening, after her lonely dinner in the great
hotel, the polite official called again. She met him in the lounge.

"Madame," said he, "I have the pleasure to inform you that
Mademoiselle Jeanne Bossière, late of Frélus, is living in Paris at
743^bis Boulevard Port Royal, and spends all her days at the
succursale of the French Red Cross in the Rue Vaugirard."

"Have you seen her and told her?"

"No, madame, that did not come within my instructions."

"I am infinitely grateful to you," said Peggy.

"_Il n'y a pas de quoi_, madame. I perform the tasks assigned to me
and am only too happy, in this case, to have been successful."

"But, monsieur," said Peggy, feeling desperately lonely in Paris, and
pathetically eager to talk to a human being, even in her rusty Vévey
school French, "haven't you wondered why I've been so anxious to find
this young lady?"

"If we began to wonder," he replied with a laugh, "at the things which
happen during the war, we should be so bewildered that we shouldn't be
able to carry on our work. Madame," said he, handing her his card, "if
you should have further need of me in the matter, I am always at your
service."

He bowed profoundly and left her.

Peggy stayed at the Ritz because, long ago, when her parents had
fetched her from Vévey and had given her the one wonderful fortnight
in Paris she had ever known, they had chosen this dignified and not
inexpensive hostelry. To her girlish mind it had breathed the last
word of splendour, movement, gaiety--all that was connoted by the
magical name of the City of Light. But now the glamour had departed.
She wondered whether it had ever been. Oliver had laughed at her
experiences. Sandwiched between dear old Uncle Edward and Aunt Sophia,
what in the sacred name of France could she have seen of Paris? Wait
till they could turn round. He would take her to Paris. She would have
the unimagined time of her life. They dreamed dreams of the Rue de la
Paix--he had five hundred pounds laid by, which he had ear-marked for
an orgy of shopping in that Temptation Avenue of a thoroughfare; of
Montmartre, the citadel of delectable wickedness and laughter; of
funny little restaurants in dark streets where you are delighted to
pay twenty francs for a mussel, so exquisitely is it cooked; of dainty
and crazy theatres; of long drives, folded in each other's arms, when
moonlight touches dawn, through the wonders of the enchanted city.

Her brief dreams had eclipsed her girlish memories. Now the dreams had
become blurred. She strove to bring them back till her soul ached,
till she broke down into miserable weeping. She was alone in a
strange, unedifying town; in a strange, vast, commonplace hotel. The
cold, moonlit Place de la Vendôme, with its memorable column, just
opposite her bedroom window, meant nothing to her. She had the
desolating sense that nothing in the world would ever matter to her
again--nothing as far as she, Peggy Manningtree, was concerned. Her
life was over. Altruism alone gave sanction to continued existence.
Hence her present adventure. Paris might have been Burslem for all the
interest it afforded.

       *       *       *       *       *

Jeanne worked from morning to night in the succursale of the Croix
Rouge in the Rue Vaugirard. She had tried, after the establishment of
her affairs, to enter, in no matter what capacity, a British base
hospital. It would be a consolation for her surrender of Doggie to
work for his wounded comrades. Besides, twice in her life she owed
everything to the English, and the repayment of the debt was a matter
of conscience. But she found that the gates of English hospitals were
thronged with English girls; and she could not even speak the
language. So, guided by the Paris friend with whom she lodged, she
made her way to the Rue Vaugirard, where, in the packing-room, she had
found hard unemotional employment. Yet the work had to be done: and it
was done for France, which, after all, was dearer to her than England;
and among her fellow-workers, women of all classes, she had pleasant
companionship.

When, one day, the old concierge, bemedalled from the war of 1870,
appeared to her in the packing-room, with the announcement that a
_dame anglaise_ desired to speak to her, she was at first bewildered.
She knew no English ladies--had never met one in her life. It took a
second or two for the thought to flash that the visit might concern
Doggie. Then came conviction. In blue overall and cap, she followed
the concierge to the ante-room, her heart beating. At the sight of the
young Englishwoman in black, with a crape hat and little white band
beneath the veil, it nearly stopped altogether.

Peggy advanced with outstretched hand.

"You are Mademoiselle Jeanne Bossière?"

"Yes, madame."

"I am a cousin of Monsieur Trevor----"

"Ah, madame"--Jeanne pointed to the mourning--"you do not come to tell
me he is dead?"

Peggy smiled. "No. I hope not."

"Ah!" Jeanne sighed in relief, "I thought----"

"This is for my husband," said Peggy quietly.

"_Ah, madame! je demande bien pardon. J'ai dû vous faire de la peine.
Je n'y pensais pas_----"

Jeanne was in great distress. Peggy smiled again. "Widows dress
differently in England and France." She looked around and her eyes
fell upon a bench by the wall. "Could we sit down and have a little
talk?"

"_Pardon, madame, c'est que je suis un peu émue_ ..." said Jeanne.

She led the way to the bench. They sat down together, and for a
feminine second or two took stock of each other. Jeanne's first
rebellious instinct said: "I was right." In her furs and her perfect
millinery and perfect shoes and perfect black silk stockings that
appeared below the short skirt, Peggy, blue-eyed, fine-featured, the
fine product of many generations of scholarly English gentlefolk,
seemed to incarnate her vague conjectures of the social atmosphere in
which Doggie had his being. Her peasant blood impelled her to
suspicion, to a half-grudging admiration, to self-protective jealousy.
The Englishwoman's ease of manner, in spite of her helter-skelter
French, oppressed her with an angry sense of inferiority. She was also
conscious of the blue overall and close-fitting cap. Yet the
Englishwoman's smile was kind and she had lost her husband.... And
Peggy, looking at this girl with the dark, tragic eyes and refined,
pale face and graceful gestures, in the funny instinctive British way
tried to place her socially. Was she a lady? It made such a
difference. This was the girl for whom Doggie had performed his deed
of knight-errantry; the girl whom she proposed to take back to Doggie.
For the moment, discounting the uniform which might have hidden a
midinette or a duchess, she had nothing but the face and the gestures
and the beautifully modulated voice to go upon, and between the accent
of the midinette and the duchess--both being equally charming to her
English ear--Peggy could not discriminate. She had, however,
beautiful, capable hands, and took care of her finger-nails.

Jeanne broke the tiny spell of embarrassed silence.

"I am at your disposal, madame."

Peggy plunged at once into facts.

"It may seem strange, my coming to you; but the fact is that my
cousin, Monsieur Trevor, is severely wounded...."

"_Mon Dieu!_" said Jeanne.

"And his friend, Mr. McPhail, who is also wounded, thinks that if
you--well----"

Her French failed her--to carry off a very delicate situation one must
have command of language--she could only blurt out--"_Il faut
comprendre, mademoiselle. Il a fait beaucoup pour vous._"

She met Jeanne's dark eyes. Jeanne said:

"_Oui, madame, vous avez raison. Il a beaucoup fait pour moi._"

Peggy flushed at the unconscious correction--"_beaucoup fait_" for
"_fait beaucoup_."

"He has done not only much, but everything for me, madame," Jeanne
continued. "And you who have come from England expressly to tell me
that he is wounded, what do you wish me to do?"

"Accompany me back to London. I had a telegram this morning to say
that he had arrived at a hospital there."

"Then you have not seen him?"

"Not yet."

"Then how, madame, do you know that he desires my presence?"

Peggy glanced at the girl's hands clasped on her lap, and saw that the
knuckles were white.

"I am sure of it."

"He would have written, madame. I only received one letter from him,
and that was while I still lived at Frélus."

"He wrote many letters and telegraphed to Frélus, and received no
answers."

"Madame," cried Jeanne, "I implore you to believe what I say: but not
one of those letters have ever reached me."

"Not one?"

At first Peggy was incredulous. Phineas McPhail had told her of
Doggie's despair at the lack of response from Frélus; and, after all,
Frélus had a properly constituted post office in working order, which
might be expected to forward letters. She had therefore come prepared
to reproach the girl. But ...

"_Je le jure_, madame," said Jeanne.

And Peggy believed her.

"But I wrote to Monsieur McPhail, giving him my address in Paris."

"He lost the letter before he saw Doggie again"--the name slipped
out--"and forgot the address."

"But how did you find me?"

"I had a lot of difficulty. The British Embassy--the Prefecture of
Police----"

"_Mon Dieu!_" cried Jeanne again. "Did you do all that for me?"

"For my cousin."

"You called him Doggie. That is how I know him and think of him."

"All right," smiled Peggy. "For Doggie then."

Jeanne's brain for a moment or two was in a whirl--Embassies and
Prefectures of Police!

"Madame, to do this, you must love him very much."

"I loved him so much--I hope you will understand me--my French I know
is terrible--but I loved him so much that until he came home wounded
we were _fiancés_."

Jeanne drew a short breath. "I felt it, madame. An English gentleman
of great estate would naturally marry an English lady of his own
social class. That is why, madame, I acted as I have done."

Then something of what Jeanne really was became obvious to Peggy. Lady
or no lady, in the conventional British sense, Jeanne appealed to her,
in her quiet dignity and restraint, as a type of Frenchwoman whom she
had never met before. She suddenly conceived an enormous respect for
Jeanne. Also for Phineas McPhail, whose eulogistic character sketch
she had accepted with feminine reservations subconsciously derisive.

"My dear," she said. "_Vous êtes digne de toute dame
anglaise!_"--which wasn't an elegant way of putting it in the French
tongue---but Jeanne, with her odd smile of the lips, showed that she
understood her meaning; she had served her apprenticeship in the
interpretation of Anglo-Gallic. "But I want to tell you. Doggie and I
were engaged. A family matter. Then, when he came home wounded--you
know how--I found that I loved some one--_aimais d'amour_, as you
say--and he found the same. I loved the man whom I married. He loved
you. He confessed it. We parted more affectionate friends than we had
ever been. I married. He searched for you. My husband has been killed.
Doggie, although wounded, is alive. That is why I am here."

They were sitting in a corner of the ante-room, and before them passed
a continuous stream of the busy life of the war, civilians, officers,
badged workers, elderly orderlies in pathetic bits of uniform that
might have dated from 1870, wheeling packages in and out, groups
talking of the business of the organization, here and there a
blue-vested young lieutenant and a blue-overalled packer, talking--it
did not need God to know of what. But neither of the two women heeded
this multitude.

Jeanne said: "Madame, I am profoundly moved by what you have told me.
If I show little emotion, it is because I have suffered greatly from
the war. One learns self-restraint, madame, or one goes mad. But as
you have spoken to me in your noble English frankness--I have only to
confess that I love Doggie with all my heart, with all my soul----"
With her two clenched hands she smote her breast--and Peggy noted it
was the first gesture that she had made. "I feel the infinite need,
madame--you will understand me--to care for him, to protect him----"

Peggy raised a beautifully gloved hand.

"Protect him?" she interrupted. "Why, hasn't he shown himself to be a
hero?"

Jeanne leant forward and grasped the protesting hand by the wrist; and
there was a wonderful light behind her eyes and a curious vibration in
her voice.

"It is only _les petits héros tout faits_--the little ready-made
heroes--ready made by the _bon Dieu_--who have no need of a woman's
protection. But it is a different thing with the great heroes who have
made themselves without the aid of a _bon Dieu_, from little dogs of
no account (_des petits chiens de rien du tout_) to what Doggie is at
the moment. The woman then takes her place. She fixes things for ever.
She alone can understand."

Peggy gasped as at a new Revelation. The terms in which this French
girl expressed herself were far beyond the bounds of her philosophy.
The varying aspects in which Doggie had presented himself to her, in
the past few months, had been bewildering. Now she saw him, in a fresh
light, though as in a glass darkly, as reflected by Jeanne. Still, she
protested again, in order to see more clearly.

"But what would you protect him from?"

"From want of faith in himself; from want of faith in his destiny,
madame. Once he told me he had come to France to fight for his soul.
It is necessary that he should be victorious. It is necessary that the
woman who loves him should make him victorious."

Peggy put out her hand and touched Jeanne's wrist.

"I'm glad I didn't marry Doggie, mademoiselle," she said simply. "I
couldn't have done that." She paused. "Well?" she resumed. "Will you
now come with me to London?"

A faint smile crept into Jeanne's eyes.

"_Mais oui, madame._"

       *       *       *       *       *

Doggie lay in the long, pleasant ward of the great London hospital,
the upper left side of his body a mass of bandaged pain. Neck and
shoulder, front and back and arm, had been shattered and torn by high
explosive shell. The top of his lung had been grazed. Only the
remorseless pressure at the base hospital had justified the sending of
him, after a week, to England. Youth and the splendid constitution
which Dr. Murdoch had proclaimed in the far-off days of the war's
beginning, and the toughening training of the war itself, carried him
through. No more fighting for Doggie this side of the grave. But the
grave was as far distant as it is from any young man in his twenties
who avoids abnormal peril.

Till to-day he had not been allowed to see visitors, or to receive
letters. They told him that the Dean of Durdlebury had called; had
brought flowers and fruit and had left a card "From your Aunt, Peggy
and myself." But to-day he felt wonderfully strong, in spite of the
unrelenting pain, and the nurse had said: "I shouldn't wonder if you
had some visitors this afternoon." Peggy, of course. He followed the
hands of his wrist-watch until they marked the visiting hour. And sure
enough, a minute afterwards, amid the stream of men and women--chiefly
women--of all grades and kinds, he caught sight of Peggy's face
smiling beneath her widow's hat. She had a great bunch of violets in
her bodice.

"My dear old Doggie!" She bent down and kissed him. "Those rotten
people wouldn't let me come before."

"I know," said Doggie. He pointed to his shoulder. "I'm afraid I'm in
a hell of a mess. It's lovely to see you."

She unpinned the violets and thrust them towards his face.

"From home. I've brought 'em for you."

"My God!" said Doggie, burying his nose in the huge bunch. "I never
knew violets could smell like this." He laid them down with a sigh.
"How's everybody?"

"Quite fit."

There was a span of silence. Then he stretched out his hand and she
gave him hers and he gripped it tight.

"Poor old Peggy dear!"

"Oh, that's all right," she said bravely. "I know you care, dear
Doggie. That's enough. I've just got to stick it like the rest." She
withdrew her hand after a little squeeze. "Bless you. Don't worry
about me. I'm contemptibly healthy. But you----?"

"Getting on splendidly. I say, Peggy, what kind of people are the
Pullingers who have taken Denby Hall?"

"They're all right, I believe. He's something in the
Government--Controller of Feeding-bottles--I don't know. But, oh,
Doggie, what an ass you were to sell the place up!"

"I wasn't."

"You were."

Doggie laughed. "If you've come here to argue with me, I shall cry,
and then you'll be turned out neck and crop."

Peggy looked at him shrewdly. "You seem to be going pretty strong."

"Never stronger in my life," lied Doggie.

"Would you like to see somebody you are very fond of?"

"Somebody I'm fond of? Uncle Edward?"

"No, no." She waved the Very Reverend the Dean to the empyrean.

"Dear old Phineas? Has he come through? I've not had time to ask
whether you've heard anything about him."

"Yes, he's flourishing. He wrote to me. I've seen him."

"Praise the Lord!" cried Doggie. "My dear, there's no one on earth,
save you, whom I should so much love to see as Phineas. If he's there,
fetch him along."

Peggy nodded and smiled mysteriously and went away down the ward. And
Doggie thought: "Thank God, Peggy has the strength to face the
world--and thank God Phineas has come through." He closed his eyes,
feeling rather tired, thinking of Phineas. Of his last words as he
passed him stretcher-borne in the trench. Of the devotion of the man.
Of his future. Well, never mind his future. In all his vague post-war
schemes for reorganization of the social system, Phineas had his
place. No further need for dear old Phineas to stand in light green
and gold outside a picture palace. He had thought it out long ago,
although he had never said a word to Phineas. Now he could set the
poor chap's mind at rest for ever.

He looked round contentedly, and saw Peggy and a companion coming down
the ward, together. But it was not Phineas. It was a girl in black.

He raised himself, forgetful of exquisite pain, on his right elbow,
and stared in a thrill of amazement.

And Jeanne came to him, and there were no longer ghosts behind her
eyes, for they shone like stars.





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